Electricity in a motorhome is a recurring problem. With all the electronic appliances like our TV, GPS and coffee machine, we use a lot of electricity. Recharging the battery of our motorhome is essential when on the road. In fact, for every hour on the road, your battery recharges around 8 AH (Amp/hour), yet we use nearly 45 AH (Amp/hour) every day. What’s more, if you’re not driving very often, you will have to find a complementary source of energy if you don’t want to sleep in a tent every night. Solar panels for campervans have become essential, as they are an important energy complement for your auxiliary battery.
There are two types of solar panels:
Photovoltaic solar panels: transform solar energy into electricity Thermal solar panels: solar energy that is generated heats water
We’ll concentrate on photovoltaic solar panels. These can be divided into three categories:
Solar panels with amorphous silicon solar cells: not adapted to use in a motorhome, because their output is rather weak. They can be recognised by their light brown colour. Solar panels with poly-crystalline cells: the output is rather weak for low levels of sunlight. They can be recognised by their sky blue colour. Solar panels with mono-crystalline cells: they offer the most output and are the most adapted to motorhomes. They react to weak levels of sunlight, allowing for energy production even in winter.
Solar panels with mono-crystalline cells are the most suited for use in a motorhome. However, your choice should be based on the solar panel’s output, which is ultimately based on your energy needs. Calculating this is very easy; make an inventory of the electronic appliances, determine their output in Watts and do a simple calculation:
– Usage time X power in Watts
All you need to do now is add up all of your appliances.
Example : You have a 16” TV which consumes 3AH (you can find this information for all over your electronic appliances) and voltage is 12 V, you have an output of 36 watts (3 x 12 watts).
By doing this, you can choose a solar panel that is best suited to your energy needs. However, if you wish to have a high energy output in summer and winter, we recommend that you choose a solar panel with a higher output than your actual energy needs. In fact, the output in Watts indicated on the panels corresponds to its maximum output.
There are a number of advantages to using photovoltaic solar panels for a motorhome :
Ecological: you are doing your bit for the environment. Using a solar panel on a camping car doesn’t have any impact whatsoever on the environment. No carbon dioxide, no waste. This is an important point for the IRentMyMotorhome team.
Economical: the aim of solar panels is equally to help you make energy savings, thus money savings.
Reliable: With a lifespan of 20 years, they don’t need any maintenance at all (a little bit of cleaning now and again wouldn’t hurt, to keep your energy output at its best ) because there are no moving mechanical parts.
Independent: You are independant and never have to worry about finding a place to recharge your batteries! The sun and your panels will take care of everything.
Universal: do you have a low profile motorhome? coachbuilt? an A-Class? a campervan? Solar panels are universal and can adapt to any type of vehicle.
Solar panels for a motorhome have got a lot of advantages, but at what price?
You are most likely looking for the cheapest solution.
We have calculated the cost of a solar panel, including its initial cost and maintenance.
Cost of a solar panel kit – 160W to 12V : £200
The solar panel kit for a motorhome allows you to install the panel yourself. The kit that we have chosen includes a 160W solar panel, a 15A PWM regulator (regulator that optimises the charge for the auxiliary batteries), installation brackets and a tube of glue which guarantees a perfect hold. We advise you to buy two for the best solar output.
Cost of maintenance for 20 years: £0
With a solar panel kit, you don’t need to call a professional to install your panel. However, for the best installation and to optimise your output, it is recommended that you hand this over to a professional. The price for the installation is around £390.
You can complete your own solar panel installation. The solar panel is fixed to the roof of your vehicle. It is then connected to the regulator (essential for managing the recharge of the battery and avoiding overheating). This is also connected to your motorhome battery.
You can place the solar panel flat on your roof, which will be more than enough space if you only use your motorhome in summer. However, for usage in winter as well as for a better overall output, we advise you to place your panel at a slight angle. It is important to note that the air needs to circulate around the solar panel to avoid its overheating, and the panel needs to be slightly inclined for water drainage.
For an optimal energy output, you can do this through a professional, who will ensure the ideal setup for maximising energy savings.
The installation of a solar panel kit:
Thinking of taking a trip in a motorhome? Visit www.yescapa.com, and rent a motorhome today!
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