Campervan Solar Panels

Campervan Solar Panel At Wildworx. Perfect for your campervan. 

With a reported 8.25% increase in UK campervan ownership indicative of a trend for more local excursions and a change in mindset for many holidaymakers, you need to be sure you’re getting the most out of your vehicle when you’re out on the road. One way of doing this is with the addition of campervan solar panels, accessories that are both practical and sustainable in equal measure. 

Read on below to discover how modifying your campervan in this way is both good for your wallet and good for the environment. 

Campervan Solar Panel installed on VW Transporter at Wildworx

Campervan Solar Panels At Wildworx 

At Wildworx, we specialise in a variety of campervan conversion services, from pop top roof conversions to the installation of effective heating systems. For those who are interested, our campervan solar panel options are twofold: fixed and freestanding, with each of these variants providing a range of key benefits. 

To clear things up early, the difference between the two is simple. Freestanding kits are removable and can be used at your leisure, whereas fixed campervan solar panels will need to become a permanent fixture of your vehicle. Both of these types of panels enable you to use solar energy to run the various appliances, electronics and devices that make up your campervan, reducing your reliance on alternative (and infinitely more costly) methods of power. 

How Do Campervan Solar Panels Work? 

Solar Panel is also known as a ‘PV panel’, these are used to convert light from the sun into electricity that can be used to power electrical loads. By installing solar panels to your campervan or kombi you can generate your own renewable electricity.

Solar panels for campervans work by obtaining energy from the sun and converting this into usable electricity, to power everything from televisions and fridges through to lighting and device chargers. The materials featured in campervan solar panels come together to create an electric field, with the energy captured stored in the accompanying battery until it is required. 

As we touched on earlier, the wattage of your chosen solar panel should be fully reflective of your needs. Don’t be afraid to invest in panels of 120w - this amount of energy, especially if you have kids on board, may be indispensable to you at some point in your journey. 

Each Solar Panel is made from layers of semi-conducting material, this is usually silicon, phosphorus (which provides the negative charge) and boron (which provides the positive charge). Solar panels absorb the sunlight and in doing so initiate the electric current.

  • Obtain energy from the sun
  • Convert this usable electricity 
  • Made from layers of semi-conduction material 

Campervan Solar panels on a Transporter

Why Are Campervan Solar Panels Good For The Environment? 

The advantages of solar panels have been well-documented, but it’s always good to have a little reminder. 

One of their most important benefits is how they help to reduce carbon emissions, in some instances by 1.6 tonnes per year. There are no pollutants involved in the creation of solar energy, and by attaching solar panels to your campervan as you travel throughout the UK you’re also doing wonders for your own personal carbon footprint. 

Another great reason to invest in campervan solar panels is that they are expected to last for at least 3 decades, as long as you do what you can to maintain them. The longevity of these products miminises waste in our culture of instant gratification, which is, of course, extremely advantageous to the environment.

They are a practical way to produce electricity. If you have been thinking about living ‘off-grid’, which means living at a location that is not serviced by the mail electric utility grid then don’t look any further! The greatest benefit that you would consider from using solar power is that it is a clean and renewable source of energy, helping global climate change and reduce the carbon footprint. A Solar Panel requires little maintenance and can last for deceased when properly maintained. 

  • Reduce emissions 
  • Solar Panels should last 30+ years
  • Enable you to live "off grid" in your campervan
  • Silent power 
  • Reduce usage of fossil fuels 
Campervan Solar Panel being installed on a pop top roof at Wildworx

Different types of solar panels available for your van, campervan or kombi

Before getting all kitted out with solar panels and all the parts needed. You have to think about the best suited Solar Panel for your type of van, campervan or kombi. Let’s take a look at the different types available on the market right now.  There is a choice between fixed or portable panels.

  • Fixed or Ridged solar panel 
  • Flexible solar panel (sometimes called semi-flexible)
  • Portable solar panels

A Semi Flexible Solar Panel can be mounted to the roof of your van or campervan. They can be mounted on your pop-top roof. This way they’ll be always exposed to the sun, so they’ll be charging while you are driving too. They are a permanent addition to your campervan. 

Portable solar panels are stored in your camper van while driving and you can only position them at the campsite or wherever you have stopped. We have noticed that many owners of campervans or kombis that are used as Day Vans choose to go for the portable solar panels instead of permanent solar panels.

  • Flexible solar panels are most suited to install on your campervan
  • They can attach onto any surface 
  • Can be walked on without damage 
  • Water and salt water resistant 

Check out our Solar Panel option on our website here.

Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline

Solar panels are made from two different types of material Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline. Let’s take a look at the two options. Monocrystalline cells are from a single source of silicon, which means they are more efficient but tend to be more expensive too. This Solar Panel is also smaller and more compact.

In comparison to Polycrystalline, these have blended silicon, which means they are cheaper and less efficient. It’s probably nice that they are cheaper but you need to consider the fact that because they are less efficient you’ll need to get more panels to get the same power that a Monocrystalline Solar Panel would give you.

Generally you don't need to worry about this. Most campervan solar panels on the market will be made from Monocrystalline material. 

Solar Panel Campervan installed from Wildworx

Solar Panel Watts

When researching solar panels you’ll need to look at the amount of WATT that the panels come in, this can be either 50W, 100W or 200W power. To work out the number of watts you need depends on what you are going to use the Solar Panel for. The daily power consumption is referred to as watt-hours (Wh). There are a lot of calculators online to find out how much power you need, so please do check them out! If you are not quite understanding it all, our technicians will be more than happy to talk you through.

Last but not least, the weight and size must be considered. As each van, campervan or kombi can mount x amount of weight onto the roof or side on the exterior to support the weight. But also consider the extra weight you’d be able to store inside, if you have chosen to go with a portable Solar Panel.

How to install a solar panel onto your Campervan Pop Top Roof

There are two ways of installing a campervan solar panel. Either by using self-tapping screws or by bonding it down. At Wildworx we recommend bonding the solar panel onto your pop top roof. This is because your pop top roof is likely made from fibre glass and will leave a permanent hole. Fit your panel as close to the back of your roof as possible, but within the canvas. This means your wires will come inside the van. 

  • Bond your solar panel to your pop top roof
  • Make sure you choose the correct location for your panel
  • Ensure your solar panel has a rear cable junction housed under the solar panel. Meaning you don't see any cables from the inside

A full solar panel kit for your campervan will usually include: 

  • 180W semi-flexible solar panel
  • 20A high efficiency MPPT solar charge controller with inbuilt LCD display
  • Single core extension cables with MC4 connectors
  • Dual-core battery cable fitted with a fuse holder
  • 15A fuse
  • 8mm ring terminals

You will need also need an additional leisure battery to ensure the system functions correctly. 

Campervan Solar Panel being installed on pop top roof Wildworx

Don't want a permanent Solar Panel on your campervan?

There are a few options if you don't want a solar panel to be installed permanently on your roof. Our favourite being the Jackery Solar Panel Kit. This comes with a solar panel, a battery and an inverter. Great for weekends away at festivals to give you that extra power.

Leisure Battery 

Having a leisure battery in your campervan is a great way of storing the electricity so you can use it at a later time. As a rough guide:

  • A 250W of solar power will require one 100Ah battery to store the electricity generated

Campervan Inverter

An Inverter is able to convert DC battery electricity into standard mains electricity 230v. This makes it possible to use or charge your electronic devices with a 3 pin UK plug socket. Even when you're not plugged into a campsite. These devices might include: 

  • Laptop 
  • Hairdryer 
  • Cameras 

MPPT Controller 

When installing a full Campervan Solar Panel Kit correctly we would advise you use a MPPT Controller. Put in very basic terms an MPPT controller is what links your solar panel with your battery where you will store the electricity. MPPT charge controllers are a DC-DC converter that maximise the efficiency of a solar system. 

Additional equipment

When buying solar panels it’s important to see if any additional equipment is included with the panels. For example, a portable Solar Panel needs a charge controller, connecting cords and clips. We have found that not every manufacturer includes them and they need to be purchased separately.

If you have chosen to mount your solar panels then you will need a charge controller and mounting hardware. Again, as mentioned above please check if they are included within the panels or not. Rigid panels can also be attached to a tilting mount. These will be worth checking out as they can increase the solar capacity by 25% by allowing them to directly face the sun.

Campervan Solar Panel installed on Pop top roof of VW Transporter

Wildworx Campervan Solar Panels Fitting 

Installing Solar Panels on your campervan might seem overwhelming but is very doable. However if it's not your cup of tea Wildworx offers Solar Panel Installation from our HQ in Alcester. Our fully qualified team are always on hand to help carry out that vital adjustment to your campervan and have years of experience in working closely with the installation of campervan solar panels. To discover what they can do for you and to find the perfect solution for your requirements, get in touch.