We own a family size Coromal caravan and I have recently fitted our van with 1×200 watt solar panel. (Read our post comparing the best family caravans. )
I have documented the process to help others that are looking into it. It cost me a total of $1,015 for parts but that amount included 2 deep cycle batteries.
When we purchased our van we did not option it with solar as I knew I could do it myself for 1/3rd of the price (less actually). The one thing we did option and pay for was the ‘pre wiring for solar’. This is done at the build stage of the van when all the panels are off. Trying to run wires through the roof or walls after the build stage is nearly impossible. The pre wiring is installed at an approximate solar panel position in the roof cavity from an electrical junction box above the sink cupboard to the one 12 volt battery that came standard with the van. The wiring is not connected to the battery from factory and not required to (more later re the wiring).
How much solar did we need?
This question leads to so many other questions and remembering solar is really only needed when you are on non powered sites or out in the bush free camping. If you are on a powered site your van would normally have a 12 volt charger run off the 240 volt supply that charges your battery.
I needed to work out some basics prior to installing a system
- What appliances I was going to run off the battery (such as a separate 12v fridge like an Engel, TV, fan,etc)
- The current draw each of these items drew (amps) over an hourly period (amp hour) x how many hrs in the day they would operate.
- Total battery capacity (van came with 1 x 105ah battery) and type of battery (AGM, wet Cell, etc)
- Approximate Peak Sun Hours (PSH) that the panels would be producing their highest output. Less sun equals less output. Panels can also lose their efficiency when they get very hot and most panel output rating is actually less (some say up to 30% less) than manufacturer stated.
Shopping for my solar system
- 1x 200watt solar panel $215
- Plastic mounting brackets and cable block $93
- 2m solar cable extension $13
- 1 x 30amp MPPT solar regulator $60
- 2 x tubes of ‘Sikaflex 291’ $34
- 2 x 110ah AGM batteries $295 each ($590 for 2)
- 1 x battery box for 2nd battery $15
Fitting the solar system to the caravan
- First set are the wires from the solar panel
- Second set are the wires for the van load (these were originally connected to the battery at the factory)
- Third set are new wires that need to be run from the regulator to the positive and negative of one of the batteries
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