If you're planning on touring in a van, then having a good set of van solar panels can give you free power for the duration of your holiday. Going on a road trip is still one of Australia's favourite ways of getting away, and sometimes the only thing stopping you from going out there to explore is the lack of services in remote locations. By getting a set of good quality van solar panels from Outbax, you can go on a driving holiday with peace of mind.
It’s becoming very popular to fit out a van and go touring around Australia. This type of adventure is for those who want to travel off the grid. By having the ability to generate your own power, it means that you don’t need to rely on expensive caravan parks. Instead you can pull up at your destination, and still enjoy a morning coffee and keep the lights on for the night. With the right set up, you may be able to enjoy many of the luxuries you have at home while going on a great outdoor adventure.
How to install a solar panel on a van?
The most common van solar panels are the flexible or fixed variation. Probably the easiest panels to install on a van are our flexible solar panels. These are attached using double sided tape underneath the panel. Duct tape can be added around the sides to prevent it from being blown away by strong winds. Most panels will have double sided tape already provided, but if there’s none supplied, you’ll need to add it yourself.
Start by cleaning the roof of your van with quality isopropyl alcohol to make sure it is clean from any oil and grease marks. Lay the panel out on your roof and note where the cables will be connected. Position these in the appropriate location and then mark out the edges of the panels with a pencil or felt marker. Once you're happy with the location, remove the backing from the tape and lower the panel into position. Apply firm pressure on the panel to make sure the tape is making good contact with the roof of your vehicle. Attach all the cables together and make sure that the solar panel is providing you with a charge. Then secure the panel with additional duct tape to give it more protection against the wind and stop it from lifting too much. You don’t need to seal the edge completely, just enough to secure it to the van roof.
For a fixed solar panel, installation is pretty much the same except you are using fitting to attach the panel to a suitable surface. Most people opt to use a roof rack cage. Position the panel so the cables are in the best location and then use the clips and screws to make sure it is attached firmly. When you go on your road trip, it can be a good idea to pull over after around every few hours to check if everything is still attached properly. Always carry a few extra screws in case you lose any during the trip. You can also use cable ties to keep the cables neat and tidy.
How many solar panels do I need for a van?
The number of van solar panels that you need is reliant on the number of appliances you will connect to the solar panel array. You can go through all your appliances and see their power requirements. This information will be provided in either watts or amp hours (Ah). Consider how many hours you’ll be using the appliance and multiply it by the amount of power they need. Then put an additional 25 percent as a buffer amount to get your final total power requirement. Ideally, you should have a lithium battery that can store this amount of power, and a set of van solar panels that can recharge the battery as needed.
The most common van solar panels are either flexible panels that stick to the roof of the van and conform to the roof shape, or rigid glass solar panels (also known as fixed solar panels). If you prefer not to have the panels attached to the roof of your van, you can use a solar blanket as this will not take up too much room.
As with all new power systems, it would be best to have it running in a controlled environment for a few days. This will make sure that everything is running properly and give you enough time to make adjustments. One benefit of using a solar power system is that it is easily adjustable. If you find your capacity is too low, you can easily install additional batteries or solar panels.
At Outbax, some popular choices for vans include the slimline battery, and the 100Ah or 200Ah lithium battery. For all people travelling in vans, we recommend having a small portable generator as a backup system for when the weather is not suitable for solar panels. All of the products that we sell in our online store have been tested in the wild by our staff. This is to ensure that they are suitable for use in unique Australian conditions. If you need assistance in choosing the right panels for your van, please give us a call during business hours and we’ll help in every way we can, or you can send an email and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.