Caravan Solar Panels

 

Hello everyone! We are back at the storage site on this beautiful summer day, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk to you about solar panels, specifically the one we have on our caravan.

We’ve had lots of questions over the past few months about our solar panels. Eagle-eyed viewers have noticed it in the front window, and we thought we’d come up here today and discuss our particular setup. We’ll also cover some basics about solar panels to help you understand them more.

 

Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline Panels

Caravan Solar Panels

Caravan Solar PanelsInside the caravan, we have another smaller panel. I’ll show you how it all works and what to look out for. This lightweight panel is a polycrystalline

panel, identifiable by its blue color and its appearance like crushed rock. In contrast, the panel on the caravan is a monocrystalline panel, which is darker and has slightly clipped corners on the cells.

 

Controllers and Batteries

Every panel needs a controller. Here’s a typical controller. Don’t pay too much attention to it for now; we’ll come back to it later. Along with the panel and the controller, you need a battery. Here, we have a sealed lead-acid battery, which mimics what we have in the caravan. It’s a 12-volt battery, which is generally all you need to get a good solar system set up in your caravan.

 

Connecting the System

Caravan Solar PanelsSo this is our controller for our solar panel. Let’s talk about why we need a controller in a moment, but let’s just go through the connections we have here. We have positive and negative terminals for our solar panel, positive and negative terminals for our battery, and positive and negative terminals for a load.

 

Connecting everything is straightforward. Here’s a watt meter, which shows the power and voltage of the battery, as well as how much charge is going into the battery from the solar panel. This is a useful device, and I’ll put a link to it in the description below.

 

Let’s connect everything up, and I’ll show you how it works.

  • Connect the battery to the controller.
  • Connect the solar panel to the controller.
  • The controller will manage the charge going to the battery and power devices if necessary.

 

Why Use a Controller?

A solar panel can create a voltage from zero up to about 20 volts in some cases, while your battery requires a constant, regulated voltage to charge properly. The controller ensures the battery receives the correct voltage and current, stopping the charge when the battery is full. Most solar panels come with a controller included.

 

Inverters for Mains Voltage

Everything we’re doing here relates to the 12-volt system. If you want to run mains-rated devices like a TV or a hairdryer, you need an inverter. I’ll be covering inverters in another video.

 

Our Setup Inside the Caravan

Here’s our setup inside the caravan. We have two panels, a controller, and the battery leads going under the bunk to the battery compartment. There’s also a fuse in the battery compartment for protection.

 

Our Experience

Our panel is a 250-watt panel in a suitcase configuration, and it works perfectly for our needs. It keeps the battery topped up, the alarm activated, and the tracker enabled. The tracker shows us the battery voltage twice a day, so we know the battery is in good condition.

We chose not to put the panel on the roof for two reasons: we don’t have enough space, and we don’t want to drill holes in the roof. Additionally, keeping roof-mounted panels clean can be challenging.

 

When we go away, the panel goes outside next to the hitch and picks up sunlight all day. We’ve survived 10 days with this setup, using just the panel and one bottle of gas.

I hope this answers many of your questions. If you have further questions, feel free to put them down below, and we’ll try our best to answer them for you. That’s it from us for today.