Reducing Emmissions When Caravanning
CHOOSING SOLAR POWER FOR YOUR CARAVAN
The chances are, that if you own a caravan you are very fond of the great outdoors. What if you could go a step further and do your bit to help save your friend The Planet?
Solar power systems help to reduce greenhouse gasses and our dependence on fossil fuels, by using clean energy from the sun.
As much as we like to ‘get away from modern life’ this doesn’t include doing without electricity completely. Some of us simply can’t do without a warm shower. And this is supposed to be a relaxing holiday, isn’t it?
Plugging yourself into the power at a camp site will set you back around £20-£30 per week and with the cost of electricity increasing – you could end up spending a lot of your holiday money on power.
Producing your own electricity using solar panels has, however, come down in price and you can now add a complete system to your caravan for around £250-£500. If you use your caravan a lot, this will prove very cost effective. And it also means to you are not tied to sites for your electricity.
WHAT SOLAR PANEL SHOULD I BUY?
1. Find out what input your caravan needs: go camping with a fully-charged battery and don’t attempt to ‘top it up’ – see how long it lasts.
Sum: Size of Battery in Amp hours (Ah) /Number of Days it lasted = Daily Usage in Ah
2. For example: if your daily usage is 55Ah, then you will need your solar panel to top up this battery by this amount.
3. It will only be able to do this when sunlight is falling on it and on an average summer day in the UK this will be between 6-7 hours. In the winter, it can be as low as 0.8 hours.
Sum: Size of Panel (in Watts) x Hours of Direct Sunlight = Power Generated.
4. Let’s say we do use 55Ah per day. In the summer, we would need a 10W Solar Panel (10x6 or 7 hours = 60-70Wh) but in the winter, we would need an 80W Solar Panel (80x 0.8 = 64Wh). These are averages, so it is always prudent to over-estimate usage and under-estimate the power generated.
5. You will have to weigh up, whether you wish to buy the 10W and find other ways to top up the battery in the winter, or buy the 80W panel and have more than you need in the summer.
WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW?
1. Make sure that your solar panels are in the best position to take full advantage of the midday sun. This is the strongest.
2. Look after your battery: the power you generate from your panel will only be as good as your battery.
3. The power generated by your solar panel is DC, so to power any equipment that uses a normal 3-pin 230V socket you will need an inverter.
4. If you have a large solar panel, it is a good idea to add a regulator to the circuit – otherwise it can over-charge your battery. If you divide your battery rating by 10 and if the panel is around this amount or below, it won’t need a regulator.
Sum: If Rating of Battery in Ah is 90Ah / 10 = a 9W panel or less won’t need a regulator.
So, now you can help save money and the planet, while enjoying your mod cons. Is this too easy?
There are still many other ways that you can get back to nature…