Cheap DIY Camper Solar Setup
If you’re looking for ways to charge your phone or speaker while you're out camping you’ve probably wondered how you’re going to get some solar power. Setting up solar panels for your camping trips is an effective, environmentally-friendly way to charge your gadgets when you’re off the grid. Yet with heaps of models, brands and extras to choose from, it’s hard to find the right camping solar system for your camper van or caravan. You can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a camper solar setup.
That's why we have created this easy guide for you to build your own solar setup for your camping trips. And the best part is - it only costs you $140. You will be able to charge your camper van, caravan or boat with this solar setup. Only a few hours in the sun will generate enough power to charge 4 people's phones, lighting and speakers throughout the whole day.
For those of you who don't know us yet, we are a local solar company run and operated by electricians. Our director Ben, who has created this DIY solar guide, is an accredited electrician and has been in the solar industry for many years. He loves the great outdoors and has been using this simple and cheap solar setup every time he is out camping.
You are welcome to watch our video where Ben explains step by step what you need to set up solar for your camper van or caravan. Or you can keep reading.
Generating solar power on your camping trips can be super easy to do. Or you can make it a little bit more complicated. Our camper solar kit only involves three components: a solar panel, a battery and a solar charge controller.
First Part: Solar Panel
Let's talk about the panel first. You might think the panel is the most expensive part of this solar setup. You can actually source a second hand panel from local solar installers for no charge. The solar panel we are using in our DIY solar guide is a panel we have removed from one of our customer's homes to make room for newer and more efficient technology. For a camper or caravan solar setup the panel is fine and you won't need to invest in a newer solar panel.
On the back of the panel is a sticker. You will need to check on the Open Circuit Voltage. The panel we used is 43.6V. Knowing the panel's voltage will help you select the correct charger. Make sure to check on the panel you've got and write this number down.
Second Part: Battery
The next part is the battery. Ben has pulled his battery out of his old 4x4 and bought a battery box for $100. His battery box has a circuit breaker built in. It also has USB and 12 volt sockets. If you just want to charge the battery out of your car, boat or caravan you don't need to buy one of these boxes. However we do suggest that you buy a fuse. Now you need to check the voltage and chemistry of the battery you want to charge. You can find this information either on the battery or looking on the manufacturer's website.
Third Part: Charger
The final part is the charger. This charger's maximum pv open circuit voltage input is 50V. This is the maximum voltage that this particular charger can take from a panel. Now remember that the second hand solar panel we are using is 43.6V.
You also need to make sure that the charger you are using is compatible with the chemistry of your battery. The charger we picked automatically selects between the chemistry types - flooded, gel and sealed. This charger's battery voltage ranges between 8 and 32 volts. This means that it will charge a battery from 8 volts all the way up to 32 volts.
So let's summarize the main steps to get your DIY Camper Solar Setup up and running.
First you will need to get a second hand panel from a local installer. Find out it's Open Circuit Voltage and write it down.
Find out the battery's voltage and chemistry type and write that down.
Head down to your local electronic store and find a compatible charger for your panel & battery. Or shop online and check out the data sheet.
Finally, get yourself a battery box with outlets and you're set to hit the great outdoors!
If you're looking for a free second hand panel for your setup, give us a call: 02 6684 4485