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The solar panel calculator can help you work out what equipment you need to fully charge your next camping, caravaning or off-road adventure. See what is drawing the most power and look at ways to reduce or eliminate it. Say hey, here’s all my numbers, this is my daily power usage. But you suggest in series I’ll then have 36v (12+12+12v) and still 300 watts out? And this fridge is running straight off of our batteries. If I have 3 and one stops working, I can re-wire in the field with the 2 remaining? I’m purchasing a single 12V/100W panel and a single 50Ah AGM just to get started. We go into this a little more in our battery post, there’s a couple of things you need to keep track of. I am looking at getting Solar and all of the installs suggest connecting to the existing wiring inside the camper. Or a refrigerator that cycles during the day. In your controller diagram you show the BATT as being the far right terminals of the PMW controller. I can get the amps I want using 1, 2, 3, or more batteries. I use a good bit of power because I work from my van. Thanks! Battery life is affected by how quickly you are using power. Always ensure as many cells as possible are in direct sunlight. But in general, if you’re going to go significantly larger, you’re going to want to double check your battery bank size. If you run an AC powered object like my laptop, then that efficiency is going to be reduced so you’re going to have to use more energy to charge the laptop than you would if it were DC powered. My camper is stationary (used as a permanent camp) and off grid. I’m able to save alot of money on rent this way, and thanks to being knowledgeable about electricity/electronics, I’m very comfortable. Some days I might not be running my laptop, some days I might be running a little more. Solar Power Estimate Calculator SPEC. 2 years later I’ve learned a lot too! The refer uses 5 amps, but cycles hourly, so guessing it’s using 2.5 amps an hour, depending on temperature of the van of course. If using heaters and fans, it is helpful to do a calculation for a winter month and a summer month (including sun hours below) and use the larger of the two. Sometimes in some cases there are much more expensive but only slightly better components that we don’t find necessary. B2B charger (solar CC included, incompatible with lithium) Silicon solar cells are currently available in three main types, which are known as monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film amorphous. Solar 260W (360W) It’s a more accurate measurement of how much actual electricity you have. So we mitigate for that effect by estimating more solar. This is a blog written for travelers by travelers. But alas, after 2 days of clouds I’m struggling with my power consumption. Your email address will not be published. Yes, this component can benefit from upsizing if you’re not sure if you’ll need more solar or not. So they’re a little more flexible in their use. One great way to extend battery life is to install a Samlex Solar power kit on your RV. If you want to save all this, down at the bottom of the calculator we have a “print your numbers” button. I also have the same charge controller as in your diagram (30A). These are example numbers, I don’t actually remember exactly what the vent fan is but the numbers are out there somewhere 35 [amp hours]. Not really necessary in the larger set ups because your battery is better at handling that load anyway. Electrical wire crimp connector That inverter is going to come out blank. Another document that may be helpful is our Selection & Installation Guide . Now if you want to get your batteries to last longer, you can discharge them to only say, 20%. What we’re trying to figure out is our daily electrical usage, or our max average. As a side note, the discharge capabilities of lithium batteries are significantly better than those of AGM or FLA. So once you have your battery, your power storage, you know your power storage can discharge a full day’s use, you can always boost that if you want. We also have two phones, and our phones are I think 3 amps but at 5 volt USB so they’re each running about 15 watts and they’re plugged in 3 hours per day. Battery Type If you occasionally are using more power – such as a hair drier for a few minutes once a week – then you won’t be doing too much damage to your batteries. Usually 12, 24, or 48 volts. So as you’re picking one out it’s ok to look at the specifications on this. Is there any down side to this approach? WindyNation 100W Solar Kit (PWM charge controller and battery included). This calculator may also come in handy. So the AGM is the absorbent glass matt, or flooded lead acid. The voltage of the solar controller is the rated output of the controller. 