If you’re starting small, be sure you leave room in your Build Design to add Batteries and Panels if needed. Now that you know how many and what kind of solar panels you need for your DIY Camper Van electrical system, it’s time to learn if you should wire your solar panels in series or parallel (and why we recommend series in 90% of scenarios). My first build! Repeated discharging below 50% will eventually require that the batteries be replaced, But note that the panels rarely if ever deliver their maximum rated output, due to variable sunlight conditions, loss of efficiency as the panels age, reduced efficiency in extreme heat and so on. So I would have a 100w, a 175w and another 175w.. Will that work? This allows me to perfectly adjust the charge parameters for my particular battery bank. For example my ‘MidNite Solar’ brand ‘Classic-200’ MPPT charge controller (as shown above) has a multitude of user-selectable settings and tweaks. If they get discharged below 50% than they can get damaged. How Many Batteries do I need for my Van? How much solar charging do you need? Solar panels have been big in the van community for a long time, and I am not the first to this party. This is even easier if you have a smart meter installed; you should be able to see your daily usage either on the bill or by checking you… If you live in an area where there are plenty of cloudy and rainy days, your battery must have enough capacity to power your solar panels until the sun comes out. The first step is to use as many DC powered items as you can. It does not take a solar installation team much longer to install a 5kW system than it does a 3kW system. 160 total amps available x.75 capacity = 120 total true usable amps from both batteries. Solar: Cloudy days will happen. You'd just need to do a lot of research and shopping around to get to that point. First off… Stop thinking in ‘number of solar panels’. How much solar do you need in a van conversion? I just wanted to say that your links on this page to a 300W solar panel takes you to a 175W panel. For the average home solar panel system, a battery serves as a backup for the evening and late night when the sun is down. For a shortcut, you can estimate a 12 Volt (Parallel) System at 10% Solar Array Wattage. Depending where you are for the winter, they might happen a lot. I already have a 100 W panel and I was wondering if I can mix them and buy another one with the highest amount of watts that I can get (175w) with the same dimensions at the 100 watts I now own. As a guide, you’ll need 4 x 250W panels, or 3 x 330W for every 1kW of your solar system. 1200 Wh / 5 hours = 240 Watts. This system is all about being versatile. TOTAL: How Much Solar Power Do I need? How many solar panels do I need? What I ended up doing was buying solar panels, but how many solar panels do you need to recharge your RV batteries? If you have 400 watts of solar, you will charge twice as fast. That panel is rated at 100 watts at peak efficiency – meaning on a 78 degree cloudless day at solar noon on the equator during the equinox. Two days of autonomy means that your batteries can supply continuous energy for two full days without charging. Key Takeaway: Estimate 200 watts of solar panels per 100 amp hours of useable battery capacity (100Ah Lithium or 200Ah AGM). Yes, the panels are still holding strong since we installed them in 2016! Watch the video below if you’re not sure how to fill out the calculator. No sun or driving necessary. A good rule of thumb is 4 hours. A system like this will cost around $4,700–$5,700 total. Other power companies worth looking at are: How much SOLAR POWER DO I NEED for my van conversion or skoolie? And how many solar panels do I need to eliminate my electric bill? Quick note before we get started. Solar panels take the energy from the sun and send it down through a charge controller where it will eventually recharge the batteries in your Camper Electrical system. Next, work out how much of that battery bank you need to recharge with solar versus other charging methods like the van’s engine or shore power. Now that you are thinking in terms of the size of the solar panel array, it’s time to determine how many WATTS of solar panels you need. How many solar panels do I need? Moderate level of difficulty. You can still drain your solar battery bank with a larger system. Check that out here: https://www.explorist.life/solar-panels-series-vs-parallel/, Everything that you are learning here is put to use in our FREE Interactive Solar Wiring Diagrams. I am now interested in fitting Solar to my van for a BIG and know very little about the systems and seek your advice please. Do your research, lots of conversion companies have their preferences. So you are going to need a total wattage of 300 combined solar panels. However, generally speaking solar panels with about 250watts capacity will put 50 amps back into the house battery each day. Divide the daily watt-hours by the wattage of your solar panels, times the number of hours of sun. Using our tool, we factor in: Improved Shade Analysis – Powered by Google Sunroof data, all estimates consider the shading and irradiance levels of every roof plane, with the panel placement optimized for the most productive areas of the roof. Do your research, lots of conversion companies have their preferences. The spreadsheet recommends I get 300 Ah of AGM batteries and 400 W of solar. As for how much solar you need to keep batteries charged when free camping, there are plenty of variables. Also keep in mind that solar panels experience a 75-90% drop in efficiency on cloudy days, so it's good to have slightly more than you need when it comes to solar power (about a 20% cushion, if possible, to account for less-than-ideal conditions). Spare