12v Solar Panel Guide for Beginners
Solar power has become a very popular source of energy over the past decade or so as people have come to recognize just how good it is. Not only is solar energy a free source of energy (after the initial outlay), it’s also a very green one too. Unlike natural fossil fuels with solar power, there are no harmful chemicals being produced as a by-product. It’s simply a case of using the natural light that’s already provided to us by the sun.
You may have already decided to set up your own system or you may still be undecided. Either way, this short guide will take you through some of the most prominent features of a 12v solar panel system and things to consider before purchasing one. It will also answer some of the main questions and concerns that people have when it comes to solar panels.
A 12v solar panel system is the most commonly used type of portable off-grid systems and is used to power electronic items and devices that are also 12v. Such a system requires a number of things, such as a solar charge controller, an inverter, a battery bank or individual batteries, and solar PV panels. The system can also be used either in addition to or as a backup to your current energy set up at home, but you would require a lot more than 12v if you wanted to run your whole home completely off-grid. This type of system is perfect to use to solely power your appliances while on the move. When it comes to powering a caravan, motorhome, or boat, a 12v solar panel system is usually quite sufficient to keep everything running that you need, as long as you’re sensible with it.
There are so many great benefits to using a 12v solar panel system that once people do make the switch, it’s almost unheard of that they would ever go back to the traditional methods they used before to power their appliances. Here are just a few of the key advantages of buying a 12v solar panel system:
- Savings: The most obvious advantage to any solar panel system is that it will save you money in the long run. Solar power is so much cheaper than electricity and always will be. The initial cost you will pay for a 12v solar panel system will be returned tenfold by the savings you will make.
- Maintenance: In general, solar panel systems are pretty low maintenance and very rarely need fixing. And, even when they do, because 12v solar panel systems are so widely used now, parts like the inverter, batteries, and solar PV panels are really easy to source.
- Efficient: With components that are packed closely together, 12v solar panels lose very little energy in terms of heat and are pretty efficient.
- Scalable: Another advantage of 12v solar panels is that they’re so easily scalable. As long as you have the room you can simply add another one or two to your current system to give yourself even more solar energy.
The only real disadvantage (if you can call it that) to a 12v solar panel system is the initial outlay. However, as mentioned earlier, think of this cost as an investment as it will soon be returned to you in the savings you will make in not having to pay expensive grid electricity charges.
Commonly asked questions
If you’ve never dealt with solar panels before, there may still be a few questions on your mind about them. To help put your mind at ease, below are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers when it comes to 12v solar panels:
- How do I know what size 12v solar panel I need? In order to determine this, first you need to work out how much wattage you need. This means making a list of all the things you intend to run, finding the watt rating of each, and then multiplying this value by the amount of time you need it to run for. The answer is your total watts draw value. Once you have this for each item on your list, add it together. This will tell you exactly how many watts are needed to run everything you requested. Just remember, though, that the more wattage you need, the bigger the panel will be. So, if you are limited in terms of space, you may need to rethink about what it is you need to run off them.
- How difficult is it to install a 12v solar panel system in my RV/caravan? It’s not that difficult to set up a 12v solar panel system to any RV/caravan. All you need is a little time, patience, a few tools, and some common sense. If you are unsure, there are plenty of online guides to help you out. Or, if you get completely stuck, just contact a local electrician who would be happy to do it for you.
- Approximately how much will a 12v solar panel system for my RV/caravan cost me? The price of your 12v solar system will vary depending on a number of things. First, there’s the wattage of your solar panel. Generally, the higher the wattage, the more expensive the panel. Second, who manufactured of the solar panel will make a difference. However, don’t be fooled into thinking you need a brand name solar panel in order for it to be any good. There are plenty of non-name brand 12v solar panel systems out there that are decent. It’s just a case of doing a little research. However, as a rough guide a typical 12v solar panel system that’s suitable for an RV/caravan will set you back somewhere from $500–$1500 initially (excluding installation), depending on the factors mentioned.
Hopefully, you will now feel much more clued up about 12v solar panel systems and are ready to make the switch (if you’ve not done it already). Solar really is the way to go when travelling around. It will save you so much money in the long run. And, just think of all the harmful toxins you’ll be removing from the environment. Go solar!