Solar for the trip

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#1 Mon, 11/26/2012 - 15:01

Solar for the trip

I am very interested in hearing from anyne who installed solar on their vehicle for things like a fridge etc. Please let me know any recommendations on where to start looking and how easy/difficult it was to get done!  Thanks!

Tue, 11/27/2012 - 11:47

We use a 100W panel and it

We use a 100W panel and it works like charme. As we do a lot of multi-day bush camping and want to still use our electronic devices as well as fridge and water pump, we don't want to miss solar power anymore.

Here is a short blog post about our setup:

Tue, 09/22/2015 - 10:41 (Reply to #2)

That's pretty sweet--I've

That's pretty sweet--I've been wanting to do something like this too. Thanks for sharing the post. 

Fri, 12/14/2012 - 07:53

My recommendation is to

My recommendation is to research as much as possible and understand how a solar system/battery in general works in your vehicle of choice.

I like Dinoevo's setup (in fact his vehicle prep bog posts are pretty f-ing cool)

Our set up has evolved through the years. Our latest iteration includes a 100W panel connected to a 12v to 12v charger. So far I like this charger, it is a CTEK D250s Dual. You connect the solar panel as well as your alternator to the D250. This device optimizes the charge to your "house" battery in order to extend its life.

Most importantly monitor your house battery in order to keep it healthy as long as possible.

Sat, 12/15/2012 - 06:02

If you want some reading to start with...

Here is a good writeup about a simple dual battery setup.  On post #27 they include the installation of a solar panel into the system.  It's a lot to read, but very informative.  


I could definitely see the value of having a 100W panel added to our system, so we can use our fan for a whole week without starting the engine.

Mon, 11/11/2013 - 11:43

for solar a good read blog is

for solar a good read blog is :but is for more advance solar

the best 12v fridge is one with a danfross compressor like or norcold.

 i would put at least 150-200 watts and 2 6V batteries( like Trojan T105), 100 for the fridge and 100 to keep bateries up. leds lights . 600 watts 12v to 110V converter for my laptops, coffe maker ( one cup cofee maker at wall-mart 10$, 280 Watts).system works great

look at ebay for panels or controller if you want to buy,or in canada i've bought at .

basic you need a panel, 12v controler and one or 2 bateries( like for more storage space or reserve capacity)

have safe travels 


Sat, 01/04/2014 - 09:51

solar go go !

We love our solar setup.


We have 2x 100W panels. We can start our car through only them on a sunny day. The setup has got us out of numerous problems and I would highly recommend anybody who is doing a long trip and wanting to live in their vehicle to get them installed. 


Our system is connected only to our leisure battery which then feeds a seperate circuit to the cars electircal system. We run our fridge, lights, power invertor everything. We drain the battery through use over night and by the time we wake up in the morning it is back to 13V. 


A word of warning. Be careful when shipping your vehicle with your solar gear installed. We had our charge regulator stollen and it cost us $150USD to replace. 

Solar equipment it MUCH MUCH cheaper in the UK than the USA. May be worth seeing if you can save some money by ordering from the UK? We got all our equipment from eBay.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 16:53

Because everyone told me I

Because everyone told me I needed them, I was looking at Solar panels for my car, (not cheap !) until one (kind) electrician asked me "What do you want to run ?"  I said "my 12 V fridge, and then just charging cameras, computers, etc etc.".  I already have a second (deep cycle) battery in my car which is wired up so that you cannot drain the main (Starter) battery, so you are never stranded.   "If you are driving most days, why not just use the little inverters that fit in the cigar lighter - They will charge all your low wattage cameras and other stuff while you drive".   From trips done already, I know I can survive for 2-3 days on the battery as long as I am careful (all my lights are LED etc), and if I need a charge, just start the engine up for a while.

While solar panels would be good, eventually it was money saved and put into other things I feel were more important.  If desperate, I would get a portable panel - You always want to park the car in the shade, but the panels need to be in the sun !!!  They are also less likely to be stolen if they are packed inside. 

Just my way of doing it, is all. Everyone has diferent requirements and priorities.


Tue, 09/22/2015 - 11:59

Basic solar systems are

Basic solar systems are useful only up to a certain point. Add in a compressor fridge and use of a computer for a few hours and have a few days of cloudy weather and you will soon find the shortcomings of a system with no reserve capacity. The battery gets drained down overnight and never gets recharged the next day (BTW a battery charged to only 13V maximum is likely still 3/4 flat) and then gets drained even lower  the next night and after a few days is just about dead with no prospect of ever getting charged back to anything close to 100%. Particularly vulnerable are 4WDs with a main starter battery and an auxiliary battery for everything else and no way of charging except from the engine alternator.

Trouble is an engineered system requires at least 400W of panels and preferably more, plus about 400Ah of battery capacity and that is expensive, heavy and takes up a lot of space.


Still, even a modest system adds to your endurance and provided you understand the basics, is well worthwhile.