More and more people are gaining interest on solar power systems because of its numerous benefits. For one, it offers a renewable energy source and helps reduce your monthly electricity bills. It also requires minimal maintenance and makes a great portable power source when you're going camping or on a road trip. However, others take a step back when it comes to solar panel installation. This process can be both complex and costly, especially for first-timers. There is a lot of research to be done from choosing the right solar panels, battery packs, and other accessories down to connecting them to your home or RV. To help you get started, here are the basics of solar panel setup.
What Do I Need For a Solar Panel Setup?
The two main pieces of equipment you need for a basic solar panel camping setup would efficient solar panels and a reliable deep-cycle battery. You can either use a fixed solar panel and mount it on your house or vehicle's roof, or opt for a portable one that allows you to "chase the sun." This could be either flexible solar panels, folding solar panels, or solar blankets. After this, you can connect your panels to your deep-cycle batteries. Why deep-cycle? It's the best type of camping battery, caravan battery, or battery backup you can use with its 80% depth of discharge and up to 7 years of lifespan. This can also be an AGM battery, lithium battery, or solar battery.
If you wish to run 240V appliances, you can also use an inverter along with your battery. Take note that you don't just connect your panels and battery bank directly. You need to use a solar charge controller in between it, which regulates the voltage and/or current generated by your solar panel that goes into your battery. This also helps prevent your batteries from overcharging since most 12V solar panels put out around 16 to 20 volts while batteries usually need 14 to 14.5 volts only to reach a full charge. Regulators can either be a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) or Maximum Power Point Tracker (MPPT) controller. While MPPT is usually preferred, it's still important to consider which of the two would best fit the setup you want. Getting a battery box for your battery is also a good idea, preferably if it has 12V sockets.
Can You Set Up Solar Panels Yourself?
Self-installation of solar panels is possible especially since there are available DIY solar power systems in the market designed for beginners. However, these are usually not required to be hooked up to a traditional energy grid. They're mostly for off-grid applications like in remote campsites where a mains power is not present. Meanwhile, full solar systems require the experience and knowledge of an electrician. This procedure includes working with relatively dangerous wirings, so if you're after installing solar panels in your home, it's better to get help from a professional instead.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need For Camping?
First, determine the appliances you want to run and how long you are going to be without access to a mains power to size your panels properly. Determine the hourly energy you need during your entire camping trip and multiply it by the estimated peak sun hours you will be getting in your camp area. Then, divide it by a panel's wattage—it's best to use both a low-wattage and high-wattage one to establish a range. For more detailed instructions on this, see Outbax's guide on how to calculate solar panels for camping.
How Much Is a Tesla Wall?
If you've heard about solar batteries, sure enough, you have also heard of the Tesla Powerwall. It's the most popular type of solar battery and is currently priced at $10,500 as of January 2022. This is usually used for homes, paired with residential solar panels, and has three modes: solar self-consumption, time-based control, and backup power. Equipped with an impressive 13.5kWh of electricity, this can effectively power up essential appliances like refrigerators, lights, and Wi-Fi. A Tesla Powerwall also operates at 70% of its initial capacity even after 10 years.
More from Outbax
Need to install a 4x4 solar panel set up, 4WD solar panel setup, or home solar power system? Visit Outbax and get the best quality equipment for sale. We have 4x4 batteries, solar panel accessories, solar panels, and even bundles of solar panel and battery packs. We are experts on both camping and portable power sources, so feel free to browse through our products and reach out to our customer service team for any concerns. You might want to have a look at our inverter generators and leisure items too!