How to install 12v Solar Panels
Even if you're on a budget, it is still possible to fit a solar panel system to your caravan or Rv.
MYSTERY SURROUNDS SOLAR installation and it’s easy to see why. It would appear as though you need a physics degree and a masters in automotive electronics to adequately fit a solar system to your rig. You don’t want a photovoltaic cell to cross pollinate with a UNC anodized hex-head fixing, with the resultant loss of fluid dripping all over your neighbours cat now do you?
That is nonsense, of course, but the point is that a bit of common sense, patience and background reading on power requirements when free camping is all you need. Put away that electrical engineering course application – you won’t need it!
The basic parts you will need are several metres of insulated copper wire (we’ve used 4mm here), self-tapping screws, silicon, brackets for the panel and the key parts of the solar system – an iTechworld 100 Watt Hard Frame Solar Panel, an iTechworld 30 Amp Intelligent Regulator and an iTechworld 100Ah deep-cycle battery.
The accessories that you run off the battery are not dealt with here – this is all about harnessing free power from the sun.
Don’t be tempted to get a lower wattage panel to save money – sure, you can get an excellent 20W panel, a battery and regulator for less than $300. But that marvelous setup would only power your pocket LED torch for half an hour’s reading in your camp swag every night.
Instead, we’re assuming you are not in a swag under the stars but in a caravan with lights, television and 12V points for the likes of recharging a phone. To make a solar conversion worth the effort, you will need a minimum of a 100W Hard Frame Solar panel, 100Ah battery, Mounting brackets and a decent regulator – this is the best setup for those on a budget. ITechworld can provide this full package for under $600!!
As with all caravan DIY and maintenance projects, if you are not completely confident with the job at hand, please consult a specialist.
STEP BY STEP
1 Fit the iTechworld Mounting Brackets to your solar panel for installation on your caravan’s roof. You can use and adhesive to put the brackets onto the solar panel or screw into them with tech screws.
2 Position panel on roof with brackets attached, permitting adequate ventilation under the panel.
3 Prep roof with wax and grease remover prior to applying your silicon adhesive.
4 Preliminarily position the panel so you know where to clean. Try to position it clear of existing joins as the panel must come off to fix leaks in the join if they should occur.
5 Apply a bead of silicon to help secure the brackets with the panel attached to the roof.
6 Gently rest the brackets with the panel attached on the bead of silicon.
7 Use tech screws to help secure the panel if required.
8 Drill a hole and feed the wiring from the panel to the spot you’ve chosen as the new home for the regulator. If your van hasn’t been pre wired for solar, it will probably be necessary to drill a hole or holes, this can be sealed using the iTechworld Solar Entry gland. This will give you a waterproof point on the roof for the wiring.
9 Cut excess wire to suit. Mount regulator in desired spot.
10 Connect the wires from the regulator to the battery, making sure the positive and negatives correspond. Leave the regulator for 5 minutes this gives the regulator a chance to detect the battery voltage. Now connect the solar panel to regulator making sure the positive and negatives correspond.
11 Check the solar panel charging voltage and condition of the battery on the regulator. The job is done! Grab a beer. Brag at how good you are to your wife. Post some photos of your amazing job on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram. Invite the neighbours round to show off your new skills.
If you have decided to get the new high efficiency 100 Watt iTechworld Semi Flexible Solar Panel with American Solar Cells instead of the hard frame Solar Panels then the installation becomes a lot more specific to each situation. No brackets are needed for this installation. A lot of people glue our 100 Watt Semi Flexible panels directly to the roof however iTechworld have done research and found that if the panel has air flow underneath it will operate more efficiently.
View the Info graph on Semi Flexible Solar Panels HERE
Learn how American Solar Cells are changing the game in Australia HERE
Read how Generator Inverters work HERE
Read iTechworld Generator Reviews HERE
Read how to use a Generator Inverter HERE
Read how to avoid a drained battery HERE
Read about light weight Solar Panels HERE
Read 5 great tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE
Read our comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE
Read about the benefits of travelling with Solar Power HERE