solar panels! HELP.

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  • So...
    we are moving back into our lovely live-in in April having had a short stint in a flat and realised it really is crap living in a flat for us...and this time we want solar panels so we can be more self sufficient. Just had a nice big window put in the side for more natural light on nice sunny days :)

    I guess we will need about 200W panels... We will be charging laptop sometimes and phones, about 6 LED lights (if these are the best to go for) , charging a dab radio and a few other chargeable thingys and listening to music through a car stereo system set up in the back...

    i have been looking at the light weight semi-flexable panels on ebay and they seem cheep enough, i am just a bit worried about buying from ebay sellers...has anyone done this on here. not many offer warranty and i cant really afford a ridiculous set for a motorhome suppliers...

    this is the sort of thing i was looking at ... 2 x 100W panels then get a decent regulator and batteries…_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2648

    i am so confused by all the companies :( so if any one has any suggestions that would be great :D

    thanks for reading


  • that is very expensive.
    will need more info will you be having a battery bank.

  • If your at all handy you can buy solar cells seperately and solder them all together, if you buy them as "seconds" or "rejects" you can get them pretty cheap and usually they are only chipped on the edges. :)

    google for DIY solar panels.

  • That's erm, very, expensive. What's wrong with the non flexible ones?…dgets&hash=item27cd585466 , get this for starters and add another panel if you want more wattage?

    Peace, Rick!

    Can beat that :D

    Buy the solar panels from (Note the DE part) as you can get them for £80 for a 120w panel inc shipping and think why pay rip off UK prices where you can get more for half of the price. Little black box of tricks was iirc £12 from China. So you can have a set up for under £100 + the battery.

  • Thanks for all the replies... DodgeWagen the reason i wanted flexible panels is so that they are light weight and easier to fit onto the van, also the £339 is for 2 100W flex panels. The kit looks good though, just worried about how to fix them on...i dont really like putting too many holes in the roof :S how do you lot do it? the van is fully insulated and kitted out inside by the way, so drilling through is going to be a pain in the backside. i do realise there will have to be holes for the gland for the wires to go through.

    Shella, i will hopefully have two 110aph batteries.

    I wouldn't mind getting some from Germany if there are that cheep, how would i attach them?...the flexi ones have holes in the corners...

    Thanks again everyone :)

  • I usually attatch wooden battons to the roof with screws and sykaflex or similar, then attatch panels to these with hinges. If you remove the pins from the hinges and replace them with thick wire, you can angle the panels to the sun. Usually leave mine flat tho. Melvin

  • It is usually best to have the panels so that you can rotate them to the southern horizon. Anything other than pointing south, then the panels are IMO useless. Also you will need to be careful where you are sited. A partially shaded shadow will give you next to no charge, the solar panels need to be fully exposed to the sun.

  • They're light as out anyhow, it's the batteries that weigh & they're not difficult to put on the roof, I'd save the money. Maybe buy a roof rack with the 200notes you'd save and attach the panel to that if you want to spend =P .

  • Its actually not hard to setoup auto tracking solar panels. You just mount them on a rotatable frame with a motor powered by a smaller solar cell and set it up so that when the panel is pointing at the sun it shades the cell that drives the motor. That way as the sun moves, it hits the small cell and that powers the motor to follow the sun. I think ambiant light in the morning might even produce enough light to rotate the panel all the way round ready for a new day, if not it would need to be done manually every morning. I can see the set up in my head anyway. Lol

  • I want it to be as discreet as flat on the roof and thin. i am decided on the flexi ones even though they are more expensive... what i really need to know is, is it safe to buy this kind of thing from a ebay seller? thanks Em

  • theres no prob i can see. Just puttin flat on roof means in winter you will not get as much power with sun not get so high in sky. Dont no if thats right just reme someone told me that. Also you hav to go bigger than you need. And dont hav em trackin sun power extra not a lot diff. And keep em clean

  • i aree,i bought all my stuff of e-bay,120w panel from germany £70,controller £7 from china,(20amp in case i want to uprade panels)wire and plugs £6,roof gland £5.50.full set up minus batterys for £88.50.

  • hi
    there ebay shop is called "direkt-vom-lager".but there price has now gone up to £80 delivered (from germany)still was a while ago i bought mine.
    i used 2 inch alloy angle to fix to my roof which is just big enough to leave a space,had to drill plenty of holes though.just used silicon sealent to seal holes.

