Basic Parts of a DIY Camper Solar Setup

There are three basic stages to installing solar panels: Fit the mounting brackets and cable gland s Install the charge controller and cabling Connect everything together, switch on and final fixing of panels This step-by-step guide should make things a lot easier, but feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Solar equipment that we installed on the Trip-i-Kaka. Two 30W solar panels, corner mounts, Steca controller. Flying leads with MC3 connectors from the junction box.

The solar panels wll go down the middle - out of the way. The owner kept a close eye on our work We used strips of metal to reinforce the join. Drilling through the frame to join the panels. Solar Panels bolted together. Wiping down the roof with a mild detergent. Checking the dimensions of the solar panels.

Van solar panel installation and wiring

Marking the outline of the solar panels on the roof. Placing the brackets and panel in the approximate place. Marking the outside of the corner brackets. Make sure you're happy before bonding Attaching'No Nails' tape to the mounting brackets. The moment of truth. Check the position of solar panel corner mounts within mins. Lay the panels face down or cover them.

Drill a hole for the cable. The cable entry gland adjusts from mm. One side of the cable entry gland is sloped to make it easier to push the cable through. Feed the cable through the pre-drilled hole. Bring the gland down to the roof. Bonded and sealed to create a water-proof entry.

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MC3 connectors push together and create an IP67 join. All Cleversolar solar panels come with a 5m cable set. Attach the cableset to the flying leads on the back of the solar panel. Make sure the screws are unscrewed enough to fit the cable in later. The charge controller sits between the solar panel and the leisure battery, ensuring the battery does not overcharge, and keeping you informed of the state of charge.

Renogy: How to connect your Solar Panels in Series and Parallel Pt. 1

This controller even came with a connection for a time-controlled light; I may find a use for this one day! Slide the leisure battery out and disconnect it. I routed the panel cables over the window and drilled holes to get them on to the wall because they are quite rigid wires, not easy to bend around objects. I sited the charge controller on the wall and screwed it in place. Caravan walls are thin and delicate — careful not to over-tighten the screws. With the seat out of the way, I could have a good, long look at the battery box position and the wiring going into it.

This panel covered some junction points and, although I did consider working with them and joining the solar inputs to this wiring, I eventually decided to connect the cables — as suggested in the instructions — direct to the battery, via an in-line 10A fuse. I managed to route the positive through the original grommet, but I had to route the second through a new hole drilled in the glass-fibre battery box and then joined to the battery terminals. Joining them was much easier because of the battery connectors, which had plenty of room in them to add a second cable.

Once again, the cable was stripped and soldered for longevity. To avoid any confusion and to keep things tidy, I bound both positive cables in red cable ties and the negatives in blue.


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Only now did I connect up the charge controller; this is critical, as is the sequence in which you should connect the wires to the unit. The unit's instructions explain this aspect. Follow them to the letter. A final tidy up and tacking the cables in place on the wall, and I was ready to connect the battery again The solar panel has amazed me!

The LED lights on the control unit give the user an idea of whether your leisure battery needs charging, whether the solar panel is charging it, and when battery charging is complete. On our site, we stayed up very late on the first night, with the caravan interior and porch lights on, phones charging on the USB sockets we fitted, then washed up the crocks and ourselves, making a fair demand on the Volt system.

Indeed, the charge controller and the caravan's control panel showed a battery discharged to below 11 Volts. We went to bed.

My DIY Solar Power Setup – Free Energy for Life

We woke at about 8 am, and the solar panel had charged the battery — less than two hours' sunlight. Remember, this was midsummer, but it is clear that, even in winter, the panel's output is more than capable of keeping my Ah leisure battery fully charged, off-grid. Back to "Practical Advice" Category. Towcar of the Month: Volvo XC We have some useful tips if you want to keep your beloved furry friends out of your bed, off the sofa and out Essential Guide to Caravans - Xplore caravans.

A simple solar panel wiring circuit

What's new for the season from Xplore caravans? Essential Guide to caravans - Wandahome caravans. What's new for the season from Wandahome caravans? Most standard solar panel kits are designed to be permanently installed in one location , whether that is on the roof or the ground. You can certainly permanently install a panel on the roof of an RV, but this may not be the most suitable option for everyone. There are several portable solar kit models that are designed with travel in mind. They offer features such as foldable or flexible panels, pre-wiring, pre-drilled holes, pop-out stands, lightweight materials, and durability.

Generally, these kits are W as anything more would take up extra space and double the weight. Some kits offer marine charge controllers and waterproof panels.

More Information on Renewable Energy

That way you can purchase the best marine equipment separately to guarantee quality in extreme conditions like water exposure. This all requires a bit of math:. For example, running four 50W light bulbs a total of W for 8 hours would mean a total daily electricity load of 1. This means 4 W panels would comfortably power your light bulbs. Depending on the type and model you decide to use, this can drastically increase the overall cost of your solar system.

Most homeowners are unfortunately not experts in solar panel systems. Rather than fussing with the technical details of which extra battery bank or charge controller you should buy, you can simply purchase all of it in one bundle. Keep in mind that most companies offer excellent customer support services and are able to answer any technical questions you may have.

Our rankings place a special emphasis on reliability and value for the money. They also take into consideration the quality of the equipment, the wattage, the volts and the designated use. Most standard solar panels are W. The combined wattage is a determining factor for whether the kit can be used for small or large loads. The average homeowner is looking to power a few small devices or appliances and will only need a small load kit. A minimum of W is enough to power a laptop or refrigerator.

Our rankings base the standard wattage at W and will not include anything less as it is relatively useless for practical applications beyond powering a single light bulb or charging a phone. The number of volts the kit produces will determine the type of battery you will need to purchase.


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Generally, most panels produce 12V. However, larger capacity kits can service up to 48V. If needed, you can also purchase an inverter to convert the volts from DC to AC for more specialized uses. Each kit will come with solar panels, some variation of wiring or connectors and hardware.


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  8. More comprehensive kits will also include solar charge controllers, batteries, inverters and specialized hardware. Some may opt to purchase their own equipment as it offers more room for customization. For example, those looking to install a panel on a boat or in an RV will need different features. In this case, it may be better to purchase a simpler kit that just provides the panels and hardware.

    Depending on your needs, most solar panel kits are incredibly affordable for the average homeowner. Solar panels are an investment, rather than an expenditure. It also has the added benefit of decreasing your reliance on non-renewable energy sources and location dependence. As technology continues to advance, solar energy systems will continue to decrease in price. Most companies also offer warranties of up to 25 years , with additional warranty options for efficiency ratings and accessories.

    The material the solar panels are made of affect the efficiency of the overall unit.