The preservation of the environment is today at the center of all concerns, and renewable energies are increasingly in demand. Hydraulic energy, geothermal energy, wind energy or biomass, the “green” energies are numerous. Solar energy, meanwhile, is illustrated in the form of solar panels or photovoltaic panels. The use of these panels, initially reserved for companies and a few individuals, has recently become much more widespread. To date, solar energy seems to be one of the most developed, and its use has diversified. We can find solar panels almost everywhere, especially in vehicles like motor homes and caravans. But what about those photovoltaic kits that adapt to many situations? How do they work and at what cost can you access them? In this article we will answer all the questions you may have about solar panels for caravans, which are often not well known to the general public. Under the new ECO4, solar panel grants are available to households across the UK in 2023. Read the Warma UK guide to know how to qualify for a solar panel grant.
Solar panel for caravan: how it works
Why add solar panels to your caravan? A caravan can be defined as a miniature nomadic house. As a mobile home, it differs from a conventional house in its energy needs.In general, we use solar generator sets to meet these needs. This solution is not really real.In fact, the generator set is bulky and sometimes requires connection to dedicated public networks. It is also possible to connect to the electricity network, as in a campsite, but mobility is left aside.This is why many people today choose to turn to solar power for their caravans. This allows them to be more independent during their travels. Using solar panels for campers for a caravan has many advantages: as well as being relatively light, it requires very little maintenance and is quiet when in operation.Small in size and easy to install, the solar panel is a very good energy alternative for your “mobile home”. In fact, it can easily be adapted to the format of the caravan. You can place it on the roof of the caravan or on the ground with a support, trying to find the best orientation.
How does it work?
The operation of the solar panel for caravans is relatively similar to that of a conventional solar panel. The solar module is used to capture the sun’s rays. The captured solar energy is converted into usable energy by a 12v inverter. Like its installation, the use of the solar panel in a caravan is quite simple.First of all, an essential element must be taken into account: the level of sunlight in the area where it is located. The season of the year in which the caravan is used is also an important factor. You will also need to check the ability to convert light energy to electrical energy, which can be subject to many variables.Indeed, many factors such as the power of the panel, the intensity of sunlight, the number of hours of exposure or the angle of incidence of the rays on the panel influence the good production of an installation.Before starting, it is essential to determine the level of energy consumption of the caravan (electrical devices).Once all this has been resolved, you will be able to take full advantage of the benefits that a photovoltaic panel can bring.
Solar panel kit for caravan: how to choose?
The choice of the type of panel for a caravan solar kit depends above all on the desired level of energy consumption.To do this, simply make an inventory of the various electrical devices present, the power of each device and its daily use time.A simple calculation between these data will be enough to determine your daily energy needs.For example, with a device that consumes 50 watts with a daily usage time of one hour, the need would be 50 watts x 1 hour = 50 Wh.There are new models of flexible solar panels that are perfectly suited for use in caravans or other passenger vehicles.This type of panel, flexible within a limit of 30 degrees, will adjust perfectly to the relief of the roof of your caravan. Also, it is very easy to install.Rigid solar panels are more suitable for a break on a flat surface or on the ground with the help of a bracket to maintain the correct tilt angle.
Composition of the solar panel kit for caravan
Here we will focus on the elements that make up a caravan solar panel kit. As mentioned above, the solar panel kit is made up of several elements. As a general rule, we find that the solar panel comes with a charge regulator adapted to the solar panel, as well as cables and connectors.The charge regulator allows you to regulate the level of energy contained in the batteries in order to avoid the risk of overcharging.The RV solar panel kit also includes a 12 volt lithium battery, as well as fasteners that will allow you to hold the solar panel to your desired surface. The system also includes an inverter to convert direct current to alternating current.
Caravan solar panel: what power to choose?
The power of the solar panel is an important issue once you decide to invest in a caravan solar panel.The choice of solar panel power depends on different criteria: the space available, your daily energy needs or the environment in which you will choose to install your caravan.Above all, it is important to know that there are different types of photovoltaic panel technology to supply electricity to mobile homes or motorhomes:
- Solar panels with monocrystalline cells: they offer the best efficiency on the market and are therefore the most suitable for large energy needs.
- They are more efficient in low light conditions, and are preferable in areas where little radiation falls.
- Solar panels with polycrystalline cells: they are more efficient at high temperatures and have a lower cost than monocrystalline cell panels.
Depending on the space available
To guide your choice, you should first consider the space you have available to install your solar panel. In a caravan, this space is usually quite limited. You must also take into account the space occupied by the batteries and other elements necessary for their installation inside your caravan. The use of 12v lithium battery mainly serves to store the surplus energy produced by your solar panels. This surplus can be used later, for example, when the weather conditions are more unfavourable.
According to your daily energy needs
Choosing the power of solar panels for your caravan directly depends on your daily energy needs. Therefore, before choosing your energy, you will need to estimate your energy needs. You will only need to make a list of the electrical devices present in the caravan and observe the power of each one. Then, you must take into account the time of daily use of each device.By knowing your daily energy needs, and adapting the power of your solar panels based on these needs, you will never run out of power during your travels.Appliances are usually accompanied by an energy label that gives information on consumption in kWh/year or kWh/day.This very accurate label will give you an idea of the consumption of each household appliance you own. Once your consumption levels have been recorded, all you have to do is add it all up to define your overall energy need.
Other criteria to take into account
Other external criteria can influence the calculation of the optimal amount of energy to produce for your caravan.These criteria are generally related to the environment in which the caravan is located (level of sunshine, choice of season, etc.).It is up to you to judge whether this factor is influential enough to be taken into account in the calculation.