100W Solar Panel Install
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that solar relies on the sun to produce energy out of light. If your van is going to be parked up where an overcast day is more likely, it might not be the best option for you. However, that being said solar panels do still work in these conditions, just not to their full potential. We have installed a 100 watt solar panel as a way of generating energy whilst not moving and keeping the battery topped up.
The leisure battery we have already installed is set up to charge like most when on the move. Funnily enough, we don’t actually plan on using enough power to fuel a small town, so the chances of running the battery dry are slim. However in the event we do park up for longer than expected and do not move the van, a solar panel means that we will always have a topped up battery. This is going to be a perfect addition for our first trip down into Europe this summer. We hope for some nice weather at least, who knows in the mountains.
Is one enough?
Depending on the amount of energy you use and what you have to run, you might need more than one panel. They come in all sorts of sizes, but the panel we chose is a 100W 12v from “ECO-WORTHY”. This panel cost £86.00 which we feel is great value for money. Eventually once the panel has paid for itself we will have free power. This is only 100 watts but is enough to keep our battery topped up providing there is enough sunshine. We don’t plan to go completely off grid and use solar to run everything, not yet anyway.
We always have the ability to add more if need and run them in parallel. With the CTEK split charge we have, we can run 12v panels in parallel up to 300W. For more advice on what you can and cant to, I would recommend speaking to the guys at Bimble Solar.
This panel came pre-made with mounting holes to pass bolts through. However we did not want to drill holes into the roof rack. Instead we purchased 4 exhaust clamps from Halfords. This meant we had to drill a few more holes but also meant that we avoided drilling into the aly on the roof rack (Which is pretty tough stuff). This method also meant the panel was more secure. Not that the 4 bolts would have ever come undone, but you get the idea.
As the panel would be mounted at the front of the van, we had to run the positive and negative cables to the CTEK in the van. The most direct route would have been to drill though the roof and come out right above the split charge. Although a more expensive way we, opted to run longer cables to the back of the van. These would come through two rubber grommets already in place, and back behind the walls to the box. No holes in the roof necessary.
We now to all intents and purposes have free power! This means we can now go off grid for longer knowing the battery should keep topped up. Less driving more riding!
Link to the panel we purchased – 100W 12 Volt Solar Panel