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Solar Panels

J

John Georgiou

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1
Location
Hartford Huntingdon
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
I am a new Cali owner and would like some advice regarding Solar Panels. Which is the best way forward, Fixed panel or Free standing? 100w or 120w, Any advice would be welcomed
 
Amarillo

Amarillo

Tom
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Royal Borough of Greenwich
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T6 Beach 150
I am a new Cali owner and would like some advice regarding Solar Panels. Which is the best way forward, Fixed panel or Free standing? 100w or 120w, Any advice would be welcomed
We have two 100w panels bolted onto the roof rails, keeping the leisure battery topped up during daylight hours. Our fridge is kept on and we have never had any power issues from leaving it on. We don't hook-up every month as recommended in the manual, and have camped as a family of four for 6 nights without hookup relying on our single Beach battery for refrigeration, lighting, and charging of iPhones, iPads and a laptop.

Problems arose when we tried boiling water with a 12 volt kettle while camped under a tree - doh!

For a trouble free kit, or to get ideas of your own:
https://www.solarcampersolutions.co.uk/
 
Last edited:
MattBW

MattBW

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Bedworth, United Kingdom
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T5 Beach
There are pros and cons to each solutions. Some initial thoughts from me. Either solution is good its just what suits you best.

Fixed Panel
Pros

Always on, will continually put charge into your batteries
Fit and forget
Wiring hidden away
Cons
Fixed panel will not often get maximum efficiency as it will not always be facing the sun perfectly.
You may not want to park the van in hot sun but shade will hinder the panel

Free standing
Pros

Free standing can be positioned and moved throughout the day for optimum power output and only used when required.
Can be placed in the sun with van out of the sun.
Can be used with different vehicles or at home too.
Cons
Not always on
More easily stolen?
Have to setup and takedown each time.
Wires will need to be directed outside (open window?)

I would probably say fixed is easiest fix and forget solution to be honest, you may just need higher capacity than a free standing panel to get the same power output.
 
Last edited:
R

Rob H

Messages
116
Hi john, A minimum of 200w semi flexible on the roof, fit and forget, you will get the same output on a dull day from a free standing 100w panel constantly angled towards the sun, but were are you going to stow it in the van, how many times are you going to move it to follow the suns track and are you going to lock it tp the van ...
 
Nick Stubbs

Nick Stubbs

The Rodent.
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265
Location
Derbyshire
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
My solution is to fit one on the roof rails, but only fit it for holidays or extended travel, not make it a permanent installation. I find the leisure battery's are good for 3-4 days in winter without hook up.
 
WelshGas

WelshGas

Retired after 42 yrs and enjoying Life.
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Cowbridge
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T5 SE 180 4Motion
My solution is to fit one on the roof rails, but only fit it for holidays or extended travel, not make it a permanent installation. I find the leisure battery's are good for 3-4 days in winter without hook up.
Why keep removing it? What do you hope to gain from constantly fitting and removing it?
 
Velma's Dad

Velma's Dad

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Buckinghamshire
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Why keep removing it? What do you hope to gain from constantly fitting and removing it?
Yes and moreover, if you kept it fitted you wouldn't need to worry about keeping your main and leisure batteries tickle charged when you're not using the van... no? (Unless of course you store your Cali in a garage).
 
Nick Stubbs

Nick Stubbs

The Rodent.
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265
Location
Derbyshire
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T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
Van is a daily drive, as its fairly new don't want to butcher the flexi boots to run a cable through, wind drag, and keeping the van clean, each to their own but that's my take on it.
 
Velma's Dad

Velma's Dad

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Buckinghamshire
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Van is a daily drive, as its fairly new don't want to butcher the flexi boots to run a cable through, wind drag, and keeping the van clean, each to their own but that's my take on it.
Understood Nick, it occurred to me after I posted that you might use your van daily, and anyway I'm sure you know what you want. :happy I just wanted to highlight for the OP that putting panels on and off is an unusual choice and I'm sure most people just leave them on permanently.

(Full disclosure: we don't actually have solar: have looked into it but the way we tend to use our van - almost always doing significant mileage every day when touring so batteries almost full every time we stop for the night - means there would be little real benefit in our case).
 
