Solar panels or refillable gas?

Aug 7, 2020
94
54
Funster No
74,055
MH
Carado T339
Exp
Coachbuilt
I have brooked MH in for installation of Gaslow system. But, reading this forum, beginning to wonder if solar panels should be my first major installation purchase instead? Anticipate mostly UK/Ireland tours this year and prefer off grid for at least 4/5days at a time. We do like a bit of heat though and might try France or Germany for a couple of weeks as well. Not heavy 12v use anticipated but I only have one leisure battery at present (factory fitted 2016 model). Trying to spread the costs and with so much uncertainty for 2020 use, what would other Funsters preference?
 
Jan 19, 2014
5,616
13,883
Derbyshire
Funster No
29,757
MH
Elddis Accordo 105
Exp
since 2014
You'll need solar for 4 or 5 days off grid, otherwise you might be ruining the leisure battery. The gas will cost you though so you need both really.
 
Sep 29, 2009
712
304
East Anglia
Funster No
8,667
MH
Roller Team
Exp
Since 2009
just remember refillable Gas is half the price of bottled and more accessible in the continent as no color available abroad. However I only run 1 11kg refillable rather than a full system, if you spend £300 on a system break even point is £600 of calor cylinders. We generally move every 2-3 day so just went with second battery years before solar. is your heating blown air? As that will kill your battery before worrying about cost of gas.

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Sep 10, 2012
1,207
1,258
worcester
Funster No
22,842
MH
Sunliving van
Exp
2012
Unfortunately u need both but since imho we wont be going anywhere until summer then you could defer the gas until much later in the year ready for autumn.
 

Lenny HB

LIFE MEMBER
Oct 18, 2007
29,423
50,888
On the coast in West Sussex
Funster No
658
MH
Hymer B678 Dynamic Line
Exp
Since 2008 & many years tugging
I've always had both but if you are looking at saying the pennies I would say nither and instead fit one or two extra batteries.
As your 12v use is low that would easily keep you going for 4/5 days also when you get around to fitting solar you will have somewhere to store the power generated.

If you decided to go the solar route to make best use of it you would need to fit a second battery anyway.

Refillable gas is great especially when touring abroad but how cost effective is down to how much gas you use. Works for us, in a normal year we use about 150 Lt ( (75kg). The biggest advantage is no heavy cylinders to lug about and you can get gas anywhere all over Europe.

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Nov 13, 2012
363
333
Somerset
Funster No
23,678
MH
coachbuilt
Exp
since 2000
LPG stations are closing quite quickly and solar panels are cheap easy to fit and apart from cleaning maintenance free and cost nothing to run.
I have two 110Ah leasure batteries and a 100W panel and rarely go on sites and never had a problem.I carry two 13k propane cylinders which last all year using the van for 6months worth of trips.
 
Aug 6, 2013
10,175
12,175
Kendal, Cumbria
Funster No
27,352
MH
A Class
Exp
since 1999
You'll need solar for 4 or 5 days off grid, otherwise you might be ruining the leisure battery. The gas will cost you though so you need both really.
For 4/5 days off grid in this part of the world you will need a minimum 200Ah battery (or batteries) capacity and minimum 250W solar. If you are moving around whilst off-grid a B2B system is probably a better first buy than solar but you'll end up needing both.
 
Jan 24, 2012
1,101
701
Somerset
Funster No
19,577
MH
Hymer b694sl
Exp
Since 2012 + Caravanner for 20+ years
Another aspect to consider is how to keep your batteries charged when van not in use.
If you have this covered then ignore otherwise it may make solar more important.

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Sep 3, 2012
3,642
9,047
Cheshire
Funster No
22,759
MH
C Class Elddis 175
Exp
8+ years
Has to be solar first ,you need that if your planning to be off grid for a few days,then you can manage with exchange gas bottles to start and then add gaslow later..look to fit at least 200w if you can fit it on the roof plus an additional hab battery.
 
Jan 11, 2020
710
1,102
South Devon, UK
Funster No
67,952
MH
Rapido C class
Exp
Yottie convert
As Lenny HB says, more battery capacity would be most useful, but the gas is also fairly essential if off grid. In any cold weather you’ll use quite a bit and refilling is still easy, despite any reduction in gas-filling stations. On the other hand, it’s not always easy (and impossible overseas) to get the right-brand bottle.

The two are different jobs for different purposes, really, but you do need both (as well as B2B) in order to achieve your aim of 4-5 days off grid.

If pennies are too tight, then perhaps reduce the target length of off-grid to 1-2 days and see how you get on?

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Dec 24, 2014
3,849
18,023
Hurstpierpoint. West Sussex.
Funster No
34,553
MH
Compass Navigator
Exp
Ever since Mother was a lad.
I may be wrong but I don't think you'll find solar panels of much use for off-grid cooking or heating without an inverter.
I don't have solar or an inverter but just one four years old 110Ah wet lead acid 'starter' (not a pukka leisure) battery and 1 x 6kg refillable and 1 x 6kg Calor exchangeable.
The leisure runs only 12v lights, water pump, phone charging and the igniters for fridge and water heater when on gas. No T.V. or other elect equipment.
Pitched off-grid my battery hasn't died after 4 days with no driving. I've never remained stationary for more than 4 days at a time.
 

