Solar panels for motorhomes and campervans, a simple way to keep all your batteries charged up ready for use. Free energy from the Sun is captured by the solar panel and converted into usable electricity.
So how do you fit a solar panel to your motorhome and what do you need? Selecting a solar panel system is very straightforward and we will now guide you through the process.
Installing a solar panel: DIY or professional?
Are you considering using a professional installer or will you fit the system yourself? If you have reasonable DIY skills and some spare time, you can install a solar panel system yourself.
If you want to use a professional installer, please contact us. We also recommend you ask your local car body shop or garage if they can fit a solar panel system for you. We can provide everything you need including full illustrated instructions.
Solar panels for motorhomes. Where to begin?
If you already have experience of installing solar panel systems, please feel free to browse through our wide range of solar panels and accessories.
For the novice, we recommend that you use a SunWorks solar panel kit. Our kits contain the basics for an efficient and reliable installation. Our illustrated instructions will guide you, step by step through the installation.
SunWorks solar panel kits. What’s included?
All of our kits contain one or more solar panels, a matching charge controller, and suitable cables. We consider the charge controller to be be heart of any solar panel system. So all SunWorks solar panel kits have the correct charge controller included. We have many types of kit available, so which is best for you?
Two types of solar panel for use on motorhomes:
The two types of solar panel generally used on motorhomes are rigid panel solar panels (with aluminium frames), and semi-flexible solar panels. SunWorks can supply kits with either type of solar panel.
Our rigid solar panels are chosen for their low cost and robust construction. You can fit them securely to the roof of your motorhome with our uPVC corner mounts. For example, our 100-UNO kit contains a 100 watt solar panel and a SunWorks SB1C LCD charge controller. Also included is an 8 metre cable with the correct connectors already fitted.
SunWorks FLEX kits contain semi-flexible solar panels which are attached directly to the roof of your motorhome, with a suitable adhesive. They are very lightweight and can follow the contours of your motorhome’s roof. For example, our 220-UNO-FLEX kit contains two SunWorks semi-flexible 110 watt solar panels and a matching SunWorks SB2C charge controller. Again, the correct 8 metre cable and connectors are included.
Incidentally, you may have read about polycrystalline, monocrystalline and amorphous crystalline solar panels. Monocrystalline solar panels offer the most up to date technology and efficiency and all SunWorks solar panels are of this type.
In addition, 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 more electricity from less space!
What size of solar panel should I use?
Solar panels come in a variety of sizes. To make it easy to choose which size is best for you, we make the following recommendations.
To simply trickle charge your engine battery we suggest you use a minimum solar panel size of 30 watts. To trickle charge a single leisure battery, use at least 50 watts.
Most owners will want much more power so we recommend a panel of at least 100 watts on a motorhome. 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 some extra power and significantly reduce the need for a mains connection.
If you are looking for complete independence from the mains supply, we strongly suggest that you consider a solar panel in the 150 to 200 watt range. We can supply kits in this power range. For example our 200-UNO kit contains two 100 watt solar panels and the very capable SunWorks SB2C charge controller.
Can I charge both my leisure battery and my engine battery from one solar panel?
You certainly can!
The Worlds first dual battery charge controllers were produced by SunWorks. Our DB1C and DB2C charge controllers have set the standard in the control of solar panels for motorhomes and boats. They are highly efficient and have a very smart appearance.
We have included these controllers in the SunWorks DUO kits. For example, the 200-DUO kit contains two 100 watt rigid solar panels and a matching SunWorks DB2C charge controller.
The 200-DUO-FLEX kit is the same but with two semi-flexible solar panels.
Fitting rigid framed solar panels to the roof of your motorhome.
We strongly suggest that you consider using a rigid framed solar panel fixed permanently to the roof of your motorhome. This is the most cost effective type of solar panel and they come in a range of sizes to suit all situations.
A SunWorks panel with mono-crystalline cells uses the most efficient technology commonly available. So they take up less space on your roof.
These panels can be mounted straight onto the roof using our uPVC corner mounts.
It is important to allow a small air space underneath the solar panel. These corner mounts will support the panel securely and allow air to flow freely.
If your motorhome is to be static for long periods of time you might like to consider mounting the solar panel on an adjustable frame.
An adjustable frame allows the panel to be tilted up to face the Sun. This can increase solar yield by up to 30% depending on the time of year and height of the Sun.
Always remember to lock the panel in the horizontal position before driving away.
Fitting semi-flexible solar panels for motorhomes.
For curved roofs consider using SunWorks semi-flexible solar panels. This kind of panel can be bent to follow the contours of a curved surface. They are very convenient in areas where a rigid panel would not sit flat on the roof. All of our semi-flexible panels can be bent up to 30%. That’s 30 cm deflection on a 100 watt panel!
They are fixed to the roof of the motorhome 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. 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, and can also increase the life of the battery. They are available as ‘single battery’ types that will charge either your engine or leisure battery, or as ‘dual battery’ type which will charge both your engine and leisure batteries from the same solar panel.
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.
Download the “SunWorks Guide to installing solar panels on your Motorhome”. See the left hand column on this page.
Portable solar panels. The third type of solar panel for motorhomes!
The simplest and quickest way to use a solar panel on your motorhome is to buy a portable solar panel. These panels have a stand that allows you to set the panel up outside the motorhome, pointing it directly at the Sun.
SunWorks portable solar panels have an adjustable stand that also allows the panel to be tilted up or down. Pointing the panel directly at the Sun makes it much more effective. Much more charge into your battery!
Our 50 watt portable panel is capable of powering a small television or laptop computer on a bright sunny day.
To use a portable solar panel, simply take it out of its bag, set it up on the ground (facing the Sun of course) and clip the lead to your battery. That’s it!
The solar panel will convert the Suns energy into electricity and charge up your battery.
At the end of the day, unclip the battery and fold away the stand. The solar panel can then be put away in its bag ready for the next day.
The SunWorks portable solar panel has a robust aluminium folding stand, and a built-in SunWorks PWM charge controller. This charge controller is designed specifically with motorhomes in mind. It will protect your battery from overcharge whilst ensuring that the battery receives the maximum charge possible.
The panel come complete with a strong and attractive carrying bag.
For more information, please take a look at our Product page which has more details, and buying information.