MAXIMISING YOUR SOLAR POWER - 12Volt RV Solar Panels vs 36Volt Household Panels.
RV Panels (12 Volt) solar panels sizes available can go up to 300w claimed power - However during testing at 25 Degrees Celcius at Sea Level these panels prove to produce much less power than claimed - Our testing below shows 2 x 150w Solar Panels Produces - 125w - or 9.5 AMPS per hour after the Solar Regulator has corrected the voltage to the required 13.2 Volts (Charging voltagle).
Household Panels (36 Volt) run at higher voltages resulting in less resistance through the cells - Improving performance dramatically -In our testing a single 390w Panel produced 295w or 20 Amps per hour at 13.4 volts. Almost Double the output figures of a 12 Volt equivilant of similar size and weight.
Low Voltage is Like Low pressure in Water Systems. Low pressure/Voltage or 'Potential Difference' Means that the further the Power has to go through the cells and wires - the less power ends up getting to the battery. Increase the voltage and you increase the pressure. Increasing the Voltage also helps the power get through shaded spots etc on the panels...
If your Off grid Energy source relies heavily on solar power - Run Household panels and in turn run household quality Solar Regulators. (NOT RV SPEC DC/DC all in one under bonnet chargers)
My Own preference is to run household Voltage panels and combine them with Victron components to get major power improvements over traditional RV Panels. The Victron Gear has major advantages - its plug and play design is simple to install and all display panels etc are Bluetooth (Iphone) run. More on Victron here
Whats the best way to fit a Solar Panel to my roof top tent?
You can't just stick a solar panel to your vehicles roof. (there is no base to fix too.) Slimline glue down panels get too hot to quickly to be any use at all - They also tend to be 12 VOLT panels - (See Above) , DO NOT USE plastic block mounts you can buy - These point load roof tents roof structure and can cause major leaks and damage.
Tough Touring Solar Kits - why are they the go for caravans and rooftop tents?
While we experimented with 50x50 aluminium angle - we needed a wider footprint to get a good bond surface for adhesives to connect - so we designed 2m long single rail mounting plates - with a 70mm wide base providing a great adhesive surface.
We started to make them commercially, in volumes that make them affordable :) Our Solar mounting Kits are available to purchase here - "Tough Touring Solar Kit"
Mounting points are at high points on the roof top tent roof - they can also be fitted on the high side of corregation roof on caravans - preventing potential water ingress.
Check them out in the video on this page above.
We presently make kits to suit:
Eezi Awn Stealth and Blade
Bundutec King and Standard Bundutop
The Bush Company Alpha and Black Series tents
Conqueror Trailers (UEV 490, 440 and Lightning Models.
Most caravans also would benefit from decent solar mounting systems.