Jump to content

solar panels


Recommended Posts

Hi all, looking at the prices of solar panels, as I will be needing one of around 200 watt rateing to run all the bids and bods in the hymer, Price wise it is looking at between £500 and £650. Thats a lot of batteries. Are they realy worth the money, Or is it just better to renew the batteries as they die. Taking into acount that even with a solar panel the batteries will live a bit longer, I think after 10 years, just renewing batteries would work out, price wise anyway better value.

PS. i think that if motoring costs carry on like they are we will all be off the road in 10 years anyway.

Any views out there,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Terry,


It all depends on your MH use, if you tour in UK and Europe on CL's and Aires/Stellplatz and camps sites which do not have hook up, you will quickly run out of battery power. The solar panel is the only way to replenish you battery so you can continue using electricity.


The use of solar power is not about increasing the longevity of the batteries, although it is a factor in the life of a battery, discharging the battery to low levels without recharging them will damage a battery.


I find a 110 amp battery coupled with a 85 watt solar panel is adequate for our needs in Spring and Summer. In Winter 2 x 110 batteries would be ideal and cheaper than 2 x 85 watt solar panels, so I am seriously considering fitting an additional battery before our winter tour this year.


Hope above helps your decision Terry.


Regards Terry


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Terry, I think it all depends on what you get up to on your travels, I wild camp most of the time, as my partner and I don,t like campsites much, I run three 110 ah batteries, and as the engine is used each day, or at less once within 3 days, the batteries never get that low. I have been looking at solar panels due to her indoors wanting to stop over longer in places, but the costs of fitting solar panels to renewing batteries don,t add up, or does it. more views please, and thanks terry as always you are a good read.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

:-D We have two 92 amp batteries and 80w solar panel on our van. We had the same setup on our last van too. Its sort of fit and forget for us. Batteries stay topped up in the winter too. I like solar panels. Went to Shepton show in our first MH, an Autosleeper Palermo without a panel and ran out of electric after the second night there. :-|
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Terry, I'm glad you started this thread 'cos I am thinking through the same issues, trying to decide what to do when the new van arrives.


Having looked at a number of related threads from more experienced people than me, here and elsewhere, I'm left with the impression that solar panels aren't in general, justifiable on cost grounds - on a whole life basis including opportunity cost of the investment in buying them. But obviously this will depend on the usage of the van. The costs do seem eye-watering. However, the deciding factor for me is likely to be convenience for wild camping and remote CLs (except maybe in winter when panels perform badly of course.) The consensus across forums seems to be positive there.


The second reason why I'll probably install at least one panel is that my wife especially likes the "green" angle. We're not rampant sandal wearers and tree huggers but there is a warm feeling associated with getting energy from the sun rather than the mains socket.


I wanted to point you in the direction of a really useful post where one of the experts showed the potential real outputs for a 100w panel at different times of the day and summer/winter but can't find it. Does it ring a bell with anyone else please?


Judging by the battery capacity you can carry it looks like payload is not a worry. Have you established a weight for your 200w installation please? I have not found weights to be readily available and will have limited payload to spare.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

keithzx12r - 2007-03-25 10:51 AM


:-D We have two 92 amp batteries and 80w solar panel on our van. We had the same setup on our last van too. Its sort of fit and forget for us. Batteries stay topped up in the winter too. I like solar panels. Went to Shepton show in our first MH, an Autosleeper Palermo without a panel and ran out of electric after the second night there. :-|


When you ran out, was that with two 92 amp batteries?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We went to the Malvern show last year - didn't rate the show, but that's another matter!  We were there 5 nights on an 85Ah battery.  We were reasonably economical with the lighting, but had the water heater on a lot.  No TV, but used the radio, fridge was on gas.  The battery was still healthy before we left, but was obviously down.  I think one more night would probably have killed it.

So, what are you guys doing to get through so much juice?  Two nights only?  How?  Three 110 Ah batteries for only three nights?  At our rate of consumption they'd last us over a fortnight!

Also, I don't understand the reasoning that you either knock out batteries or have solar panels.  The solar panels will give you some charge during the day, the rate depending on time of year and lattitude, but seldom as much as the panel's nominal rating.  That will merely ensure your batteries take longer to run down, or if the panel/battery balance (+ weather and lattitude!) is right, that they don't run down at all.  That takes care of stored capacity.

What kills batteries, apart from time, is over discharging them.  Since Terry tends to move around, assuming he has an uprated alternator to cope with charging his 330Ah habitation load, plus his starter battery, plus fridge (and maybe vehicle lights, demister and wipers), he should be re-charging his batteries as he goes.  If he isn't, and they still get low, the odd visit to mains power at an aire, or on a campsite, should give him the overnight charge he needs for far less cost than solar panels (or an uprated alternator)!  With the installed capacity he has, he shouldn't need to go more than about once per fortnight to top them up to full charge, and at that rate he'll do years of touring for the cost of the panels!

I congratulate him for discounting generator sets, though!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope this thread has been as useful to Terry 1956 as it has to me. I think I've picked up the best plan for me - the van will come with a 95 ah battery so I'll add another one and see how it goes. We expect to move on every three days or less which, from the contributions so far seems to remove the need to spend out on a Solar panel. Brian's van and his electical consumption sound similar to mine so hopefully the plan should work.


