That inverter is going to come out blank. No backup as there is no battery. Especially like I said if you’re running short bursts of power. But what I want to do is kind of estimate so I’m not going to be tanking my battery bank every time I use my general lifestyle equipment. So they’re a little more flexible in their use. Each system has several battery options and everything is sized proportionally, so the solar panels, inverter and battery all work optimally together. There’s two of those so we’ll say 6 hours per day. And in cooler weather it might only be on for a few hours a day. – But I do have a question about the panel diagram. Next you choose … has a number of ways to help you find the right system for your RV, boat or work truck. Rates are based on a 12V system with 5 hour charging times. Enter the total Amps that your Solar Panels will produce all together. 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.  Adjustable tilt mount (optional) Some days I might not be running my laptop, some days I might be running a little more.  Electrical wire crimp connector Then I start sweating like a dog. And those are in series with the first battery. *Fuses and wire gage size are going to vary depend on how long your are running the wires. Go bigger if you can with this, unless you don’t have enough roof space or if you’re on a significant budget. Another document that may be helpful is our Selection & Installation Guide . Hope that helps!  10A PWM (budget option) 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. Your battery can be either AGM and FLA (those are both lead acid battery types). Charge Controller Size Would you not want 200Ah with the lithium option? There is more detail in this in our charge controller article if you want to know. But smaller inverters are more efficient. It will significantly reduce the lifespan of your battery if you’re doing a constant high power draw from it, especially the lead acid battery types. I meant to post it here.  100Ah 12v (x4+) Lithium Battery. So why is solar_factor greater than 1? Now your batteries need to be able to discharge this amount of watt hours throughout the day and then we will recharge those with solar. Is there any reason I cannot simply connect the solar to batteries outside the camper, and connect the Shoreline to the inverter? So that’s the amount of power that it needs. 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). Vent fan. Types of solar panel. If I am consuming a certain amount of power throughout the day, then the solar panels alone must be able to source that power. Thoughts? My wife’s laptop is a Macbook and she’s not running as much high processing powered things. Solar Panels (100W) And some of the things that are covered in it. Similar thoughts… but I’m struggling with the charge controller sizing myself… given other elements are fixed (due to size). I know they can be discharged more than their AGM counterparts, but that still seems rather low. You have two batteries in series (24v) and they are in parallel with a single battery (12v.) all I want to do is run a 12″ inch 120v desk fan when I go to sleep in my minivan. Inverter 1100W (1200W). So if you’ve done all your calculations and you’ve written down your things. You have saved me alot of effort ? So they can’t supply all of that charge throughout the day like your batteries are going to be able to discharge. Along the way, we've met with other van lifers, checked out their rigs, and learned a lot about adventure travel. We have some solar panel wiring diagrams just for reference here. Solar Power: Solar panels are sold in varying sizes, but a 100 watt panel is a commonly found size – particularly for RVs. So after your battery, the next piece of equipment that you choose is your solar panels.  Wires and fuses*, Alternator Charging (optional – choose one)  Wires and fuses*, Alternator Charging (optional – choose one)  100Ah (x1) Battery (Lithium option), Solar Panel Kits Lensun 100W 12V Flexible RV Solar Panel Kit with 10 Amp Controller, and 2pcs 5M MC4 cables $ 299.00 That basically is just saying hey, you can save a lot of money and efficiency by not running an inverter. For batteries, my choice would be to scrap the old ones. So the AGM is the absorbent glass matt, or flooded lead acid.  ECO-WORTHY 800W Solar Kit, Batteries So once you get all of your components listed out, this is all of your electrical things. Remember to check the requirements of your specific charge controller to make sure it will work with your panels before buying it. There’s a lot of little details. I’m purchasing a single 12V/100W panel and a single 50Ah AGM just to get started. It’s a really good quick reference for your camper van. Thanks! And the cell booster, that thing is only running about 2 amps so like 24. This calculator is meant for camper van conversions, RVs and small off-grid solar systems. I’m going to talk a little bit about what it’s good for and what it’s not. You are probably still planning to use power like you would in a house.  600W Pure Sine Wave The amount of power you get from the sun is determined by how much direct sunlight your panels get. You might find that helpful. The battery stores the current as amperage, similar to a gas tank storing gasoline. This is a theoretical guide to give you some indication of what will suit your needs. 2) Get a MPPT charge controller. Again, we go through all of this on our charge controller post if you want to know details. So for the charge controller this is a very generous size. I am looking at getting Solar and all of the installs suggest connecting to the existing wiring inside the camper. 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,,,,,, 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. What it’s doing is also charging your laptop battery. Battery life is affected by how quickly you are using power.  Battery monitor (optional – premium) The 20-50% range is where you want to be in. If you have things like toasters, if you have things like blenders, you’re going to see how quickly those things add up your electricity. The best option is a battery to battery charger, many of which double as a solar charge controller. It’s just so crazy expensive.  