Solar power is not a new technology. It is, however, getting more and more advanced every year with new, increasingly energy efficient solar power equipment being developed. Whether you plan on living off the grid for years to come or enjoy watching your favourite shows while in the great outdoors, a caravan solar power unit will provide you with a renewable way to stay powered up.
Solar power works by converting sunlight into electrical charge through photovoltaic cells in the solar panels. A solar power system is made up of four key components: battery, solar panels, inverter and controller.
The solar panels draw energy from the sun which is sent through a series of cables to the controller – the brain of the whole system. The controller is able to display and manage the power output from the solar panels. It makes sure the flow of power to the battery is steady and not in spikes, which may damage the battery.
The battery stores all the power you have collected from your solar panels. If making your own setup, using a deep-cycle battery is recommended as it allows for continuous charge and discharges without damage to the battery cells. To run appliances from your battery, an inverter is needed to transform the battery’s DC power output into AC power used by household appliances.
Although the initial investment of buying a caravan solar power system may seem costly, unlike other power suppliers, the sun won’t charge you a fee for harnessing its energy to power your RV and appliances. Other power sources such as generators cost more in the long run due to both maintenance and fuel prices. Many remote campsites have also banned generators due to their noise pollution and disruption of the local wildlife. Solar panels are silent and can be easily connected to your RVs battery or other external power storage unit.
When choosing which size solar panel you need, do an estimate on how much power all your appliances need to run. A caravan with a lot of thirsty appliances such as a large fridge, television, lighting and other appliances would require additional, larger solar panels compared to a basic camper trailer.
For example, to run a caravan efficiently with minimal power loss, three, 120W solar panels would keep your electronics sufficiently powered. A simple camper trailer would only require two 80W solar panels. While a solar blanket is a great way to power your fridge and LED lighting when camping due to their low weight and versatility.