me the labor and just give me the baby: I recommend 200 watts of solar panels per 100 useable amp hours of batteries as a base guideline. I wondered if it doesn't work accurately if my input (Amp hours a day) rounds to a 50 and not a 100. We've split it into three categories for you to make your decision a little easier. For the average sized shed, RV, or small cabin, our 50 watt, 12 volt  solar kit is a great starter option. It is a band, a dam good band at that. The total watt-hours per day of energy you’ll need: Compile a list of all your appliances and devices and how many hours per day each will be run. This calculator is meant for camper van conversions, RVs and small off-grid solar systems. Systems bigger than 600Ah & 1200 watts are still completely doable but are uncommon. If you have limited roof space, the best recommendation is … Again, you won't just be able to buy an appliance because your friend has recommended it. I don’t know too many people who RV under those conditions. 2 people needed. Ben says:True, DC appliances are cheaply made, but expensive to buy…so get an inverter. This spreadsheet rounds your battery bank capacity UP to the nearest 100Ah. How many solar panels do I need to power my house? Things you need to install solar power in your van (in a nutshell) Here are the 4 things you need to build a solar powered adventure van: a solar collector (solar panel), a controller, a battery bank, and an inverter. The solar array is based on Amp Hours of Lithium battery bank capacity * 2 = Solar array wattage; so 400W of solar panels in your case. So...200Ah in your case. (Think of 12v appliances)This is great if you just need to charge small gear, like phones, cameras, your roof fan, and other small accessories to keep you comfortable while camping. A 10kW solar system which consists of 40 panels can produce an average of 14,000 kWh per year. (100 watts) - Perfect for keeping your battery topped up and light 12v usage (small LED lights, phone chargers, fantastic/maxxair roof fans.). How do I connect my solar panel to my fridge? If you’ve just stumbled on this article directly without seeing that, there are likely some things we’ve already covered. Timing and Level of Difficulty. Do you have any information about how you customized your Aluminess rack to make this work? Typically when you are considering solar, this is the first question a contractor asks. 300 times 4 is 1200 watts. Affiliate Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, EXPLORIST.life earns from qualifying purchases. When my van life dream trip was becoming more and more a reality I quickly realized that I would need a way to power my fridge, batteries, and inverter without paying to plug in every few days. The first step is to work out how much electrical power you’ll use each day and then decide what size battery bank you want to install. A 300 amp-hour camper battery, for instance, would need around 300 watts of solar power. I missed a few, but the point is, there are MANY different sizes of solar panels on the market and 3, 100 watt solar panels will have the same output as a single 300 watt solar panel. This sized solar panel system left a bit of room to still hang out on the roof, and Zamp’s 80-watt panels are skinny enough that they can fit on the side of a centered roof vent. Keep in mind that, no matter what, you will still need to be mindful of turning off your systems and appliances when they're not in use. 2 How Big Are Your RV Batteries? The typical homeowner will need 28 – 34 solar panels to cover 100% of their energy usage (dependent on location and roof size). How did I come up with 300? Your batteries should be sized for your electrical demands. Now as I said before, this is a high power example, more typical of a large offgrid caravan or motorhome, but the approach is the same. Size may or may not matter. A solar fan system is kind of ironic but nevertheless much needed in the summertime. The best way to do this would be to add up all of the average usage of the electric devices and appliances in your cabin. We've worked with them for near all of our van and skoolie conversions. We specialize in start-to-finish van and skoolie conversion but love helping out the DIY community for tips, tricks, and partial conversions! Again, this is just a matter of a math calculation. As an example, let's consider the amperage draw of our RV AC and how many hours per day we plan to run the unit. You'll get to see us post weekly vlog updates on our current builds and some awesome behind the scenes content so you can get to know us better! Let’s divide that by the average amount of full sunlight per day (say, 5 hours) to get the amount of solar panels we need. So: The number of solar panels doesn’t matter. These kits offer a large battery bank that replenishes itself quit quickly dependant on your use. First of all, functionality. Solar Power For many people, camping and caravanning is about ‘getting away from it all’ and not being tied down – even to an electric hook-up point. Once you know the total wattage you need, you can divide the total wattage up into the individual solar panels you would like, which will likely be based on roof space available. A good way to estimate usage is to use this handy calculator to determine how many amp hours you use per day. The reason being if I change my power consumptions to add up to say 160 Ah, then it tells me I need 400 Ah of AGM and 400 Watts of solar, which I'd expect. On the other hand, solar panels aren’t inexpensive – although their prices are considerably lower than a few years ago – and so the question is whether you need them for your style of RVing. Solar get started! Well, the answer to this question swings between a Yes and No! This is where the