B2B charger (solar CC included, incompatible with lithium) 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. If I use this to calculate, would I just halve the Ah needed for the battery for a 24v setup? Very informative, thanks for sharing! Solar Power Estimate Calculator (SPEC) for caravans and other RVs. Direct current. Posted this on wrong Blog entry. For the most part, people in RVs are traveling around so that’s too variable to really set how many sun hours you’ll have for sure. Enter number of Watts each device uses and your estimated max hours of use per day. So if I’m running a simulation, a 3D simulation then that thing is going to be pumping out 150 or 170 watts. Now there are some cases where for off-grid and storage and stuff things change a little bit, but for an RV or a camper van this is a good starting point.  Flexible polycrystalline, Charge Controller Living in a van requires cutting down on unnecessary electronics as much as possible. Yes!  20A PWM (budget option) Most new caravans, motorhomes and, to some extent, campers, have solar panels mounted on the roof or other flat surface.  Electrical wire crimp connector As a general rule, smaller inverters are more efficient. When using a crystalline solar panel, remember that even the tiniest shadow can affect the amount of power generated. This is my first solar project. These diagrams are designed to be understood by a beginner for a safe and effective install with readily accessible components. But the main difference (as it relates to this calculator) is the depth of discharge – or DOD. Also some of the newer lithium batteries on the market (if you’re getting a custom Tesla battery or something), those are measured in watt hours. If each panel is 12V – why would they be wired in SERIES to obtain increased wattage (but not voltage). You’ll notice that changes your solar panel size calculation. AC components are running off of your inverter. Oh that vent fan is on maybe 4 hours of the day, at night to cool the van off.  Rigid Monocrystalline So I use about 8 amps to run my laptop, second monitor and play music. If you have an angled system, so you can tilt mount your panels towards the sun, you can boost that up to 5 hours. Estimated Watt Hours Is this correct? Batteries are the most expensive component in your electrical system, so you don’t want to wear those out too quickly. Parked in Paradise caters to van life, camping, and RV enthusiasts. solar power as a function of time, in kWh or Wh, that your solar panel can produce, taking into account its rated power and solar energy available at your place.. The actionable difference lies in efficiency. I recharge with a NOCO GENIUS that i hook up and plug in at work, which is an amenity they allow, a grace of God really. It is a battery charger that works anytime the sun is out. The less you discharge per cycle, the longer the batteries will last. Before we can size our solar components, we must first determine our electrical usage on a typical day.  600W Pure Sine Wave The numbers you’re looking at function in this purpose. The Panel Selection Calculator will tell you how many panels it will take to keep up with your usage. Can you confirm that the wiring can be setup so that the fuse block / load can be wired directly through the controller? You kind of want to make sure that those are running efficiently. 2 years later I’ve learned a lot too! Sometimes if you size down it won’t quite work for a few specific panels and that kind of thing. We recommend reading our post on charge controllers for more information. As you can see, if you run everything DC powered your efficiency is going to be higher in terms of how much power you’re getting out of that. The solar sizing calculator will then be able to tell you the minimum and recommended system size, as well as the recommended battery output. When sizing your RV solar system, If your ideal solar calculations call for 3 solar panels but your roof space only allows for 2 panels. 100 watt solar panel = approximately 6 amps/hour in direct summer sun (no clouds) Here's an example of our calculation of how much the solar panels are generating to recharge our RV … So an FLA battery can last 8 or 10 years, if you discharge it past 50% every day you’re only going to get about 2 or 3 years out of it.  150Ah (x2) Battery (AGM option) I can get the amps I want using 1, 2, 3, or more batteries. Now each of these different subjects in this we cover more extensively in a post on our site so if you’re not able to follow along or have some more questions about some details – those you’ll be able to find elsewhere in the electrical guides on our site.  1000W Pure Sine Wave I plan on powering my pop-up Skamper using a 40A MMPT controller, and a 1000W Pure Sine Wave inverter. So I don’t need anything more than a 200 watt inverter. 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. So you’ll notice your battery bank size changes significantly based on your depth of discharge. Despite having 400 watts of panels on the roof, on a cloudy day I’m lucky to make 4 amps, less if the clouds are extra thick and nothing if raining. 100Ah (x1) Battery (Lithium option). But alas, after 2 days of clouds I’m struggling with my power consumption. Is some type of rubber flex system a good idea? If so, that should be a constant increase instead of a multiplier. Going into a solar controller rated at 12v. 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. I’m looking to eventually hook up a refigerator/ freezer, around 25 quarts? So she’s only running about 85 watts and she’s also kind of using it in the same manner. 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. The voltage of the solar controller is the rated output of the controller. 