Lenny HB

LIFE MEMBER
Oct 18, 2007
29,423
50,888
On the coast in West Sussex
Funster No
658
MH
Hymer B678 Dynamic Line
Exp
Since 2008 & many years tugging
I may be wrong but I don't think you'll find solar panels of much use for off-grid cooking or heating without an inverter.
A very strange comment, most people use gas for heating and cooking an inverter is completely unnecessary unless you have a mains powered item you can't live without. Our inverter is mainly used for charging the e-bikes not much else.

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Dec 24, 2014
3,849
18,023
Hurstpierpoint. West Sussex.
Funster No
34,553
MH
Compass Navigator
Exp
Ever since Mother was a lad.
A very strange comment, most people use gas for heating and cooking an inverter is completely unnecessary unless you have a mains powered item you can't live without. Our inverter is mainly used for charging the e-bikes not much else.
Yes, that was my (badly expressed) point. I didn't mean use an inverter for cooking or heating but in connection with what I've read on Fun that some folk need an inverter for other 'essential' 240v items, (like Madame's hair dryer. ;) )
 
Feb 18, 2017
1,068
2,258
Greenwich, London, UK
Funster No
47,382
MH
Hymer MLT 570
Exp
1986
Solar First.
Gaslow Second.
But ideally you need both
(Quickly followed by the alarm system and tracker)

Given the cost of solar panels these days I'm surprised that the manufacturers don't fit them as standard.
 
May 23, 2012
4,821
10,900
North West Norfolk
Funster No
21,175
MH
Coachbuilt
Exp
Since Feb 2012
Only applies in the UK assuming you have UK bottles.
Not necessarily, doesn’t bull finch do that brass adapter to fit on the supermarket bottle in France, le clerc I think. Or could buy a spainish bottle to use there . Just not seen electric for sale off grid.

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Lenny HB

LIFE MEMBER
Oct 18, 2007
29,423
50,888
On the coast in West Sussex
Funster No
658
MH
Hymer B678 Dynamic Line
Exp
Since 2008 & many years tugging
Not necessarily, doesn’t bull finch do that brass adapter to fit on the supermarket bottle in France, le clerc I think. Or could buy a spainish bottle to use there . Just not seen electric for sale off grid.
No such adaptors on their website, perhaps you are thinking of connecting via a BBQ point that some do when on Spanish sites for the winter, OK if you have space & payload but you shouldn't carry a spare bottle unless it's in a sealed compartment with a drop vent.
 
May 23, 2012
4,821
10,900
North West Norfolk
Funster No
21,175
MH
Coachbuilt
Exp
Since Feb 2012
No such adaptors on their website, perhaps you are thinking of connecting via a BBQ point that some do when on Spanish sites for the winter, OK if you have space & payload but you shouldn't carry a spare bottle unless it's in a sealed compartment with a drop vent.
I guess it’s plug in to the off grid electric tree then.
 
May 23, 2012
4,821
10,900
North West Norfolk
Funster No
21,175
MH
Coachbuilt
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Since Feb 2012
Think this might help

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Apr 27, 2016
2,963
2,880
Manchester
Funster No
42,762
MH
A class Hymer
Exp
Since the 80s
A very strange comment, most people use gas for heating and cooking
I think he's reading the OP as fitting a Gaslow system to a conversion with no other gas supply, rather than changing exchange bottles for refillable ones. The OP doesn't actually say there's gas fitted already.
 
Jan 8, 2013
5,081
6,165
Dronfield - Derbyshire
Funster No
24,202
MH
Burstner Lyseo 690G
Exp
Happy FLT since 2011
Definitely solar and batteries first, You will notice the lack of electric well before the gas runs out

You could always have a compromise with the gas - one refillable and one store bought.

IMG_20200922_110715.jpg
 

Minxy Girl

LIFE MEMBER
Aug 22, 2007
25,140
39,022
E Yorks
Funster No
149
MH
Carthago Cmpct i-138
Exp
Since 1996 we've had Elddis, Swift, Rapido, Rimor, Chausson MHs and Autocruise & Globecar PVCs
I have brooked MH in for installation of Gaslow system. But, reading this forum, beginning to wonder if solar panels should be my first major installation purchase instead? Anticipate mostly UK/Ireland tours this year and prefer off grid for at least 4/5days at a time. We do like a bit of heat though and might try France or Germany for a couple of weeks as well. Not heavy 12v use anticipated but I only have one leisure battery at present (factory fitted 2016 model). Trying to spread the costs and with so much uncertainty for 2020 use, what would other Funsters preference?
Forget the gas for now as it's relatively expensive to do especially if you get someone to fit it for you so you'll be able to get solar and a second leisure battery for less than the gas installation which you can easily do yourself in the future once you know what size of refillable system you need.

Electric is the thing that you will run out of as you'll only be able to deplete your existing battery to half it's listed capacity otherwise you'll damage it, also as it's 4+ years old it isn't likely as efficient as it was when originally installed so perhaps replacing it with either one double the capacity or get 2 matched ones of lower capacity (this will likely be determined by the space where it's already installed), as linking a new one to an old one won't do the new one any good.
 
Jul 5, 2013
9,586
9,776
Tunbridge Wells
Funster No
26,797
MH
A class
Exp
Since 2013
If money is short, I suggest the best order is
Second battery (no good fitting solar if you don't have enough capacity to store it all)
Fit two solar panels with good MPPT regulator (be a lot more faff and cost fitting a second solar panel later)
One refillable gas bottle (keep one Calor as back up)
Second refillable gas bottle (much easier to add that than a second solar panel)

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