Solar panels


Does anybody out there have any experience or recomendations with solar panels. We are looking at getting a set up for our caravan (Windsor Rapid).

We do not got off road but will be using some free camp sites along the way when we go off travelling for 3 months in July.

Any help would be great.


Pete & Bee
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Reply By: Sir Kev & Darkie - Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 17:03

Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 17:03
I am very happy with Bits Deals on Ebay for their deals for portable Solar Panels.

Cheers Kev

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AnswerID: 530931

Reply By: Pete R2 - Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 17:42

Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 17:42
Hi Kev,

Thanks for your post, do you have any thoughts on these with wattage to run lights / fridge in caravan over night. We are looking at getting a heavy duty battery put into caravan and also car to run our waeco fridge while travelling.


Pete & Bee
AnswerID: 530934

Reply By: Gaynor - Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 18:31

Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 18:31
This is what I have been using on my little camper van

No shortage of power. No hassle. Sorted. Very happy.

You might be able to take some info from this set up.
AnswerID: 530936

Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 18:59

Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 18:59
Hi Pete and Bee,
Just got back this afternoon from a 5 week jaunt down to South Australia from the Port Macquarie region here in NSW. 6 thousand Ks or more in all.

While I did stay at a few caravan parks I mostly free camped, a mate was travelling with us. We are both equipped with solar panels and really have no need of gennies or 240 power.

I have 280 watts of solar panels and the mate has 160 watts.

Not one power problem was encountered by either of us, mainly because we are set up for 12 volt everything.

I would suggest a 200 watt panel from Bit Deals also, as Sir Kev suggests, and a good regulator Such as this Regulator.

Note that regulator is a PWM as opposed to an MPPT. but is still plenty good enouugh for the majority of us.

Mount the panel permanently on the roof of your van and never worry about power again, provided you have everything 12 volt, such as TV, water pump etc etc. as I do.

Cheers, Bruce.
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Reply By: Mick O - Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 19:45

Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 19:45

I'll second Kev's reccomendation of Bitdeals solar on Ebay. I'm using 3x 100W panels from them to service 2 x 140 A/H Powersonic AGM Batteries.

While I concur with what Bruce has said in that the considered use of solar power can alleviate many of your DC (12V) needs, you need to be considered in your approach. Just buying a battery and attaching a solar panel isn't going to cut it.

This blog by John and Val is a great resource and goes along way to explaining how things work in reality and just what your considerations need to be.

Electricity for camping

I'd also reccomend you consider a decent dc-dc charger for the battery/s such as a Redarc BCDC12/25. It has a built in MPPT solar controller as well as charging your batteries appropriately from the vehicle.

Cheers Mick

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AnswerID: 530944

Reply By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Apr 21, 2014 at 09:07

Monday, Apr 21, 2014 at 09:07
I recently dumped my 2 80W solar panels and replaced them with semi flexible ones off ebay.

They have the same output, but weigh about 2kg each instead of about 11kg each a saving of nearly 20kg, but best of all I stuck them to my camper with velcro and remove when parked in a shaded area. You easily can lift them between 2 fingers and they are 2mm thick ( except the terminal block which is about 15mm).

I have since got another 100W which I store under the bed of the camper, and would never go back to solid framed ones. Consider these before buying the framed ones, the price difference is almost zero now.
AnswerID: 530955

Follow Up By: Peter T9 - Monday, Apr 21, 2014 at 13:47

Monday, Apr 21, 2014 at 13:47
Hi Boobook

Are your panels semi flexible or the ones you can roll up?

Can you point to where you got those on ebay?

I had a look last night and are not really too sure about them as some said they were 24 volt however advised you could charge a 12 volt battery if a MPPT is used?
FollowupID: 813969

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 at 07:12

Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 at 07:12
Semi flexible - as noted above. There are millions of them on ebay. I got them a while ago so not sure where. It was from australia.

The specs are similar to framed panels. Ie 12V and about 19 0 21V open circuit. 18VMPP.

I use a MPPT charger, you would be mad not to these days.

FollowupID: 814017

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 at 08:46

Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 at 08:46
Also unlike the fold up/roll up ones available, like engel redarc etc, which are very flexible but expensive. These appear to be mounted on a 1 - 1.5mm sheet of aluminium, and have similar flexibility. For example, you could bend a curve with a large diameter but you couldn't fold it over in half.

The main advantages for camping I think are 80-90% less weight, easy to store, can be mounted on the camper with Velcro, clips or tape and moved really easily when parked and they don't have those hard sharp edges that scratch everything.

They seem to perform about the same as the old style but without scientific testing I recon they are a little more shade tolerant.
FollowupID: 814020

Reply By: - Johny boy (NSW) - Monday, Apr 21, 2014 at 11:48

Monday, Apr 21, 2014 at 11:48
Hi Pete,
I have a 14.6 Windsor Rapid and have two BP Solar panels on the roof running through a Plasmatronics Dingo regulator down to two 110 amp hour deep cycle batts under the front bed, we run everything on 12 volt and did so for an entire year in 2010 without a problem, we just went down south with some friends and they had no solar so I helped him out with 1x100 AH deep Cyc batt and a folding 120 w panel with built in reg, it also performed well so it depends on what you really want to do and how much you want to spend, where are you located as I'm in Penrith NSW if you feel like having a look?

AnswerID: 530962

Follow Up By: - Johny boy (NSW) - Monday, Apr 21, 2014 at 21:07

Monday, Apr 21, 2014 at 21:07
Sorry mate forgot to mention the two panels were an 80 W and a 125 W.

FollowupID: 814006

Reply By: Member Bushy 04(VIC) - Monday, Apr 21, 2014 at 15:21

Monday, Apr 21, 2014 at 15:21
Hi Pete we set up a solar system on our Millard 4 yrs ago, and it works a treat for what we want, cpac machine, lights and the ability to run the engle.
Our set up consisted of 100amp hour deep cycle battery (gell matt) a reulator and 2 65 watt solar panells.
Our set up is fixed to the van.
Hope this gives you some idears,
AnswerID: 530970

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