Solar Panel for Van: How Many Solar Panels Needed for Van - Jackery Australia

How Many Solar Panels Needed for Van in Australia

An adequate set of solar panels for your van can provide free electricity for your trip if you intend to travel in a van.

Taking a road trip is still one of Australia's favorite methods to get away, and sometimes, you need more services in remote areas to explore. You can confidently embark on a road trip by purchasing a set of high-quality van solar panels from Jackery. 

portable power station australia

This solar panel for van guide contains all the information you need, including why people choose solar panels for vans, varieties, size and quantity requirements, and how to choose the best one. The Jackery Solar Panels are lightweight and compact, making them simple to transport, foldable, and easy to place in a van.

Key Takeaways:

  • There are many benefits to having solar panels for your van, like charging your van batteries, no power anxiety, and cost savings.

  • According to the solar cells, there are crystalline and film solar panels. Whereas, due to the usage, there are mounted, flexible, and portable solar panels for a van.

  • A van typically consumes between 500 and 1,500W per day.

  • The components of a van solar system are solar panels, a charge controller, batteries, an inverter, and electrical cables.

  • You can choose Jackery SolarSaga 100W and 80W solar panels, which are portable and adopt monocrystalline solar cell technology for better power conversion.

  • When choosing the best van solar panel, consider its wattage, size, and budget.


Why Is Solar Panel for Van So Popular?

If your objectives for van life in Australia include off-grid camping and enjoying the open road, you need solar. We list several benefits of installing solar panels on a van, such as charging the batteries, saving money, and adding insulation. 


Charge Batteries When Driving: An essential feature of any camper's electric system is the ability to charge the van's batteries while traveling. Even when you use minimal power, you would still need to drive over an hour daily to reclaim all the power you used the day before.


No Power Anxiety: When parked without solar, your batteries are constantly depleting and never recharging. This fact is a mental burden that causes tension over time. 


You constantly consider the state-of-charge (SOC) of your batteries, whether or not you're using too much power, and whether or not you can regain a complete charge during the next drive. But if you have sufficient solar power, knowing that as long as there is adequate sunlight, your batteries are constantly replenishing is liberating.  


Costs Saving: Numerous paid campgrounds offer a variety of vehicle options. But the simplest option is to pay to park your camper without power and water hookups for showers. And if you have solar panels, you are not reliant on paying for a campsite with electricity. 


Renewable Energy: It is excellent to know that you no longer rely on coal and natural gas for your electricity because you are using renewable energy. Solar panels for vans are gaining popularity in the van industry. Join the movement and contribute to the community of renewable energy users.



What Are The Types of Solar Panels for Vans?

Aussie campers know the cost of nightly powered charges in campgrounds, so they use solar to power their vehicles to save money. Based on solar cell technology and application, there are two types of van solar panels. 

Solar Panel for Van: Cell Technology

There are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film photovoltaic solar panels for vans.

Monocrystalline panels are more expensive but efficient when harvesting solar energy for your van. While polycrystalline panels are the more affordable option, they are comparable to their single-crystal counterparts.

Crystalline panels are highly effective and efficient for solar energy generation. The efficiency of crystalline panels in collecting solar energy on such a compact roof is one of the benefits of investing in them.

Thin-film photovoltaic panels comprise solar cells and other semiconductor materials for light absorption. Due to their designs, they are inexpensive, narrow, and simple to install. It can be readily stowed away if it rains or you no longer require it for the day. It would be best to have a large area to absorb all the light energy necessary to fuel your van.

Among these three cell technologies, the monocrystalline solar cell is the most efficient and potent at absorbing additional sunlight. Jackery Solar Panels are the market's most efficient monocrystalline solar panels in terms of power conversion efficiency.

Solar Cells

Efficiency

Cost

Lifespan

Monocrystalline

High


High

High

Polycrystalline

Middle


Middle

Middle

Thin-film

Low


Low

Low

Solar Panel for Van: Usages

The most crucial factor to consider in the camper van industry is portability. Solar panels for vans can be either permanently installed or portable. Your choice will depend on where you would like the panels to be positioned. There are primarily three varieties of solar panels for various applications: mounted, flexible, and portable.

On the roofs or other horizontal surfaces of most modern caravans, campers, and motorhomes are mounted solar panels. This method of transporting and utilizing solar panels is efficient. Mounted panels have the most extended history and the most favorable reputation. However, they need more than direct exposure to the sun. 

