Solar panels or an extra battery?

Do I get an extra 110a battery to go with the one I already have or get a 150w solar set up instead?

  • Solar

    Votes: 12 40.0%
  • 2nd Battery

    Votes: 18 60.0%

  • Total voters
    30

tonka

LIFE MEMBER
Jul 2, 2008
8,020
11,170
Cannock, Staffs or Benidorm, spain
Funster No
3,141
MH
A class Burstner
Exp
Since 2000
Extra battery first as you already have the capability to charge that via hook up or the alternator and will give you double capacity.... Then Solar....
 

DP+JAY

LIFE MEMBER
Mar 17, 2010
2,197
4,648
Cark, Cumbria
Funster No
10,674
MH
Overcab with Garage
Exp
since 2007, 25 years tuggin before that.
Both, especially if you're using it in winter, off grid.
 

jonandshell

Free Member
Dec 12, 2010
5,485
8,327
Norfolk
Funster No
14,648
MH
Not got one!
Exp
Since 2006
Neither!

Fit a battery to battery charger first, that will make your alternator earn its keep and give you RELIABLE recharging capability.
Not much sun during our winter months and the battery will sulphate through opportune charging. And that is if the solar can keep up with your energy demands.
 

scotjimland

Free Member
Jul 25, 2007
32,019
29,509
.
Funster No
15
MH
.
Exp
.
since you haven't explained what type of camping you do, when you do it, where you do it, what kit you use and why do you need the extra capacity it's not possible to advise..

In many many years of motorhoming I have never had solar, nor any extra batteries... not because I always use EHU .. but because I use the battery power wisely and make it last..

I don't need or want a big inverter becuase I don't need or want a microwave, don't need or want a hair dryer.. or any other power hungry toy.. but I know we are all different .. .. some need extra power for medical equipment.. hence my first statement..

As a first step I would take Jon's advice and fit the B to B charger..
 
Last edited:
Jul 29, 2012
2,750
4,378
Lost in La Mancha, Spain
Funster No
22,171
MH
Benimar, Mileo 290i
Exp
Not long enough, but a little common sense helps..........
Having now fitted a B2B I would say forget solar and get second battery and fit the B2B. It is less weight than a solar panel and as already stated by jonandshell a great bit of kit when you cannot rely on the sun............
 

DuxDeluxe

LIFE MEMBER
Jul 10, 2008
11,214
30,125
Planet Zog
Funster No
3,243
MH
A Class Le Voyageur
Exp
since 2008
Agree with Jims post above, but as "unwise" people, we fitted solar and already had the second battery. Don't need to worry about power useage too much. EHU is used as well, depending on how we camp. The last thing we want to do is to worry about "should we turn the TV off" etc., so went for more than we need
 

Dogeared

LIFE MEMBER
Jan 16, 2013
408
360
Blackburn
Funster No
24,310
MH
Eldiss autoquest 155
Exp
Since 2011
Both, just been away for five weeks, no need to hook up, no worries about maintaining charge.
 
Feb 16, 2013
12,335
16,120
uttoxeter
Funster No
24,713
MH
ambulance conversion
Exp
50 years
Both, just been away for five weeks, no need to hook up, no worries about maintaining charge.
We have been away 5 weeks as well, although we are not big electric users we have a 110 battery and an 85 no solar no btob no hookup, and never came anywhere near running out of battery although we did do anything up to a hundred miles a day
 
Jul 29, 2012
2,750
4,378
Lost in La Mancha, Spain
Funster No
22,171
MH
Benimar, Mileo 290i
Exp
Not long enough, but a little common sense helps..........
We have been away 5 weeks as well, although we are not big electric users we have a 110 battery and an 85 no solar no btob no hookup, and never came anywhere near running out of battery although we did do anything up to a hundred miles a day
What you do not state is what you are using on the single 110amp battery daily.

Many folk have phones charging, laptops charging tablets charging, TV on, shower running, I think you get the idea, so for many a single 110amp battery WILL NOT cover ALL these items. I understand that many perhaps like yourself run the MH 12 volt power on a "frugal" bases, but many want their MH to be an extension of their home and what all the comforts that that has. On average around 10amps per hour I guess would be the average MH owner usage and a 110amp battery will only give 55amps before it starts to DIE (50% of battery is used) so 5 hours of running MAX would be about right. Then you drive 100 miles ( say around 3 hours driving ) and your built in charging system regulates the amps returning to the battery ( this drops to around 3/5 amps PER HOUR after 30 minutes of driving - it will start of as 15/20amps, but drops very quickly ) so fact is your battery is only getting "topped up" nothing else NOT fully charged as many think or believe. So 3 x hours driving at 5 amps ish per hour gives you 25 amps back, but you took out 55 amps, this is why it takes 3/4/5 days of charging at 3/5 amps without a break in the charging cycle to FULLY charge a battery and NOT DRAWING power from the battery whilst charging is happening.