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. And then the other 2-3 hours that I’m using my laptop it’s running off the battery power that it was charging at 120 watts earlier. Take a moment to think about the electrical appliances and accessories you plan to use Decide on the part of the year you will be using the equipment (spring to autumn, or the whole year). So the smaller you can go comfortably the better with this. We don’t save any of your information. Product list and cost of components. And I chose kind of a complicated component to start out with. 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. 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. If you want to save all this, down at the bottom of the calculator we have a “print your numbers” button. Our online Calculator, Simple Sizing Chart or Solar Sizing Worksheet will provide you with Go Power! So this is just something to keep you aware. That will just print to PDF right there. 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. This calculator may also come in handy. So it can make a lot better use of that battery. Our fridge on average is running about 8 hours a day. to working out what size solar panel you'll need for your campervan, caravan or motorhome. Save it to your computer. It’s mostly plug and play and it’s pretty fun doing it on your own not only because you save some money and you can have a system sized exactly to what you need it, but it also helps you diagnose issues later down the road if you know what’s going on. Recommended Inverter Size So this is in our solar and electricity guide. So once you know your total watt hours, the next thing that you need to pick in your system is your battery size.  Renogy 200W Solar Kit (PWM charge controller) Hey Andy, for winter camping, adjust the list of devices and number of sun hours. This would make your input at 18V and you would be getting more advantage of a PWM controller without loosing significant power. Because your alternative is to jump up to a 200 amp hour lithium battery and spend another grand on that. As per the Solar panels, we need to pay attention to the working voltage and short-circuit voltage. But this will at least give you an idea of how the components will be acquired together. The most I’ve ever seen it pull is 150 [watts] and usually it’s closer to 120 [watts]. Select whether or not you will be using a Lead-Acid (AGM) or a Lithium battery chemistry. Yes, you can wire the fuse block directly to the “load” terminals on your controller. If the biggest item you will be running is a 150W laptop, then getting a 1000W inverter is a waste of money and efficiency. If you want to know more, post your specific setup plan to an electrical forum or send us an e-mail to see if you want to make any adjustments. Now the other selection you have to do here is whether or not you’re using a PWM or MPPT controller.  6 way fuse block + bus bar Due to the controller needing to adjust voltage to charge properly, some power is lost to the system. This is a very convenient way to transport and use solar panels, but it doesn’t help them to face directly into the sun at all times. So my laptop brick is rated at 170 watts, it’s a big engineering thing, but my laptop itself is rarely ever pulling 170 [watts]. Jump To Frequently Asked Questions Solar Panel Kits Solar panel power ratings are provided in Watts also, so in order to work out how many Watts of power a solar panel can supply to the battery, you will need to apply the following formula: Watts (Solar Panel Rating) x Hours (Daylight/Sunlight Exposure) = Total Watts per day Now you can also select a lithium battery, and those can be significantly smaller because you can discharge those up to 90-95% without it harming any of the battery. Hey! Why should it be as high as 1.2 for a PWM controller or 1.3 for an MPPT controller? And those don’t even need to be charged up all the way at the end of each day. Those are the only things I plan on running off the inverter. Your email address will not be published. So that’s why we have this choice in here. If we’re ok with discharging it up to 50% we can drop that down to a 185 amp hour battery. We go into this a little more in our battery post, there’s a couple of things you need to keep track of. DIY wiring diagrams for 100W, 200W, 300W, 400W, 600W, 800W kits. Now one thing I forgot is the laptop and the Macbook are both running off of AC power. Read our, Large Systems: Wiring Diagram (AGM Batteries), Large Systems: Wiring Diagram (Lithium Batteries). So if you find that this inverter number, it’s kind of a recommendation, you can go larger. Go Power! Your solar panels will have a selection down here for how many sun hours you think you’re going to use during the day. Usually 12, 24, or 48 volts. Required fields are marked *. Here are examples of complete systems with battery banks: – I will check out your charge control article next. 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]. thank you! Awesome! We fund our effort and research through affiliate links and advertising, so just by being here and using the site you’re thanking us. Thanks for doing all the workings out for us!  Solar panel roof mounting z-rack (optional) Thanks for the great article. Not to mention fans and other incidentals, and losses throughout the system. Visit our Electricity Main Page to see all of our camper van electrical posts.  Wires and fuses*, Solar Panel Kits  Battery monitor (optional) Thanks for your work, its the best place for information I have found. You’re looking at the formulas, I assume? has substantially upgraded its solar savings calculator to provide more accurate cost and savings estimates with solar. Hi there parked in paradise visitors! This is relative to how much total capacity the battery has, so larger batteries can discharge more quickly (hence a larger inverter).  50Ah (x1) Battery (Lithium option), Additional Parts What you’re going to want to do is everything that uses electricity, you’re going to write down. This is the maximum power you will expect to use on any given day.  