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Solar Panels

V

vwsween

VIP Member
Messages
131
Location
Birmingham
Vehicle
T5 SE 174
You can get the controller via ebay and a UK supplier for £84 delivered.
 
GP

GP

VIP Member
Messages
56
Location
Bath
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 199
Thank you that's really useful. I will update everyone with how I resolve the solar panel dilemma.
 
Roger Donoghue

Roger Donoghue

VIP Trade Partner
Messages
312
Vehicle
T5 Beach
Hi - Solar Camper Solutions here.

The rear battery is actually very easy to access. You just need a steel ruler, or a paint stripper, or any other thin flat strong object to lever the battery up and then slide out. It's the 2cm lip that is the problem and lifting and sliding means it pops out easily.

The front one is easy too. 4 bolts, tip the seat forward and you have full access without unplugging anything.

We are shipping to the EU as before. There will be your local VAT and handling fee to pay when the parcel arrives in your country. Duty is minimal to zero depending on the country.
 
GP

GP

VIP Member
Messages
56
Location
Bath
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 199
So I believe I have found the perfect portable folding solar panel from a UK based organisation so no problems with double VAT charging post Brexit and being charged courier admin fees which makes buying from Offgridtec prohibitive - see other posts on subject. It has the 120W panels with SunPower cells which are top of the range and the width of the panels open can fit nicely inside the windscreen which I see as a benefit since if you are leaving the vehicle in a public place you can leave it charging without worrying about it going missing. I also bought the 10A Victron MPPT Controller which is small and can communicate directly with your phone to give the relevant charging readings - this I think is a bonus since I previously had on my T4 solar panels a controller with a read out screen but I damaged the glass screen so I could not read it which was very frustrating. I didn't order the fuse and holder per the quote since I wanted to use a very small blade fuse which I am sure I can purchase from Halfords but I will show the link to both my order without the fuse and the previously draft order with fuse and holder. Mike at BimbleSolar has been really useful technically or if you are just ordering Laura is very helpful.
https://www.bimblesolar.com/index.p...cart&items=1846-1,1850-1,1938-4,2051-3,186-10,
https://www.bimblesolar.com/index.p...6-1,1850-1,1882-1,2037-1,1938-4,2051-3,186-10,
All I need to do is buy the fuse and holder, connect up the wires and I should be away...
 
Stephen Clarke

Stephen Clarke

VIP Member
Messages
6
Location
Tal y Coed, Wales
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
So I believe I have found the perfect portable folding solar panel from a UK based organisation so no problems with double VAT charging post Brexit and being charged courier admin fees which makes buying from Offgridtec prohibitive - see other posts on subject. It has the 120W panels with SunPower cells which are top of the range and the width of the panels open can fit nicely inside the windscreen which I see as a benefit since if you are leaving the vehicle in a public place you can leave it charging without worrying about it going missing. I also bought the 10A Victron MPPT Controller which is small and can communicate directly with your phone to give the relevant charging readings - this I think is a bonus since I previously had on my T4 solar panels a controller with a read out screen but I damaged the glass screen so I could not read it which was very frustrating. I didn't order the fuse and holder per the quote since I wanted to use a very small blade fuse which I am sure I can purchase from Halfords but I will show the link to both my order without the fuse and the previously draft order with fuse and holder. Mike at BimbleSolar has been really useful technically or if you are just ordering Laura is very helpful.
https://www.bimblesolar.com/index.p...cart&items=1846-1,1850-1,1938-4,2051-3,186-10,
https://www.bimblesolar.com/index.p...6-1,1850-1,1882-1,2037-1,1938-4,2051-3,186-10,
All I need to do is buy the fuse and holder, connect up the wires and I should be away...
That looks ideal, I'd be interested to see how you get on with it
 
GrumpyGranddad

GrumpyGranddad

Lifetime VIP Member
Messages
1,670
Location
Wendover
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 199
That looks ideal, I'd be interested to see how you get on with it
Looks good.
For those looking at uk based portable solar solutions this company also has a good range of options
 

