Dreaming of hitting the open road in your campervan or motorhome and leaving the worries of the world behind? One question might be bugging you, though: How much power do campervan solar panels generate for your campervan?
We’ve been travelling full time in our motorhome all over the UK and Europe for a while now, and we think we have the experience to be able to inform you about everything you need to know about solar panels. For us, they are by far the best upgrade we have made to our motorhome.
So worry no more, my friend! In this ultimate guide, we’ll dive into the ins and outs of solar power for campervans, helping you make the most of this fantastic, eco-friendly energy source.
Harnessing the Sun’s Energy: An Overview of Solar Power
A. The Magic of Photovoltaic Cells
Solar panels rely on photovoltaic (PV) cells to transform sunlight into electricity. These cells, usually made of silicon, capture photons from the sun and release electrons, which then flow through an electrical circuit to create a current. Solar panels consist of multiple PV cells connected together, working as a team to produce power.
B. Advantages of Solar Power
Solar power is a renewable and clean energy source, meaning it’s both environmentally friendly and abundant. Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy won’t deplete Earth’s resources or contribute to climate change. Plus, solar panels operate silently and require minimal maintenance, making them an ideal choice for campervan owners who appreciate peace and quiet.
First of all, if you’re wondering whether it’s even worth you getting solar panels for your campervan or motorhome, we have written a blog post here which should hopefully help you to make up your mind – Should I Get Solar Panels For My Campervan?
How Much Power Do Solar Panels Generate for Your Campervan?
A. Factors Affecting Solar Power Generation
Several factors influence the amount of power solar panels generate for your campervan:
- Solar panel efficiency: This refers to the panel’s ability to convert sunlight into electricity. Higher efficiency panels will produce more power per square foot.
- Size of the solar panels: Larger panels can accommodate more PV cells, thus generating more power.
- Sunlight exposure and positioning: Solar panels perform best when they receive direct sunlight and are angled correctly to maximise sun exposure.
B. Estimating Your Campervans Solar Power Needs
To figure out how much power solar panels generate for your campervan, you first need to determine your daily power usage. Start by listing all your appliances and devices, and calculate their combined energy consumption in watt-hours. Next, divide this total by your solar panel’s efficiency and the average number of sunlight hours per day to estimate the required solar panel capacity.
|Power Rating (W)
|Current at 12V (A)
|Amp Hours (Ah) Required
|Energy Top-up/Day (Wh)
If you need more information about how to figure out how much solar power you need, we have a blog post that you can check out here, where we tell you all about our own solar set up and how much power we have and we have also contacted van life youtubers to find out about their solar panel set up too – How Much Solar Power Do I Need In My Motorhome / Campervan?
Setting Up Your Campervans Solar Power System
A. Solar Panels: Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline
There are two main types of solar panels: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are more efficient and perform better in low light conditions, but they’re also more expensive. Polycrystalline panels, on the other hand, are more affordable but slightly less efficient.
B. Essential Components of a Solar Power System
In addition to solar panels, a campervan solar power system requires the following components:
- Charge controller: This device regulates the flow of electricity from the solar panels to the battery, ensuring it’s properly charged and preventing overcharging.
- Inverter: This converts the direct current (DC) electricity produced by the solar panels into alternating current (AC), which powers most household appliances.
- Battery storage: Batteries store the excess energy generated by the solar panels, ensuring a steady power supply even when the sun isn’t shining.
If you’d like to know more about how to install your solar panels on your campervan or motorhome yourself, then we have written a guide to help you here – How To Install Solar Panels On Your Campervan In 5 Easy Steps
Tips for Maximising Your Solar Power System’s Performance
A. Proper Solar Panel Installation
To get the most out of your solar power system, you’ll need to install the panels correctly:
- Securing panels on the roof: Attach the solar panels to your campervans roof using sturdy mounting hardware, ensuring they’re safe from wind and other elements. If you don’t feel confident in installing your solar panels yourself then contact a professional to help.
- Ensuring optimal tilt and orientation: Angle your solar panels to face the sun directly, maximising sunlight exposure. In the Northern Hemisphere, panels should face south, while in the Southern Hemisphere, they should face north. Adjust the tilt of your panels according to the latitude and season to optimise energy production.
B. Solar Power System Maintenance
Regular maintenance will keep your solar power system running smoothly:
- Regular cleaning of solar panels: Dirt, dust, and debris can reduce your solar panels’ efficiency. Clean them periodically with a soft brush and mild soapy water to maintain optimal performance.
- Periodic inspection of components: Check your solar power system’s components, such as the charge controller, inverter, and battery, for signs of wear or tear.
If you’d like a more detailed guide about how to maintain the efficiency of your solar panels, then you can check out our blog post here – How To Maintain Your Campervan Solar Panels For Maximum Efficiency
How much power do solar panels generate for your campervan on a cloudy day?
On cloudy days, solar panels may produce 10-25% of their rated capacity, depending on the cloud cover and panel type. Monocrystalline panels typically perform better in low-light conditions than polycrystalline panels.
Can I install solar panels on my campervan myself or should I hire a professional?
While installing solar panels on your campervan is possible as a DIY project, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of electrical systems and solar panel installation. If you’re not confident in your abilities, hiring a professional is recommended to ensure a safe and effective installation.
What are the best solar panel brands for campervans?
Some of the top solar panel brands for campervans include Renogy, Zamp Solar, and Goal Zero. When selecting solar panels, consider factors such as efficiency, size, and price to find the best option for your specific needs.
If you’re wondering what the best solar panels are for motorhomes and campervans, check out our guide here – Best Solar Panels for Motorhomes and Campervans
Conclusion: Sun-Powered Adventures Await
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of how much power do solar panels generate for your campervan. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently set off on your off-grid adventures without worrying about running out of juice. Remember, when it comes to solar power, the sky’s the limit! So go ahead, embrace the sun, and enjoy a more sustainable, eco-friendly way to explore the great outdoors.
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You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice
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I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.
Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.
There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.
After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.
It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!