Various place on the internet people ask about solar for their van or RV. Fairly often I see replies where the adviser has a very different view of solar than I do. When I see thousands quoted as "necessary" I just have to speak up. My system was less than $500.
I thought it would be nice to have what I did written out and some photos of it... Then when I see the question I can write a few words, drop a URL & go do something else
I have a 100w panel on my roof that I bought off craigslist for $90. The solar controller is a Tracer 20 amp mppt that I bought at Amazon for $109. The 12v fuse block was from Amazon & around $32. The two 122 amp hr, 12v batteries were from Walmart, $86 ea ($12 more if you don't have a turn in, if you buy them in Oregon there is no sales tax).The battery boxes were about $9 ea at Walmart. I bought the 10g dual solar wire from a tent in Quartzsite, 80 cents a ft maybe & I bought 20 feet. I used 4 sets of NC4 connectors all together ($3 to $6 each set in Quartzsite), just two on the van set up, there others were so I could move the panel & use my 50' 12g extension chord if I wanted the van in the shade & the panel in the sun. I did the remote panel thing in the beginning before the panel was mounted on the van.
The panel is almost hidden in the roof top rack, people have stood by the van as we talked of the solar & I had to point it out to them.
|Can't see the panel|
|Hard to notice if you don't know|
Of course there was more, any project costs more but it's still in the neighborhood of $500. Shop around, the controller & fuse box can be had for less today.
This powers two led lights & two 12v outlets plus a 410w inverter (12v to120vac) in case something needs household current.
|The 100w panel|
|Mounted to the roof rack|
|Wires going into the van|
|The batteries are under the plywood|
|Ikea cutting mat to insulate the terminals|
|View of the batteries in back where the seat used to stow|
|The 2 batteries in their cases|
|The solar controller, fuse box & inverter|
I did mention using the panel off the vehicle. I made two cables. One hooked to the solar panel & the other plugged into the solar controller, between the two I could run my 50 ft long extension cord. This worked well with very little voltage drop (as measured with my Fluke multimeter)
|The left cable to the controller, the right to the panel|
I have lights, computer & phone power in the winter desert nights... it's Magic!