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Calimili

Calimili

Messages
734
Location
Lake Starnberg / Frankfurt
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
So I believe I have found the perfect portable folding solar panel from a UK based organisation so no problems with double VAT charging post Brexit and being charged courier admin fees which makes buying from Offgridtec prohibitive - see other posts on subject. It has the 120W panels with SunPower cells which are top of the range and the width of the panels open can fit nicely inside the windscreen which I see as a benefit since if you are leaving the vehicle in a public place you can leave it charging without worrying about it going missing. I also bought the 10A Victron MPPT Controller which is small and can communicate directly with your phone to give the relevant charging readings - this I think is a bonus since I previously had on my T4 solar panels a controller with a read out screen but I damaged the glass screen so I could not read it which was very frustrating. I didn't order the fuse and holder per the quote since I wanted to use a very small blade fuse which I am sure I can purchase from Halfords but I will show the link to both my order without the fuse and the previously draft order with fuse and holder. Mike at BimbleSolar has been really useful technically or if you are just ordering Laura is very helpful.
https://www.bimblesolar.com/index.p...cart&items=1846-1,1850-1,1938-4,2051-3,186-10,
https://www.bimblesolar.com/index.p...6-1,1850-1,1882-1,2037-1,1938-4,2051-3,186-10,
All I need to do is buy the fuse and holder, connect up the wires and I should be away
the panel looks pretty identical to the offgridtec, probably made by the same chinese manifacturer but with different brand.
 
GP

GP

VIP Member
Messages
56
Location
Bath
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 199
Absolutely, your original recommendation made me search for the same panel UK Sourced. It's exactly the same size etc so I'm almost 100% sure it is the same. So a big thank you for your original recommendation, all I have done is find it in the UK because it's now cost prohibitive to buy from Europe. I have to say Mike at Bimble Solar has also been really helpful sorting out the spec for me. Just looking forward to using it in the coming months but as you are already happy with yours I am confident mine will work fine and do the job.
 
Roger Donoghue

Roger Donoghue

VIP Trade Partner
Messages
312
Vehicle
T5 Beach
Just be aware there are a few big "gotchas" with dash mounting a solar panel.

1) You lose about 10% power due to being behind a windscreen
2) The angle is never optimal, unless you prop it up at near-35+ degrees - that costs you around 20% + power loss.
3) Your panel is only in direct, unshaded sun for a few hours a day when the sun is directly in front and above - midday for most. The rest of the day it is partially shaded which takes a huge hit on performance - we are talking 70-80% loss if a couple of the cells are shaded. When I say partially shaded I mean any shadows from the bodywork/pillars at all.
4) It runs less efficiently due to getting hotter inside than it would outside.

A 120w panel will act like something a lot smaller overall. A lot smaller.

Most of this can be negated if you take it outside and prop it up.

Dash mounted panels are good enough for keeping batteries topped up over winter when parked up, but a compromised solution for actualy camping use.
 
GP

GP

VIP Member
Messages
56
Location
Bath
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 199
Thanks Roger and yes I agree with it in the window it will have some limitation but if I leave the van all day the chances are I will get a good charge. I would only really want to do that if I have worries about security. Most of the time I will erect it on the ground near by the van or even lay it on the roof with a fixing through the steel eyelets and the panel I have bought is a good version with top of the range sunpower cells. Time will tell.
 
Roger Donoghue

Roger Donoghue

VIP Trade Partner
Messages
312
Vehicle
T5 Beach
Nice - enjoy the sun when it returns!

We use Sunpower cells too.
 
Calimili

Calimili

Messages
734
Location
Lake Starnberg / Frankfurt
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
Absolutely, your original recommendation made me search for the same panel UK Sourced. It's exactly the same size etc so I'm almost 100% sure it is the same. So a big thank you for your original recommendation, all I have done is find it in the UK because it's now cost prohibitive to buy from Europe. I have to say Mike at Bimble Solar has also been really helpful sorting out the spec for me. Just looking forward to using it in the coming months but as you are already happy with yours I am confident mine will work fine and do the job.

