Solar panels or refillable gas?

Jul 12, 2013
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The City of Henlow
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Adria Supreme
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Since 1980
I only have space for one leisure battery, which has given me no problems.
I have both Gaslow and Solar which I would recommend but perhaps you should fit solar first and wait for someone to sell their re-fillable bottles (which many do when selling their vans) and end up with both.
 
Jan 19, 2014
5,616
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Derbyshire
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29,757
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Elddis Accordo 105
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since 2014
We've only got 1 leasure battery, it's plenty for us even with the TV on half the night 🙄. If you get solar, the battery only has to last from sunset to dawn anyway, then solar takes over. If you fit extra batteries you only create another problem.. How are you going to charge them?!
 

Lenny HB

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Oct 18, 2007
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On the coast in West Sussex
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Hymer B678 Dynamic Line
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Since 2008 & many years tugging
If you fit extra batteries you only create another problem.. How are you going to charge them?!
I have 3 batteries no problem charging them with solar apart from in a UK winter.

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movan

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Dec 2, 2009
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There is no single answer.... it depends on YOUR lifestyle and expectations.

As a solo female my most important priority was a solar panel with a Battery Master..... The last thing I needed was for my engine battery to go flat when I was on my own in the middle of nowhere.

However, if you will be on ehc all the time but use gas for cooking and heating then lpg is a priority.
 
Jul 24, 2015
110
443
Ramsgate Kent
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37,263
MH
Fiat ducato c class
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5 years
Solar first as others have said... We've had campers and motorhomes for years and have only just fitted a side 11kg gasit system... always had solar and can stay off grid for a week or more in the summer.. indefinitely if you move every couple of days .
You can buy a gasit system cheap enough and fit it yourself in an hour.. adjustable spanner only...and they deliver for free ..

Solars cheap and also easy to fit..
If you're not heavy 12v users (no TV or compressor fridge ) then a 100w panel would be fine..

Keep moving 👍🏼
 
Aug 4, 2019
1,475
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North East Riviera
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62,993
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Low profile
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Enough to Survive
What about a compromise AND install both?

Rather than an expensive refillable system what about a refillable bottle such as a safefill?


AND

a decent solar controller (Type & rating) but just a small panel for starters (to keep cost down). Solar being modular, you can add more panels when money allows (hence the decent rated controller).

You might even have enough left over to get another battery too.....if not, again it could be added later.

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Mar 18, 2020
170
377
Funster No
69,473
MH
HYMER GRAND CANYON S
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On and off for 20yrs
We fitted 200w solar to our van which also came with two 95AH AGM batteries.
From October onwards solar input is limited. We are not heavy user's but do have a compressor fridge and diesel heater.
We only manage 2 days before battery levels became a concern.
To off grid for any length of time from the Autumn you will need lithium power of 200 amps plus.
Solar and lithium is the only way.
 

Northernraider

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Jul 30, 2017
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Buy gas it bottles instead of gaslow and fit them yourself. 1 hour job for competent diy' er
Then with the money saved from labour and more expensive kit that does the same job you will have the money to buy a 100w panel (ÂŁ89) and a decent controller which is also another easy diy job.
 

Northernraider

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Jul 30, 2017
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On the sofa ....
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We fitted 200w solar to our van which also came with two 95AH AGM batteries.
From October onwards solar input is limited. We are not heavy user's but do have a compressor fridge and diesel heater.
We only manage 2 days before battery levels became a concern.
To off grid for any length of time from the Autumn you will need lithium power of 200 amps plus.
Solar and lithium is the only way.
Im off grid all the time , fulltime ive managed 3 years without lithium
It can be done no probs if not a heavy power user.
The op did say he wasn't so probably no need for him to go to that expense yet

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Feb 25, 2018
2,262
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waiting for new moho
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Very Little
Just to add another distraction, why not consider a diesel heater to provide heating AND hot water? You would need a 12v supply aswell to run it. That way you can reduce the use of lpg if you are struggling to find suppliers in the UK.

If you're looking to save money (and who isn't? ) then look out for pre loved refillable gas systems and solar panels. Also members on here periodically offer nearly new batteries if they have changed theirs to a higher or better spec ?
 
Sep 29, 2009
712
304
East Anglia
Funster No
8,667
MH
Roller Team
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Since 2009
The gasit kit I fitted was a single cylinder £200 from sail and trail, very easy fit. If the op is unsure about drilling into the roof of his van look at buying a secondhand portable panel. I have plenty of friends that use 80-100w portable panels. They are more efficient if kept angled to the sun. Definitely put 2 new batteries on, don’t just add one more, as they will not be matched.
 
