photo by Photosbyjam via iStock
Overlanding vehicles and campers are taking more and more electrical appliances on board these days as most of us enjoy that little bit of luxury while we connect to nature and the outdoors. This means that you will always need some kind of renewable energy source.
Unfortunately, a simple power bank will not do the job anymore, especially for those longer trips. Because new devices use a lot of energy and campers often want a more environmentally-friendly option than the old-fashioned noisy generators that require extra fuel to produce power.
Fortunately, there is also a great solution that allows you to always have a power source at hand, wherever you go: solar panels. If you are looking into solar power for camping, this is an article you should check out.
How Solar Panels Work in Your RV
photo by andreswd via iStock
When you have a solar panel installed on your vehicle, you have a plate with cells that capture sunlight and convert that into electricity for you. The generated power is stored in a solar power suitable battery with the help of a charge controller, like the REDARC Manager 30 I have installed in my Turtleback Expedition Series trailer. This process continues until the battery is fully charged.
The charge controller will make sure your battery will stop charging once it is full, and it also ensures that no power can flow back into the solar panels, which will lengthen the lifespan of your solar power camping setup.
The Best Place for Solar Panels on Your Vehicle
photo by adamkaz via iStock
If you want solar power for camping, the best place to install your RV solar panels is obviously on the roof of your vehicle, as this part of the vehicle receives the most daylight.
You can choose to have them mounted flat on the roof or slightly tilted. In that last case, you can turn your vehicle to point the panels towards the light and catch those very last rays of sunlight to power your battery.
You should install them away from the airflow and the slipstream of your vehicle so they can stay in place while you drive. This way, you can allow them to keep charging when you move from one spot to another.
What if You Have a Rooftop Tent?
Don’t worry; it is still doable and not really complicated. The best solution would still be to install them on the roof, in this case, the top of your tent setup, as you can see on my Torro Offroad Skylux Tent above.
But if that is not a possibility, there are several types of panels that you can simply prop up next to your vehicle when you set up camp. The downside of this is that you will likely not be able to catch a lot of rays while you are on the move.
Freedom of Solar Panels for Camping
photo by photoschmidt via iStock
Logically, solar power for camping will be more efficient during the summer as it can convert more sun into stored energy. But even during winter, it is a good investment. You may not get as many sun hours as you would during summer, but a good solar panel will manage to convert some amount of power to the battery even in cloudy conditions.
Having a set of solar panels on your roof means you now have the means to power an electrical grid inside your van that is capable of so much more than just lights and a place to plug in your cooler or fridge. For example, you can run air-conditioning to make summer nights extra pleasant or charge your laptop and other devices while you work from the road.
Investing in solar power also means that you are no longer bound to campsites and RV parks that provide the option of plugging into electricity. Instead, you can simply park wherever you want and spend the night virtually anywhere.
Another bonus is that solar panels are very low maintenance, unlike a generator. Apart from the occasional wash or rain shower and a checkup on the battery, there isn’t much you have to do about it.
The Benefits of Solar Power for Camping
photo by anatoliy_gleb via iStock
Adding solar power for camping to your setup has many benefits. First and foremost, it is perfect for the environment because you will be using clean and green solar energy. We should all be thinking about that if we want our children to enjoy camping and overlanding in the future.
Using solar energy means you no longer have to rely on a noisy generator and haul fuel around for that generator, as solar power for camping doesn’t require you to do anything after its initial installation. It will also ensure you never have to worry about empty batteries again.
We are sure the local wildlife will also appreciate the newfound silence of a solar system on your vehicle. Who knows, you might wake up with a deer staring through your window in the morning on your next trip.
Not sure what kind of solar panels are best suited for your vehicle? Don’t worry; everyone feels the same when they decide to go solar. The most commonly asked question about solar panels is “how much solar power do I need for camping?”.
Rest assured, because Briter Products has your back here with their custom-designed 400-watt RV solar panels (shown above). They allow you to become power independent with a solution perfectly sized for your vehicle.
Briter Products also offers free phone consultations with their electrical engineers to help you figure everything out and get the best setup. You should also ask them about combining these panels with their lithium-ion batteries. If you are unsure about how many solar panels you need for camping setup, or if you have any other questions regarding their solar panels or batteries, don’t hesitate to contact them.
In conclusion, solar power for camping really has more benefits than it does downsides. It may look like an investment at first, but it is well worth it. You should get them installed as soon as possible and enjoy the peace and comfort.