600W Pure Sine Wave Using our tool, we factor in: Improved Shade Analysis – Powered by Google Sunroof data, all estimates consider the shading and irradiance levels of every roof plane, with the panel placement optimized for the most productive areas of the roof. So once you know your total watt hours, the next thing that you need to pick in your system is your battery size. But this will at least give you an idea of how the components will be acquired together. Solar panel extension cable Different fridges run a little different. WindyNation 200W Solar Kit (PWM charge controller and battery included), Solar Panels (300W) Adjustable tilt mount (optional) Enter the distance in feet from your Solar Panels to your Battery Bank / Charge Controller. It uses a lot of your juice, your electrical power available. Solar calculator for RV or camper van conversions. I’m concerned about the solar_factor variable you use to compute the required power output from the solar panels. Oops…. So if you find that this inverter number, it’s kind of a recommendation, you can go larger. Because your alternative is to jump up to a 200 amp hour lithium battery and spend another grand on that. In most cases you can find the Watts listed online, in the owner’s manual, or on the product itself. What you’re going to want to do is everything that uses electricity, you’re going to write down. Your wire size is going to vary greatly depending on how far you are running them. we provide a number of ways to help you determine the right system for your RV. 10A MPPT (most efficient), Batteries With the beefy internals, I figure, I can add more panels and batteries later. We use this a 4 generally for camper vans because if you’re flat mounting your solar panels on top of your van, in most cases they’re only going to see about 4 direct hours of sun. At first I thought 20 amp CC was good enough 18 volts x 2 = 36 volts (series) and 5.5 amps x 2 = 11 amps (parallel) into the CC… but everywhere I’m reading seems to indicate I’ll somehow be shedding massive volts down to 14 +/- 0.5. Here are some tips to cut back on electronic use. There’s two of those so we’ll say 6 hours per day. B2B charger (solar CC included, incompatible with lithium) This would make your input at 18V and you would be getting more advantage of a PWM controller without loosing significant power. ECO-WORTHY 800W Solar Kit, Batteries mobile power equipment recommendations based on your specific power usage.. At Go Power! You can read more about batteries here. The CC takes that fluctuating energy and turns it into a tame charge voltage that the batteries can handle. This is the max Amps you can expect to see coming out of your solar controller after the solar controller converts your solar panel voltage to the 14.4v/28.8v/57.6v (for 12v/24v/48v battery banks, respectively) required to charge your batteries when the temperature drops to your estimated low temperature. For instance, can I buy 2 lithium batteries now and add more a few years down the road? Then I start sweating like a dog. Some general rules to follow are: We based our calculations on a 10% efficiency loss that occurs when using an AC inverter. This electrical usage table will have a number of rows equal to the number of electrical components we use on a typical day.The first column is the name of each electrical device. So that’s the amount of power that it needs. Is it to account for solar panel power output during sunrise and sunset? You should label your ports on the controller diagram so someone doesn’t put the battery in the LOAD port on the common Chinese controller. No! Great article Very good explanation of solar basics. Thanks so much!!! I plan on building a skoolie in the future, and am toying with the idea of running 24v instead of 12v. 10A PWM (budget option) Inverter 1100W (1200W). Rates are based on a 12V system with 5 hour charging times. Next you choose … In cold weather, the compressor in a fridge may only be. This is excellent. Click the to add a new row. Thoughts? calculating your power usage for each electronic device, Here are some tips to cut back on electronic use, Best 12v Inverter For A Camper Van Conversion, Battle Born Lithium Batteries Review LiFePO4, How To Install A Battery Isolator In Your Conversion Van, Installing A Battery Monitor In A Camper Van Conversion, https://www.parkedinparadise.com/cassette-toilet/, https://www.parkedinparadise.com/portable-propane-water-heater/, https://www.parkedinparadise.com/best-roof-vent/, http://www.smartgauge.co.uk/batt_con.html, https://unboundsolar.com/solar-information/sun-hours-us-map, Optimizing Your Camper Van Electric System, How To Calculate Wh For Each Electronic Device, over two years living in a DIY camper van, Select whether it is an AC or DC powered (AC uses an inverter), Choose which battery type you want to use, Enter your estimated sun hours (direct sunlight you expect on the panels), Aim to use as many 12v DC powered electrics as possible, Cook efficiently – fuels like propane and butane will make your system smaller than cooking with electricity. Required fields are marked *. I say theoretical because in many ways wiring panels in series is slightly more efficient than wiring them in parallel. Along the way, we've met with other van lifers, checked out their rigs, and learned a lot about adventure travel. The actionable difference lies in efficiency. Can you confirm that the wiring can be setup so that the fuse block / load can be wired directly