Most MH owners do not understand how the charging system works as long as is works!!!!! and that is why so many MH owners go through batteries like they fill up with fuel.

It has taken me months to read/understand all of this before fixing it. Now I have a system that fits my needs, which I fully understand may not be the requirements of others.

The fact is that many MH owners are not worried about 12 volts as many run on EHU ALL of the time..........
 
Feb 16, 2013
12,335
16,120
uttoxeter
Funster No
24,713
MH
ambulance conversion
Exp
50 years
What you do not state is what you are using on the single 110amp battery daily.

Many folk have phones charging, laptops charging tablets charging, TV on, shower running, I think you get the idea, so for many a single 110amp battery WILL NOT cover ALL these items. I understand that many perhaps like yourself run the MH 12 volt power on a "frugal" bases, but many want their MH to be an extension of their home and what all the comforts that that has. On average around 10amps per hour I guess would be the average MH owner usage and a 110amp battery will only give 55amps before it starts to DIE (50% of battery is used) so 5 hours of running MAX would be about right. Then you drive 100 miles ( say around 3 hours driving ) and your built in charging system regulates the amps returning to the battery ( this drops to around 3/5 amps PER HOUR after 30 minutes of driving - it will start of as 15/20amps, but drops very quickly ) so fact is your battery is only getting "topped up" nothing else NOT fully charged as many think or believe. So 3 x hours driving at 5 amps ish per hour gives you 25 amps back, but you took out 55 amps, this is why it takes 3/4/5 days of charging at 3/5 amps without a break in the charging cycle to FULLY charge a battery and NOT DRAWING power from the battery whilst charging is happening.

Most MH owners do not understand how the charging system works as long as is works!!!!! and that is why so many MH owners go through batteries like they fill up with fuel.

It has taken me months to read/understand all of this before fixing it. Now I have a system that fits my needs, which I fully understand may not be the requirements of others.

The fact is that many MH owners are not worried about 12 volts as many run on EHU ALL of the time..........
I understand and agree with all you say, but we do have an 85 as well as the 110, we have had this van 2 years and it came with the 110 according to the service history it was fitted two years before that , so it is 4 years old , the 85 came free so shoved that in as well this year, as I said we are not big users of electric, shower, lights, water pump and chargeing two tablets and three phones etc but it never gets below 12 v on the dial thingy and maybe up to 14 when charging , not a very accurate dial thing so these figures might not be gospel, but unless someone has fitted a btob type of thing that I don't know about, the normal charging thing keeps it up and has never failed, without hookup or solar.
Btw the 110 managed quite well on its own , I only put another one in as , I said , it came free so shoved it in.
 
Jul 29, 2012
2,750
4,378
Lost in La Mancha, Spain
Funster No
22,171
MH
Benimar, Mileo 290i
Exp
Not long enough, but a little common sense helps..........
I understand and agree with all you say, but we do have an 85 as well as the 110, we have had this van 2 years and it came with the 110 according to the service history it was fitted two years before that , so it is 4 years old , the 85 came free so shoved that in as well this year, as I said we are not big users of electric, shower, lights, water pump and chargeing two tablets and three phones etc but it never gets below 12 v on the dial thingy and maybe up to 14 when charging , not a very accurate dial thing so these figures might not be gospel, but unless someone has fitted a btob type of thing that I don't know about, the normal charging thing keeps it up and has never failed, without hookup or solar.
Btw the 110 managed quite well on its own , I only put another one in as , I said , it came free so shoved it in.
Well, firstly you should always fit if possible ( the jury is out on this one! ) the same size of battery because it is said the smaller one will drag the larger one down!! so you could have 170 amps and not 195 amps as you thought. Then there is the "dial thingy", which I sure is not displaying anything more than "leds" so you really have no idea what the current voltage state of your battery is or for that matter what amps you are currently drawing whilst sitting in MH. In theory therefore you could be drawing down your batteries each night to 12.2, but your "leds" say 12volts!!! this is why having a good battery monitor fitted is paramount for keeping batteries "tiptop" hence my posting with photo's of things I have added that most of not all MH builders do not fitas standard: http://www.motorhomefun.co.uk/forum/threads/batteries-off-grid-my-findings-my-fix.91514/page-7#post-1128608

Before others say " you do not need those sort of things" I understand that, but as I have said above it "suits" me.
 
