Monday, 22 March 2010

Solar Power for Freedom

Alan has dubbed us ‘The High-tech Hobos’ and we took another step along this route when we had a solar panel, extra battery and LED lights fitted to the caravan on Thursday.
To put this in context, we like using the 5 caravan maximum Certificated Location sites. They are inspected by the Caravan Club and are usually sited in quiet locations with plenty of room. They all offer fresh water and chemical disposal but the ones offering a mains electric hook-up for the caravan are dearer – understandably.
Sites that don’t have electric hook-ups are, on average, between £5 and £6 cheaper – and less likely to be booked up. We didn’t need much help from a calculator to realise that, if we spend 200 nights a year away, we could save £1,000 a year by using these sites.
Simple, fit a solar panel. Well, not really. Solar panels come in 3 types, umpteen sizes and we’re not electricians anyway. All we could get in the way of advice about the wattage we would need was “Well, it depends on how much electricity you use.”
This sounded like a task for a spreadsheet and there’s nothing (or not much) I like better than a spreadsheet, so I set to work.
Simple, again. Divide the wattage of the appliance by 12 = the approx amps per hour.
The maximum current of the solar panel is wattage divided by 17 – pause to reformat cells to show rounded numbers as 65/17= 3.8235294 is a bit too precise.
Now how many hours of light do we have at different times of the year?
What is the efficiency in cloudy weather?
How many hours TV do we want to watch per evening?
How long does it take to recharge a laptop?
We began to understand why everyone shrugged and said “It depends.”
In the end, we put ourselves in the hands of the experts. We found Leisure Power at a Caravan show in Manchester and they impressed us by their expertise and also the fact that they are caravanners themselves and so know what they are talking about. They came up with suggestions that would save us money on the initial investment as well. Those were the ‘hard’ reasons we went with them.
The ‘soft’ reasons were that they were friendly, didn’t talk down to the electrically illiterate Machins and didn’t push us into commitment.
On Thursday, we took the caravan over to their workshop in Warrington and left it over night to have the halogen lights replaced with LEDs, a 65w solar panel and extra battery fitted + all the technical gizmos that go with it.
solar and sattelite
The solar panel in place – on the right is the satellite dish.
We went back on Friday, detouring to Salford Quays on the way, and picked the van up, all jobs done and brought it home.
Even High-Tech Hobos have to clean the van occasionally – there’s even a gadget for that.
Watch this space!


  1. Really good post! Hope there will be more good post here!Thanks for sharing valuable information.How Solar Panels work


  2. yes this is a good discussion ..I will bring it to others that have solar panels for salesolar panels for sale


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