The flexible solar panels comprised of ultra-thin silicon cells have existed for some time. The flexibility of solar panels makes them useful for a wide range of solar applications. For instance, if your van's roof cannot support the weight of conventional solar panels due to structural issues, lightweight, flexible panels may be an excellent alternative that will not compromise your van's structural integrity. The most common disadvantage of flexible solar panels compared to conventional solar panels is their lower efficiency.

Some individuals choose portable solar panels for vans. These panels are more expensive but lighter, semi-flexible, and provide some benefits. Interestingly, portable solar panels have low maintenance costs. Furthermore, they are beneficial wherever there is direct sunlight. Portable solar panels may be a savior when you're away from a power source and must keep your electronics charged and ready to go.

You may select one of these three solar panel varieties depending on your requirements. However, portable solar panels are superior to others in terms of efficacy. In addition, professional installation and maintenance are unnecessary, resulting in significant cost savings. Portable and mounted solar panels perform better in quality, but you must ensure that your van roof is robust enough to support mounted solar panels. Jackery Solar Panels are portable, foldable, and easy to use and set up.

Solar Panels

Pros

Cons

Mounted Solar Panel

- High energy production

- Long lifespan

- Warranty


- Need professional installation

- Need maintenance

- Pricey

- Easy to damage efficiency

Flexible Solar Panel

- Easy to install

- Portability

- Flexibility

- Less expensive


- Lower efficiency

- Lower quality

- Shorter lifespan

- Easy to break

- Shorter or no warranty

Portable Solar Panel

- Easy to use

- Portability & Flexibility

- High efficiency

- Long lifespan

- Warranty


- Some solar panels may cost but are cost-effective in the long term.


How Many Watts Does A Van Use?

Priority must be given to the most critical matters. Let's clarify some terminology for 12-volt beginners. DC power is what your vehicle's or camper's 12V battery provides. A power outlet at your van or a 12V/240V inverter provides AC power.

Watts, amps, and volts are three factors to consider when calculating solar panel dimensions. For a 12V van electrical system:

Wattage = Ampere x Voltage (Watts = Amps x Volts)

Before considering solar panels for your van, you must determine what appliances you wish to power and when you need to power them, i.e., day versus night use. It is important when sizing your solar panels and your batteries. 

Additionally, you must obtain the precise power consumption from the appliance's specifications. A van typically consumes between 500 and 1,500W per day. 

Here are some points to consider. Consider anything that operates directly from your battery or through an inverter. Below is a worked example only. Remember that this example demonstrates exceptionally high power consumption, more typical of a large van or motorhome, but the procedure and calculations are identical.

12V Van Battery

Amps

Hours

Day / Night / 24H (Ah)

Tablet

2.1A


2H

Day

Phone

2.A


1H

Day

Fridge

4.2A


7.2H

24H

CPAP

6.7A


4H

Night

TV

5A


3H

Day

12V Fan

0.35A


5H

Night

Total Ah

79.99Ah

36.32Ah Day & 43.67Ah

Solar Needed in 6H

79.99Ah/6H = 13.3 Amps per hour

13.3A x 12V = 159.96W

*Data Source: Clean Energy Council


What Size of Solar Panel Do You Need for The Van?

In Australia, solar panels for vans are labeled with a power rating to facilitate the selection. It specifies the power the solar panel will generate under standard test conditions. Typically, the power rating ranges from 4W to 150W. Depending on the quantity of sunlight, you can anticipate anywhere from 3.2Wh to 1,000Wh, as shown below. 

You can determine which solar panel rating you need based on how much power (Wh) you consume daily. Consider factors such as when you intend to travel and how much radiation the solar panel will be exposed to.

Solar Panel Rating

Summer Power Generation

Winter Power Generation

150W

100W

80W

50W

10W

4W

900-1000Wh

600-700Wh

470-550Wh

280-350Wh

50-70Wh

25-28Wh


900-1000Wh

600-700Wh

470-550Wh

280-350Wh

50-70Wh

25-28Wh


How Does A Van Solar Panel Work?

Van enthusiasts who want to generate electricity from the sun's energy while appreciating nature must install solar panels.

The components of a van solar panel system are solar panels, a charge controller, batteries, an inverter, and electrical cables. It is composed of semiconducting materials, usually silicon, that convert sunlight to electricity. When sunlight impacts the surface of a collapsible solar panel, the excited electrons in the semiconductor material flow and generate an electric current.

