Freedom. Isn’t that what you’re really after when buying a caravan?
Freedom of movement. Freedom from the mundane. Freedom to live your adventure.
But when it comes to a campsite, can you get away from the need for a powered site? You might want to be in a remote place without worrying about power or you want to avoid the extra expense of electricity. Either way, the solution is to invest in a caravan solar system.
With caravan solar panels, installation is simple and you can produce power to charge your gadgets and heat up the water, you can go totally off the grid, all without the need for electricity. There is some initial investment here, but the savings you make are definitely worth it.
Cheap power, green energy, higher energy efficiency, freedom to go anywhere – aren’t you already loving the idea?!
Types of Solar Panels
Depending on the material they are made of, solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, fall into two categories – thin film and crystalline. For functionality and design, there are three types – glass, mobile and folding panels.
Thin film panels
These are made by spraying a thin layer of semiconductor material onto another surface. These panels typically last for about 10 years. However, various researchers around the world are trying to improve it’s longevity. Thin film panels are generally the cheapest option.
There are two types here – monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are the most efficient and hence more expensive. Comparatively, you will need a larger polycrystalline panel to generate the same amount of energy as from a monocrystalline panel.
They have a reputation for being the best for household and commercial use. Usually, these kind of caravan solar panels have a rigid frame and are mounted to the roof which keeps them safe from theft and extreme weather.
These panels are lightweight, flexible and can be fixed to a curved roof without any mounting brackets. They are one of the more expensive types and you might need to set aside a separate budget for it.
As an emerging star in the caravanning scene, folding panels are popular for both portability and convenience of storage. These panels can be moved around the camp area and placed where there is ample sunlight.
Caravan Solar System
It’s four main components are:
- Solar panel
Caravan solar systems convert sunlight into DC electricity to charge the battery. The regulator controls the proper charging without damage from overcharge or discharge. The battery stores electricity and can directly power appliances running on DC. The inverter converts the energy for AC appliances.
Choosing The Right Solar Panel
To decide the right caravan solar system, you need to understand your energy needs. If you know how long your caravan battery lasts with your normal usage of appliances, it’s a good starting point. Otherwise, you may set off with a fully-charged battery, stay away from electric hookups and use your caravan normally to calculate the power usage.
If you have a 200 aH (amp hour) battery that lasted for a 2-day trip, your power need is an average of 100 aH per day. You will need to choose a solar panel to provide 100 aH of power per day.
Next comes the right solar panel type. Depending on your budget, your caravan type and what you’re looking for in a solar panel, you can choose from mounted, flexible, thin film and crystalline panels.
Lastly, think of installation costs. With all types of caravan solar panels, installation will need to be considered, and where needed added to your initial outlay if experts need to be called.
Benefits of Caravan Solar System
Apart from being independent of electrical hookups and the ability to travel wherever you want, for as long as you want, your source of energy is eco-friendly, sustainable and reduces the impact of fossil fuel. This adds higher resale value to your caravan.
Solar panels are capable of producing clean energy for at least 25 years with minimum maintenance. This is a huge saving for you.
Choosing the right solar panel for your caravan takes time and some expert advice. Ideally, the solar panel should be resistant to high temperatures, tolerant to shading and resistant to mechanical impact. But most importantly, the solar panel system should work for you.
Solar panels are taking the Australian caravan experience to new levels of energy independence, efficiency and comfort.
Are you ready?