The best solar panels? Any advice appreciated

Sue

Aug 13, 2014
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Like PVCs the best
Having invested in an autotrail chieftan, we have been told it's essential to have solar panels (we plan to travel to France next year) Can I have the benefit of experienced motorhomers about the best ones to fit, how to do it and aprox cost.
Thank you all!
 

tonka

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Not essential but a good investment..
However the first purchase if you dont already have one would be an additional Second leisure battery.
Then the solar...

Depending of the year of the Chieftain, the later ones only need the panel with mounts, roof entry and a connecting lead.. DIY 80w solar easy under £130 ish using ebay suppliers
....
These people seem pretty decent and attend a lot of the motorhome shows..

http://www.solarenergyalliance.com/Solar_panel_fitting_service_for_motorhomes_caravans_and_boats.html
 
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Tootles

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I was always told to buy German with regard to solar panels, which I did. Works a treat. (y)
 

vwalan

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buy chinese or indian panels these days . even bp solar are made in india . they work equally as good .
have used german italian and india ones . the differance seems to be only in the price .
 

SMB

Apr 26, 2013
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If weight is an issue then the semi-flexible panels are very light, but are more expensive :)
 
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voyagerstan

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no panels now made in germany , they just can't compete . euro badged ones are produced in far east. unfortunately its the way all manufacturing is going the west has has priced itself out of the markets . :rolleyes::rolleyes:STAN
 

dabhand

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Are solar panels still relevant? there's a thread on here which I think seems to suggest you are battery to battery chargers, The experts will soon explain I'm sure.
 

vwalan

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all i can say is i can park up in the winter in spain or morocco. use solar and can work 240v fridge . 240v washing machine . lots of other items by nothing but the solar panels ,batteries and inverter . dont have to start the engine at all. have been known to go six weeks without turning a wheel or starting the motor . solar is ok .
i do have a battery to battery as well but it cant charge anything unless i start the motor .
 

tonka

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Are solar panels still relevant? there's a thread on here which I think seems to suggest you are battery to battery chargers, The experts will soon explain I'm sure.
A battery to battery charger is only some use when your either on EHU or Driving (alternator charging)..
If your going to be static for a while and use up all your battery power then that's where your solar comes in..
 

JeanLuc

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Whether it is worthwhile fitting a solar panel depends on how you intend to use your motorhome. If you plan to use campsites and normally have an electric hook-up, then a solar panel is a waste of money. If you plan to use aires (camperstops) and / or free-park (wild camping) with no hook-up, then a panel is very useful - particularly south of the UK where the sun has more power. We have 2 x 110 Ah batteries and a 135 watt panel. We seldom hook-up (other than in winter) and the panel produces useful power between May and October. As an example, we have just returned from six weeks in France and Italy and only hooked up for one night. That was because I had been using a 230V fan from and inverter and charging my laptop for quite some time - also from the inverter and the 12V system shut down due to low charge. It may in fact, be because the batteries are over five years old and starting to decline in performance - we have not had to hook-up at this time of year in the past.
As mentioned earlier - the first thing to do is get as much battery capacity as you can realistically carry - normally a second leisure battery - then consider a solar panel. The battery to battery charger (B2B), mentioned above, works when you are driving and boosts the charge rate from the alternator significantly. If considering a B2B unit ensure you get it fitted properly as some onboard charging systems (fitted by the manufacturer) may take exception to the additional charging system.
 
OP
Sue

Sue

Aug 13, 2014
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Whether it is worthwhile fitting a solar panel depends on how you intend to use your motorhome. If you plan to use campsites and normally have an electric hook-up, then a solar panel is a waste of money. If you plan to use aires (camperstops) and / or free-park (wild camping) with no hook-up, then a panel is very useful - particularly south of the UK where the sun has more power. We have 2 x 110 Ah batteries and a 135 watt panel. We seldom hook-up (other than in winter) and the panel produces useful power between May and October. As an example, we have just returned from six weeks in France and Italy and only hooked up for one night. That was because I had been using a 230V fan from and inverter and charging my laptop for quite some time - also from the inverter and the 12V system shut down due to low charge. It may in fact, be because the batteries are over five years old and starting to decline in performance - we have not had to hook-up at this time of year in the past.
As mentioned earlier - the first thing to do is get as much battery capacity as you can realistically carry - normally a second leisure battery - then consider a solar panel. The battery to battery charger (B2B), mentioned above, works when you are driving and boosts the charge rate from the alternator significantly. If considering a B2B unit ensure you get it fitted properly as some onboard charging systems (fitted by the manufacturer) may take exception to the additional charging system.
Brilliant
We plan to travel through France and Spain, so looks like a solar panel will be good
 