Last edited:

joner8888

Free Member
Jan 4, 2012
2,187
1,974
somerset
Funster No
19,320
MH
Fiat Ducato
Exp
A few years now
Depends if you camp in a field a lot with no EHU--
Most campers use a camp site with leccy included, so why bother with all that stuff, just hook up, sit back and forget about amps and stuff and have a beer out of a working fridge and knowing, after a winters day out walking that your MH will be warm inside after you leave your blown heating on low (y):)
 
Jul 29, 2012
2,750
4,378
Lost in La Mancha, Spain
Funster No
22,171
MH
Benimar, Mileo 290i
Exp
Not long enough, but a little common sense helps..........
Depends if you camp in a field a lot with no EHU--
Most campers use a camp site with leccy included, so why bother with all that stuff, just hook up, sit back and forget about amps and stuff and have a beer out of a working fridge and knowing, after a winters day out walking that your MH will be warm inside after you leave your blown heating on low (y):)
Joner8888, I fully understand this and do NOT have a problem whatsoever with the idea after all it is their MH to do with as they see fit, however that is why I made my statement "Most MH owners do not understand how the charging system works as long as is works!!!!! and that is why so many MH owners go through batteries like they fill up with fuel. The fact is that many MH owners are not worried about 12 volts as many run on EHU ALL of the time.........."
 

Christopher Robb

Free Member
Oct 20, 2014
13
3
Haslemere
Funster No
33,901
MH
Autocruiser Vision
Exp
I'm new to it - a converted yachty
Joner8888, I fully understand this and do NOT have a problem whatsoever with the idea after all it is their MH to do with as they see fit, however that is why I made my statement "Most MH owners do not understand how the charging system works as long as is works!!!!! and that is why so many MH owners go through batteries like they fill up with fuel. The fact is that many MH owners are not worried about 12 volts as many run on EHU ALL of the time.........."
Hi, having just bought my first motor home, and Autocruise Vision, I am amazed by the feeble charging mechanisms that seem to be on all motor homes. I am used to yachts and have a domestic bank of 600 A/H - yes I know - far too much for a MH.
But:
The cables connecting the battery are tiny. If the full ampage of the alternator (60 a/h?) were to flow through it, I dare say it would start a fire!

I have checked the voltage at the engine battery when running (14.5V) and the domestics (14.2V). So loosing 0.3 of a volt down those small wires. Ideally this should reach 14.4V. I was proposing to add a second battery, and a Nasa BM1 battery monitor, as I have absolutely no idea what amps the lighting will consume (small strip lights). I presume that I should upgrade the wires with a reasonable section to get the voltage up at the domestic battery - which should improve the charging rate to that battery.

Any ideas - I know that the demands of a MH are not as great as those of a yacht when you cannot get any shorepower - EHU - not heard of that before!
 

scotjimland

Free Member
Jul 25, 2007
32,019
29,509
.
Funster No
15
MH
.
Exp
.
I know that the demands of a MH are not as great as those of a yacht when you cannot get any shorepower - EHU - not heard of that before!
EHU same as shorepower... ie Electric Hook Up .. available on most sites, and in the UK generally 16Abut can be less, maybe 10Amps.. abroad it varies greatly .. from as little as 2 amps , 6amps 10 amps and 16amps.. always check when plugging in..

cable from the alternator charging the habitation battery will be fused to protect it from overload and going on fire.. generally 25Amps , and usually found under the bonnet.. sometimes just taped to the loom..

an upgrade in the cable size will certainly reduce the volt drop..

but if you really want to improve charging install a Sterling bat 2 bat charger.
 
Sep 23, 2013
2,343
2,719
Lincs
Funster No
28,231
MH
Globecar Campscout PVC
Exp
Since 2008 (started in a VW T4 campervan)
Hi, having just bought my first motor home, and Autocruise Vision, I am amazed by the feeble charging mechanisms that seem to be on all motor homes.
Ah - you've noticed!

Yes, coming from a marine background, you will be pretty horrified. UK manufacturers appear to think we go from club or commercial site to site, never spending more than 24 hrs away from EHU (Electric Hook Up, or shorepower).

Continental vans are usually better equipped, although often still leave something to be desired.

In general and with a few honourable exceptions, dealers aren't much help either, with an almost frightening lack of knowledge about 12V systems.

All is not lost - there is a wealth of information on this site about the sensible application of marine system principles to motorhome situations. Given your background, you will be half way there already, but there are several knowledgeable people on here who can answer any questions about applying your knowledge to what is practical in a motorhome.
 

