VW Camper Family

A camping forum for VW bus and camper owners.

Just got done installing my second 80 watt panel. I can now run a microwave,toaster,laptop,coffee maker or what ever...So now with the top raised up I get continuous charging from sun up to sun set without blockage from the pop top.

 Oh, that's firewood I keep in the front luggage bin under the front panel,keeps it dry out of the rain.


 

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So it swivels up?
Michael - thanks for posting your information. I'm very interested and would like to learn more about installation, costs, etc. Any info you can share is appreciated! I note that Camping World sells panels and inverters but pricey.
David,
I got both of my 80 watt panels on ebay for $625. shipping included. I was told you want to pay around $4.00 a watt. Shop around, I've seen some bargains on craig's list. The 1200 watt sine wave inverter was purchased on sale at Checker/Kragen Auto parts for $100. but make sure you get one that you can change the fuses in if one blows. Some are soldered in and some are changeable. And look for one with plenty of cooling fans on the back.
I picked up the digital charge controller at Camping world on sale for $99. I am using two deep cycle marine batteries hooked in parallel so I have a lot of amps. Remember when you start up a 600 watt microwave it's going to jump to around a 900 watt draw at first and settle down to it's 600 watt demand. When the microwave is turned on the battery meter on the charge controller lowers to around 11.6 volts and after done cooking for a few minutes it goes back up to about 12.6 volts. I had 6 Trojan six volt batteries on my sailboat and could run a 12 volt refrigerator continuously and still run a coffee maker and toaster in the a.m. but I had the room and weight was not an issue. I think just two 12 volt batteries under my back seat are plenty in my Westy.
My solar system it completely separate from my VW's electrical system but I want to set it up so I'm charging everything when the engine is running going down the road. Remember, an overcast day is your enemy.
I'm basically into the whole system for less than a thousand dollars. Oh you can get a generator for less but they are noisy,bulky and you can only run it when they (campground) says you can,they are heavy and use gas and last your not helping to cut down emissions. I'm by no means a solar expert but they seem to work for my needs. Hope that helped you.

Michael


David Reynolds said:
Michael - thanks for posting your information. I'm very interested and would like to learn more about installation, costs, etc. Any info you can share is appreciated! I note that Camping World sells panels and inverters but pricey.
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Awesome! I hope I can save up enough $$ some day to put one of these bad boys in my Bus! I don't have a fridge anymore... but if I had a solar panel I would sure get a new one too! :)
I just bought an 80-watt panel on ebay. How did you attach it over the cargo space? Is it permanent/hinged, or just hooked? I was going to keep mine below and bungee it to the roof rack when camping . . ideas?
Sam
I used small aluminum (no rust) adel clamps,the ones that are used in aviation applications for holding down wiring looms with a rubber insert so the tie down bracket wouldn't get scratched and it won't rattle. I used the front cargo tie downs and placed the clamps around the tie downs and then bolted the adel clamp to the solar panel frame with a hasp on the opposit side. Then I can tilt it up and down with the sun. I wanted to mount mine without drilling any holes in my pop-top. I still have about 8" of clearance under the panel for covered storage.
Be sure and use a charge controller with your panel. I got one on sale at camping world for $99. It was big enough to add an extra panel which I did. I'll ad some pix if they help. Or add me as a friend and you can send me a private message with your phone number and I can give you a more detailed description on how I did mine. I did it the same way I did on my sailboat and motor home I had in the past. There are some do's and don'ts. I was going to just carry mine inside and set it out when wanting to use it. But they will grow legs and walk off if your not there to watch it if you know what I mean. I just like mine on top but your idea is ok I guess. You didn't mention if you have a pop-top or not.

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I live on a 40-foot sailboat in Washington and I have two 55 watt panels going to the house bank, so I understand solar panels. I have a 1990 white Westy pop-top with 143k miles and an Edgestar FP430 for which I got the solar panel. I'm driving to the southwest and maybe into Baja for a few weeks after the new year, so I think I'll get plenty of sun.

I quit Facebook last year after getting hacked twice, so I can't Friend you; but I do appreciate the pics you did post though.

I think/hope strapping the panel to the roof racks should keep it relatively safe. As for growing feet - that's what a gun is for.

Sam
I hope your not thinking of taking a gun into Baja.

Sam Thayer said:
I live on a 40-foot sailboat in Washington and I have two 55 watt panels going to the house bank, so I understand solar panels. I have a 1990 white Westy pop-top with 143k miles and an Edgestar FP430 for which I got the solar panel. I'm driving to the southwest and maybe into Baja for a few weeks after the new year, so I think I'll get plenty of sun.

I quit Facebook last year after getting hacked twice, so I can't Friend you; but I do appreciate the pics you did post though.

I think/hope strapping the panel to the roof racks should keep it relatively safe. As for growing feet - that's what a gun is for.

Sam

This seems awesome, I just started looking at 120 watt SOLAR PANEL 120W 12V system - FREE SHIPPING ! on Ebay from Texas and one would need a charge controller too like a 30amp? What else is needed for a full set-up?

No, no guns into Baja.  It is less likely to be stolen down there than here un "El Norte".  Just a charge controller, the panel and wiringto your house bank.

I have my first 80W panel - see pics !
Nice setup !

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