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Caravan Solar Panels

Caravan Solar Panels

Travelling around with a caravan does not necessarily mean that you always have to stay at a dedicated caravan park. By installing your own solar panels on the caravan roof, you shall always have the power and you can drive around without looking for an electric hook-up point. Moreover, solar panels reduce your carbon footprint because you use fewer fossil fuels. The panels store the energy they collect, so there is power whenever you need to plug in an appliance.

Calculate Your Power Use

Before selecting a solar panel, determine how much power you need. You could go camping with a fully charged battery and see how long it lasts and then estimate the amount of power you spent per day. You could also calculate the power by adding up the amount of amp hours you need to power the different devices. To calculate the power consumption for each appliance, take its power, measured in watts, and divide by 12, the typical voltage of a battery. If you use a 45 W TV, the power rating would be 45/12, which is 3.75. Then consider how many hours each day you use a particular device and multiply by this number. Finally, add up all the devices to find out the amount of amp hours.

Solar Panel Types

Caravan solar panels fall into two main categories: crystalline and amorphous panels. The crystalline panels can be either monocrystalline or polycrystalline. In the former, each module consists of a single silicon crystal. This type is more efficient and also more expensive. Polycrystalline panels contain many small crystals. The boundaries between them reduce the panels efficiency, so you need a bit more polycrystalline panels. The amorphous or flexible solar panels consist of semiconductor material, sprayed onto a surface as a fine layer. These, too, are not very efficient so you need more of them.

Positioning the Panels

You should position the panels in such a way that they take an advantage of the midday sun, which is the strongest. Try and angle your solar panel toward it. If possible, put the panels on the roof of your caravan. They do work when behind glass, like a window, but not as efficiently as they would when you directly expose them to the sun. Remember that in the case of a crystalline panel; even a small shade can reduce the power output significantly.

Adding a Regulator

Larger solar panels can have the tendency to overcharge the battery unless you include a regulator in the circuit. Divide your batterys rating by ten and compare the result with the power in a panel. If the number is higher, you need a regulator. For instance, in case of a 120 Ah battery, a panel that is 12 W or less does not require a regulator. When using a powerful solar panel with wattage 110 W or more, you would definitely need the regulator. If you want to stop the energy flowing back to the solar panel from the battery when it is dark, you also need to add a charge controller.

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