Caravanners and motorhome owners know that when you’re out and about without access to mains electricity, batteries soon run down. Instead of having to run the motorhome’s engines or hook the caravan up to a noisy generator you can simply fit caravan solar panels and recharge the batteries using the power of the sun.
Caravan solar panel kits mean you can easily harness free, green energy, and work even when it’s cloudy. They are easy to fit, good value, and there’s a great range of power outputs available.
After you buy and install them, solar panel kits require virtually no maintenance, produce completely free renewable energy and are great for the environment. Most are also guaranteed for several years. They’re a must-have addition to your caravan or motorhome, and are increasingly visible at caravan parks and campsites around the UK and further afield. Don’t leave home without one!
Types of caravan solar panels
There are three main caravan solar panel options to consider:
• flexible solar panels
• rigid solar panels
• folding solar panels
Whatever you choose, you’ll find that the best power outputs are found with monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic cells. They’re normally more powerful than polycrystalline panels and are even more efficient than amorphous panels.
Flexible solar panels
Flexible solar panels are extremely easy to install but generally more expensive than other types of caravan solar panel kit. You can simply glue or screw them down. They work on most gently curved surfaces and can even be fitted down with velcro so they can be easily removed. Ideal if you’re worried about theft or vandalism.
Rigid solar panels
Rigid caravan solar panels are generally cheaper than the flexible alternative and have to be fixed flat. Alternatively they can be fitted to brackets or a moveable frame. This way they can be angled towards the sun for maximum effect.
Folding solar panels
Folding caravan solar panels are a practical and popular option for caravanners and motorhome owners. They can be set up on the ground and easily angled towards the sun away from the shadow of your vehicle. When they’re not needed, they can then be neatly packed away and stored.
Which power output do I need?
Caravan solar panel kits come in a variety of power outputs, from around 40W to 200W.
When choosing your solar panel kit, consider the size of your caravan or motorhome, when you are going to be travelling, and what appliances you need to run.
If you’re travelling during the winter, you’ll be using more electricity as you’ll be using the lights more during long nights and will be switching the heater on more often. As sunlight is also weaker during these months, you’ll naturally need a higher output kit in these situations. Depending on the size of your caravan or motorhome, you could consider buying a powerful 150-200W solar power kit for reliable year-round use.
On the other hand, if most of your travelling is in the spring, summer or early autumn, then you should be able to get away with a cheaper, lower power solar power kit. You’ll find an 80-100W set-up is ideal for a medium-sized caravan or motorhome in this case.
Obviously, the more gadgets and appliances, like laptops, TVs and stereos, you have, the more power you’ll need.
Energy saving strategies
To make the most efficient use of power and be as eco-friendly as possible, it’s best to devise an overall energy strategy for your caravan or motorhome:
• install renewable power like solar panel kits. You could also look at small wind turbines for back-up power generation
• reduce your overall power use by switching off unneeded lights, turning heater temperatures down slightly and switching TVs and appliances off standby when not in use
• invest in efficient appliances like energy-saving LCD TVs and T-class stereo amplifiers