Just be aware there are a few big "gotchas" with dash mounting a solar panel.

1) You lose about 10% power due to being behind a windscreen
2) The angle is never optimal, unless you prop it up at near-35+ degrees - that costs you around 20% + power loss.
3) Your panel is only in direct, unshaded sun for a few hours a day when the sun is directly in front and above - midday for most. The rest of the day it is partially shaded which takes a huge hit on performance - we are talking 70-80% loss if a couple of the cells are shaded. When I say partially shaded I mean any shadows from the bodywork/pillars at all.
4) It runs less efficiently due to getting hotter inside than it would outside.

A 120w panel will act like something a lot smaller overall. A lot smaller.

Most of this can be negated if you take it outside and prop it up.

Dash mounted panels are good enough for keeping batteries topped up over winter when parked up, but a compromised solution for actualy camping use.
Pros and cons as with everything.
All that you said is correct.
I could also say there are some negatives with a fix panel on the roof. It could also lose part of its efficiency as being exposed to the elements it may get dirty. Birds can poop on it or drops from trees/leaves. It is also not that easy to wash being up there and not being able to go through the automated carwash. The panel inside remains always clean instead.
The angle is also not optimal being flat, especially in winter when the sun is lower on the horizon. If you camp and the roof is up it also has a fixed angle and the fixed panel may not be in the direction of the sun , same as a dash mount, just opposite direction. At least the portable one can be taken out and oriented accordingly, without having to move the whole van every couple of hours.

It really depends how you camp and whether you need it for topping up batteries in winter or more. From the experience over the last year using a portable solar panel I notice that:
For purpose of keeping the batteries charged:
In summer and winter the 120W may get reduced power being behind a windscreen , being sometimes at not optimal angle, being partially shaded, being less efficient due to heat, but it still draws a lot of power and the leisure batteries are always topped up. In summer it just needs as couple of hours or less (note I'm in Germany not Spain).
For purpose of camping:
It depends what camping you do.
If you use camping sites, I just use the Electric Hook up, the panel stays home. sometimes you need to pay for hooks up included anyway.
If you park in the wild, if it is wild enough nobody is going to steal your solar panel. If there are other people/campers in the vicinity, than a fixed panel may be preferable, assuming you can't park in the direction of the sun.
I think the big advantage of the roof mount is the fit and forget, it always charges, ideal for people using the van often and/or as a daily driver.
If i was using it as a daily driver and camp wild and use a lot of electricity I would use both.
 
andyinluton

andyinluton

Top Poster
VIP Member
Messages
2,725
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 199
For camping we need a clamp to fit these to the front edge of the raising roof, with the panoramic opening front, that area is easy to reach even with the roof up so angle & direction of the panel could be adjusted easily through the day if needed, and if on a site I would be happy leaving it unattended & not expect it to be nicked.
 
Calimili

Calimili

Messages
734
Location
Lake Starnberg / Frankfurt
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
For camping we need a clamp to fit these to the front edge of the raising roof, with the panoramic opening front, that area is easy to reach even with the roof up so angle & direction of the panel could be adjusted easily through the day if needed, and if on a site I would be happy leaving it unattended & not expect it to be nicked.
I was thinking also at something similar. But rather than a clamp, just using a rope/ paracord attached to the eyelets and to ring fittings on the rail of the roof.
 
V

Vagophile

Lifetime VIP Member
Messages
698
Location
Market Deeping
Vehicle
T5 SE 180
I think the big advantage of the roof mount is the fit and forget, it always charges, ideal for people using the van often and/or as a daily driver.
To me this is a really big advantage. If you have enough wattage, you just let the panels get on with their job, irrespective of angle, orientation or even a bit of shade. The only maintenance required is to keep them clean.
 