Mar 23, 2012
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sleights
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c class
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1
I think by the time it's possible to use the motorhome again it's possible to have saved up and have both. I would just get one refillable and a 100w solar and leave the battery. Ours is the original one now 7 years old still seems fine try it and see if it needs swapping or not.

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Jun 6, 2010
1,605
1,561
St.Helens
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11,938
MH
Rapido 696f
Exp
MH 10 yrs -Tent/Caravan 49 years
Not been mentioned yet as far as I can see, but check the van lifers out on YouTube. They seem to do what you want and have upped their solar and batteries, and gone for what I think is B2B charging so they can get more charge when they do move off the alternator.
They are also finding even refillable gas a problem, less to do at present with its cost but more having to do more frequent fill ups with this cold weather While locked down.
Early days yet, but some have fitted diesel heaters which they indicate is cheaper than gas, especially if using a separate tank and red diesel.
Before I get taken to task, everything has its pro’s and con’s, so do your own research (Noise of diesel heaters can be an issue, and most affordable ones are Chinese).
 

Northernraider

LIFE MEMBER
Jul 30, 2017
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On the sofa ....
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Not been mentioned yet as far as I can see, but check the van lifers out on YouTube. They seem to do what you want and have upped their solar and batteries, and gone for what I think is B2B charging so they can get more charge when they do move off the alternator.
They are also finding even refillable gas a problem, less to do at present with its cost but more having to do more frequent fill ups with this cold weather While locked down.
Early days yet, but some have fitted diesel heaters which they indicate is cheaper than gas, especially if using a separate tank and red diesel.
Before I get taken to task, everything has its pro’s and con’s, so do your own research (Noise of diesel heaters can be an issue, and most affordable ones are Chinese).
That really is one of the worst examples of diesel heater fitting out there.

Guys a cowboy and thats a mess

But otherwise yes diesel heaters are becoming more popular
 

Minxy Girl

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Aug 22, 2007
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Carthago Cmpct i-138
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Since 1996 we've had Elddis, Swift, Rapido, Rimor, Chausson MHs and Autocruise & Globecar PVCs
We fitted 200w solar to our van which also came with two 95AH AGM batteries.
From October onwards solar input is limited. We are not heavy user's but do have a compressor fridge and diesel heater.
We only manage 2 days before battery levels became a concern.
To off grid for any length of time from the Autumn you will need lithium power of 200 amps plus.
Solar and lithium is the only way.
We used to have a compressor fridge and from our, and your, experience you do definitely need a lot more battery power than someone with a 3-way fridge which the OP will have.

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Mar 18, 2020
170
377
Funster No
69,473
MH
HYMER GRAND CANYON S
Exp
On and off for 20yrs
From my experience diesel heaters are power hungry, especially on start up.
If you were to spend any length of time heating a van off grid in winter with little solar gain combined with a compressor fridge freezer then lithium batteries will be needed.
Last October we spent 2 days marooned in our van due to poor weather, heater clicking in and out and lasted two days before batteries ran low.
Something to considered but depends how long you want to off grid for.
 
Dec 17, 2016
404
307
Malvern
Funster No
46,488
MH
Hymer B525 2006 A cl
Exp
2012
If you decide to fit solar make sure you fit a decent size cable (30A ) from panel to controller so that you can add extra panels later. And plan ahead as to where further panels will go. The expensive part if often the labour unless you do it yourself and cables cost very little. If you can afford it go for a decent mppt controller also.
 

Minxy Girl

LIFE MEMBER
Aug 22, 2007
25,140
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E Yorks
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149
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Carthago Cmpct i-138
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Since 1996 we've had Elddis, Swift, Rapido, Rimor, Chausson MHs and Autocruise & Globecar PVCs
If you decide to fit solar make sure you fit a decent size cable (30A ) from panel to controller so that you can add extra panels later. And plan ahead as to where further panels will go. The expensive part if often the labour unless you do it yourself and cables cost very little. If you can afford it go for a decent mppt controller also.
Very good advice and if I could've been bothered earlier this morning before I went to bed I would've said the same ... putting in a thicker cable than needed now means easy to add extra panels to it in the future and reduces the input 'loss' too, also need to get a higher rated MPPT controller as well to accommodate extra panels, larger ones don't cost much more but worth is in the long run.

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Sundowners

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Oct 30, 2007
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744
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37 years
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)
That's just about exactly what I was going to suggest
 
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