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Solar Panels For Campervans

 

 

To get the best use from your Camper & not having to rely on an electric supply, the best accessory to get is a solar panel to charge your leisure battery or batteries. So let’s have a look at some of the best solar panels for campervans.

How Does a Solar Panel Work ?

An electric current is created when the sun rays hit the solar panel. The electric current flows through a charge controller, which controls how much of the current goes down to the battery or batteries.

Solar panels give a steady charge to your batteries, in exactly the same way as your battery charger works, when you are on “electric hook up. Which is how batteries are supposed to be charged & it maximizes the life of your batteries.

If a battery sits for too long when it’s flat, it loses its battery life and it may not be able to hold a charge even after being charged back up

How Solar Panels Work

How Solar Panels Work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The batteries produce DC power for all the 12 volt systems on the campervan, such as lighting, water pump, fridge, TV, radio & maybe an inverter. Inverters change the power from DC into AC power. AC power is what runs things like your toaster, hair dryer, laptops, and phone chargers etc.

 

Get a great deal  online  by clicking on the links ;

 

laidbackleisure.co.uklaidbackleisure.co.uk

 

 

 

 

What Different Kits Are There ?

Campervan Solar Panel

Campervan Solar Panel

You can get solar panel kits that are specially designed to fit converted vehicles with Pop Top roofs like VW T4/T5/T6  and many more.

Solar panels for campervans are different than other kits due to the difference in aesthetics and weight restrictions.

Pop-tops and semi-flexible panels work well when mounting a solar panel on a campervan roof. Use a semi-flexible solar panel to reduce weight and hide it out of sight.

These Kits come complete with everything that you need for an easy installation.

There is a choice of Charge Controllers with many of these kits. These controllers are the most important part of any solar charging system.

SunsaverMPPT15L

SunsaverMPPT15L

Please read this article (click on the link)What is a Solar Panel Charge Controllerto help you make the right choice of charge controller for your own campervan. A charge controller can be very cheap or fairly expensive & there is a reason why!

For kits for motorhomes click here ; Solar panels for a  Motorhome

 

 

 

 

 

All of these kits below are UK designed kits & come with everything that you need. They are specifically designed for use on Campervans. These use high quality solar panels & charge controllers. Being premium quality kits they are a bit more expensive, than some that you will see online.

SUNPOWER 110w Semi Flexible 12v Solar Panel Kit – Pop Top – VW T6/T5/T4

The SUNPOWER 110w Semi Flexible 12v Solar Panel Kit is ideal for converted vehicles with Pop Top roofs like VW T4/T5/T6’s.

SunPower produces the highest efficiency monocrystalline solar panels available. They have record-breaking efficiency, making them the best performing panel on the market today. They are extremely reliable & produce more energy over the course of their lifespan than many other panels. They achieve this in several ways. The company use a positive tolerance, which means the panels always produce at least as much power or more as their rating when they are new.

110w Semi Flexible

110w Semi Flexible

The SUNPOWER 110w Semi Flexible 12v Solar Panel Kit is suitable for high battery use.Typical use includes extended touring off hookup with satellite TV, lights, pump and a fridge.

In UK summer the  110w Semi Flexible 12v Solar Panel Kit will charge your battery around 77amp hours per day & will maintain your batteries state of charge year round.

The  110w Semi Flexible 12v Solar Panel Kit comes with everything required for fitting to your converted vehicle. This kit is perfect for these types of vehicles because it is easy to install & lightweight.

This 12v 110w Monocrystalline Semi Flexible Panel, made with SunPower cells are resistant to power loss via cracking and corrosion. SunPower® flexible panels are lightweight and durable & carry a 5 years limited power warranty

Please note that for pop top vehicles and smooth metal surfaces we recommend the “3m tape fixing kit” upgrade. For textured or dimpled surfaces the bonding sealant is the correct choice.

Price from £300 to just over £400 depending on the chosen Charge controller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunstore – Semi flexible –  80/100w – 12v Solar Panel Kit.

The 100w Semi Flexible 12v Solar Panel Kit is suited to touring use of pumps, lights, TV’s, Satellites and small compressor fridges.

100w/80w-Semi-Flexible-12v-Solar-Panel-Kit

100w/80w-Semi-Flexible-12v-Solar-Panel-Kit

In UK summer the 100w Semi Flexible 12v Solar Panel Kit will charge your battery around 70amp hours per day. In winter the 100w Semi Flexible 12v Solar Panel Kit will maintain your battery condition as well as run an alarm system whilst in a storage area.

The 100w Kit comes with everything needed for fitting to your Campervan and is the perfect choice because it is easy to install, lightweight and is not obtrusive as it lies flat on the roof section.

The kit is also available with an 80w panel, if you don’t need so much power & it is cheaper.

