As days are growing, people are getting more interested in camper vans. Some people are even taking it to another level by making their camper vans their living place, which isn’t impossible.
Electricity is needed to live in the camper van or have the vehicle functioning. And what’s a better electricity option than solar systems?
To help the climate, considering most reports say we will be erased if we keep on living like this, we should be as thoughtful as we can be while using natural resources. But this article isn’t about climate change or nature, so let’s stay on track.
Solar panel systems are extremely useful for saving a few bucks and being conscious about the environment. You may be thinking about switching to solar electricity. You may also have this concern, is a 100w solar panel enough for a camper van?
To answer in short, yes, it is enough for a campervan, but unfortunately, a single 100w panel is not.
Let’s get into the details.
Is A 100w Solar Panel Worth It For A Camper Van?
Yes, it is indeed worth it.
But keep in mind, if you are planning on using solar energy to fire up most of your gadgets inside your camper van, then a 100w solar board won’t be enough.
100w solar panels are great for beginners who are just getting into solar electricity. A single 100w board can produce 30 amp-hours of electricity in a day. Or 6 amps per peak sun hour.
However, with this much-produced electricity, if you are using one single 100w board, then you can charge your gadgets like phones, laptops, tablets, wifi routers, etc. If you need more electricity, you’ll need more than 1 solar panel.
For better understanding, here’s another example. Let’s say you are just using your van on your trip to Ohio and just want to charge your phone and laptops on the way. Nothing will work better in producing and delivering electricity in this case.
Many companies provide excellent solar panels, like Renogy, Coleman, Goal Zero, etc.
The goal here isn’t to get the best solar panel with a high price tag. You can use that to buy multiple because of the amount you are paying or willing to pay for a panel.
Besides, why waste your money on one panel when you know it won’t serve your purpose? The best advice here, do some research before you buy a solar panel. It’s better to know what you are doing before purchasing something; companies always love to rip people off by charging more.
So, the point here is that 100w panels are worth it. But before purchasing one, know which devices you are going to use your electricity on. This way, you will save some money and not get ripped off.
And yeah, buying a 50w panel for a camper van will be foolish as it clearly won’t serve the purpose. See what I’m talking about?
What Will A 100W Solar Panel Run Inside A Camper Van?
A single solar board of 100 watts can run gadgets or even fuel a mini-fridge. It all depends on which materials you are using the panel for.
But what if you want all your gadgets and your fridge to have electricity? In that case, the good news is, you can.
As much as 100w solar panels are slowly becoming popular, they are becoming stronger and developed day by day. However, sunlight or solar ray plays a part too.
The more intense sunlight is, the more ray the solar panel receives. Therefore, there will be more electricity produced. It’s not rocket science.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you are going to use anything more than just a few accessories, you might need more or less electricity. In this case, doing some analysis before getting your hands on a solar panel is better. Regardless of how many watts you may need.
Nevertheless, if you will use just small things inside your camper van, you should be good to go. Oh, and as a bonus, your 100w solar panel might just be able to charge your camera or microphones. Don’t worry!
How Long Will, A 100w Panel, Take To Charge A 12v Battery?
As mentioned earlier, a regular 100watt solar panel produces up to 30 amp-hours of electricity. Therefore, if a 100w board can produce one amp-hour, charging a 12v battery should take 5-8 hours. But there’s more to it than just charging the battery.
Charging your electronic devices using solar electricity is a fantastic idea. It’s easy and sustainable and helps the environment. However, there are some criteria that a person needs to understand before deciding to use their panels for charging.
You can’t charge your devices directly from the panel. The same goes for batteries; if you charge one, you’ll need to connect a controller first.
You already know a solar panel produces 30 amp-hours in a day. Have you ever wondered how many watts that is? 30 amp-hours is equivalent to roughly 500 watts of electricity, roughly.
This 500 watts, if you are in a camper van, can help in powering up a 50-watt laptop or tablet, a 50w battery, etc., for hours.
The bottom line is if your 100w panel is facing the sun directly and is receiving enough sunlight, energizing a 12v battery shouldn’t be a big deal. It will require some patience, that’s all.
Can A 100w Solar Panel Run A Refrigerator?
Inside your camper van, let’s say you have a refrigerator. You might be wondering, can a 100w board producing 500 watts in a day be able to run a refrigerator?
While there is no direct “yes or no” answer to this, the reply depends on the size of your fridge too.
An average refrigerator needs 2000 watts to run every day. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t be using a giant fridge inside your camper van. So, one single 100w panel won’t run a refrigerator in this case.
However, two things could happen here. If you run a refrigerator inside your camper van, you should use more than one 100w solar panel.
Considering the fridge, if you have one inside your camper van, you probably use your van a lot and have other accessories or appliances inside. In this case, not just for the fridge; you’ll need more than 1 panel, anyway.
Now you may be thinking, how many 100w panels will you need? The answer is 4. Because we are taking 2000 watts as an average for your refrigerator and 500 watts as a rough estimate for electricity produced by a single panel. So, 500 watts multiplied by 4 is 2000.
Another option is you probably have a smaller fridge or even a mini-fridge. If you have a small fridge, you will need less electricity. But it all comes down to the size of your appliance and the power they require.
For example, if your mini-fridge requires 1000 watts, you will still need 2 100w panels. If your fridge is small enough to be run by 300 watts, just an individual 100w board will do the job.
The Bottom Line
To conclude everything, a 100w panel is definitely worth the money for a camper van. However, it depends on how much electricity your van will need. Depending on that, you may need more than 1 panel.
An individual 100w panel can power up things like cell phones, computers (yes, even your desktop pc!), batteries, cameras, etc. this is more than enough for average people unless you are inside your camper van all day.
100w boards can run a refrigerator, but you may need more than one panel in this case. The range for charging a 12v battery is 5-8 hours. Just have patience, and you’ll get your battery fueled up.
Eng. Matthew Joseph Nandirio is the Founder of walkingsolar.
After graduating from the University of Houston in 2002, matt started working as an electrical and electronic engineer for several multi-national solar energy companies.
He has a wide range of experiences including solar system requirement analysis, planning, maintaining, debugging and even solar device development through research.
He now shares his 20 years of expertise through his articles on the walkingsolar website.
Further, he is also the author of two books on Solar Technology, “Solar Power for Villages” and “DIY Solar System for Dummies”.