How much solar and good source for kit?

Mar 3, 2021
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Hi all, we’ve purchased a 1998 Fiat Ducato Suntor Swift and would like to install solar to reduce reliance on EHU. I expect we’ll mainly want to charge a couple of phones, with occasional TV, and anything else that reduces the frequency of gas refills. I get the impression that oven (microwave or conventional) would only really be possible on EHU?

Two questions:
  • Is 100W sufficient or is there some point at which you could feasibly run an oven and higher demand devices? See the image below, but looks like there’s quite a bit of space for panels.
  • We’re looking at the 100w Rigid solar panel kit with 10A PWM charge controller for £215 from this site: https://www.solartechnology.co.uk/product/100w-rigid-solar-panel-kit/. Does this look reasonable?
I have viewed several similar posts on these forums and think that 100W through this supplier seems reasonable but would appreciate confirmation (or warnings!) Thanks in advance!
 

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Jan 19, 2014
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Your usage is about the same as ours. I installed a Photonic Universe 150w panel and Votronic duo 250 mppt controller which also maintains the starter battery. Mppt are more efficient when overcast apparently 👌

It supplies plenty of power and we never need EHU, oh actually just for the hair dryer.
 
Oct 9, 2019
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Caravan for 25 years then cottages and B&Bs for 15 before finally taking the plunge with PVC
Take a look at www.craigsolar.co.uk for panels and fittings. Really good prices.

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Sep 29, 2009
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fist job climb on roof and measure what size and shape of panels could be fitted Then length of cable to get to battery. Solar won’t save any gas. But allows more time without hookup.

we installed a kit from sunshine solar, despite being 7m mh could only fit a slim 100w panel on the roof because of 4 roof vents. That does us fine.
 

Terry

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Dec 27, 2007
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Hi, Bimble solar 😉 they do panels and kit's if needed.
If memory serves me right they have a budget kit with a 200 w, ish panel using mppt Victron controller (about £85 ) for just over £200 👍👍 Always been good for me. Make sure on size of panel to fit on your roof 😉 I would also fit a second leasure Battery
 
Jan 19, 2014
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I wouldn't fit a second battery, in your case a waste of money. In the morning our battery is never lower than 70% (got a BM1 monitor😎) and that's when Ann's fallen asleep with the TV on til 4am 😆

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Nov 19, 2019
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I'm a bit confused about the oven thing? Unless it's an electric oven, no amount of solar is going to reduce the amount of gas you use! If it helps, think of solar (on a sunny day at least where your panel is in the sun) as a trickle charger being connected to your leisure battery. It won't help you with any huge, burst-type demands (think hairdryer or similar), but after that huge whack has been taken out, it will slowly replenish it while the panel is in the sun.
So - to answer the question about running higher demand devices - it would depend on your leisure battery. IF it is tiny, then big demand devices are still going to deplete the battery in minutes. You could, i suppose, cover your entire roof in solar panels but it really isn't feasible or cost-effective to so it due to other considerations.
 

Terry

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I wouldn't fit a second battery, in your case a waste of money. In the morning our battery is never lower than 70% (got a BM1 monitor😎) and that's when Ann's fallen asleep with the TV on til 4am 😆
Well the extra lb is the first thing I would fit before solar 😁 A extra battery is 60 / 80 quid and very easy fit which may well do anyone's power needs😉 For years I did without Solar. It was only when Solar became so cheap that I bothered fitting it 😁
 
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OP
sorenson
Mar 3, 2021
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Thanks all, will check out the other suppliers - looks like there are a few good value options. I'll be up on the roof with a tape measure as soon as it arrives on Friday!
I'm a bit confused about the oven thing? Unless it's an electric oven, no amount of solar is going to reduce the amount of gas you use!
The gas was more in relation to devices like the fridge that can run on either gas or electricity - as I understand it, but I'm very much new to this!
 
Jan 19, 2014
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Thanks all, will check out the other suppliers - looks like there are a few good value options. I'll be up on the roof with a tape measure as soon as it arrives on Friday!

The gas was more in relation to devices like the fridge that can run on either gas or electricity - as I understand it, but I'm very much new to this!
Forget running the fridge on solar if it's a 3 way. Electric wise they only work off the van's alternator or mains, they use too much power for solar, it's not impossible but don't even go there 😁
 
Jun 8, 2012
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Thanks all, will check out the other suppliers - looks like there are a few good value options. I'll be up on the roof with a tape measure as soon as it arrives on Friday!

The gas was more in relation to devices like the fridge that can run on either gas or electricity - as I understand it, but I'm very much new to this!
You need a special fridge to run off 12V/solar (a "compressor" fridge).

A standard 3 way gas fridge can't run off the battery, even though it has a 12V element. That is intended only be run off the alternator when driving along. It would flatten your battery in just a few hours if you contrived to connect it up.

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I2C

Feb 2, 2015
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I'm just in the process of going for solar. Taking in all the advice here I'm going with 2x80w panels, best fit for the roof space we have. Also going with the Votronic MPP 250 that others here use, can trickle charge the cab battery, saves me the cost of a battery master which was on my list as well. I'm using different suppliers for my shopping list, gives me what I want for the same price as a kit but to my spec.
 
Oct 9, 2019
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You need a special fridge to run off 12V/solar (a "compressor" fridge).

A standard 3 way gas fridge can't run off the battery, even though it has a 12V element. That is intended only be run off the alternator when driving along. It would flatten your battery in just a few hours if you contrived to connect it up.
Agreed I can confirm that my Thetford 12v fridge works fine on battery and solar.
 
Nov 19, 2019
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If you have a 3 way fridge, you can, as the name suggests, run it from 3 power sources. Number one is from mains electricity, number two is from gas and number three is from "battery". The "battery" part is misleading as, as stated above, it isn't really intended to run from your battery at all, more from the alternator of the vehicle when the engine is running.
So, in general, you usage is like this:
Driving around - running from "battery"
Parked up with mains electricity - running from mains
Parked up with no mains - running from gas

Newer fridges tend to be automatic and will choose the most suitable source all by themselves. Older vans are unlikely to have this and so normally you have to be aware of what you're running from. Some vans will drain your battery if left on that setting, some (mine included) will just turn off in that situation. Hope that helps, but if not just pop down any questions and we'll get some answers to you!

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OP
sorenson
Mar 3, 2021
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Thanks all. Yes, it is a 3 way fridge but, as you guessed, I hadn't realised the battery option was only whilst driving. Noted!
 
Sep 10, 2012
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Previous van with 3 way fridge and 100w solar and gel battery was fine.
New van 300w solar compressor fridge and lithium battery.
 
Jun 14, 2020
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Just a reminder .. when you measure up, don't forget to include the mountings in the available panel dimensions

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