financial investment can really start to add up. 4 hours. This is just one part of a overarching “How to Install a DIY Camper Van Electrical System” series. If you have 400 watts of solar, you will charge twice as fast. But I wasn't sure why it recommends 400 W of solar panels. If the number they give … It depends on what you mean by “power a (large) house”. Here's an easy way to understand what you need for van conversion or skoolie Solar power ! There are 100, 170, 200, 225, 265, 300, 335, and 360 watt solar panels. @scarlettjovanson. If you're asking yourself "How much solar power do I need for my camper?" I wanted to see how long it would take for my solar panel system batteries to bottom out (50% discharge). Shore Power: Plug in to an outlet to charge your batteries! Be the first to see new builds, videos, build openings, and available to purchase units. But you do need to be near an outlet (no boondocking). Solar Power: Solar panels are sold in varying sizes, but a 100 watt panel is a commonly found size – particularly for RVs. (Most of our videos have dogs in them, so that's a bonus), Booking Builds For Clients Across Canada & The US. So, 240 Watts of solar panels should, in theory, fully charge your batteries each day and accommodate your power consumption. I've been working through this in order to add solar to my camper/RV. Using the above example of 170Ah, it needs to produce 28.45 Amps per hour for 6 hours. If you want to be able to run absolutely everything using only solar power, you will need a system that produces around 21,500 watts per day.Unfortunately, this is difficult to do well, as you will likely run out of room on your roof. I am doing a small system in a 1995 Ford Econoline that I purchased a few weeks ago. For the average home solar panel system, a battery serves as a backup for the evening and late night when the sun is down. Solar panel costs and quantity are determined by your average electricity usage (kWh) and geographical location. Your battery will power lights, fans and other DC appliances. Typically when you are considering solar, this is the first question a contractor asks. Anything more than 9W should have one. Basic Solar Kits (DC ONLY) - Go Powers solar kits are expandable so they can grow with you and your solar needs with easy installation. Table of Contents hide. They provide fantastic customer service, they're close to us, and they have a great product that we can trust. Solar electric systems have been a part of the RV scene for several years and they are effective electric power producers. BUT KNOW THIS: More solar panels are just going to charge your battery faster, or more adequately in low light conditions. We also assumed that the average household consumes about 10,400 kWh per year and … Cost vs value of additional kWs. There is a single 125-watt panel in the front and four 80 watt panels that run along each side of the van. You can plaster every inch of your camper with solar panels, but this is ultimately a waste of money if you have nowhere to store all the energy the panels produce. : - You can start with one but, as noted above, if you have 200 watts of Panels, you should have a 200 amp hour Solar Battery Bank. If you have a 75-watt panel and 5 hours of sun per day, you would produce 375 watts per day per panel. Posted on Last updated: August 23, 2019 Categories Resources & Tutorials. 4 What Is The Easiest Way To Get Started? Or whether it is intentional? If you need some inspiration for your DIY van, check out our van conversion and skoolie gallery. Since I'll use AGM batteries, than means I need 300 Ah (since I shouldn't cycle below 50%). you're in the right place. That panel is rated at 100 watts at peak efficiency – meaning on a 78 degree cloudless day at solar noon on the equator during the equinox. Considering 6 peak sun hours per day and 300-watt panels, you need 16 to produce 700 kWh each month. This includes all installation components. If you’re considering a 5kW system, that’s between 15 and 20 solar panels that will require anywhere between 25.5 – 34m2 of roof space. You'll have to seek out high-quality RV appliances instead. If your van is based on 12V DC power, then how do you plug these appliances in? BUT, unfortunately, cranking Thunderstruck wont install, charge, or increase your knowledge of your future RV solar power system. What DOES matter is the total wattage of the entire solar panel array, which is the wattage of the individual solar panel multiplied by the number of solar panels you have. With these calculations in hand, how many solar panels do you need? This video is about the basic solar parts needed for a DIY Camper Van or RV Solar Install. But how do you decide? The charge controller on my solar panel system automatically turns off the power to my house if the batteries power discharges down to 50%. How much power you draw and how much sun the panels get to produce charge from is just the start. What's the best solar panel for van conversions and skoolies? You’ve already figured out how many amp hours of batteries you need from your solar power audit. Why we recommend a larger system How much power you draw and how much sun the panels get to produce charge from is just the start. Standard solar panels cost around 65 to 75 cents per watt. You multiply the combined wattage of the solar panels by the number of hours sunlight they will receive per day. You will need a roof space of about 340 sq ft for a 5kW system. Check them out here: https://www.explorist.life/solarwiringdiagrams/, Remember, this is just one part of a full camper van electrical educational series. Just substitute your loads and perform the same calculation. So 200 Watts (Panels) / 12Volts (Batteries) x 1.2 = 20 Amps. Ready to inquire about