Caravan Solar Panels are a great alternative power supply. Solar Panels allow you to camp anywhere whilst still having reliable power to keep lights on and run electrical devices.
Solar Panels come in various shapes and sizes to suit any caravan, camper or RV. They can be portable or mounted. Usually most larger caravans will have the panels mounted to the roof.
When mounting the solar panels on the roof of a caravan, it is a good idea to get this done by a professional, as they are subject to a lot of movement and high winds when travelling.
When you install solar panels to your van it keeps your caravans batteries charged. If you install a quality system they will last for decades and require little to no maintenance.
To store the energy generated by solar panels you will require solar batteries. The size of the solar battery you get depends on the length of your trip, how much power you will need and how many appliances you will need to run at once.
Most caravans have a 12, 24 or 48-volt battery system which is charged whilst towing, by the vehicles alternator using a charging unit.
With solar panels you will also need to insert a power regulator between the panel and the battery. We recommend using a quality regulator that automatically disconnects the battery from the panel when it is fully charged, to prevent it from overcharging.
We stock a variety of solar panel options and can recommend the best set up depending on your needs.
Solar Panels - How Do They Work?
In the simplest of terms, solar panels work by converting sunlight into electrical energy. The basic element of a solar panel consists of a bonded pair of silicon wafers on a conductive backing, one called the ‘P’ layer and the other the ‘N’ layer. The photons of light interact with this PN substrate and a potential difference of approximately 0.6V is generated.
A typical solar panel comprises of 32 to 36 such elements electrically connected in series thereby producing a panel with an open circuit voltage of 18V to 22V. The silicon material used in the panel comes in three basic forms, monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon and amorphous silicon.
Mono-crystalline silicone is grown as one large crystal and subsequently cut into thin slices to form the individual cells. Panels made this way are a little more efficient, around 14-16%, but are also more expensive to produce. These panels usually comprise 34 to 36 elements producing 20V to 22V open circuit.
Polycrystalline silicon is cast in blocks and the final cut slices consists of many smaller crystals. Manufacturing costs are lower, therefore these panels are little cheaper to purchase. While the efficiency is a little lower, around 12-14%, the low angle light output can be higher, but they generally do not perform quite as well as monocrystalline types at higher panel temperatures.
Amorphous silicon panels are produced by a completely different and cheaper process by depositing a vaporised silicon directly on to a backing material. This results in a cheaper panel but the efficiency is half that of mono or polycrystalline types, around 6%. This means you need twice the panel surface area to achieve the same output. They do have one advantage however, the amorphous silicon can be applied to a flexible backing such as plastic or thin stainless steel to result in a flexible panel with the ability to be laid on a curved surface. However, these flexible panels usually have a poor Watt to Dollar ratio.