Join the off-grid revolution with solar panels from Hopson Caravan Services
Modern solar panels offer far more than a token attempt at 'going green', and instead are a viable solution for mobile energy requirements. Technology has advanced massively in the field of solar power, and the latest panels are extremely durable and capable of high power outputs (even in low light). Further, some designs are extremely light and physically flexible, allowing for unobtrusive installation.
We supply and fit panels manufactured by NDS Energy, Vechline and others. The heart of any solar system is the controller, and is key to making the most of the potential offered by the panels. Where possible, we install Victron units, which we believe to be simply the best available. As with all our services, we can come and install on site at your convenience. Please contact us for a quote, or further information and advice.
Electricity costs can be relatively high at caravan sites, and if you're really getting away from things, using the towing vehicle or the mobile home engine is a very inefficient way to charge batteries. A portable generator
is certainly an option, but they are heavy, can be very noisy, and need stowage space. Not to mention the requirement to carry fuel in a container. Solar power is no longer just a nod to a green lifestyle, but a viable solution
for your energy needs on the go.
We primarily supply and fit panels from Vechline and NDS Energy. The latter manufacturer offers some truly innovative units, such as their Solarflex range. Ideal for caravans and mobile homes, these panels are flexible, allowing direct-to-surface mounting even on curved roofs. Light weight, extremely strong and highly efficient, performance even in low light is remarkable. For example, the 1175 x 540mm version is only 3mm thick and weighs just 2.25 kg, yet it is capable of delivering up to 120 watts of power. Using multiple-panel installations with suitable batteries, zero power cost living is now a practical proposition. The conventional (bracket mount) NDS panels, together with models from other suppliers, are heavier and stand proud of the roof surface, but are equally capable in terms of power generation and offer an economical alternative.
Although the roof-mounted panels generate electricity in a solar system, the controller is the most vital component. We like to refer to it as being 'where the magic happens'! The controller reduces the voltage from the solar panels, monitors the power input and output, voltage and current use, and maintains the ideal battery charging conditions. In addition, a controller provides full overload, over-voltage and short-circuit protection, and some models provide status information. We can supply and fit a number of different systems, but The Victron units we specify, and prefer, offer real-time monitoring and control from a built-in panel or an app for your mobile phone or tablet. High quality control units will ensure the system is working to its best capability, safely and efficiently, and will enhance battery life and performance.
The other major benefit of solar power is actually when you are not using your caravan or mobile home. The vast majority of low-voltage mobile systems rely on lead-acid batteries. These are still relatively low cost, robust and long lasting, but with the caveat that they should never be left discharged for a long period of time. Doing this will usually result in permanent damage. Until recently, the standard solution was to use a 'trickle charger', however, this requires a permanent connection to mains electricity - even if the battery or batteries are removed. A solar system controller can be programmed to provide trickle charging, and even on the worst winter days, there is enough light to keep your battery or batteries in peak condition.
Solar systems and incorporated batteries usually operate at 12 volts. This is obviously fine for low-voltage halogen and LED lighting, and everything from fans to cookers, TVs and refrigerators are available for 12 volt operation. However, certainly for some items the range is relatively limited and prices can be notably high. Inverter setups are available, which can supplement your low-voltage power by adding a number of 'standard' 240 volt outlets.