I am installing a mains hook up next to the van's hardstanding in my garden so I can run a dehumidifier/anti-frost heater and it will also ensure the batteries are full before we set off.


If over time I find I am running short of power then based on what has been suggested I can either swap to two x 110 ah batteries or if absolutely essential, instal an 80-85w panel with a regulator.


Thanks everyone, really helpful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Terry 1956

On my last van I had a 110amp battery and a 75watt solar panel we never used hook up and we never run out of juice, we did try to econimize where ever pos. only had one or to lights on at a time used the fridge on gas but still had showers every night and watched the tele. most nights if there was anything decent on.

Our new van a Luner Telestar has only one 85amp battery on and no room to fit a 110amp battery. I have made room and fitted another 85amp and box alongside the present one.

I will be going to the Peteborough show next month with the intentions of having a 85 watt solar panel and I think it will be money well spent.


Another Terry (lol)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you want to extend your no hookup stay by a couple of days or so then fitting additional batteries is by far the cheapest way to achieve this. But a lot depends on what demands you place on your 12 volt leisure system and what your 12 volt system comprises.

For example if your van has a diesel heater, a compressor fridge and perhaps one of these new diesel cookers then the demand on the 12 volt system is high and you are unlikely to be able to support all of this plus normal lighting and TV with solar panels - even if they covered the whole roof! The best you could expect is to extend the duration of your stay.

But if you have a gas water heater and space heating using a Carver or Truma heater, a gas cooker and even better converted to LED lighting and only use the TV moderately then you can probably be totally self sufficient with one 80 watt solar panel during the summer.

So, the calculations have to look at the total 12 volt electrical package, not just solar panel or not.

For evening lights in the awning when a few friends gather together then the petrol powered twin mantle lantern from Coleman produces an astonishing amount of light as well as a little heat and saves running an electric awning light which is poor by comparison anyway.

We have found that at the Warners shows over the 5 days we survive very well with just one 80 watt panel. Now that’s cooking by gas!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest peter

Hi, talking about off topic, How is the weather down your way, been brilliant up here the last week so planning the next trip.

Can you still get Topics? I know they're not in the Celebrations selection any more. Perhaps people have gone off Topics.

A hazelnut in every bite init!

I couldn't agree more. By the way everyone, what do you think about this bloke at Barclays who's earned 22 mil?

He a fortuitous codger I reckon - severe case of right place right time.

Glad I don't bank with Barclay's or I might be disposed to dispose of them too.

I've started many topics and watched as the conversation wanders off and on and off again but due to my enduring capacity for tolerance I would never dream of grumbling.

By the way interesting programs on death on TV this evening - any comments anyone?

Why a message to the moderator?

Does he/she/they/them/it keep going off topic? a hazelnut in every bite" I thought that was squirrel s***!


Perhaps that is why yoy can't seem to get them now.

Spel chec doesnt wurk.

Like the new avatar starspirit.

Much more you.

Thanks Dancer - she's not as ruff as me.

At least you can pick up dozens of free pens in Barclays.

I wonder what TOP GEAR will get up to next series?

No will, I'm talking whole hazelnuts, not chopped, minced or partly digested.

Totally agree with the Moderator and much as I hate to admit it sometimes he is the only one on here making any sense at all.

Careful Richard, them nuts'll repeat on yer!

All this talk of chocolate with nuts in reminds me, I never did work out why they changed the name of Marathon to Snickers. Very unfortunate if you forget things in shops very easily and have to keep repeating under your breath what you came in for. Try it.

And Opal Fruits to Starburst - what was that about?

And Jif to Cif (and what the heck does "Cilitt Bang" mean? Sounds vaguely obscene!)

Rant over - now I've given you all lots more excuses to get off thread. usual.. europeanisation! They changed the names to the names used in rest of Europe.

in the case of the sweets I was told it was for the USA's benefit, and Cif / Jif was in case someone tried to squeeze white cleaning stuff on their pancakes [ def sounds like USA]

I preferred Lion bars myself, proper thick licorice and licorice root, and kali [?] made your finger go a funny colour tho

Have you ever tried the usa versions of out chocolate bars, like snickers and mars etc.. They taste really sicky like, as if they have gone off. (LOL a gone off Topic). I believe it is something to do with cows being grain fed and not grass.

Anyway, TO GET BACK ON TOPIC please, can you still actually get Topics, Not sure if you were joking or not.

P.S. Peter, please post again to show there are no hard feelings and you see the funny side. Just all a bit of banter and light heartedness to help life tick along sweetly.

I think maybe Peter has got the hump with all of us for partaking of the Michael and consistently showing a juvenile sense of humour. Hows about Mr Moderator rearranging the home page so that the various areas of interest are listed in order of poularity?

Motorhome Matters FIRST followed by Chatterbox and all the other also runs following on in rapidly diminishing order.

Well Pete - guilty as charged - and proud of it too.

I suppose it's nothing less than expected when you reach senility Richard.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...