Have you tried solar energy yet? Early this Spring we purchased a portable solar battery charger for our compact RV when camping off the grid. It is super convenient, practical and a simple, efficient alternative to running a vehicle engine or generator. It is environmentally friendly, very quiet and reduces our carbon footprint using the sun’s energy to generate clean electricity.
Practical reasons to consider solar to meet daily requirements when camping:
- To recharge a Nicad 12-volt deep cycle battery (Nickel cadmium) for our electrical fish trolling motor battery
- Recharging the 12 volt automotive RV battery
The fishing battery at slow trolling speed will last for 15 – 20 hours but this is a guesstimate without calculating amperage and draw down. We also have a small gas 4 stroke outboard motor for backup
“A bad day fishing is better than a good day in the office”
The RV battery in the trailer runs the following as needed:
- All lighting. There are 18 incandescent lights inside and two outside lights as well as over the stove light. These can be replaced by low energy LED lights which will draw much less electricity
- Ignition for the propane furnace
- Ignition for the hot water heater
- Ignition for the refrigerator when on propane
- Pressurizing the water system (12 volt water pump)
- Powers the carbon monoxide ( CO) detector at all times (green light)
- Runs three electrical exhaust fans
- When driving, the battery powers the trailer break away switch for the truck (towing vehicle) electrical brakes in the event of a disconnect. An excellent safety feature
This is a lot of work for two small batteries and why they are kept fully charged when the sun shines. The solar is truly a saver in many ways especially when there are no services such as electricity
Over the last few years the West Coast affectionately known as the “wet” coast, has had drier, warmer spring and summers with lots of sunshine which is more conducive to solar power. Most of our camping takes place from April to October so we are able to manage with the occasional spell of cloudy weather. Of course we are much more conservative in our electrical usage when we are not able to use the solar panel to recharge the batteries on a rainy day.
There are many choices of solar panels to buy so I recommend staying with well-known brand names and personal recommendations as well as buying a product to suit your vehicle needs and your personal use
If you are a “rustic” camper perhaps you should consider a solar generator for your home-away-from-home as solar is an easy, clean alternative and well worth a try. It is reassuring with a generator to keep the RV electrical systems running for longer periods and enables you to enjoy your travel experience. Why not add a solar panel to your camping adventure?
Take time to supercharge your personal batteries, de-stress and renew your spirit. Happy adventures and enjoy our breathtaking province.
- The panel is a battery maintainer and not a battery charger i.e it will not recharge a battery below 10-volts reserve
- When assembling, follow instructions which should come with your kit; short and concise is good
- The price of solar energy appliances has come down over the years and is a worthwhile investment
- Check warranties before buying
- There may be other restrictions and cautions when using a charge controller ie must be 15 watts or above
- We are considering buying two six volt deep cycle batteries to replace the single RV 12-volt battery to give us more reserve on a cloudy day
- In a home emergency situation (without power) a portable solar panel may come in useful as long as there is a little sunshine to recharge batteries
Specifications of our solar panel
- 70 watt – 12 volt 7 amp crystalline solar panel kit with stand and fixtures
- Approximately 25 x 26 inches (63 x 67 cm)
- Permanent fixture hardware
- 300 Watt inverter to run iPad or small laptop, etc.
Links and References
- Go solar and reduce carbon dioxide emissions
- Reducing your carbon footprint from David Suzuki Foundations
- Benefits of solar energy
- Ideas to use solar energy around the house
- Australia a world solar power leader with room to grow