Calimili

Calimili

Messages
734
Location
Lake Starnberg / Frankfurt
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150 4Motion
To me this is a really big advantage. If you have enough wattage, you just let the panels get on with their job, irrespective of angle, orientation or even a bit of shade. The only maintenance required is to keep them clean.
I agree. Also putting the panel on the dash it is just a 20 seconds job.
I don't think one system is superior to the other. One system may fit better the use of one user, the other system more suitable to others.
 
Roger Donoghue

Roger Donoghue

VIP Trade Partner
Messages
312
Vehicle
T5 Beach
A couple of corrections.

- the angle on an elevating roof is absolutely perfect for a panel, and all you have to do is park with the sun behind you and you get the ideal arc of sun travel over a day. You dont' have to move your van every couple of hours, and you don't have to park in the "direction of the sun" You simply park with the sun behind you, and that is a decision to reverse, or drive forwards in to a pitch. The arc of the sun travel is absolutely ideal. If you are camping with the roof down then of course it's not optimal - but its rare for people in a Cali top not raise their roof.

- car wash is irrelevant as no one takes their Cali, with pop top through a car wash, not in the UK. I believe you can in the EU? Not sure how many actually do?

- panels on the roof are pretty much self cleaning, with the exception of parking under a tree with birds.

The big advantage for most people is being able to camp off-pitch. Then you need solid solar performance to cope with the fridge, phones, tablets etc.

If you have lower demands then of course there are options that will keep your batteries topped up.

I honestly can't see any negatives with fixed installation on an elevating roof. In fact, just the opposite.

I started this company after trying just that - using a folding panel that was put outside. It was a nuisance enough that I roof mounted my next panel.

I am of course aware that different people have different needs. There are happy users of dash/folding panels as it works for them, but for the majority, roof mounting is preferable.






Pros and cons as with everything.
All that you said is correct.
I could also say there are some negatives with a fix panel on the roof. It could also lose part of its efficiency as being exposed to the elements it may get dirty. Birds can poop on it or drops from trees/leaves. It is also not that easy to wash being up there and not being able to go through the automated carwash. The panel inside remains always clean instead.
The angle is also not optimal being flat, especially in winter when the sun is lower on the horizon. If you camp and the roof is up it also has a fixed angle and the fixed panel may not be in the direction of the sun , same as a dash mount, just opposite direction. At least the portable one can be taken out and oriented accordingly, without having to move the whole van every couple of hours.

It really depends how you camp and whether you need it for topping up batteries in winter or more. From the experience over the last year using a portable solar panel I notice that:
For purpose of keeping the batteries charged:
In summer and winter the 120W may get reduced power being behind a windscreen , being sometimes at not optimal angle, being partially shaded, being less efficient due to heat, but it still draws a lot of power and the leisure batteries are always topped up. In summer it just needs as couple of hours or less (note I'm in Germany not Spain).
For purpose of camping:
It depends what camping you do.
If you use camping sites, I just use the Electric Hook up, the panel stays home. sometimes you need to pay for hooks up included anyway.
If you park in the wild, if it is wild enough nobody is going to steal your solar panel. If there are other people/campers in the vicinity, than a fixed panel may be preferable, assuming you can't park in the direction of the sun.
I think the big advantage of the roof mount is the fit and forget, it always charges, ideal for people using the van often and/or as a daily driver.
If i was using it as a daily driver and camp wild and use a lot of electricity I would use both.
 
GrumpyGranddad

GrumpyGranddad

Lifetime VIP Member
Messages
1,670
Location
Wendover
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 199
Saw this on the Calitop site. Might be a good connection solution for those wanting to go with portable solar?
 

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briwy

briwy

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2,954
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Matlock & Pyrenees
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T5 SE 180 4Motion
We have two panels. One 160w fixed on the roof and a 100w flexible panel that lives in the roof when not in use. On site the flexible panel just connects in parallel to the feed into the charge controller via a cable with plug and socket. The flexible is then positioned best to suit the sun's position but in reality it usually ends up across the windscreen held in place with elastic cord round the wing mirrors.
Best of both worlds.
 

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