Caravan Roof Solar Panel + Regulator/Controller (eBay 20% off PRO20/PRAWNS?)

We have a Jayco Swan Outback
We often camp in the bush with no electricity (We're in the "noisy generators are evil" 'camp')

Up till now we have been running off a 120watt portable generic 21% efficiency panel I bought some years ago and 2x 100Ah 12v deep cycle gel batteries that powers lights, device charging and a WAECO 12v fridge/freezer. Sunny it runs really well, cloudy it sometimes struggles when we add a third fridge (1st fridge is gas, 2nd is WAECO)

I need more solar power - I have now added a 1500 Watt (3000W burst) pure sine wave inverter to run the nespresso machine and the hand held dicer (very low duty cycle, but it will take a serious draw. Runs the coffee machine great… after 30 cups of coffee got tired of testing off my 85aH battery in the garage.

So - I now need a second panel. Thinking of putting a flat panel on the caravan roof as main charger (and sun position optimiser) + use the existing foldable one I constantly move around as additional power.

The Jayco Swan has a wire already fitted to the roof for solar panel that terminates next to the batteries, so simple install + controller.

Any recommendations?

I have a generic regulator that came with the mobile panel that I moved next to the battery, but I probably need another one to run this panel.

Recommendations would be great

This https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/200W-Solar-Panel-Kit-12V-Mono-Po... misses a regulator but qualifies for the 20% off

Controller … https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/12V-24V-Solar-Panel-Battery-Regu...

thinking in the 200 to 300 Watt range of panel (one piece roof mounted)

Comments

  • +1 vote

    Something something Xiaomi Eneloops.

    Good luck.

  •  

    Super cheap had some folding 150W on clearance with regulator, you could see if there's any left.

  •  

    With your current battery setup you have a total of 2400w if you drain the batteries to the max but that is not recommended. (12v times 200ah)

    So we will half it? Even that is a stretch so lets say 1200watt hours total if you want decent battery life.
    Current panel will take more than 10 hours to charge this setup from completely dead or 5 hours to half charge in full sunlight not counting for losses.

    You would want at least a 200w panel i think 250w would be more suited. Watts generated is different to the rated watts most panels never fully reach there rated output you have to equate for losses of all sorts.

    •  

      Thanks
      Yes, we have till now not consumed much - the bigger battery setup was buffer in case of cloudy days. LED lights and the odd phone charger doesn't suck much beyond the WAECO…. but with the inverter being installed that will change.

      So ~250W + ~120W should be ample

      Now to open the box on top of the Jayco roof and see what the connectors look like I assume they are just the metal loops…

  • +1 vote

    The regulator you linked is a PWM one. You may be better off with a MPPT as they can be 30%-40% more efficient and you can use cheap grid connect type panels that cost less than $100 for 250W.

    I'd suggest getting another battery and running your fridge from that. i.e. have two separate solar setups use your 120W and a 100Ah battery to run the fridge exclusively. Buy another battery, mppt charge regulator and 2x250W panels for everything else. Cost - battery $100; panels $160; mppt 140.

  •  

    Ask those in the know in Facebook camping groups - they talk about solar all the time.

  • +2 votes

    A suggestion for you. Do not go down the path of the super think panels that get glued to the roof of the caravan.
    They have a tendency to get too hot which reduces their efficiency. You need to mount them in such a way to allow a little air flow underneath.
    Further, on one of the forums I’m a member of (Myswag) many comments about the super thin panels failing and as they’re glued on being a pain in the neck to get off.

    I think the best solution is to have as much fixed panels on the roof as you can and a good amount of portable panels and some long cables. We hate setting our van up in the full sun (prefer the shade) which means the roof panels mostly don’t work. Our portable solar blankets then come out.

    •  

      Good advice re the cooling and removal.

      I am buying a van this week, fitting it out for weekends away - maybe a trip to next WA desert flowering - and need to see what others do. Can you link to any sites are good for Oz, for tips and advice?

    •  

      The mountings I were looking at leaves a fair amount of air gap so air flow works.
      Will make sure there is enough space.

      Alternatively, I have seen some of the guys use bungee cords to mount the panel on the caravan roof racks (leaves plenty of air and it gives them a little (~1m of) mobility depending on shade situation ….

  • +1 vote

    I just ordered 2 x 250W for my campervan from these guys as part of the PRAWNS sale. $300 for 500W of panel is ideal for my setup.

    https://www.ebay.com.au/sch/m.html?_odkw=&epid=2248051936&_s...

    I am planning on going for the REDARC BMS - expensive but does everything I need (and works nicely as currently I have none of the individual components that it would replace if I were just doing an upgrade).

    •  

      Thanks. I'll get the same 250 W squarish panel. the 220W is slightly cheaper per Watt.
      We hardly use power other than the fridge and the coffee machine duty cycle will be 2x10 minutes in the morning which is not much

      The Red-Arc to dear for our limited use!

      Will look at MPPT as @iratepirate suggested

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