Adding a solar panel to your caravan is a great way to keep the battery charged up. The solar panel will convert the Sun’s energy into usable electricity. This energy is stored away in your battery ready for use.
So how do you fit a solar panel to your caravan? What parts do you need? Choosing solar panels for caravans is straightforward. We will take you through the process.
The two types of solar panel used on caravans:
There are two types of solar panel generally used on caravans. Semi-flexible panels, and portable panels.
Semi-flexible panels are attached permanently to the roof of your caravan. They work automatically.
Portable solar panels have a fold-out stand and a long cable with battery clips. It is supplied with a strong polyester carry case. Take it out of it’s bag, set it up outside facing the Sun and clip the lead to your battery. That’s it! Very simple and efficient.
You can also tilt the panel up or down. Pointing the panel directly at the Sun makes it much more effective. This makes a significant difference to the charge stored in your battery.
Our 50 watt panel is capable of powering a small television or laptop computer on a bright sunny day.
Installing a solar panel: Professional or D.I.Y?
If you decide to fit a solar panel permanently to the roof of your caravan, will you fit the system yourself? Anyone with good D.I.Y skills and a little spare time can install a solar panel system successfully.
If you do want to use a professional installer, please get in touch. We will recommend a reputable company in your area.
So where do I start?
If you have never installed a solar panel before, we recommend that you use a SunWorks solar panel kit. Our kits contain the basics for an efficient and reliable installation. Each kit comes with illustrated instructions which will guide you, step by step through the installation.
What’s included in a solar panel kit?
SunWorks FLEX kits contain high performance solar panels, charge controller and cables.
For example, the 50-UNO-FLEX kit contains a SunWorks semi-flexible 50 watt solar panel and a matching SunWorks SB1C charge controller. The correct 8 metre cable with connectors is included.
We consider the charge controller to be be heart of any solar panel system. So all SunWorks solar panel kits contain the best charge controller to suit the solar panel.
We have several sizes of solar panel kit available, so which one is best for you?
What size of solar panel should I use on my caravan?
To help you decide what size solar panel to use, we make the following recommendations.
To simply trickle charge your leisure battery we suggest you use a minimum solar panel size of 50 watts.
Most owners will want much more power so we recommend a panel of at least 100 watts. This will provide a good maintenance charge and will keep your battery in good order. During the summer months in the UK this panel size will provide lots of extra power. Reduce the cost of a mains connection.
If you are looking for complete independence from the mains supply, we suggest you consider a solar panel array in the 150 to 200 watt range. We can supply kits in this power range. For example our 200-UNO-FLEX kit contains two 100 watt solar panels. Also included is the very capable SunWorks SB2C charge controller.
You may have read about polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels. Monocrystalline solar panels offer the most up to date technology and efficiency. All SunWorks solar panels are of this type. Another technology commonly available is amorphous crystalline. These are very inefficient and should be avoided.
SunWorks semi-flexible panels use the latest ‘back-contact’ technology. This innovative design provides better flexibility and exposes more of each cell to sunlight. So you get more electricity from less space!
Fitting semi-flexible solar panels for caravans.
SunWorks semi-flexible solar panels can follow the curve of your caravan’s roof. All of our semi-flexible panels can be bent by up to 30%. That’s 30 cm deflection on a 100 watt panel!
They are only 3 mm thick so when glued down to the roof of your caravan do not create any windage noise.
Nor do they compromise the roof structure.
They are fixed to the roof of the caravan using a suitable adhesive. We strongly recommend using Sikaflex 252i for this purpose.
Can I expand my existing system?
Increasing the size of your existing solar panel system to 150 watts or even 200 watts will make a big difference to your power independence. You can generally connect another solar panel ‘in parallel’ to your existing system. The total power available to you is simply the sum of the two panels.
If you want to expand your system, SunWorks can supply you with solar panels, controllers, accessories and any advice you may need.
Solar panel charge controllers.
Whichever solar panel you choose, it has to be connected to your battery via an electronic charge controller. The charge controller protects the battery from overcharge. It will also increase the life of the battery.
Charge controllers are available as ‘single battery’ types and ‘dual battery’ types. For a caravan, choose the single battery types. Examples are the SunWorks SB1C and SB2C.
SunWorks manufacture a wide range of suitable charge controllers. If you choose one with an LCD display you will be able to see your system working. All our solar panel kits contain a SunWorks LCD charge controller.
For more detailed information, please download our free guide: “The SunWorks Guide to installing solar panels on your Caravan”. See the left hand column on this page.
PLEASE do not consider using a rigid framed solar panel on the roof of your caravan. A caravan’s roof is usually not strong enough to take a rigid solar panel.
Use only lightweight semi-flexible panels on the roof of your caravan.