Just because you have a new or an old motorhome or camper, doesn’t mean that you can’t consistently add on to it, modify it, or customise it exactly how you want it to be. Solar Panels are a great way to add something productive and efficient to your motorhome or camper and the kind of customisation that pays off in real-world benefits.
There are a ton of reasons that solar panels are a great addition to your Motorhome or Campervan. They’re eco-friendly, energy-saving, money-saving, easy to maintain, and they run quietly, avoiding the noise of generators.
It’s also a great time to make the jump from gas-powered or AC power into solar panels as the technology is constantly improving. Solar panels are no longer extremely heavy, bulky, and undependable devices of the past.
Why are Solar Panels Beneficial for Motorhome / Campervan Owners?
There are a lot of good reasons to jump into the alternative energy universe of which solar panels are a mainstay. This is especially true when it comes to camping of any type, from motorhomes to pitching a tent in the wilderness.
You Get Power For FREE
We are big on getting things for free, when you are living full time van life or even just going away for a weekend in your campervan, it always good to get something for free
So with the price of power going up and camp sites prices going up, have a great solar package is really important.
We tried to get as much as could on the roof of our motorhome to maxise and hardness the power of the sun.
There are some significant upfront costs to purchase and install a solar panel system, especially if you want it to become the primary source of power for your motorhome. However, it’s not much more—and in some instances, it’s less—than the cost of a premium generator.
Also, with a generator, you have a finite energy source that has to be frequently replaced with fuel, which costs more money in the long term. None of that includes the fact that generators require far more maintenance and repairs can be very costly.
These are the items that we bought for our motorhome when we installed our solar panels. Depending on how many solar panels you have, you may need to purchase more cables and brackets to suit but the control panel should regulate all your solar power.
Our Motorhome Solar Panel Set-Up
You can see our motorhome in the image above, we have the following equipment for our solar set up –
- 1 x 360W Solar Panel
- 1 x 120w Solar Panel
- 1 x Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100V 30 amp 12/24-Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth)
- 2 x CraigSolar.co.uk Solar Cable Pair of 5M 4mm2 cable Red/Black with Mc4 plugs attached
- 2 x Solar Double Cable Entry Gland
- 2 x Mounting Bracket X4 (WHITE) CraigSolar.co.uk
Once you have all of the tools necessary and everything is installed, you’re good as gold and the only maintenance that you will have to concern yourself about is keeping your solar panels nice and clean.
Speaking of keeping your solar panels clean, the maintenance required on solar panels is negligible in comparison to owning generators. With generators, repairs are usually pretty expensive and it generally means it will be labor-intensive.
That’s not to mention the amount of fuel required. With solar panels, there are two levels of concern when it comes to taking care of them. The first one is keeping your batteries in top condition, checking for corrosion, and keeping them topped off.
Also, you want to keep the solar panels clean. You don’t need anything special to do the cleaning either. You want to keep dirt, debris, snow, mud, sticks, and leaves clear from your solar panels at all times.
The best part is that there is no fuel involved, no spark plugs, no oil changes, and no air filters that will ever need changing, adding to, or any additional maintenance.
There’s something to be said about not consistently burning fuel and oil in order to power your motorhome needs. Solar panels only need sunlight and they will deliver the power you need quietly, efficiently, and cleanly.
There is a valid argument to be made concerning the chemicals that go into manufacturing solar panels. They are highly toxic to humans and wildlife in general, however, so long as you maintain your solar panels and don’t toss them on the side of the road, it should be ok.
Best Solar Panels for Motorhomes/Campers
We decided to buy our solar panels from a local company that we found on Amazon, he sells the best panels for a great price.He only sells Monocrystalline panels. Mono’s are usually a little more expensive than Poly, but in general Mono perform better in common cloudy UK conditions. Despite what some people say, from experience expect 25% performance in cloudy conditions, 10% on a rainy day, 100% on sunny days.
Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
This is a very flexible solar panel that gives you plenty of installation options that other, rigid solar panels can’t do. They have 248° of flexibility which means you could almost wrap them around a telephone pole if it floats your boat.
It has a light transmittance and a higher efficiency rate than standard solar panels. It comes with an efficient—if not mind-blowing—LCD screen and the entire setup weighs less than 70% of standard solar panels. Of course, that’s an outstanding advantage in portability for motorhome travelling.
HSQT 100W monocrystalline solar panel
The HQST is the polar opposite of the Renogy in that it is a heavy-duty solar panel. Despite its size and rugged durability, it’s designed for ease of use with plug-n-play features on the opposite side of the panel.These panels are also designed to easily expand the system and add more solar panels at your discretion. Along with its durability, it is also rated at IP65 in terms of water and weatherproof.
GO POWER! GP-PSK-130 130W Portable Folding Solar Kit
This 130 Watt solar panel is unique on the list for its fold-out setting for easy assembly when you’re ready to plant roots and take a breather for a while. This is the perfect setup if you don’t want to see a bunch of solar panels on your roof or just don’t want to install them.
It’s also a good accessory for solar panels that are already installed, especially if you just need a little extra juice for your accessories. It also comes with a large number of connection options so if you already have solar panels installed, there is probably a way to connect them.
Are Solar Panels on a Campervan Worth It?
Solar panels on campervans are worth it if you want to minimise your expenses. Solar panels are the perfect solution for people who want the freedom of living off-grid in their campervan or motorhome. A solar panel can provide all necessary electricity for a campervan or a motorhome, and solar panels will also charge your leisure battery.
More Freedom of Movement
Campsites options diminish when it comes to generators because there are plenty of viable options that won’t accept generators, or that allow “primitive” versions of camping, and generators wouldn’t be allowed.
There may be some really nice campgrounds out there that you would completely miss out on if you are wholly dependant on generators for your power consumption. With solar panels, you can have all of the power and luxuries of a generator in a campground that won’t allow them.
You could also run into campgrounds where they’re available spots that have electrical hook-ups that are all filled up. Thanks to the benefits of solar power, that won’t ever be a problem for you.
No more generators breaking the peace and quiet of nature. Of course, if you park your motorhome/camper in a major campground, there will always be the typical hustle and bustle of other campers within the park.
Even so, the quiet that replaces the constant noise of a roaring generator is a little bit of bliss in and of itself. If you want to use solar power as a primary source of power, you’ll have to install multiple panels, enough to keep your batteries charged to peak throughout the day.
There are far more positive reasons to install a solar panel system on your motorhome or campervan than negative ones. If you decide to go with a solar system, you’ll have more versatility on the road and it will give you that go-anywhere mentality.
Solar panels are unique in that they are the perfect, portable accommodation for a portable lifestyle traveling across the country.
If you’d like to follow more of our adventures or keep up to date with our travel hints and tips, please join
Keep up with our full time van life travels over on our YouTube channel! If you enjoy our videos please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel 🙂 – Three As A Bird – Vanlife Travel – YouTube
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 (threeasabird.com)
If you’d like to follow more of our adventures or keep up to date with our travel hints and tips, please join our Facebook group, we’d love to connect with you all! –https://www.facebook.com/groups/309295536220437
Also, if you have Pinterest, please give us a follow for your van life travel inspiration! – https://pin.it/770Cq1Q