When you’re cruising the open road in your trusty campervan or motorhome, there’s nothing quite like the freedom of an off-grid adventure, it’s our favourite part about travelling in our motorhome.
What if we told you that you can make your road trips even more sustainable and self-sufficient by harnessing the power of the sun? That’s right – we’re talking about how to install solar panels on your campervan in 5 easy steps.
We’ve made many upgrades to our motorhome, including changing to winter tyres and installing an inverter, but for us, adding solar panels to our campervan is the best upgrade we have made by far, with the most benefits.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to catch those rays and power your journey the eco-friendly way.
Choosing the Right Solar Panels
Before you get down to the nitty-gritty of installing solar panels on your campervan, it’s crucial to pick the right ones for your needs. Here are a few pointers to help you make an informed decision:
- Understand your power requirements: Jot down your campervan or motorhomes daily energy consumption, including appliances, lights, and charging devices.
- Choose the solar panel type: Decide between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels based on efficiency, price, and aesthetics.
- Consider panel size and weight: Make sure the solar panels fit your campervans roof and don’t exceed the weight limit.
If you would like to know more about choosing the right solar panels and what the best solar panels are, you can find out more information in our blog post here – Motorhome Solar Panels – Everything You Need To Know
Gathering the Necessary Tools and Equipment
Before you dive into the installation process, you’ll need to gather some essential tools and equipment. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with a handy checklist:
- Solar panels
- Mounting brackets or racks
- Charge controller
- Wiring and connectors
- Battery (if you don’t already have one)
- Drill and bits
- Crimping tool
- Wire stripper
- Sealant for waterproofing
- Safety gear (gloves, goggles)
How to install Solar Panels on your campervan in 5 easy steps
Now that you’ve chosen the perfect solar panels and gathered your tools, it’s time to get your hands dirty! Follow these five simple steps to learn how to install solar panels on your campervan to make the most of a sun-powered campervan:
- Plan your layout:
Measure your campervans roof and plan the arrangement of your solar panels, keeping in mind any obstacles like vents or antennas. Ensure you leave enough space for future additions or maintenance.
- Install the mounting brackets or racks:
- Position the brackets or racks on your campervans roof according to the planned layout.
- Drill holes in the roof, making sure not to hit any internal structures or wiring.
- Apply a generous amount of sealant around the holes to prevent leaks.
- Secure the brackets or racks using the provided hardware
- Mount the solar panels:
- Carefully place the solar panels on the mounting brackets or racks, aligning them with the pre-drilled holes.
- Secure the panels using the appropriate hardware, such as bolts and nuts, ensuring they are snug but not overtightened.
- Double-check that the panels are stable and well-secured to the mounting system.
- Wire the solar panels and connect them to the charge controller:
- Connect the solar panels in series or parallel, depending on your desired voltage and current output.
- Run the wiring from the solar panels to the charge controller, ensuring it’s safely routed and secured to avoid damage.
- Attach the wiring to the charge controller according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Connect the charge controller to the battery and inverter:
- Connect the charge controller to your campervans battery, ensuring the proper polarity.
- Install the inverter, connecting it to the battery as well.
- Test the system by turning on your campervans appliances and devices to ensure everything is functioning correctly.
If you’re wondering how much solar power you need for your campervan or motorhome, check out our blog post here where we can help you work out how much you need – How Much Solar Power Do I Need In My Motorhome / Campervan?
How much power can I expect to generate from my solar panels?
The amount of power generated depends on factors like panel efficiency, sunlight hours, and panel angle. As a rough estimate, a 100-watt solar panel can produce around 30 amp-hours per day in ideal conditions.
Can I install flexible solar panels on
Yes, flexible solar panels are a great option for campervans with curved roofs or limited space. They’re lightweight, easy to install, and can conform to the shape of your vehicle’s roof. Just keep in mind that they might be less efficient and durable than rigid panels.
How do I maintain my solar panels?
Solar panel maintenance is generally minimal. Regularly check the panels for dirt and debris, and clean them with a soft cloth and mild detergent when necessary. Also, inspect the mounting system, wiring, and connections for any signs of wear or damage.
Can I run my air conditioner with solar power?
Yes, it’s possible to run an air conditioner on solar power, but you’ll need a larger solar system and battery bank to accommodate the high energy consumption of the appliance. It’s best to consult a professional to determine the ideal system size for your specific needs.
Now that you’ve learnt how to install solar panels on your campervan, if you’re wondering how to maintain them and get the most out of them, then you can find out everything you need to know in our blog post here – How To Maintain Your Campervan Solar Panels For Maximum Efficiency
Now that you know how to install solar panels on your campervan in 5 easy steps, you’re well on your way to eco-friendly, off-grid adventures. Harnessing the power of the sun not only reduces your carbon footprint but also provides you with the freedom to explore without worrying about finding a power source. So go ahead, catch those rays and hit the road with the sun on your side – happy travels!
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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!