How to Get the Most Out of Your Campervan Solar Panels: Tips and Tricks
If you have solar panels on your camper van or are going to install them, there are a few things you should remember to get the most out of them.
There are many benefits to switching to solar. One of them is that it requires less maintenance than other ways to use power.
However, no system is entirely maintenance-free, so we’ve compiled a list of strategies for getting the most out of your caravan solar panels as long as possible.
Keep Your Solar Panels Clean
Keeping your solar panels clean is an easy way to make sure they are working as well as possible. Dirt and dust can quickly build-up, so it’s essential to clean them regularly if you are in a dusty or off-road environment. Anything that blocks sunlight from getting to the photovoltaic material can impact how well the panels work.
To clean your panels:
- You should hose down your solar panels.
- Use a sponge, mop or broom with soapy water to clean the panels and remove dust or build up.
- Hose the house down again to remove any soap residue.
- Make sure to check under the solar panels and remove any leaves or debris that might block the airflow.
Go Bigger with Batteries
When batteries become excessively discharged on a daily basis, there is a danger of long-term harm.
Ensure that your solar system can charge the batteries back up to full during the day. This will help ensure that the batteries don’t get too discharged overnight.
The bigger your battery bank means, you will have more storage capacity to use throughout the day. This is especially important if you’re using appliances that require a lot of power, like an air conditioner or microwave.
Ideally, this means the batteries will not need to be replaced as often, so you can reduce your costs. You will also have a larger battery bank to draw from.
You want about 250 watts of solar per 100 amp-hours of battery capacity as a general rule. This can change depending on the type of battery that you have and other factors.
You should also consider upgrading your solar system if you frequently use more power than your current setup can provide. This might be the case if you have a large family or like to use many appliances while travelling.
Upgrading your solar panel system will give you more power and allow you to run more appliances at once. It will also help keep your batteries in good condition and extend their lifespan.
Always Monitor Your System
A battery monitor is a device that helps you keep track of the voltage, current and charge of your batteries. This is useful for campervan because it can help you avoid over-or undercharging your batteries, which can damage them.
It is one of the easiest ways to make sure that everything is working in your battery system.
This information can help you figure out what is using the most power in your system, or where it might not be working so well.
You can find a wide variety of battery monitors on the market, so it is essential to research and find one that fits your needs. Choose one that displays voltage, current and charge information in an easy-to-read format.
Some monitors also come with alarms that will sound if the voltage or current falls below a certain level, which can help you prevent damage to your batteries.
Overall, a battery monitor is a very important tool for keeping your campervan solar system running smoothly. Make sure to install one in your system and use it regularly to get the most out of your solar panels!
Use an MTTP Charger For Maximise Efficiency & Minimise Voltage Drop
We usually recommend using an MPPT regulator with your solar panels. The load of the solar regulator is matched to the voltage and current produced by the solar panel.
This helps the solar panels to work better. Some people say that many MPPT regulators can get more power from a solar panel than a PWM.
Most 12V systems have voltage drop, but you can fix this by installing the regulator close to the battery and using the correct size wiring.
Using an MTTP is an excellent addition to your campervan solar panel setup. It can help to maximise the efficiency of your panels and minimise voltage drop. We highly recommend using one with your system!
If you’re looking for a great way to get the most out of your solar panels, be sure to check out our Best Solar Charge Controller: The Ultimate Guide
The amount of sunlight that we can use each day is limited. Solar panels need sunlight to work, and the more direct the sun is, the more power they can make.
1. Direct Sunlight
It is important to face the panels, so they are directly facing the sun. If you do not, some of your energy will be lost.
It is also important to ensure that no things are blocking the solar panels from getting the sun. Solar cells need light to work, so if one cell on the panel gets blocked, then the other cells won’t work right.
2. Keeping Your Panels Clean
Your panels are exposed to various conditions and elements living in Australia. They are often covered with sand, dirt, sap, etc.
Over time, if the panels are not checked, they can have decreased efficiency. This can happen to cells in the panel. We recommend checking your panels every few months to clean them with water, a soft brush, a squeegee and some elbow grease.
3. Correct Size Cabling
Using heavy-duty cable will help remove the risk of voltage drop as much as possible. It is always a good idea to keep any cable runs as short as possible.
If you are extending a cable, you need to ensure it is thick enough for the length you want to run. This will assure you that you will not lose power across the cable.
Two types of solar chargers are used to increase solar panel output. These are the PWM and MPPT solar chargers.
PWM regulators are not used very often. They are mostly only used when the cost is an issue and performance is insufficient.
MPPT regulators are more expensive than regular regulators, but they are more efficient. They can be used in larger solar applications like caravans and motorhomes.
These are some of the best strategies for getting the most out of your caravan solar panels. If you’re considering installing these on your camper van, make sure to do all of these things to ensure they last as long as possible!
Wade & Dani
Hi! We’re Wade and Dani, We’re currently travelling around Australia in our 2017 Mercedes Sprinter Camper van and sharing our best experiences, stories, reviews and adventures as we go along. Make sure you follow long on our Instagram