through the controller? So she’s only running about 85 watts and she’s also kind of using it in the same manner. ... Caravan and motorhome solar panel top tips. Estimated Watt Hours Our fridge on average is running about 8 hours a day. So this calculator at the top, if you put your amps and your volts, it does a simple calculation and gives you your watts. Your calculator is GREAT! Awesome write up. Also any tips on mounting ridged palels to roof. So in this case we’ll just kind of run through an example camper set up. Using your calculator, rounding up with worst case, I will need a 12v 200 ah battery and 300 watts of panels. They are also quite a bit more expensive, but they last longer. Any of my wire runs are no more than 6-8 ft… so #12 AWG should be fine for wiring, but I’m way confused on this current/amp boost that will happen between CC and batteries in a 12 volt system??? I reside in my van all year when not at my sister’s down the street. WindyNation 100W Solar Kit (PWM charge controller and battery included), Solar Panels (400W) As per the Solar panels, we need to pay attention to the working voltage and short-circuit voltage. If you’re in the desert southwest and an angled system you’ll have 6-7 hours of available sun. Say this number comes out to 25 amps, but you know your MPPT specs say that it can go to 240 watts and you only have 220 watts of solar, that charge controller can be a 20 amp charge controller. Because each day is like its own reset in terms of the electricity that you’re going to use. So if you notice this number jumps up. Now the other selection you have to do here is whether or not you’re using a PWM or MPPT controller. I was using a spare 12v car battery with an inverter but it only lasts 2 hours or less before the battery dies. On the drawing for the Large Systems: Wiring Diagram (AGM Batteries), you will want to correct the battery wiring so nobody catches a face-full of acid. A gaming laptop is a lot more efficient than one of the towers just because the CPU is designed to be able to run off the battery. Hey Andy, for winter camping, adjust the list of devices and number of sun hours. 6 circuit fuse block + bus bar Now one thing I forgot is the laptop and the Macbook are both running off of AC power. Charge Controller Size The battery stores the current as amperage, similar to a gas tank storing gasoline. If you do a lot of dry camping then you know that battery life is one of the most important things you must plan for, especially if you have a small battery bank. Flexible polycrystalline, Charge Controller That basically is just saying hey, you can save a lot of money and efficiency by not running an inverter. Thanks Ian, I did not know that the CC would step down in those cases. 40A MPPT (budget) so is there a book and or a diagram that helps explain this from each unit. This is relative to how much total capacity the battery has, so larger batteries can discharge more quickly (hence a larger inverter). So you’ll notice your battery bank size changes significantly based on your depth of discharge. So, in this case we’ve got 220 watts. So this component is our general go-to if we were to build a camper van with our own money this is how we would use it. Battery terminal connectors Rigid Monocrystalline We see this common mistake pretty often. Hence the large batts. So even if you’re not using this calculator itself, this is kind of the direction that you need to go. We have a cool solar panel calculator on our site and i’m going to walk you through how to use it because there are a lot of steps involved and sometimes just seeing someone go through it helps quite a bit. Are there losses with multiple batteries? Thanks so much for the thorough diagrams! I have been really strugling to identify this Here are examples of complete systems with battery banks: Read our article on inverters for more information. Now I’m wondering, and what brought me to your site, is if there’s a benefit from multiple batteries? This is just a general, you know that the size here is going to work. The second column is the amperage draw of the appliance from a 12 volt power source. The Solar Cable Gauge Calculator is designed to provide estimates for wire gauge size to determine your need for cables. Used to reduce electricity bill. Solar Power Estimate Calculator (SPEC) for caravans and other RVs. A lot of this stuff is variable and that’s why the solar diagrams you see online get kind of wonky and complicated because they’re for very specific set ups. I have looked for 10 gauge ends to crimp onto the end of wire that will fit into the holes but have had no luck. There are small caveats that an expert may adjust for specific combinations of components to increase longevity or efficiency, but the complexity is overwhelming for a beginner so they are not covered. MPPT controllers are more efficient so you need a little less solar panels to get to your watt hour usage. You can enter it as one component line. I’m running four 100 watt panels… 2 series of 2 (alternating in my rooftop real estate – a 5ft x 7ft trailer) combined in parallel into the charge controller. Both of those have similar profiles in that you don’t want to discharge them more than 50%. This is the more expensive option, but allows more flexibility in input wiring. Visit our Electricity Main Page to see all of our camper van electrical posts. At night when the temperature drops, the compressor won’t be clicking on and off as much. These calculations are mitigating the inefficiencies of the solar system. If you’re changing locations frequently, we like to use 3.5-4.5 sun hours for winter. That panel is rated at 100 watts at peak efficiency – meaning on a 78 degree cloudless day at solar noon on the equator during the equinox. 