Modern motorhomes, camper-vans and self-converted vehicles are increasingly using solar pv panels mounted on the roof to help keep the batteries charged.
Solar powered battery charging enables the use of lighting, refrigeration, laptops and entertainment equipment miles away from the nearest mains connection. For many motorhome owners, true freedom is not being 'tied' to a power cable.
Solar panels are far more popular on a motorhome or campervan than a wind turbine, due to ease of use and mounting. Solar power also tends to suit the pattern of use, as most leisure vehicles are used more in the sunnier months of the year.
Solar pv modules are either installed flat onto the motorhome roof structure using small brackets, or fitted onto a tilting frame. A high strength bonding agent such as Sikaflex can be used to avoid roof penetrations, although a tether-line to a strong fixing point is a wise addition.
The power from the solar panels normally feeds into a large 'domestic' battery. A solar charge controller or regulator is used between the panels and the batteries to prevent battery overcharging. The more advanced controllers provide the user with information such as the charging current, battery voltage and some will even record the solar pv system's performance over time.
The number and size of the solar panels to fit to a motorhome is often more dependant on the available installation space and budget, than on daily energy use. Most owners are simply looking to get as much charge as possible into the batteries.
There are quite often easy ways to save energy in a motorhome or caravan and this is the key to a well designed power system. High efficiency electrical devices or appliances can dramatically reduce the number of batteries and solar panels required.
We suggest replacing any inefficient halogen lights with 12v CFL or LED equivalents. Also consider the use of 12v PIR sensors to automate certain lights, minimising running times.
You can save lots of energy and therefore money by using ultra high efficiency appliances such as LCD TV's, T-Class Stereo Amplifiers and by minimising the use of AC inverters with the use of DC power.
To get the most out your solar panels, we suggest that you consider an 'MPPT' solar panel controller which under some conditions can give a 40% current boost. These controllers also make a good upgrade for an existing system and work especially well in cooler climates.
Let Us Help ....
At the EDC, we design and supply off-grid power systems for commercial, domestic, leisure and marine applications. Our webstore features a wide range of pv solar panels, wind generators, batteries and DC to AC inverters.
This web site provides in-depth information regarding off-grid solar or wind power systems. Please feel free to look around and if you require any assistance please don't hesitate to contact us.