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Any advice please on fitting Solar Panels on a van conversion motorhome.
I am looking for something to keep my 85 a/h leisure battery in prime condition, which is needed to fire the 12 volt / 240 volt compressor fridge freezer which does not have a gas option. How effective are these panels, what do they cost to bu and fit, and is this a job that can be done by the Dealer, or is it a specialist operation. Many thanks, John
 

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Hi John

Do a search. :D

There has been a shedload of comment on every aspect of solar panels during the past few months, and you are sure to find the answers in here somewhere.

One strongly held opinion (not by all of course :wink: ) is that they are not cost effective in this country because the winters tend to be so dull and even in summer you may need a very large and hugely expensive panel to be really effective.

Have a browse - you can't do much else in this rotten weather!! :evil: :evil:

Dave
 

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My 130W panel is putting in 5 Amps at the moment in sunnyish Salisbury I purposely put some room in my battery by discharging it a bit overnight. Or to put it another way left my only halogen light on all night by mistake.

Dave is right a lot of people on MHF think they are a waste of money - normally people who have bought a generator ;)
 

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Hi John,

I guess Dave might be refering to me when he says a shedfull of posts about solar panels :)

However as he rightfully says it depends on what your requirements are and where you intend to travel. There are loads of factors to take into account however the following comments I think are relevant

Get the largest panel you can afford in the space you have available.
They work great in good weather, even cloudy weather is ok
They are poor verging on useless in winter or rainy weather, particularly in this country.

That said they will work ok in summer if your useage is moderate. By that I mean it is unreasonable to expect a 100W panel with a rating of say 30AH per day in summer to replenish a battery that is draining at the rate of 50AH per day. Use Sallytraffic's solar power calculator on MHF here

Style of camping is key here as if you move around from place to place every few days then a panel will work out fine as when you move around the MH engine will recharge the batteries so the panel is helped out. If you stay in one place for weeks at a time then you will never have enough solar panels to cope

I wouldn't be without our panels they work great for us for 9 months of the year and we have done loads of calculations on cost effectiveness of Gennerators, Self Energy EG20, Efoy etc. etc. and for the price I think panels are well worth it. We still get a kick out of getting something for nothing as the sun is free - no petrol to buy, no LPG, no methanol - just sunlight. :D
Pete
 

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johncardiff said:
Any advice please on fitting Solar Panels on a van conversion motorhome.
I am looking for something to keep my 85 a/h leisure battery in prime condition, which is needed to fire the 12 volt / 240 volt compressor fridge freezer which does not have a gas option. How effective are these panels, what do they cost to bu and fit, and is this a job that can be done by the Dealer, or is it a specialist operation. Many thanks, John
Many imponderables and lots of previous info available by searching. Will you be driving lots, on EHU regularly or extended periods off EHU and not driving?

If the fridge, for example, consumes 40W then it takes 3.3 amps. How long it runs for will depend on the temperature you set it at and ambient temperature.

At 20deg it might take power for 20% of the time at 32deg 40% of the time. So between 16A/hr and 32A/hr. Say 24 A/hr on average so your solar needs to put that back in to keep the fridge and only the fridge running.

If you have full solar output for 4 hours a day you need 6 amps output so I'm guessing that on the most optimistic basis a panel around 107W would be needed on average to keep the fridge going. but probably more. However, a dull rainy day might have you worrying about the irreversible drain on the battery.

The battery is probably too small for anything off EHU and the best advice would be probably be to increase the battery size or have two matching batteries or dare I say it - get a generator.

If the experts would like to check the figures? :lol:

:)
Keith
 

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Won't comment on Keith's calculations on fridge drain above, however

If you stay in one place for weeks at a time then you will never have enough solar panels to cope
This is precisely why I got my 80w panel for my PVC and it works a treat. I like to veg out on my all-time favourite campsite in Cornwall where there's no hookup. Sometimes the van will not move at all for several weeks at a time. The panel keeps my two batteries (+ the vehicle battery) nicely topped up and I never have to worry. However it is all down to usage of course and my fridge will run on gas. When I'm away in the dead of winter I will always choose sites with hookup if I'm staying more than 2-3 nights, particularly if the weather's poor.
 

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We had that type of fridge (not a fridge/freezer) on our Devon Camargue and cursed it! We did even think about changing it to a 3 way fridge. Eventually we bought a 60w solar panel installed on the roof - had to watch for size as not a great load of space available. It worked great, although we or at least he was always watching the meter!
Another tip is LED strip lights instead of the ordinary ones or if you have halogen ones you can change them to LED ones. Anything to save power, we watch a LCD TV but limit our viewing times.
Another one is to freeze as much as you can before you leave home e.g.milk meat.
Best Wishes Carol
 

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We got an 85 watt Solar panel fitted earlier this year. It is a big help in keeping the battery topped up.

It also means when the van is not being used the batterys are kept fully charged.

One this I would do if I was to start again would be to get a bigger panel of I might put another one on.

So I would advise getting the biggest panel posable.

also think about changing your leisure batter to a large one or if two will fit even better.

Richard...
 

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Richard

So in total you have 2x 85w panels and thinking of getting another two then? :wink:

(sorry.... :roll: )
 

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You used to suffer with the jitters as well Tel if I remember rightly. Wink
Only on Champions League nights these days

(I'm out of this thread now! :lol: )

(They don't care about Rafa
They don't care about fans
Liverpool Football Club...
Is in the wrong hands)
 

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Telbell said:
You used to suffer with the jitters as well Tel if I remember rightly. Wink
Only on Champions League nights these days

(I'm out of this thread now! :lol: )

(They don't care about Rafa
They don't care about fans
Liverpool Football Club...
Is in the wrong hands)
Least said the better I think. :oops:

Sorry for going off topic peeps.

steve
 
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