Does one require the additional power it generates or can a 2nd battery manage. In this blog, I provide an overview of the benefits and disadvantages of adding a solar power system to your overland vehicle.
A quick story - BigSky Adventures, Mali, 2005
A quick overview of Solar Power:
Wikipedia describes as follows: Solar Panels use light energy (photons) from the sun to generate electricity through photovoltaic effect (this is the photo-electric effect). The majority of modules use wafer-based crystalline silicon cells or a thin-film cell based on cadmium telluride or silicon. Crystalline silicon, which is commonly used in the wafer form in photovoltaic (PV) modules, is derived from silicon, a commonly used semi-conductor.
Adding a Solar Panel to your Overland Vehicle:
The quick answer to this question is as follows:
- Mount the panel on the roofrack - ideally with removable mounts so that you can position the panel in the sun once parked in the shade.
- Connect the wires to the Solar Charge Controller
- Connect the Solar Charge Controller to your 2nd battery.
That's as easy as I think it gets. Perhaps an expert might be needed to neaten up the wiring loom :-)
The Clear Benefits
The benefits include:
- Additional battery capacity when remote camping
- Vehicle Alternator not needing to fully charge the remote battery
- Freedom of mind - i.e. being relaxed and knowing that your battery will be fully charged
Whilst reviewing the advantages for Solar power during the preparation for our BigSky Adventures overland trip, I opted a single reason why I would not fit one - The Expense.
This is still the number one reason why all overlanders don't have this handy feature fitted to the vehicle.
In the UK, I would recommend Sunshine Solar. The products you need are:
The cost for the kit above is roughly £460. Money well worth spent!
In South Africa, the best advice and products are provided by Renzo at BushPower.