Christopher Robb

Free Member
Oct 20, 2014
13
3
Haslemere
Funster No
33,901
MH
Autocruiser Vision
Exp
I'm new to it - a converted yachty
EHU same as shorepower... ie Electric Hook Up .. available on most sites, and in the UK generally 16Abut can be less, maybe 10Amps.. abroad it varies greatly .. from as little as 2 amps , 6amps 10 amps and 16amps.. always check when plugging in..

cable from the alternator charging the habitation battery will be fused to protect it from overload and going on fire.. generally 25Amps , and usually found under the bonnet.. sometimes just taped to the loom..

an upgrade in the cable size will certainly reduce the volt drop..

but if you really want to improve charging install a Sterling bat 2 bat charger.
I use on the boat a Sterling Alternator controller, which activates the field current. With a 110 amp alternator - with low batteries I can see in excess of 80 amps going in. The Battery to battery charger is much easier to instal so I might get one - but first - the BM1 monitor to know whats happening.
 

Christopher Robb

Free Member
Oct 20, 2014
13
3
Haslemere
Funster No
33,901
MH
Autocruiser Vision
Exp
I'm new to it - a converted yachty
Ah - you've noticed!

Yes, coming from a marine background, you will be pretty horrified. UK manufacturers appear to think we go from club or commercial site to site, never spending more than 24 hrs away from EHU (Electric Hook Up, or shorepower).

Continental vans are usually better equipped, although often still leave something to be desired.

In general and with a few honourable exceptions, dealers aren't much help either, with an almost frightening lack of knowledge about 12V systems.

All is not lost - there is a wealth of information on this site about the sensible application of marine system principles to motorhome situations. Given your background, you will be half way there already, but there are several knowledgeable people on here who can answer any questions about applying your knowledge to what is practical in a motorhome.
Yes - there is a total lack of 12V understanding - and as for the piece of string connecting them - I would not want to run more than 10 amps through that over a distance of 3 meters at most! I will probably put in proper cables whilst I am installing the extra battery and the BM1.
 

Christopher Robb

Free Member
Oct 20, 2014
13
3
Haslemere
Funster No
33,901
MH
Autocruiser Vision
Exp
I'm new to it - a converted yachty
EHU same as shorepower... ie Electric Hook Up .. available on most sites, and in the UK generally 16Abut can be less, maybe 10Amps.. abroad it varies greatly .. from as little as 2 amps , 6amps 10 amps and 16amps.. always check when plugging in..

cable from the alternator charging the habitation battery will be fused to protect it from overload and going on fire.. generally 25Amps , and usually found under the bonnet.. sometimes just taped to the loom..

an upgrade in the cable size will certainly reduce the volt drop..

but if you really want to improve charging install a Sterling bat 2 bat charger.
How is the charge voltage split in a classic 1991 MH? Is it a splitting diode unit? If it is - there is my 0.4V loss. So time to look at the Sterling B2b, which I have on the boat. Even to B2b cables are at least 8mm diameter (Dont know the MM2 )
 
Sep 23, 2013
2,343
2,719
Lincs
Funster No
28,231
MH
Globecar Campscout PVC
Exp
Since 2008 (started in a VW T4 campervan)
Almost certainly, I would think (but I have no personal knowledge). The great thing about inheriting a really basic system is that you can rip out the whole charging system & start again, without feeling you are chucking away anything of value!

My guess is that the mains charger will be pretty basic as well, so that may be your second job.

Sterling kit you know about. Have a look at CTEK - not just their mains chargers, but the SMARTPASS & the D250S DUAL. Well suited to motorhome use, with an 80A output to load, regulated to 13.6V max - handy for sensitive electronics when you are charging at 14.4V. Votronic is another one you may already know.
 

JJ

Funster
May 1, 2008
17,528
34,516
Quinta Majay, Pinheiro Bordalo, Portugal
Funster No
2,459
MH
A Class
Exp
over 40 years
In my live in Wagon (currently out of action due to lack of paperwork) I have four solar panels, three 110 amp batteries, one Sterling B2B charger, 2 Kipor generators, a Ctek 4 stage mains charger and a wind up torch.

Never have too much of a problem running my electrically dependent equipment.

Belt, braces and bailing twine for me.


JJ :cool:
 

eddievanbitz

Trader - Funster
Oct 4, 2007
5,482
17,842
Taunton Somerset
Funster No
540
MH
RV
Exp
since 1989
Please don't anyone rip out what you a have! Normally a fuse or two removed disables your existing system. That way when you sell your van any new charging equipment can be removed and reinstalled on your new van so retaining the capital cost

I spent a good hour chating to Charles Sterling Jnr at the NEC last Week and they are working on their B2B with built in MPPT Solar panel regulator ! (I know it's in their catalogue but it's not avaialble lol).