Connecting and wiring your van solar panels requires precision. Specific solar panels include MC4 connectors. It enables the waterproofing of your system's cabling. Because vans are built to resist all kinds of weather, the wiring inside of them must be watertight. 

Adapters are also available for connecting two cables. These adapters are used for troubleshooting and connecting multiple panels to a single set of wires. Keeping the connectors in place simplifies troubleshooting considerably.

How Does A Jackery Solar Panel Work? 

Jackery Solar Panels use monocrystalline solar cells, the highest quality solar cells available, to absorb more light and convert more energy at a higher conversion rate, making them the most effective solar panels for vans. Jackery Solar Panels and Portable Power Stations require solar connectors and cables to connect. 

Jackery Solar Panels typically convert sunlight to electricity. The solar cables and connectors enable optimal energy storage and utilization by connecting solar panels to Jackery Portable Power Stations. Using Jackery solar panels; you can replenish your portable power stations with solar energy.

Jackery Solar Panels can be connected in series or parallel with other companies' power stations. The Jackery Portable Power Stations can be recharged using solar panels, AC receptacles, and carports. The pass-through feature lets you simultaneously power devices and the power station.


How Many Solar Panels Do You Need for A Van?

How many solar panels does a van need? It depends entirely on your electricity usage. Their dimensions will also limit the capacity of your batteries

Once you have determined what you wish to run and whether you will run it during the day, at night, or both, you can plan accordingly. Counting the number of solar panels installed or utilized by your van solar system is more straightforward.

Given that a typical van consumes between 500W and 2000W of power, you can choose a solar system based on the van's power consumption. Jackery Solar Generators (Solar Panels and Portable Power Stations) provide solar power solutions for vans with sufficient power capacities to meet your requirements.

This monocrystalline Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel converts solar energy into renewable energy. With a high 24.3% solar conversion efficiency, it is ideal for your van and other outdoor activities. The ETFE-laminated case extends the solar panel's lifespan and weighs only 10.33 lb. It is portable, foldable, waterproof to IP65 standards, and lightweight.

With its adjustable kickstands, the solar panel can absorb the maximum sunlight and be set up in under a minute. It is the ideal travel companion for van excursions. The folded dimensions are 24 x 21 x 1.4 in (610 x 535 x 35 mm), and the unfolded dimensions are 48 x 21 x 0.2 in (1220 x 535 x 5 mm).

The solar panels are made with monocrystalline solar cells and a honeycomb light-trapping design; they are furnished with adjustable stands, and their efficiency can reach up to 24.3%. Please take advantage of solar energy regardless of whether it is sunlit or cloudy. Combining 6*SolarSaga 100W solar panels with the Explorer 2000 Pro, a van refrigeration with a capacity of 2805Wh can be charged in approximately 12 hours, while a CPAP can be powered in about 16 hours.

Explorers

No. of Panels

Capacity

Van Appliances

6

2805Wh

Phone(24W): 99.3H

Fridge(200W): 12H

LED Light(20W): 119.2H

CPAP(150W): 15.9H

Van Fan(100W): 23.8H

Water Pump(50W): 47.7H

4


1292Wh

Phone(24W): 45.7H

Fridge(200W): 5.5H

LED Light(20W): 54.6H

CPAP(150W): 7.3H

Van Fan(100W): 11H

Water Pump(50W): 22H

1


639Wh

Phone(24W): 22.6H

Fridge(200W): 2.7H

LED Light(20W): 27.2H

CPAP(150W): 3.6H

Van Fan(100W): 5.4H

Water Pump(50W): 10.9H

1


305Wh

Phone(24W): 10.8H

Fridge(200W): 1.3H

LED Light(20W): 13H

CPAP(150W): 1.7H

Van Fan(100W): 2.6H

Water Pump(50W): 5.2H

This Jackery SolarSaga 80W solar panel with monocrystalline solar cells converts solar energy into renewable energy. It is designed with extra-white glass on the back panel, producing an industry-leading 25 percent conversion efficacy. With a weight of just 11 lbs, the solar panel is ideal for vans. It is lightweight, waterproof to IP68 standards, and has an easy-carry handle. 

