Solar conversion pt.1

So to recap, when I got the van it had no coach electrics. The split charge solenoid had been replaced with a simple relay by the previous owner and this had died. The battery was completly flat.

I needed a system that could power a C60i fridge and deal with the split charging (thanks to others for this one). I decided to go for an all in one unit (Ctek D250SA). This went where the converter/mains charger once was. I ripped out the converter as all the mains voltage had come out of the van (due to multiple reasons).

Working out what I needed power wise without any experience was tricky.  I found places saying 1w solar for 1L capacity (this might work on a sunny day in a nice climate but is way low for general use).  Ran into people using the C60 with 100w solar that thought it was self sufficient.  I figured double the 1w – 1L would work out but was still low.

For the solar panel I got an ebay ‘140w’ semi flexible panel and bonded it onto the roof with the recommended adhesives. The CTEK gave the advantage that the system even kept the starter battery topped up and the all in one solution gave proper charging and MPPT all in one.

This did not include monitoring of any kind and who needs it as long as your system always provides enough power! The problem of course when it doesn’t.

I had volt meters on both batteries (as part of USB charging) but doesn’t give you any indication of what the panels are doing and when you are heading into negative production.

I managed 3 days in a Spanish desert in high heat with no problems, but my panels were facing south and I could keep the tent vents open most of the day to keep the ambient temps down.

3 or 4 days in a festival in portugal and the fridge was cutting out.  Lots of sun but parking meant I had to be parked East-West, there was lots of dust from a road meaning we had to keep the tent vents shut and dust got on the panels.

Where to go next was a problem. The shape of the panel was too long to get a second on the roof, so in the end I had a complete system change.

Early solar instal with cheap ebay panel in the background while I tried to salvage the roof hatch that had rusted through hinges.