Like others I have a very large battery bank (currently 6 x 135 Ah) Three solar panels each at 130w, a factory fitted built in 6Kva generator, charging the battery bank via a 100 amp Dometic charger which inverts at 2000w pure sine wave. On top of this when the engine is started the 225 amp alternator takes care of everything

We monitor everything via the on board panel and a Victron battery control monitor which tells us how much power we are using, or at what rate we are charging, how much power we've used since the last time the batteries were fully charged, and most importantly to me, how long the batteries will sustain the current discharge.

No I don't need such a set up, but I dont want to compromise, and with the right equipment and a little common sense, I don't need to. My wife washes her hair every day and expects these of a hair dryer, anywhere! We have a lotof domestic equipment onboard, which we can simply use as if I had electric hook up, even in the middle of a field.

One last feature about our set up is that is we use more power in the van the electric hook up can produce, rather than the site trip "tripping" our system will automatically make up the shortfall, and revert back to normal when the extra load is switched off! Normally toaster of hair dryer lol

To help the OP we would need to know a little more about what he wants to do, to be able to help. If he wants to tour Morroco a solar panel would be great, if he wants to overnight in Scotland over Christmas and New Year an additional battery would be helpful lol
 
OP
TheDeckKing

TheDeckKing

Free Member
Aug 10, 2014
138
119
Hyde, Cheshire
Funster No
32,754
MH
Talbot Voyager 2 coachbui
Exp
Newbie
To help the OP we would need to know a little more about what he wants to do, to be able to help. If he wants to tour Morroco a solar panel would be great, if he wants to overnight in Scotland over Christmas and New Year an additional battery would be helpful lol
Thanks for the input Eddie. We are only just starting out so it's hard to judge what our requirements are at the mo. We definitely need to replace the existing leisure battery as it won't hold a charge. I am going to fit a 110a replacement as it will fit in the existing locker. In future we'd like to make use of more CLs so we need a minimum of a weekends worth of power. We only have gadget chargers, led lighting and a water pump to run a the mo but will be adding a 12v freeview tv over the winter. Will the 110a battery be enough for this?
To play it safe I'll prob end up adding a 2nd battery in the void next to the existing one or a solar charger. Funds are limited so it's unlikely I'll be able to go for both and thus the original question, if I have to choose, which one do I get first?
 

eddievanbitz

Trader - Funster
Oct 4, 2007
5,482
17,842
Taunton Somerset
Funster No
540
MH
RV
Exp
since 1989
Thanks for the input Eddie. We are only just starting out so it's hard to judge what our requirements are at the mo. We definitely need to replace the existing leisure battery as it won't hold a charge. I am going to fit a 110a replacement as it will fit in the existing locker. In future we'd like to make use of more CLs so we need a minimum of a weekends worth of power. We only have gadget chargers, led lighting and a water pump to run a the mo but will be adding a 12v freeview tv over the winter. Will the 110a battery be enough for this?
To play it safe I'll prob end up adding a 2nd battery in the void next to the existing one or a solar charger. Funds are limited so it's unlikely I'll be able to go for both and thus the original question, if I have to choose, which one do I get first?
Neither! Replace the knackered battery with a new one. Pick a known make so that you can buy an additional, matching battery in a few months should you decide you need more capacity.

If you do this it gives you the ability to "suck it and see" Too often people rush into things before they know what they need, and often, they need nothing "given their particular use"

Very often at shows and in our shop we are discussing power requirements and we give the same advice, do nothing, use your motorhome for a while and see. Alternatively, we can supply and install whole power solutions for people once they have established what they require.

Obviously there will be exceptions, people who have specific needs, medical conditions for example don't want to wait until there is a problem, or people who have already established what they require due to usage on previously motorhomes.
 

joner8888

Free Member
Jan 4, 2012
2,187
1,974
somerset
Funster No
19,320
MH
Fiat Ducato
Exp
A few years now
This seems very complicated.:confused:
We use hook up up every time we visit a site (that includes leccy in the price)
We have never had a flat leisure battery in 3 days use off line.
We have a 16 year old MH with dated electrics but they seem to have had it sussed even back then because it works --every time.
The days in between hook ups we drive ,which charges the batteries and again have never been flat ,with old school filament lamps and heater blower and tv.
Don`t need solar, or generators because the power seems to keep working.(y)

It seems the worry of running out of power can get member spending £££ for no reason.--- have a test run with a standard set up before you get in to deep(y)
 
SMC Motorhomes Newark
RoadPro
Johns Cross
Safeguard Motorhome Insurance
Rhino Installs
Friendly professional service from qualified technicians
Free Club Stickers
Top