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Fitting Solar Panels To Our Camping Trailer & Van


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Hi guys

We have invested in a couple of 80w portable solar panels to foolproof our camping when away from power. Problem is, when we travel, we usually take our yaks, so was thinking of a hinged setup with the yaks underneath, allowing access to yaks when required,but the panel fully exposed to the sun when camping or travelling.

We also want to fit one (not permanently) on top of our pop top campervan. We only just clear our garage entry as it is, so can't put it on top permanently. THis one would only be used when we are camping as the battery charges when we are driving, but would still need to be secure enough against wind etc when camping!

My initial thoughts are:

1) make the panels stable by securing them to a rigid base (but not too heavy) eg the criss/cross stuff they use on your front security door.

2) For the campervan - make some sort of clips to clip it securely onto the edges of the raised poptop (at least 2 on each side) - this could be something like the tie-down hooks that can be tightened with the connected ratchet. Just gotta be careful not to compromise the edges of the poptop - don't want to damage it!

or we could make a pole of some sort that fits onto the front bumper bar & rig a platform there for it to sit on.

3) For the trailer - have one side hinged & the other side with some sort of padlock setup for security. May need to add a pair of gas struts to make it work smoothly.

Any ideas on design or tips?? My husband has metal folders etc & is used to working with metal, so that will be a great help!

Thanks in advance



Edited by Roberta
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I like the idea of the panel mounted on a pole maybe a two piece pole where one slides in the other and can be locked into position My daughters have a netball hoop that works like that which didnt cost that much and could easily be adapted to fit a solar panel where the hoop is I think we got it from rebel sports

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Solar panels are number 1 theft items. Just can't trust your fellow campers these days. They are compact and cost heaps. Engrave you license number on them ,mark them with data dots an keep them locked onto something always.

Suggestion- well have a slide out rack under your Kayaks double hinged so you can agle them 20 degrees towards the sun. Will boost output significantly if you can angle them. It keeps them safe and you will only use them when parked anyway as when under motor your alternator will put out enough amps. They are still fully removable if you are actually at a campsite and want to place them in direct sunlight in case you park under a tree.

Last but not least get a padlock and a cable to stop them walking. A mate had his set uo so if the cable was removed (zero current) a piezzo siern would go off at his trailer.


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Hi Iceman - a modular pole would be good - we would just have to make the platform secure enough somehow to prevent theft (which as Sel says, can be a major problem when a vehicle is unattended!)

Hi Sel - great idea about engraving our licence no onto them!! We have that tool! We had thought of a sliding unit (great minds must think alike! :biggrin2: ) - the only downside is that you can't harvest the power whilst you are travelling & also, may need to turn the trailer around to prevent the shadow of the yaks from covering the panels. The slightest bit of shadow on them, and you can lose up to 80% of the charging capacity!! I know some of the newer ones (not sure if they are on the market yet - saw it in a doco last year) which can have shadows on them with very little effect as each mini panel works independently (unlike current ones that work as a 'whole' no matter how large they are!)

Just found this again ..... I hang on to these interesting bits of paper ... this is along the lines of what we will probably do for the trailer (we have a spare DC battery in the trailer for the fridge, in case we take off in the van & need to put the fridge onto it) which is not attached to the alternator. Only our house battery in the van gets charged as we go along..... hmmm there is another option ....could we hook both up to the alternator? However, assuming we have it fully charged before we leave, would also be the way to go!

Your mate's idea of a piezo alarm in the case of nil current, is great (& probably not that difficult to set up!) Terrific idea!

Many thanks


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