Solar power has many advantages for homeowners, above all the possibility to save money on electricity bills while reducing their impact on the environment. However, solar energy has the additional benefit of being accessible even in remote areas, as long as the sun is shining. That is especially important for people who live in areas with difficult access to electricity, and those who keep moving: motor home owners and campers. Here are the answers to all the questions you may have about photovoltaic panels for camping purposes.
If you are thinking about going solar, you can use Greenmatch to receive up to 4 free, non-binding quotes from our certified suppliers. Simply fill in the form on the top of the page and you will receive your personalised quotes without having to spend any more time on researching potential suppliers and brands.
The amount of electricity that your panels can produce depends on several factors. First of all, different sizes of solar panels come with different power outputs. The amount of sunlight that the panels receive also has a fundamental influence, depending on geographical position and time of the year. Temperature is another element: contrary to popular belief, solar panels work best in cool climates with less than 25 degrees Celsius, although the power loss in higher temperatures is very small (0,3%).
You can choose between mounting the panels on the roof of your vehicle – recommended for tourers – or using mobile panels or roll-up “solar blankets” that you can place wherever they can absorb more sunlight. The second options are best suited for campers since the position is fundamental to optimise the panels’ efficiency. Even the smaller inclination changes can affect output, so be very careful about how you align them, check if they are shaded in any way and regularly remove dust. Dust can be problematic especially for roof-mounted panels that are constantly exposed and gather more dirt. However, solar panels are very easy to clean and just need to be wiped with non-abrasive materials to avoid scratches.
A full solar panel kit for camping needs to have a few things. First of all, the panels need to be portable and compact, hence many people choose thin film panels. You will, of course, need a solar battery, plus an inverter and solar regulator (or charge controller, fundamental to avoid damages to your battery caused by overcharging).
It’s essential to know about your power needs before purchasing solar panels in order to choose the right system. The wrong information may lead you to choose the wrong panels, battery and inverter, so you may end up not having enough power and possibly damaging the regulator and battery. You can easily calculate how much power you need by adding up all of your appliances’ power draws, often shown on the products’ labels.
Usually, portable solar panels are used to power fridges, lights and small devices like laptops and TVs. Fridges consume the majority of the electricity, accounting for up to 60% of the total. LED lights are recommended since they have a lower power draw compared to traditional ones. Additionally, you should know that heating appliances have relatively high power draw and may quickly drain your battery.