Aug 30, 2012
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I have 2 panels fitted 1 100 watt and 1 180 watt so combined out put 280 watts
To 2 1oo amp battery's and a 300 watt invertor
Last time van was plugged into mains was January this year
So far we have never been below 70% available power from battery's
So as far as I am concerned it's a no brainer
Solar all the way once fitted it's free power(y)
 

vwalan

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in 12 years my trailer as never been on ehu. i use solar all winter fron november till end of april . then when home power things in the house by running an extension lead out of the trailer into the house . .i can say three days ago i switched the inverter off as we had a few dull days and the batteries where a bit low . this afternoon i looked and they were back up to 14.4 volts with the solar just about to switch off . i shant be hooking back up as i would like the batteries at full strength ready for the off .
i usually find last two weeks of sept i give in but its gone on a bit longer this year.
i find i save about 35 p a day when using the power of the solar in the house . not a fortune but all helps .
 
OP
Sue

Sue

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Soun
I have 2 panels fitted 1 100 watt and 1 180 watt so combined out put 280 watts
To 2 1oo amp battery's and a 300 watt invertor
Last time van was plugged into mains was January this year
So far we have never been below 70% available power from battery's
So as far as I am concerned it's a no brainer
Solar all the way once fitted it's free power(y)
Sounds like a done deal
Thanks
 
OP
Sue

Sue

Aug 13, 2014
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Like PVCs the best
in 12 years my trailer as never been on ehu. i use solar all winter fron november till end of april . then when home power things in the house by running an extension lead out of the trailer into the house . .i can say three days ago i switched the inverter off as we had a few dull days and the batteries where a bit low . this afternoon i looked and they were back up to 14.4 volts with the solar just about to switch off . i shant be hooking back up as i would like the batteries at full strength ready for the off .
i usually find last two weeks of sept i give in but its gone on a bit longer this year.
i find i save about 35 p a day when using the power of the solar in the house . not a fortune but all helps .
What's an inverter! Sorry....
 

vwalan

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changes 12v to 240v .
i use a house fridge in my trailer . so require 240v when away.
at home i power the fridge in the house . sometimes the freezer , and usually plug the hoover in when its being used .
might hook up again if the sun does keep out .
certainly in winter in spain ,morocco. portugal solar is a definate bonus .
we sit in really wild places ,do washing in plastic twintub washing machines etc . its like being in a space ship on lost in space in the 60,s . plus telephones , tv,s and internet . it really is like science fiction .
all powered by the sun .
 
Nov 30, 2009
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Ralph's just bought 2x new victron blue solar panels, for our new PVC.
We've had just one on the MH we have now. We've also got the B2B and inverter , as mentioned earlier. We very rarely ever have hook up. We don't need it. Even for my GHD'S and hairdryer.
Even in minus temps in the depths of winter.
The only times we gave hook up is when we know were going on a site , which is rare, and they only knock £2 off in the depths of winter, for no hook up.
Then we make sure we take an electric fan heater ( we've got diesel heating usually) put the fridge on electric , and cook electrically , instead of the gas.
 
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joncris

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On my previous Hymer I had fitted a second battery + 1000w Baird Solar Panel with regulator & fixings + a 1000w-2000w pure sine wave inverter with a wireless remote (just like a car key fob) overall cost including fitting approx £450-£500
 
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vwalan

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On my previous Hymer I had fitted a second battery + 1000w Baird Solar Panel with regulator & fixings + a 1000w-2000w pure sine wave inverter with a wireless remote (just like a car key fob) overall cost including fitting approx £450-£500
a 1000w of solar for 450-500 quid .
 

joncris

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On my previous Hymer I had fitted a second battery + 100w Baird Solar Panel with regulator & fixings + a 1000w-2000w pure sine wave inverter with a wireless remote (just like a car key fob) overall cost including fitting approx £450-£500
Correction it should say 100w panel & not 1000w
 

vwalan

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i did wonder how you managed to get them all on a hymer .
have measure my trailer roof and could get 1500wt on it but only just.
i dont have any roof vents or any other obstructions . but would be hard climbing up to clean them .
 

joncris

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Try googling bimble solar some good deals on panels
Just did & your right they do good deals on Solar Panels. Inverters not so much

Also they aren't that far away from me so I will be purchasing my next panel, for my new van, from them
 
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