As convenient as it is to have a portable solar panel to power your camping trip or off-the-grid lifestyle, staying close by while the panels recharge during daylight hours isn’t fun. However, if you don’t stay near them, there’s always a risk they may get stolen – unless you take measures to safeguard against that happening.
Here are a few easy ways to secure portable solar panels from theft:
- Use anti-theft locks.
- Install a tripwire alarm.
- Make solar panels inaccessible.
- Install motion sensors.
- Pack away solar panels.
- Install a fake (or real) surveillance camera.
- Hang up decals and warning signs.
In this article, I’ll review the methods and strategies mentioned above to prevent your portable solar panels from being stolen. Keep reading, and you’ll have a few strategies to ensure your devices are safe.
1. Use Anti-Theft Locks
By far, the simplest method to prevent your portable solar panels from being stolen is to use some type of anti-theft lock. You can find specialty cables and locks for locking portable solar panels. However, a simple bike lock or padlock would also suffice – as long as you’re careful not to damage the panels when securing them to your RV.
I recommend using the INTEKIN Bike U Lock system. It allows you to lock your solar panels in place and is relatively inexpensive.
Some solar panel stores also sell anti-theft systems that alert you directly on your smartphone when a solar panel is disconnected or moved. While they offer immediate alerts, they are also generally more expensive. Though these systems do not necessarily prevent theft, they do make it easier to catch a thief in the act.
2. Install a Tripwire Alarm
Installing a tripwire alarm is an inexpensive method of keeping your entire camping area protected from theft. Using tripwires around the perimeter of your campsite will keep animals and thieves at bay by sounding a very loud alarm when activated, protecting your portable solar panels and other belongings.
The BASU eAlarm Plus on Amazon is an excellent choice for this purpose and a favorite among campers. When installing a tripwire system, ensure that all your tripwires are discreetly hidden around the campsite so that they can’t be seen and tampered with.
3. Make Solar Panels Inaccessible
Most thieves want to grab something quick and move on from the campsite before being noticed. Making your solar panels inaccessible helps keep thieving hands away from them. I’ve already mentioned that using a bike lock (or other anti-theft systems) is great at deterring thieves, because most won’t bother trying to break the lock.
Another strategy is to make your portable solar panels inaccessible. For example, you could easily place them on your RV’s roof, which requires work to reach. Of course, you should also make sure there’s no ladder nearby – instead, keep it tucked away inside your locked RV.
4. Install Motion Sensors
While this might sound like an expensive option, it can be worthwhile in the long run. Some motion detectors sound an alarm that would alert you to people being nearby and scare off anyone with malicious intent. They detect motion or light, depending on the type.
Some people find motion sensors annoying because they first need to deactivate the security system when they approach their campsite to prevent false alarms. However, if you’re worried about forgetting to activate or deactivate your system, you can also invest in an automatic motion sensor that will deactivate when you (the person carrying the linked microchip) are nearby.
There are a variety of different motion sensor systems available for sale at different price points. This allows you to choose the option that fits your budget while also ensuring your solar panels (and other valuable belongings) are protected from opportunistic thieves.
5. Pack Away Solar Panels
If you know that you will be away from your campsite for a significantly longer stretch of time, the best solution is simply to keep your portable solar panels tucked away. That said, this may not be feasible if your panels need to recharge and you need to go far during daylight hours.
However, we do recommend you try to use this strategy as often as possible. It is both cost-effective and protects your solar panels from thieves who aren’t interested in breaking into your RV. And, as breaking into an RV (or other vehicles) is a much more time-consuming and risky proposition, your panels will be safe in most situations.
The best way to use this strategy is to plan your schedule meticulously, so there’s enough time for the solar panels to charge while you are nearby. This may mean waking up earlier to set up your portable solar panels so you can make the most out of the daylight hours.
6. Install a Fake (or Real) Surveillance Camera
Studies show that thieves and burglars are less likely to steal from homes and campsites with surveillance cameras installed. There is some evidence that shows even fake cameras can deter some criminals. In any case, it might help to have a camera installed – whether you turn it on or not is up to you.
Keep in mind that running a surveillance camera for longer periods of time uses up electricity, which is the opposite of what you’re using your solar panels for. However, the benefits of installing a surveillance camera may outweigh the risks if you feel that you are in an area where many thieves are likely to pass by. Plus, you’ll like use less electricity on a surveillance camera than you would if you no longer had access to solar panels.
7. Hang Up Decals and Warning Signs
In sticking with the theme of using fake cameras, you might want to hang up decals with warning signs. They won’t be 100% effective, but some thieves will think twice before approaching your RV or campsite.
For the best results with this strategy, combine it with a camera (real or fake) and mention that everything is being recorded by CCTV. Most solar panels are stolen on impulse, and the thief generally doesn’t have time to tamper with any CCTV recordings – as such, they will probably walk away rather than get themselves in trouble.
- Bay Alarm: How Do Motion Sensors Work: A Guide
- CornerStone Protection: Are Fake Security Cameras An Effective Deterrent Measure?
- techradar: We ask a former burglar: do smart security cameras really deter crime?
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