Jackery portable power station

SolarSaga 80W solar panels are adaptable enough for use with a caravan; a two-meter extension cable is included for applications requiring extended recharge distances. It measures 35.67 x 20.79 x 1.06 in (906 x 528 x 27 mm), enough to place in a van.

SolarSaga 80W Solar Panels are compatible with all Jackery power stations and provide various simultaneous charging options for up to twelve 80W solar panels. The solar panel comprises 2.80 millimeters of complete low-iron reinforced glass, providing exceptional durability. It has a unique corner design that adds structure and makes assembly in less than one minute simple and fast. 

Explorers

No. of Panels

Capacity

Van Appliances

12


1468.8Wh

Phone(24W): 52H

Fridge(200W): 6.2H

LED Light(20W): 62.4H

CPAP(150W): 8.3H

Van Fan(100W): 12.5H

Water Pump(50W): 47.7H

1


629.8Wh

Phone(24W): 22.3H

Fridge(200W): 2.7H

LED Light(20W): 26.7H

CPAP(150W): 3.6H

Van Fan(100W): 5.4H

Water Pump(50W): 10.7H

1


305Wh

Phone(24W): 10.8H

Fridge(200W): 1.3H

LED Light(20W): 13H

CPAP(150W): 1.7H

Van Fan(100W): 2.6H

Water Pump(50W): 5.2H


How to Choose The Best Solar Panel for Van

There are several factors to consider when selecting solar panels for vans and your electrical requirements. Let's begin with the most crucial, and then we'll delve into the specifics:  

  • Solar Panel Wattage: You'll need enough solar to completely recharge your battery bank and meet your daily electrical needs. You can get by with a 200W system if your power requirements are minimal. The more solar panels you have, the better off you'll be during inclement weather or when you're in heavily forested areas.      

  • Dimensions: Measuring your van's roof and arranging your layout is a good idea before choosing van solar panels. Solar panels are available in numerous sizes. To construct a 400W solar system, you can acquire 4 x 100W panels or 2 x 200W panels. And panels of the same wattage may have dimensions that make one more suitable for your roof layout than another.  

  • Budget: If cost is a concern, portable panels are the best option because they are less expensive and last longer than other varieties of solar panels. Some portable panels, like Jackery Solar Panels, are more cost-effective than others. Cost per watt is vital when comparing the best van solar panels and other features such as warranty, efficiency rating, and dimensions.


How to Install Solar Panels for Van?

There are primarily two varieties of solar panels installed on a van: mounted or rigid van solar panels, which are more challenging to install on the van roof, and portable solar panels, which are simple to operate.

Mounted Van Solar Panel Installation

Solar panels for vans are typically either flexible or fixed. These are affixed using double-sided tape underneath the solar panel. Wrapping the sides with duct tape will prevent it from being blown away by powerful winds. Most panels will include double-sided tape, but you must apply it yourself if none is included.

Start by washing the roof of your van thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol to remove any oil or grease stains. Place the panel on the top and note the cable connections. Position these in the appropriate location, then use a pencil or felt marker to outline the panel's perimeter. Once satisfied with the site, remove the tape's backer and lower the solar panel into place.

Apply pressure to the panel to ensure the tape makes excellent contact with the vehicle's roof. Connect all of the cables and verify that the solar panel is providing you with a charge. Then, secure the solar panel with additional duct tape to safeguard it from the wind and prevent it from rising excessively. You do not need to seal the edge, only enough to secure it to the van roof.

Portable Van Solar Panel Installation

Installing and utilizing portable solar panels is a breeze. Taking Jackery Solar Panel as an example, the SolarSaga 80W solar panel includes a reflective carrying container. It has double-sided power generation via the reflective optical fiber, and the reflective angle can be altered via the sticking position of the carrying case's magic tape.

The DC interface should only be located on the rear of SolarSaga 100W and 80W panels. Connect DC interfaces to the solar charge adapter, then connect the adapter in series or parallel to power stations. Carefully disconnect the power station's connector after removing the solar panel from the power station once it has been entirely charged.



Final Thoughts

As the world becomes increasingly in tune with environmental issues, alternative energy sources remain popular. Solar panels are a popular and practical way to use renewable energy at home and while traveling in your van. Installing a solar panel on your van can be advantageous. You can learn everything you need to know about solar panels for the van here. Jackery Solar Panels with increased power output and compatibility with Jackery Portable Power Stations are your van's most effective portable solar system.   


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