What is it that really draws you towards caravans and motorhomes? We would say it’s freedom!
The freedom to get away from all mundane and monotonous. The freedom to travel wherever and whenever. The freedom to gaze at the sky and count the stars.
Well, but you can get away only as far as the last pitch with electric hookup. Your caravan needs the power to run so many gadgets and appliances. What if you want to go farther into the remote and wild?
You need to invest in caravan solar panels.
Agreed that they won’t be cheap but the opportunities weigh far more than the initial cost. With solar energy providing you with electricity, refrigeration and hot water, you can go literally anywhere you want.
Getting the right system
Before buying a solar power system for your caravan, you need to guesstimate how much power you plan on using. Consider all the appliances, light bulbs, communication devices, and gadgets that you intend to use. Another important factor is the time you plan to spend out in the wilderness. A once-in-a-while weekend camping will not require as much power when you go into the outbacks for weeks or months.
Setting up caravan solar panels or a rooftop solar system requires a qualified, professional installer so that it can handle both the elements of nature and the hazards of driving. It’s important to properly install and maintain the solar panels so that you don’t have to face any issues with the power when you are in the bushes.
Cleaning the panels
Since the job of the solar panels is to be out there and draw as much sunlight as possible, it tends to get dirty fast. Leaves, dust and other debris can block the sunlight making the panels generate lesser power. Daily regular cleaning is an ideal way to ensure they produce maximum energy. You just need some soap and water to clean them up. Also, since panels are hot during the daytime, it might be best to clean them in the early morning or evening.
For the DIY cleaning process, you may need a hose, ladder (for roof-mount panels), sponge/soft mop/squeegee, bucket and water.
Hose down your panels first. Clean them with water and soap using a sponge, mop or squeegee. This should remove any dirt from the surface of the solar panels. Hose it down again to remove any residue. Check around and under the panels to remove any debris that blocks the airflow.
Some cleaning facts to consider for caravan solar panels:
- Ensure your solar panels are cool before starting to clean them.
- Refer to the cleaning tips in the product manual as using soap water is not ideal for some panels.
- Do not use hard or sharp objects for cleaning to prevent scratches or any damage.
- No high-pressure cleaning, it can damage the cells of the solar panel.
- If you use a solar blanket, clean the surface after every use for better cell efficiency.
Taking care of the battery ensures optimum efficiency of your solar power system. You can use baking soda, distilled water and a terminal cleaning brush to clean the battery. There’s a risk of sulphation for lead batteries where Sulphur crystals are formed rendering the battery useless. Charging the battery often can prevent this. Also, make sure not to mix new and old batteries, it can spoil the new ones. Dealing with batteries can be hazardous as they contain acid, so always wear safety gear while dealing with them.
Positioning your caravan
It’s common knowledge that you should position your caravan in a place that gets the most sunlight. Summertime wouldn’t be a problem here. For the rest of the year, you may position the solar panels toward the southern part of the sky, tilting the panels at a 45-degree angle for optimum results.
If one panel is covered up or in shade partly, the efficiency of the other panels may also diminish. During stormy weather, protect the panels from it because sometimes rough weather can also damage the panels.
Like any system we use, regular maintenance increases the efficiency and longevity of the solar panels. You need to replace parts of your solar power system as necessary and when the owner’s manual instructs. Longstanding damages or operating with damaged parts could cost you more in the long run.
To be on the safer side, whenever you run the caravan maintenance, check the caravan solar panels also for any issues. Following these tips will ensure a well-maintained and efficient caravan solar power system that makes your adventure a remarkable experience.
Also Read: Caravan & Motorhome – Common Problems You Need to Watch Out For