Battery isolator 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. If you’re changing locations frequently, we like to use 3.5-4.5 sun hours for winter. This is a blog written for travelers by travelers. Im guessing thats for the durration of use? Im in the planning pase as you may have guessed. If you have tilt-mounted panels or are mostly living in a sunny place like Arizona, then you might need less solar watts because you’ll be getting 5-8 hours of direct sunlight. If you’re in the hot weather all the time you might want to boost that even double it up to 16 hours. If you have sleep apnea and you have a breather that you need on you, you can boost your battery size to make sure that you have juice to run a few days without recharging. I purchased 10 gauge extension cables but the wire is so thick that it does not fit into the holes on the bottom of the charge controller. You kind of get a size difference there so you can either go with a 185 amp hour lead acid style or a 115 amp hour lithium battery. Hence the large batts.  Solar panel extension cable *Fuses and wire gage size are going to vary depend on how long your are running the wires. So as you’re picking one out it’s ok to look at the specifications on this. Working voltages normally are 18V, 36V and so on. But if it’s just charging the battery and I’m surfing the internet – 120 [watts]. If you want more information on electricity, head over to our electrical home page. The input depends on many variables but is generally always higher. Solar takes the sun's energy and converts it into DC (Direct Current) battery power to charge you motorhome’s batteries.  Battery terminal connectors  Adjustable tilt mount (optional) Seems to me that this would not only run the A.C units but would also charge the batteries inside the trailers. Your batteries do need to be able to be charged all the way as well so you can’t get too big of a battery bank or else you’ll start losing some of the charging efficiencies and your solar won’t be able to charge up those last few steps. Both of those have similar profiles in that you don’t want to discharge them more than 50%. Head to our electricity main page for further explanations of each solar panel component. 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. 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. This is kind of our general advised minimum. Solar Panels Voltage. So even if you’re not using this calculator itself, this is kind of the direction that you need to go. Also any tips on mounting ridged palels to roof. Read our wiring guide for more details on how to size your specific system. Always ensure as many cells as possible are in direct sunlight. These calculations are mitigating the inefficiencies of the solar system. As an Amazon associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Is it to account for solar panel power output during sunrise and sunset? Go with the smallest inverter that you will need with a bit of wiggle room. We’ve got a post on cassette toilets here: and a post on portable showers here: 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. There’s even an app for it! No! Now a lot of systems use amps just because that’s how 12 volt systems have always been measured in the past, and in vehicles it’s a good transition. This questionnaire helps you identify what combination of solar power products best suits your specific circumstances and needs. The calculator takes into account the power consumption you use in your caravan/RV and your travel destinations. Which Size: The most popular motorhome solar panel kit we sell is the 120w MPPT kit.This kit is currently a good compromise in power, price and size. But for the most part, ours is running hours per day. I’m using 2- 100 Ah AGM battery’s that I’ve wired together in paralell w/ 2, 8 gauge cables.  Renogy 200W Solar Kit (MPPT charge controller) First, Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I reside in my van all year when not at my sister’s down the street. 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. So in my application, I have a 12V motor that will use 12 amps (144 watts) for 8-10 hours a day. Hey Ross, good catch! Because of these discharge rates, you will need a larger AGM or FLA battery for your system than you would with Lithium. Read our wiring post to determine the proper wire size for your build. Thanks so much!!! Now, those of you who are trying to run desktop gaming stations or something in your camper van, you’ll pretty quickly realize that the processing and the CPU and that type of thing in your gaming tower takes a lot of power. My camper is stationary (used as a permanent camp) and off grid. Than you might be looking at PWM controllers for anything under about 400 watts. Some general rules to follow are: We based our calculations on a 10% efficiency loss that occurs when using an AC inverter. However, too often, campers and boondockers don’t check the condition of their RV batteries before heading out. (IMO), I used your Calculator and was wondering on the Solar Panels could i use a 360 Panel instead of 3- 100 Watt panels?  Battery terminal connectors  Flexible polycrystalline, Batteries 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. Lithium Battery 135Ah (x2) Battery Type In this example, a 200W or 300W inverter would be fine for a 150W laptop. This is for all you do-it-yourself (DIY) solar system sizing folks out there. I plan on building a skoolie in the future, and am toying with the idea of running 24v instead of 12v. There is a lot of different components that have variations on this. 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. You can use this as a general guideline while panel shopping.  Battery isolator (compatible with lithium) Thanks! I find that to be a little redundant. We like to use watt hours because it’s a more accurate estimate of actual power usage, because amps are determined by your voltage. I’m WAY over powered as I only use 3 low wattage fans and recharge my tablet and phone. The second column is the amperage draw of the appliance from a 12 volt power source. In cold weather, the compressor in a fridge may only be. Solar System So we mitigate for that effect by estimating more solar. A cheaper option is to go with a battery isolator. The CC takes that fluctuating energy and turns it into a tame charge voltage that the batteries can handle. 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