200Ah (x2) Battery (AGM option) Cell booster. 40A MPPT (premium), Batteries SOLAR SIZING Calculator. The most I’ve ever seen it pull is 150 [watts] and usually it’s closer to 120 [watts]. Recommended Min Solar Watts Solar panel extension cable Posted this on wrong Blog entry. So we have this calculator here. If I use this to calculate, would I just halve the Ah needed for the battery for a 24v setup? You show the loads directly tied to the battery. The third co… At first I was gonna run 2 battery banks (as I don’t have same batteries/ ages/use cases, types) but this build is turning into a nightmare (even though I can isolate them for charging – but only PWN chargers can I find with dual battery outputs that never charge simultaneously – bad for different batteries). Now your solar panels, they only have a window of opportunity to gather your electricity. This really helped me calculate what setup would be needed. Suggestions? Click on the solar panel wiring diagram below closest to your numbers and get started! Batteries are the most expensive component in your electrical system, so you don’t want to wear those out too quickly. A 100W solar panel plugged into a PWM controller will not be putting in 100W of power to your batteries. Types of solar panel. But with a 20% discharge you need a lot bigger battery if you’re only going to be discharging it the same amount. In series wouldn’t the CC stepping down use some of the potential power? Sadly I’ll be ditching my $800 worth of 200 AH AGM batteries for lithium. I am planning to use 2 100W panels. We like to use watt hours because it’s a more accurate estimate of actual power usage, because amps are determined by your voltage. So this is just something to keep you aware. Hope this helps! Would you not want 200Ah with the lithium option? I can’t connect the inverter to the van’s battery for obvious reasons. It’s hard on the batteries. Punch numbers into our handy calculators, browse techy articles, or skim a quick guide to installing solar on a boat, motorhome or off-grid house. The charge controller can do this with 18V or 24V or 36V or a range of voltage inputs (depending on the controller) and use it to charge 12V batteries. the system can recharge the batteries the rest of the day. I find that to be a little redundant. I think you meant increased amperage (not voltage), but I get the general question and it is a good one to ask! So I use about 8 amps to run my laptop, second monitor and play music. The solar sizing calculator will then be able to tell you the minimum and recommended system size, as well as the recommended battery output. A cheaper option is to go with a battery isolator. Laptops are another variable component in that they’re only pulling their max watts. Actual charging times will vary dependingon geographic location, time of year, angle of the sun relative to the RV solar panel and, weather conditions. That fridge when it’s drawing power, it’s powering a compressor and that compressor is only kicking on to cool the fridge down to a certain temp and then that compressor turns off. Similar thoughts… but I’m struggling with the charge controller sizing myself… given other elements are fixed (due to size). So 4 sun hours, gives us 220 watts of solar. So sometimes smaller systems, say in this case, let’s say you find a couple of 150 watt hour panels 160 watt panels – if you go 300 watts of solar and a PWM controller, you’re going to be paying less for more power than if you were to go with an MPPT controller. An 80w solar panel kit is adequate for most applications in the summer months but the 120w brings extra reliability. There are many differences between these batteries. Alright, so when you’re done with all of that. If DIY solar power is intimidating to you, we recommend looking at solar powered generators which are plug and play devices that require little to no wiring. So if I’m running a simulation, a 3D simulation then that thing is going to be pumping out 150 or 170 watts. ABOUT US The other thing to note is you can always go smaller. Also, is there a good way to get power use estiments for devices? I’m going to talk a little bit about what it’s good for and what it’s not. 100Ah (x2) Battery (Lithium option), Inverter (use smallest size required) We’ve done tests on it, we can see the average. There is further reading on all parts of the system, extras to install tips and advice on all things electric! This is how the high efficiency fridges and the fridge in your house work. Rigid Monocrystalline