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Solar Camping Van

Solar Camping Van

The story of a solar camping van.

I meet a lot of nice people who buy my products. Vern Modeland is no exception, and has an interesting story I thought I’d share. 

An interview with Vern Modeland, the owner of this solar camping van.

van camping with solar

solar van camping

A retired writer and photographer, Vern is still an active traveler and philosopher. He had this really cool RV Solar Project in front of him. He wants to do quite a bit of dry camping or “boon docking” in his Class B Camper Van RV. 

This van has all sorts of hi-tech gadgets including an Engel fridge and Hughes Satellite internet system. What he lacked was the charger for his batteries. He wanted something small to easily mount to top of the van without being visible on the road. 

This is where I come in. 

It was instantly apparent to me that he needed to look at our new Go Power 95 watt solar kit. This 21 X 42 inch panel is small, but packs a lot of punch. Producing 5.4 amps of power, it can recharge batteries pretty quickly. With available expansion solar kits, this system can expand to 380 watts of solar charging power.  

Here’s what Vern had to tell me about his easy solar kit install: 

*“Installation went as I had it planned. The one panel leaves room for the second to fill the space within the existing luggage rack. Leads go through the roof to the inside through an electrical weather-proof box mounted to be between the two panels when done. The charge controller sits just about on top of the Group 27 battery case, which is sealed and vented to the outside just behind the driver with hose and fittings from the farm supply store’s applications department.*I’m very pleased. Can’t wait to get on the road later this month to the High Plains and mountain country to see how it does although powering mostly just the Engel refrigerator and Hughes Internet modem is hardly much of a load. It all gives me the freedom to roam and stop where ever I want.”

Vern has now installed one solar kit on his roof and is considering adding a second one. He will decide on the expansion when he gets back from an extended mountain camping trip in the next few months.

We’ve talked a lot over the phone and through e-mail about his project and life in general. I just wanted to share a few pictures of his solar panel install on his camper van.  Notice how well the panel is hidden by the roof rack. Nice work Vern! A Solar Panel barely visible from the street. High Efficient solar panels make the panel smaller. 

van with solar on the roof

Vern used a vented battery box and mounted panel in a knockout box. Great view of camper off-road with solar panel charging up his batteries.

This is the kit Vern used:

190 Watt panels are a great RV size and foot print

For years we sold the Go power 190 high quality solar panels. This robust size was powerful yet had a great form factor.
190 Watt Go Power Solar Panel
Go Power 190 Watt Overlander Kit

This Go Power kit is the basic building block of a standard RV solar kit. It comes with the solar panel controller, brackets and solar cable.

Last updated 3 mins ago

With Go Power panels you know you will get what you pay for. They are a little more exspensive and the quality is there to support the price.

Maybe save a few dollars with another RV solar panel brand.

190 Watt Solar Panel
190 Watt Solar Panel

This is a 190 watt bare solar panel. It claims to be RV friendly and has a pretty good price.

Last updated 3 mins ago

There are always different panels that you can choose to build your solar array from. Always consider price versus quality. Solar panels are things you really don't want to have to replace. It is a pain, so choose what works for your RV or off-grid array.

Need to add solar panels to your RV?

Depending on how large your charge controller is on your mobile solar array, you may be able add additional panels. Important factors to know when trying to add panels to your array: * How many amps can your charge controller handle * How many amps of solar are in your array * How is your array wired (Parallel, Series, Series/Parallel) * How much space do you have on your RV roof for more solar panels Here is a selection of panels to grow a Go Power System

Go Power 190 E Expansion Panel

Go Power Flexible Solar Panel 100 Watt Expansion

Go Power Rigid 100 Watt Solar Panel Expansion Kit

There are other brans on the market, we have found Go Power! to be among the highest quality gear on the market. Their service has been friendly and reliable. However they can be a bit higher priced.

If you are looking for a kit with an inverter included, try these:

This is a great entry levelf Go Power's Inverter Charger Kit. They offer the Elite and Extreme kits. These have different amounts of solar and also different size Inverter units.

The Go Power! Elite Solar Kit - IC-2000 - 380 Watts of solar

We have found these kits contain much of what you need for getting going with off-grid solar and inverter power. We have also added lithium battery and sealant as well

Additional reads

Check out these articles for more information from Outside Supply.
Go Power 35 Amp Max Converter
Go Power 35 Amp Max Converter

Go Power! Smart Battery Converters offer fast, accurate battery charging at a reasonable cost. Using state-of-the-art, converter switch-mode technology, Go Power! Battery Chargers are reliable, compact, and lightweight and are designed specifically to extend the life of deep-cycle battery banks. For RV systems, they feature high continuous output to feed your 12- or 24-volt loads when plugged into shore power.  4 stage battery charger with bulk absorption and float stages Easy Installation Fuse Protection Thermostatically Controlled Fan Lightweight Design 2 Year Warranty An RV converter transforms 120V AC shore power to 12V DC power, ensuring RV appliances and lights function while charging the onboard batteries.

Custom Cabin Solar Inverter Package
Custom Cabin Solar Inverter Package

Build Your Own Custom Cabin Solar & Inverter Package A custom cabin solar package will often include a solar array and a power inverter or inverter charger paired with batteries. 190 Watt panels are a great RV size and foot print For years we sold the Go power 190 high quality solar panels. This robust size was powerful yet had a great form factor. Go Power 190 Watt Overlander Kit This Go Power kit is the basic building block of a standard RV solar kit.

380 Watt Prewire Rv Solar Kit
380 Watt Prewire Rv Solar Kit

Prewired Solar Kit for your RV This 380 watt Prewire solar kit includes two Go Power 190 watt solar panels and the 30 Amp PWM Bluetooth Charge Controller 380 watts of solar charging provided by two solar panels. The power is sent to the Go Power 30 amp PWM charge controller. This unit keeps the solar from overcharging your batteries. The charge controller location is often identified by a sticker placed in your camper, motorhome, travel trailer or fifth wheel.