  • seen this on ebay, its poly, but not too bad about 2% down on their mono's. not the cheapest i have seen but at least it's no jonny no name.…dgets&hash=item3380a71744

    one thing that will improve and compensate a bit for compromise on solar panel position is using an mppt charge controller, although its not cheap. it has many benefits such as allowing a higher input voltage, so you have a free-er choice of panel, and are not limited to the lower voltage ones.
    also you can put panels in series (some mppt controller allow upto 150v) this way power losses are reduced and the cables can be thinner (same as reasons for HV transmission on national grid)

    preferably when using more than one panel they should be the same, two mis-matched panels do not equal the sum of their wattages, its always lower.

  • This is a top thread :0 solar is the way. At the mo i have to get my power by running a 7.5kva built in genny ahhhh it gobbles diesel plus its piped into the drive tank so runnin on white :( Like i said on another thread im new live on my rv and love it. i have been out since christmas. would love a good solar system fitted. also an eberspacher would be good for heating and low power consumption.

  • This is a top thread :0 solar is the way. At the mo i have to get my power by running a 7.5kva built in genny ahhhh it gobbles diesel plus its piped into the drive tank so runnin on white :( Like i said on another thread im new live on my rv and love it. i have been out since christmas. would love a good solar system fitted. also an eberspacher would be good for heating and low power consumption.

    how old is the generator and the vehicle, depending on the age and type biodiesel could be an option, you could even make it to reduce costs.
    it is legal for personal use on the road for about 12k miles worth. but who can really tell how much gets used ;)

    it would depend on several factors and you should reaserch it all thouroughly first. the problem with age is the rubber used swells and perishes with veg oil, modern vehicles don't have this problem. i will not run mine on it until i have got a second pump and rerfurbed it. generally bosh are more reliable than lucas for using on biodiesel.
    also fuel line heating is needed in the cold the more veg oil put in the tank as a % due to its greater viscosity over diesel.

    i used to run my old ldv 50/50 bio:diesel and sometimes when i got it, cheap gm veg oil straight into the tank. it had a bosh pump and was fine :) although that is not an endorsement

  • if you want to go down the bigger panel (not 12v) and mppt charge controller route then the Bimble Inn are selling off used panels with mppt controllers at quite reasonable prices ....... I have no connection with the business but bought a setup off them and it works well on my truck

    ps you can use a panel that has a bigger than 12v output to charge 12v batteries if you use a mppt charge controller.

  • If I was buying panels right now I would definitely go for mono crystalline over polycrystalline. A friend of mine picked up a 100 watt mono six weeks ago and it has been performing really well. A polycrystalline might have higher headline power output but I doubt you'd get half what a mono puts out in February, they really only work well when pointed at the sun. Kind of a pisser when its grey and overcast...

  • hadn't looked at poly much so i didn't know that. i went for mono because for me i wanted to generate the max in the smallest space so just went for mono and never really looked into poly. only posted it cause it was cheap

    the 250w mono panels at £150 might be ok (could be a con, who knows, but it seems like a solar company going out of business)

  • I am fairly certain that if you are using diesel fuel for heating you can claim a percentage of your fuel at a lower tax rate, I know this is standard in the boating world, where you can claim a 60/40 mix fuel/heating, you do have to source the diesel from a supplier willing to do the cost split though, as it does involve more paperwork for them (boating marinas will often have this set up) you can claim whatever split you like, but be prepared to justify it to the tax men.
    this may only apply to boats, but it may be worth looking into - either that or a seperate tank with red diesel for heating, which you could buy at a reduced rate of tax.

  • Hello again all :)

    an update...we are due to move in on Sunday! wow that has come round fast!

    The panels were fitted by a friend today and so the lights are the last thing to sort. I was wondering what kind of amp should i be getting from the panels in cast over weather from 2 x 100w panels? ... so i know if they are working properly or not.



  • Hi Embell. check this site out some top information on there hope it helps you and others :)
    i am going to get a setup from this company. Probs going to cost me in the region of around £1000 But i will have 750 watts of solar power. Thats what ya call off the grid i will soon make my money back through wild camping :) Just got to start saving now lol

  • Ok thanks for that, I was just a bit worried as the panels are in full sun light at the mo and are only putting out 1.3A at most and that is 2 x 100w panels!! surely I should be getting at least 7A. Maybe I need to send them back :(

    Any one know what could be wrong?

    thanks Em

  • are they flat on the roof or angled to to the sun, if they are flat they will only get a percentage of the available sun, winter sun is more diffuse and wont give full output either.
    a lot of factors can impact upon solar output for best results the panels should be presented flat on to the direct line to the sun, anything else and the output will be reduced.

  • the 200W is the maximum you will ever get, mid summer with the panels pointed to the sun, the rest of the year will be lower, as will not having the panel angled to the sun.