your own custom conversion? You will need a larger inverter and more panels, but the additional cost of these added components is relatively cheaper. You will need a roof space of about 680 sq ft for a 10kW system. Now that you have filled in ALL the blanks with the electrical items you anticipate using throughout your normal day, check out ‘Table 1.6’. The first thing you need to do is figure out how much power each device uses, and add them up: Device: Watts: Laptop: 90 Watts: Light bulb: 100 Watts: LCD television: 250 Watts: Printer: 50 Watts: Subtotal : 490 Watts: After adding up the power requirements of each device you want to use, the resulting subtotal is a good baseline to work from. So at 6.65 Amps for 8 hours, a 120W solar panel can potentially deliver 53.2Ah of chargeback into our battery (6.65Amps x 8hours = 53.2Ah). Except that it never works that way. To get an idea of how many batteries you need, all you need to do is figure out how much energy you use within this time-frame and find a battery that … (Think of 12v appliances). Complete Solar (DC) & Inverter (AC) Kits - Go Powers complete Solar Packages integrate with your van conversion or school bus conversion (RVs) electrical system and are as simple as the press of a button once installed. As for how much solar you need to keep batteries charged when free camping, there are plenty of variables. However, generally speaking solar panels with about 250watts capacity will put 50 amps back into the house battery each day. Many kits sold for caravans and motorhomes will have one included. I was a little confused. Take your time and do it right! 120 total true usable amps from both batteries / 4 days before our batteries were drained = 30 amp hours per day average need I don’t know too many people who RV under those conditions. Fill this form out and we can book a call, and get you a ballpark quote. At some point you will need to lift the panels up onto your roof – this is something you absolutely want help with. Fill out the calculator below to find out how many solar panels you need for your DIY solar panel system. But you do need to be near an outlet (no boondocking). You can't correctly size your solar PV system unless you know how much electricity your home uses. How many solar panels do you need for a caravan? No sun or driving necessary. If this is something that sounds more like your camping lifestyle, you'll need a bigger battery bank, a 1500-2000 watt inverter (depending on appliance needs), and a large solar panel kit. Watch the video below if you’re not sure how to fill out the calculator. Increasing the number of solar panels will also help compensate on cloudy days. More specifically, we will be working off of the USABLE amp hours of your batteries. How many days will your solar system run without sunshine? If you want to check out that step by step guide, you can do that here: https://www.explorist.life/diy-campervan-solar, Also, we have interactive solar wiring diagrams that are a complete, A to Z solution for teaching you exactly what parts go where, what size wires to use, fuse size recommendations, wire lug sizes, and all kind of other stuff to help save you time and frustration. This project requires a decent amount of measuring and lining up which can be time consuming. Contact us, and let us know if you have any questions, comments, or need a trained installer to help you with your campervan conversion. Before we can figure out how many solar panels you need, we need to figure out how much power you actually consume at your cabin. Watts, Volts, Amps, Amp Hours are all terms we hear when shopping for solar set-ups, so it’s worth understanding the basics of electrical measurement and what each of them mean so you can decipher the jargon and decide what you need. Many RVs sport solar panels, and they can be quite handy. Medium power draw, 2-4 x 100 amp/hr battery bank: WEEKENDER Solar Kit (170 watts) ELITE Solar Kit (340 watts) 300 times 4 is 1200 watts. Except that it never works that way. 3 So How Big Should My Solar Panel Be? Once you calculate your usage, you will find out how much solar you will need available on your rooftop. This is great if you just need to charge small gear, like phones, cameras, your roof fan, and other small accessories to keep you comfortable while camping. The inverter size must match the solar PV array's size; basically, if you have 5kW of panels on the roof, you'll need a 5kW inverter as well. To run an AC off solar power for an extended amount of time, the AC will essentially need its own solar setup. Thanks for all this great info it is very helpful. More often than not, DC items are more efficient than their AC counterparts because they are designed for RV’s and boats. Solar get started! Depending where you are for the winter, they might happen a lot. Lights, chargers, refrigerators, and many other gizmos come in both AC and DC. *Don’t think about your solar panels running your electrical devices. I'm not finding any other solutions. Solar.com has substantially upgraded its solar savings calculator to provide more accurate cost and savings estimates with solar. You will ALSO be charging from your alternator and you will also have the option to charge as needed from shore power, or a plug-in at, say, a house, campground, or even a generator. To work out the size of the panel we need, we simply take the 28.45 x 18V (average voltage of a solar panel) = 512W. A small solar panel with 1-2 batteries would suffice, with your small accessories, there would be no need for an inverter or if you did want a small one, a lighter plugin inverter is a cost-effective option. Systems have been big in the van community for tips, tricks, partial. 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