lightweight solar panels for caravan

Submitted: Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 12:11
ThreadID: 133390 Views:5166 Replies:7 FollowUps:10
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I want to fit 80 - 120 watt solar panel to my small pop top van. I don't require large unit as I'm only running lights, radio etc. Those I have researched all seem heavy. Does anyone know of good quality light weight panels that I could consider.
Helped before.
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Reply By: Malcom M - Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 12:38

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 12:38
Well they are heavy as they usually have a glass panel at the front...

If that doesn't suit you then you'll have to try a fold up type which is nowhere near as efficient and more expensive.
AnswerID: 604147

Follow Up By: Coolie - Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 18:38

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 18:38
I have a 120W portable system I use for the 4x4 and can use it with van but in an either/or situation. - was looking for a system to mount permanently on van - but not as heavy. thanks
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Reply By: skulldug - Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 13:39

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 13:39
Coolie, I highly recommend flexible direct stick solar panels from solar4rvs.com. I'm in my third year and can't fault them. Phil from this company has tested their performance when glued to the roof compared to mounted with an air gap and found it didn't make too much difference. If in doubt, buy a 135 watt panel to make up for them getting warmer. If you are handy, it's an easy DIY task. They weigh next to nothing.

Here's a link.

https://www.solar4rvs.com.au/prices-and-purchase.html

Skull
AnswerID: 604148

Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Thursday, Sep 08, 2016 at 19:03

Thursday, Sep 08, 2016 at 19:03
Skull,

I have been pondering fitting these to the roof of my Vista but wonder about the heat, for example my portable panels get quite hot and I would be interested to know if anyone has had issues with the heat soak heating up the van when they are glued directly to the roof?

Cheers
Leigh

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Follow Up By: skulldug - Friday, Sep 09, 2016 at 07:01

Friday, Sep 09, 2016 at 07:01
Leigh,

I had the same concern and asked the dealer if they lost efficiency. He referred. Me to a page on his website where he gave the results of a test he has conducted. Sorry, I can't remember the figures. There was some loss but it wasn't much. I bought 2 x 135 watt panels at a total weight of about 5 kilos. I live in Adelaide so have had no problems testing them in 45 deg. Having said that, I have no real way of knowing how much drop in performance I am getting. I'd say the advantages of a thin, light, theft proof, neat panel out weighs it.
Skull
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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Wednesday, Sep 14, 2016 at 15:36

Wednesday, Sep 14, 2016 at 15:36
Skull,

My concern is heat transfer from the panel into the interior of the van, with the Vista there is only a thin layer of insulation inside the fibre glass roof, my thoughts would be that gluing solar panels to the roof would be the same as painting the roof black, I would expect on a hot day the panels would make the interior of the van much hotter as we don't have air conditioning?

I seem to recall someone on this website posted a thermal picture of the roof inside his van and you could see the heat from the room mounted panels coming through the ceiling of the van.

Leigh

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Reply By: Member - Warren H - Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 14:50

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 14:50
You can get 'solar blankets' at around 5kg in the 80-120 watt range from ~$300 when on special at Super Cheap and BCF, Projecta brand for ~$600 " I think, and if you've recently robbed a bank, the more solar efficient Redarc version for ~$2000.
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AnswerID: 604150

Reply By: chaz r - Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 15:03

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 15:03
Get some flexible ones if you want like this

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/100W-12V-FLEXIBLE-Solar-Panel-KIT-Generator-Caravan-Camping-Power-MONO-Charging-/252072271974?hash=item3ab0ada066:g:~NYAAOSwMgdXw8xE

Problem is how light weighted you need? FYI, the weight is proportional to the thickness and thickness matters most in hard cased solar panels.

If you chasing the ordinary solar panels, go for one with a bit thickness, how many layers of protection and solar cells modulation decide the durability of the panels.

Otherwise, go for the flexible ones, they are around 3grams according to the spec, but still do the job.
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Follow Up By: wombat100 - Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 15:45

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 15:45
3 grams ??? Hmmm
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Sep 07, 2016 at 05:50

Wednesday, Sep 07, 2016 at 05:50
That is 3kg
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 21:52

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 21:52
I thought I'd be clever and bought a 100W (2Kg) flexible panel to supplement my system. Only $200 on EBay!! Anyway to cut a long story short, the panel's output worked its way back to zero in the heat of the Kimberley earlier this year - the plastic it was mounted on buckled and the panel was very hot. Now totally useless.
It was 6kgs saved and $200 lost.

I replaced it with a 100W monocrystalline panel that weighs 8kgs, and I hope lives up to its 25 year guarantee. I still use it as a portable panel.
AnswerID: 604173

Follow Up By: Member - KeithB - Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 23:14

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2016 at 23:14
I haven;t fitted mine yet, but was advised to put an air gap under them to keep the panels from overheating and to reduce heat transmission through the roof. Apparently they can get to 70-80 degrees.
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Reply By: Member - Noah273 - Wednesday, Sep 07, 2016 at 15:21

Wednesday, Sep 07, 2016 at 15:21
Hi Coolie,
We have a light weight panel by Solbian. I've attached a link to their website.

https://www.solar4rvs.com.au/solbian-australia-.html



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Follow Up By: Coolie - Wednesday, Sep 07, 2016 at 19:45

Wednesday, Sep 07, 2016 at 19:45
thanks for this. I did look at their web site and wondered. I gather you've had no probs with them ? How long have you had them?
cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Noah273 - Wednesday, Sep 07, 2016 at 20:08

Wednesday, Sep 07, 2016 at 20:08
We've only had it since mid August. We stuck the solar panel onto the back of our Trayon Camper shower so it's on permanently. It has a non slip finish over it as they use them on yachts. Fits perfectly onto our shower roof which folds down when not in use.

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Reply By: Lindsaydi - Thursday, Sep 08, 2016 at 19:38

Thursday, Sep 08, 2016 at 19:38
Mate contact dual battery systems Seaton in Adelaide his panels are designed to be glued onto roof also will work in any light. How do I know ?? I have them on my van as well as his 300 amp Batterys. He will fit and ensure all is working as it should. You may also need a dc- dc charger do not mess around buy 25 amp ctec. This is the person to see if you want it done right.Remember that there are plenty of know all not many can produce.
AnswerID: 604222

Follow Up By: Coolie - Friday, Sep 09, 2016 at 09:25

Friday, Sep 09, 2016 at 09:25
thanks for this. I take it the business name is "Dual Battery Systems". Will look them up
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