Solar panels for campers, selection guide

Frequent travelers incampermay wish toinstall solar panels on the roof of the vehicle so as to increase energy autonomy and better enjoy the holidays.

There are several models ofsolar panels for campers, specially developed to be fixed on the vehicle roof. To design a small solar system to be fixed at roof of the camper it is not necessary to consult an expert, but you will certainly have to assimilate some basic notions that will help you to choose the panels and components you need.

Photovoltaic system for campers

What is a photovoltaic system for campers and which solar panels you have to choose to design a installation on the roof of the camper? Answering the first question is very simple, in fact aphotovoltaic system for campersis composed of exactly the same components seen for the design of a independent photovoltaic system:
- photovoltaic modules / solar panels for campers
- Storage batteries
-Control unit
-Charge controller

On the contrary, it is more difficult to tell you which onessolar panels for camperschoose because it all depends on your needs.

In acamper, water and electricity are limited resources and a couple ofsolar panelsplaced on the roof could make a difference! Who travels in camper he knows he has to find ways to recharge his batteries and a photovoltaic system independent could be the ideal solution.

How to choose the solar panels for campers?

As stated, it all depends on your needs, so you will have to estimate theenergy needs of the camperwhich varies according to the electrical devices on board.

To make this estimate, arm yourself with a pen and paper and list the electrical devices on board with their respective power. Take note of each light, charger, TV, washing machine, hairdryer, microwave oven… Next to each device, mark the power absorbed and the type of current required, whether direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC).

If some onboard appliances can be powered by both alternating and direct current, then go for DC. Summarize also keeping in mind the hours of daily consumption; for example, if the hair dryer is 1200 watts and you use it for one hour a day, calculate an electrical requirement of 1.2 kw per day for this appliance only, if the appliance is used for two hours, double this value (2.4 kW).

Alternatively, you can perform this estimate by calculating the output energy indicated on the battery charger / power supply of the electrical device in question. For example, if you have a device with an output energy of 200 mA and another that has an output energy of 400 mA, choose a kit ofsolar panelsat least 800 mA.

In the design of aphotovoltaic system for campersyou can choose to power electrical devices directly fromsolar panelsor (recommended), equip yourself with an accumulator that allows you to use electricity when you need it, regardless of the presence of the sun.

Solar panels for campers

An 80 watt panel is only suitable for those with few pretensions and who use the camper only in the summer without powering demanding electrical equipment. 80 watts is enough to power two notebooks.
A 140 watt panel is suitable for those who want to power a compressor refrigerator and can also be adapted to those who use television a lot. Those who want a specific solar panel for the use of TV and a few other utilities, can be satisfied with a capacity of 125 watts.

It is not only important to choose thesolar panels for campersbut also an inverter and an accumulator with a capacity proportional to the electrical needs of the camper. The inverter is the most delicate element of aphotovoltaic system. There are square wave, trapezoidal wave, modified sine wave and pure sine wave inverters. In order not to get too technical, we will tell you that all types of inverters are suitable for aphotovoltaic system from campersbut pure wave inverters are more so.

How much does a photovoltaic system for campers cost?

As well as the choice of solar panels for campers, even the costs to be incurred are proportional to your needs. In the articlePortable photovoltaic panels kitwe have already raised the question of "prices" by talking about the modelYeti 1250 Solarequipped with a 1250 Watt accumulator and sold at a price of 1,600 euros. Such a capacity could largely satisfy the energy needs of a large camper equipped with washing machine, refrigerator, electric oven, TV and other appliances.

A more modest kit with a capacity of 120W, on the other hand, costs only 219 euros while it rises to 271 euros for a 170 Watt motorhome solar kit. The features can be found on the official pages:
–Solar Kit Camper 170W 12V base Photovoltaic Panel

Video: Solar Panel Buying Guide. Things to Know Before Selecting a Solar Panel (October 2021).