How Many Solar Panels do I Need for a Caravan

How Many Solar Panels for a Caravan

Whether you use an electric hook-up or a fuel generator to power your caravan, you will always be looking at the ongoing costs.

What if you realised you could spend once on solar power panels and continue to power your caravan harnessing the oldest source of power, the Sun.

But exactly how many solar panels are needed for a caravan?

Two 100w solar panels would be needed to power a caravan for between 8 hours and 10 hours per day. 0.7 hours of caravan power can be achieved with 1 hour of sunlight. Therefore, two 50w solar panels will provide 1.4 hours of power for every 1 hour of sunlight.

Sunlight across the U.S. is often great across many States, particularly in the mid-west and further afield, but sunlight in the U.K. is a little harder to find.

This is why investing in two 100w solar panels (like these from Millets) will help charge your batteries faster with the limited sunlight on offer, especially during the Autumn and Winter months when the sun light is really scarce.

Solar Power Needed to Power a Caravan

Natural solar power using the sun is far better than burning fuel through a generator or hooking up to electrical units.

Solar power units after investment can produce years and years of free electricity – sun permitting of course.

Here is a handy table showing how many watts, amps and hours of power you can run your caravan on:

WattsAmpsHours of Caravan Power
25 watts1.43 per hour1 hour 15 mins
50 watts2.85 per hour2.5 hours
75 watts4.28 per hour3 hours 45 mins
100 watts5.7 per hour5 hours

Caravan Power Consumption Per Day

As we all now, we will often consume much more power in the winter than in the summer.

As the cold nights draw in, we will switch lights on, and use the heater or indoor fires, a lot more. There’s also a tendency to boil more water for tea and hot drinks, as well as hot food – rather than salads in the summer.

Let’s look at the average hours of power caravans consume in a day based on season:

  • Spring – 6 hours
  • Summer – 4 hours
  • Autumn – 7 hours
  • Winter – 9 hours

This is really dependent on your own habits how big the caravan is (we have used a four berth caravan as a guide here)

If you are early to bed, you’ll use less power than someone who stays up late.

The most popular time for caravanning is often in spring, where we all awake from our winter slumber and can’t wait to start enjoying the first spring sunrays and warmer weather – and summer of course.

For this example, we will use an average of 5 hours of power needed a day.

As we will need an average of 5 hours of caravan power a day let’s look in a little more detail at the amount of power we can actually get from the sun.

Solar Power Available from the Sun

We have the ability to harness so much power from the sun’s rays and reduce the need to burn fuels.

Although solar power has been around for many years, it’s still not a cheap enough and viable enough option to power a home, particularly with the notorious lack of sunlight in the U.K.

Fortunately, though there are solutions for caravans.

A 100w solar power unit can provide up to 5 hours a day of power. This though needs to be on a sunny no cloud day with a minimum of 7 hours of continuous sunshine.

With two 100w solar panel units you can charge your batteries twice as fast.

This is a great option for days with limited sunlight as you can double your battery charge with the same number of hours.

The mathematical formula is 0.7 hours of power per 1 hour of sunlight using a 100w solar panel.

This is based on standard usage such as lights, TV, cooking etc… the more power consumed, and more power hungry devices switched on, the faster you will use any stored battery power.

Are solar panels worth it?

Solar Panels

The cost of two 100w solar panel units will be on average £600.

This is a large outlay in one go, so it’s worth looking into different options and trying to work out whether solar panel units are worth it to you.

If you are trying to be eco-friendly and like the idea of harnessing natural energy sources like the sun, then solar panels are a great idea.

A one-time investment can go a long way and last several years.

In The U.K. in particular sunshine is not the greatest commodity. Many days of cloud cover prevent those energy providing rays from hitting our panels and producing the electricity and power we need.

If though you mainly plan on using your caravan during spring or summer, you’re more likely to experience sunnier days.

With two 100w solar panels you’ll need just 3.5 hours of average sunlight a day to power your caravan during your entire holiday.

In Conclusion

Solar panels are a great alternative to constant electric hook-ups at campsites, or the need to take generators and fuel with you.

There is a sizeable cost outlay but over the years solar panels can provide a much bigger return on the total spend than constantly paying for power on a day by day basis.

Smaller solar panels have their uses but unless you have enough panels to power your caravan for your trip, you’ll be left in the same situation of finding electricity sources or using a generator.

Power to our caravans is really important. Our lives are connected around electrical appliances. Whether this be for cooking, for entertainment, for heating or cooling or even for emergencies, being able to harness the natural power the sun provides each and every day can make all the difference.

Whether you choose to start with one 100w panel and upgrade to two at a later point is your choice and may be a sensible approach.

If you plan to stay off-grid without electric hook-ups these can be an invaluable accessory to have with you. Emergency power may be needed and without battery, generator, or fuel you could be limited.

Take advantage of the natural power our sun produces and hopefully save in the long run!

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