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Our solar panels, an update.


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Last year we realised that we wanted to spend more time away from hookups and so the search was on to find an alternative battery charging source.


We looked at all of the products on the market, gennies, fuel cells, rotating solar panels and after many hours comparing, price checking, speaking to suppliers and answers from on here and other forums, (is that correct English?), or is it "fori" or just "forum?" Sorry I digress! We were advised to go for 2X85 Watt flat fixed solar panels.


On the van we already have 2X110 amp leisure batteries, a battery master and thanks to Autotrail, all LED lighting. Our flip down telly and satelitte box also runs through the vans 12 volt system. We have added another telly near the bed, again 12 volt, and 2 extra LED reading lights in the lounge area, a LED strip light in the cab area. (This runs off the vehicle battery) and a LED strip light in the under the bed storage area from the leisure battery. We have a 12 volt slow cooker which we also use at times. The heating system is blown air which is on all night when it's cold and has been on all day on quite a few occassions.


We have used the van quite regularly since we had the panels fitted in September and have not had to have the battery charger on when on hook up since. We have had stays of upto 10 days in the van, even through the shorter winter days, and have never had a problem with power to the leisure batteries. When parked up at home the van is alarmed and we have never had a problem of the battery going flat. We've gone for four days and three nights in November without being hooked up and not moving off site on on occassion and have never come close to running out of battery power.


I did start keeping a record of what input the panels were puting into the batteries but got bored and forgot to update it! But from the few records I have the panels have been registering as low as 0.4 Amps per hour right through to 8.9 in September in St. Ives. Today on a bright day in Barmouth they registered 2.1 at 09.00 and 6.5 at 15.30. Even at 16.30 as it got cloudy they were still registering 1.5 Amps.


As far as I am concerned they have been a great success and well worth the outlay. So thanks to anyone who gave us advice to go for them! But most of all big thanks to Leisurepower in Warrington who fitted them and at the last minute persuaded me from going for a tracking panel, saving me £1,200, despite the fact I was getting them to fix it.

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It came down to what I wanted from the panels and ultimately my outlay for the difference in output of 2X85 Watt panels fixed flat on the roof compared to a tracking panel.


I had gone to them for a tracking panel and they did give me a quote for supplying and fitting one. The guy at Leisurepower, Mike, then asked me why I wanted one and what I expected to get from it and where I would mostly be using the van. From there we discussed the why & wherefores of the two systems and at Mikes' suggestion I went for the two fixed ones. He did say if I insisted he would get me a tracking panel, but he didn't think my plans warranted one.


I am, as I have said, very happy with my choice and their advice and work.

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