You would need about a 30A PWM in this case, but I think it is a good option for your scenario and budget. I know they can be discharged more than their AGM counterparts, but that still seems rather low. I know with lead batteries, you’re supposed to use the same year, etc, I don’t know if that’s true for Lithium. *Fuses and wire gage size are going to vary depend on how long your are running the wires. Seems to me that this would not only run the A.C units but would also charge the batteries inside the trailers. You might find that helpful. We have our solar panels running to our charge controller, our charge controller running to our battery. We have some solar panel wiring diagrams just for reference here. Solar Sizing for Your RV. Solar takes the sun's energy and converts it into DC (Direct Current) battery power to charge you motorhome’s batteries. Now if you’re not familiar with working with electricity at all, you should probably have a professional or a mentor of some kind helping you through this. Regards, Get. So if you say hey, I’m going to be in Washington I don’t think I’m going to see much sun, I need my battery bank to last a couple of days, or you run critical equipment. Thinking if I have just 1 and it stops working for some reason, then I have no reserve. So after your battery, the next piece of equipment that you choose is your solar panels. If 300 watt diag (for example) you would have 12v X 3 = 36 volts. What can I do to keep that fan running for at least 7 hours? Lithium Battery 135Ah (x2) Lensun 100W 12V Flexible RV Solar Panel Kit with 10 Amp Controller, and 2pcs 5M MC4 cables, Go Power Overlander Solar Charging Kit (190 watts), Weekender ISW Go Power 190 Watt RV Solar Kit, Lensun 200W 12V Flexible RV Solar Panel Kit with 20 Amp Controller, and 2pcs 5M MC4 cables, Solar Extreme Go Power 570 Watt RV Solar Kit, Solar Elite Go Power 380 Watt RV Solar Kit, Go Power 10 Watt ECO Solar Kit (GP-ECO-10), Go Power 20 Watt ECO Solar Kit (GP-ECO-20). In you situation, you would indeed be dropping significant voltage because of your choice of PWM controller. Oh that vent fan is on maybe 4 hours of the day, at night to cool the van off. So that’s why we have this choice in here. I’m WAY over powered as I only use 3 low wattage fans and recharge my tablet and phone. Presuming you have six usable hours of sunlight in one day each 100 watt 5.5 amp panel will generate 33 amp hours … I wish there was any easy formula that said a panel (like a 100 watt panel) would produce x amp-hours of usable power per day, but I can’t. There are a few different ways to arrange panels, batteries, and connectors. Ok, next up is the inverter. So, you have two choices: 1) wire your panels all in parallel instead of 2S2P. Thanks for doing all the workings out for us! Enter the total Amps that your Solar Panels will produce all together. 50Ah (x1) Battery (Lithium option), Additional Parts Solar Panels Voltage. Im in the planning pase as you may have guessed. It is a battery charger that works anytime the sun is out. 200Ah (x1) Battery (AGM option) Now our charge controller, this is determined by our solar panel size. example: looking at a microwave that says it uses 720 watts. If you have, let’s say you’re going to be in the desert southwest most of the time and you know you’re going to have tilt mount panels maybe you’ll see 6 hours of sun. You will generate about 30 amps of power for every 100 watts of solar panels you have. And thanks for all the great detail in your excellent guides! Those things are not great to be battery powered. Read our wiring post to determine the proper wire size for your build. Read our wiring guide for more details on how to size your specific system. Battery isolator (compatible with lithium) There is more detail in this in our charge controller article if you want to know. Monocrystalline cells are made up of a single silicon crystal; polycrystalline comprise fragments of silicon. Read our, Large Systems: Wiring Diagram (AGM Batteries), Large Systems: Wiring Diagram (Lithium Batteries). If you’re in the hot weather all the time you might want to boost that even double it up to 16 hours. B2B charger (solar CC included, compatible with lithium), Solar Panel Kits You still need the CC wired to a battery through the battery terminals. If you’re running things like an electric heater, include that in your list of devices for winter. PWM controllers don’t have the ability to “step down” voltage, they essentially just throw it away. Copyright © ParkedInParadise.com | Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. AGM batteries wear out quickly if you use more than 50% of their charge, so they require a larger battery bank to compensate. So it gets a little overwhelming, but it’s not too bad. Hope that helps! With that said, it’s usually a lot of work to add more panels on the road so we like doing them all at once. You kind of want to make sure that those are running efficiently. Direct current. You are probably still planning to use power like you would in a house. And those are in series with the first battery. 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