How to choose the best Caravan Solar Panels & Solar for Caravans, 4WDS and Recreational Vehicles
Caravan Solar Panels - How to choose the Best Solar Panels for Caravans, 4WDS, Camping and Recreational Vehicles
When it comes to getting the best Caravan Solar Panels or Solar Panel Setup for RV's you will want to consider how you are goign to get more from your deep cycle batteries by either supplimenting the charging with solar or going for a complete solar system. Using solar panels for camping with your caravan, camper, motorhome and recreational vehicle has many advantages, from receiving free power to using environmentally friendly energy. Camping with solar panels and using solar energy doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. Thanks to these handy tips, you can easily get the best solar panel setup for campers, caravans, 4WDS and recreational vehicles.
1. Choosing Mounted or Portable Solar Panels for your Caravan, Camper or RV
Solar panels come in two categories - mounted or portable – with both options having advantages and disadvantages. The main difference between mounted solar and portable solar panels is that portable panels allow you to chase the sun whereas a caravan with panels mounted on the roof often needs to park in the sun to receive enough sunlight. For more information, you can have a look at our previous blog post about Choosing a Portable 12V Solar Panel for Camping
2. Solar Power requires Solar Batteries - Caravan Solar Panels and Battery Setup
To store the energy generated by your solar panels, it is important to have batteries that are large and sturdy enough to do so. Solar batteries are designed to do just that. They are not disturbed by frequent charging and discharging, require very little maintenance, and have a high cyclic life. Generally, solar systems for caravans use AGM deep cycle batteries. Larger systems used for off grid living, require larger tubular gel batteries.
The size of your solar batteries is important and depends on several factors, such as the length of your trip, how much power autonomy you want, and how many appliances you want to use at once. To find out which battery size you need to run your gear, you can have a look at our battery guide here. Or Check out our great range of solar kits for caravans and camping.
3. Running 240V appliances with Solar Power - Getting the Best RV & Caravan Solar Panel Setup
There are several ways to power your appliances when you’re camping or caravanning, but solar power is becoming increasingly popular. Solar panels generate more than 12V and will need a solar regulator to ensure your deep cycle batteries won’t overcharge and get damaged. From the batteries, you can then run any 12V item. Most appliances though need 240V, such as fridges and TVs. In this case, you will need an inverter to safely convert the 12V power to 240V power.
To find out more about running your gear with solar power, our ‘How to Power Your Appliances While Camping’-guide may be able help you out.
4. Be prepared for bad weather conditions and emergencies
If there is one thing you cannot control while you’re on a holiday it’s the weather. When weather conditions are bad for an extended time, your solar panels may not be able to generate enough power. As such, it’s best to always have a backup plan prepared. Generators can do the trick, or you can set up a dual battery system with a DC charger. Standard dual battery systems exist of two batteries (your vehicle’s battery and a secondary battery), but they can have as many batteries as you want – within reason, of course. Adding a DC charger to this system will allow you to charge your secondary battery back up to full which increases its battery life. This device also boosts the voltage going to the auxiliary battery, so no voltage loss occurs. Read our ‘Beginner’s Guide to Vehicle Chargers’ for more information on dual battery systems and DC chargers.
Alternatively, if you prefer to keep using solar power, you can also add solar panels to your caravan setup or replace your smaller portable solar panel with a larger one.
5. Ensure you don’t run out of power - Get the Best Solar Setup for Caravans or Camping
Before you leave on your camping trip, consider how long you want to be away from mains power. The longer you want to stay off grid, the larger your solar system needs to be. As such, it’s important to take enough batteries, or the right size of battery, to ensure you have enough power to last through your trip. Estimating the right size of battery for your setup is as simple as a four step calculation:
1) Estimate the running time of each camping appliance you wish to use over a time of one day.
2) Multiply the wattage of each camping item by its estimated running time.
3) Add the watt hours for each device together to reach an estimate of your total power consumption.
4) Convert the total watt hours to amp hours and discover which battery size you need.
Once you know this, you can double the battery size to consider a 50% depth of discharge. During camping trips where you don’t have the option to re-charge your battery, it is best to time the battery size by the number of days your camping trip will last.
If you want to see the full explanation of these steps with an example, you can read ‘What Size Battery Do I Need to Run My Gear?’.
For more information about choosing the best solar panels for Camping,Caravans, Motorhomes and Recreational Vehicles why not download our free e-book
Do you have any questions, or wish to receive more information about solar panels for your caravan? If you need expert, tailored, no-obligation advice on getting the best Solar Panel Setup for your Caravan, RV or Camper email or call our friendly team on 1800 853 315June 10, 2015 | By Nathan Gathercole| Comments
Nathan is the owner of Aussie Batteries & Solar, and has been immersed in the battery industry for many years. Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, he enjoyed taking full advantage of the spectacular outdoors on offer, and has turned this passion into a thriving business. As the saying goes, "Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life".