 

 

Kit includes:

  • Lucis 12v 100w TPT A series thin panel
  • Choice of charge controller: EP Solar 10a Landstar, EP Solar 10a Viewstar, EP Solar 10a MPPT or Victron Smart Solar MPPT Bluetooth controller.
  • Bonding agent
  • Cable entry gland
  • 5 meters 2.5mm rubber cable
  • In-line blade fuse holder and fuse
  • All connectors to ensure a safe, tidy connection
  • Instructions

PLEASE NOTE the panel bonds directly on to the roof surface. It is important to make sure that moisture and air beneath the panel can escape.

Sunstore recommends using “spots” of sealant rather than completely covering the underside of the panel. It is a good idea to
then seal the front, leading edge of the panel to stop any possible lift and minimize wind noise when driving.

 

Price for 80w – £155 to £240 depending on the charge controller chosen.

Price for 100w£180 to £265 depending on the charge controller chosen.

 

 

 

 

Sunstore – Composite Thin Solar Panel Kit– Pop Top – VW T5/T4

Various panel size options are available from a 20w for simple battery maintenance, to keep the battery topped up when not in use. Right up to a 100w panel for typical off hookup use, running lights, pump, TV & fridge.

Composite thin VW T4/T5

Composite Thin VW T4/T5

Kit includes:

  • Composite 12v Thin Solar Panel (20w, 30w, 50w, 60w, 80w, 100w)
  • Charge controller (PWM with digital display and twin USB socket or Victron Smart MPPT with monitoring via bluetooth smartphone app)
  • 5 meters of solar cable
  • Sunstores Fast Fix Aero Cable Entry Gland Kit
  • 3 meters of specialist 3M tape to fix the panel to the vehicle
  • Fuse and fuse holder
  • Ancillary pack containing solar connectors, crimp terminals and screws needed for full installation

Please note that the Composite Thin Solar Panels are NOT “flexible” panels. Many companies do sell panels like these as “flexible” or “semi flexible”. While the backing sheets are flexible the cells are NOT & can be damaged The only panels we can recommend as “flexible” are the Sunpower panels (40w, 80w and 100w) as the Sunpower cells are flexible, not just the backing sheet.

Priced from – £120 to £ 280 depending on the panel size & the choice of charge controller chosen.

 

 

 

 

40w Semi Flexible 12v Solar Panel Kit – Pop Top – VW T5/T4

The 40w Semi Flexible 12v Solar Panel Kit is best suited to light summer use of pumps, lights and TV’s.

40w-Semi-Flexible-12v-Solar-Panel-Kit

40w-Semi-Flexible-12v-Solar-Panel-Kit

In UK summer the 40w Semi Flexible 12v Solar Panel Kit will charge your battery around 28amp hours per day. So it is best suited to light summer use of pumps, lights and TV’s, for weekend trips without electric hook up. In Winter, it will maintain your battery condition as well as run an alarm system whilst in a storage area.

The 40w Semi Flexible 12v Solar Panel Kit comes with everything required for fitting to your converted vehicle.

Kit includes:

  • 40w Semi Flexible All Black Solar Panel 560mm x 520mm x 3mm
  • Charge controller, EP Solar 5a Landstar, EP Solar 10a Viewstar or EP Solar 10a MPPT
  • Bonding agent
  • Cable entry gland
  • 5 meters 2.5mm rubber cable
  • In-line blade fuse holder and fuse
  • All connectors to ensure a safe, tidy connection
  • Instructions

 

Prices start from £ 114 to £ 176 depending on the charge controller that you pick.

 

 

 

 

 

Something You should Know –

solar panels for a motorhome

Solar Joke- 600w This is not remotely possible

 

Most people don’t realize that with a cheap kit, when they claim a panel is capable of 600w, that is when the sun is directly above the panel on the sunniest day for a decade in the sahara desert or in a science lab.

The rest of the time you are lucky if you average 40w & so your batteries go flat if you have a week of cloudy weather.

A proper solar panel, kit with the correct charge controller, will look after all of your batteries, all of the time.

 

This is from their own product description – Note:

“The labeled 600 W is the peak power calculated based on the chip, and it is only possible to test accurately under strict laboratory conditions.

When used under general conditions, the output power may not reach 600 watts due to the limitation of temperature and sunshine. Under normal circumstances, this solar panel is completely ok for charging mobile phone batteries, car battery, and other batteries of 12V/24V and below.”

How To Fit a Solar Panel

MC 4 Connector Instructions

 

 

Would I Get a Solar Panel ?

Simple answer – Yes. Which begs the question, why would you not ?

Many people see solar panels for campervans as one of the most important things to have on their van. I have a motorhome with a solar panel on it & we did 9 days stationary on a beach Aire in the South of France, without running out of power.

If you travel abroad & use the 11000+ Aires in France for example, you can tour indefinitely without having to physically plug your campervan into the mains electricity, just to charge your batteries.

Closer to home, every day your campervan will be getting a charge to its batteries wherever it parked up outside. You can free/wild camp or take a basic pitch on a site with no EHU & not have to worry about your batteries going flat. A solar panel with a decent all important charge controller, will keep your batteries in tip top condition & over time will pay for itself & save you money.

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