A caravan solar setup is always an advantage as long as it is installed properly and all factors surrounding it are considered beforehand. Of course, the number one benefit of this is having a supply of renewable energy, but there are a couple more benefits that every outdoor lover is sure to love. One thing is convenience. A good set of solar panels can power your essential appliances for a day, adding extra comfort even while you're on the road. Another thing, having a solar system means more freedom for you since you can go anywhere anytime without worrying about needing to stop by caravan pitches to have your caravan battery charged.
There are two ways to install solar panels on your caravan. You can either mount them on the roof or on the ground. Solar panels for caravan roofs are permanently fixed and may require drilling if you're using metal brackets although you can opt for plastic mounts instead. If you're going for this, it is important to have a proper caravan battery setup as well, since you will be connecting your solar panels there via a solar charge controller. Meanwhile, ground-mounted solar panels use a movable frame mount that is manually set up during stopovers then pointed to the sun to get them working.
What Solar Panel is Best For Caravan?
There are different types of solar panels, but the best kind is the monocrystalline solar panel when it comes to efficiency. All modules here are formed from a single silicon crystal, making them the most effective solar panel but also the most expensive. If you want an affordable alternative, you can choose a polycrystalline solar panel or thin-film PV panel instead, although these are less efficient and will last for a significantly shorter time than crystalline solar panels.
In terms of structure, you can select from a wide range of solar panels as well. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so the real question will be what you're looking for in a solar panel. For example, if you want something fixed, it's best to go for glass solar panels or flexible solar panels but if you're looking for a portable one, a folding solar panel or mini solar kit will be a better option.
What Size Solar Panel is Best for a Caravan?
As with all solar panels, the best way to find out the right size for you is to calculate the amount of power you will need by adding the power ratings on every piece of electrical equipment that you plan to power using your battery. Batteries usually produce around 12V of power so take the voltage of a certain appliance, divide it by 12 to get the current in amps and multiply by the number of hours you will be using it. For example, if a 16W light draws a current of 1.33A and you turn it on for 3 hours a day, this will consume a total of 4Ah from your battery.
If you have more time on your hands, another option would be to go camping with a fully charged battery and see how long you can run your appliances without trying to limit usage. Then, calculate the average energy you have used during the trip. If for instance, a 120Ah battery lasted for two days, it means that you have used up roughly 60Ah per day.
To give you a quick idea, most caravan setups involve a camping fridge, television, inverter, and light along with some other equipment. The safest size you could probably go for would be around three 120W solar panels mounted on your roof.
Are Solar Panels Worth It?
Caravan solar panels are generally useful if you're staying off-grid. They provide energy to top off your leisure battery, are eco-friendly, and are very easy to use. They're perfect if you go camping from time to time in remote places but for those who do road trips occasionally, it's better to get a portable solar panel instead of having a whole system installed in your RV. This will cost you around $200 to $300. More importantly, to maximise the use of your panels, make sure you have a good estimate of the capacity you will need for your camping trip. A common mistake of first-time solar panel users is either choosing a panel that is too big for their needs which is extremely cost-inefficient or purchasing something that does not meet their energy needs.
More from Outbax
Visit Outbax and have a look at our solar panel line just before you plan that road trip. We have various kinds depending on your needs including lightweight solar panels for caravans, 200W solar panels, and even solar kits. Need solar panel accessories? We got them too! Everything you need outdoors is here so make sure you check out other portable power sources too like inverter generators and lithium batteries, just in case you need more for your next outdoor adventure.