MattBW

MattBW

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That is part of the reason I have a fold away. We have two T25s too and can move the panel between vans as we need. The CTEK adapters mean each one is plug and play too.

When driving normally the battery is always full, even with trackers. It's only when we are onsite for an extended time that the 120w folding panel comes into its own allowing us to have a far longer extended stay without hookup. In fact if the sun is out we generally have full batteries by mid morning even with the fridge on. Different story in autumn/winter of course.
 
Last edited:
Roger Donoghue

Roger Donoghue

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220
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T5 Beach
Van is a daily drive, as its fairly new don't want to butcher the flexi boots to run a cable through, wind drag, and keeping the van clean, each to their own but that's my take on it.
You only have to make an incision in the boot about 1cm long, that "self heals" if you remove the cable.

In our kits we also suggest shutting the cable in the boot if you want a more temporary install, or, just slide the cable in in under the rubber boot entry point. No boot cutting then, and you can stow the cable in the roof space behind the grommet/boot if you only occasionally have the panel bolted on.

In my experience, the big con with folding / temporary panels is you either forget to put them out, or, have to put them away a lot of the time they could be working, because you don't want them stolen.
 
altvic

altvic

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Messages
188
Location
N Wales
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
Roof panels (two x 120 w) produced just over 700 watt of electricity today. Van is positioned SW with roof up, cloudless sky in main and no shadow middle of France (Auxerre). This seems pretty good to me.
The dark cloud was that tap micro switch has failed!
 
J

Jay gas

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Messages
38
Location
Southampton
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
We have two 100w panels bolted onto the roof rails, keeping the leisure battery topped up during daylight hours. Our fridge is kept on and we have never had any power issues from leaving it on. We don't hook-up every month as recommended in the manual, and have camped as a family of four for 6 nights without hookup relying on our single Beach battery for refrigeration, lighting, and charging of iPhones, iPads and a laptop.

Problems arose when we tried boiling water with a 12 volt kettle while camped under a tree - doh!

For a trouble free kit, or to get ideas of your own:
https://www.solarcampersolutions.co.uk/
Can I ask did you install the kit yourself. I had a quick look at the roof mounting side of it and that all seems very straightforward. The bit I’m not so sure about is the installation of the control unit and hooking that up to the leisure battery
 
Buddano

Buddano

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35
Location
Wales
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Appreciating that this is an old thread but this video may answer a number of questions some may have if searching for solar solutions.


 
Amarillo

Amarillo

Tom
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Royal Borough of Greenwich
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T6 Beach 150
Can I ask did you install the kit yourself. I had a quick look at the roof mounting side of it and that all seems very straightforward. The bit I’m not so sure about is the installation of the control unit and hooking that up to the leisure battery
I got my engineer brother to help me.

It was really very easy... I made the coffee.
 
Last edited:
Roger Donoghue

Roger Donoghue

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220
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T5 Beach
Can I ask did you install the kit yourself. I had a quick look at the roof mounting side of it and that all seems very straightforward. The bit I’m not so sure about is the installation of the control unit and hooking that up to the leisure battery
If you drop me a message through my website I'll email you the instructions. Its all very easy.

R
 
5i1ver8ack

5i1ver8ack

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Messages
257
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
I did mine myself. Roger's instructions are pretty straightforward. Getting down behind the cupboard to the leisure battery is fiddly but not hard. Getting the leisure battery to a position where it can be accessed is tricky because it's such a tight fit in the Ocean.
 
WelshGas

WelshGas

Retired after 42 yrs and enjoying Life.
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Cowbridge
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T5 SE 180 4Motion
Not sure if you have videos @Roger Donoghue or where you are based but if you ever fancy a collaboration, I think it would be something folks are clearly interested in.
Near Taunton I believe.
 
altvic

altvic

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Messages
188
Location
N Wales
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
Hello @Roger Donoghue
Was wondering if you managed to install the solar panels so that the actual VW battery voltage reading was in real time rather than having to start the vehicle to get true battery reading? It was the method @Loz used with good results.
 
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