|

Camper Van Solar System Installation Guide (8 Simple Steps)

Solar panels are the perfect complement for camper van conversions. They help you achieve energy independence and allow you to live off-grid. But installing a solar system is a daunting task; there are lots of different components, wires, and (admittedly) some calculations involved to size your system correctly. So, it can feel overwhelming when building a camper solar system from scratch.

In this solar guide, we take a step-by-step, systematic approach to get you from ‘zero to solar’ in the quickest, least confusing way possible. As we mentioned in our comprehensive electrical system guide, you don’t need to be an electrical engineer to build a functioning solar system. (We’re social science and art history majors and did just fine!)

In this post, we include actionable guidance, wiring diagrams, and high-quality product recommendations. Our goal is to help you build your van’s solar system and teach you how all the parts and components come together to charge your camper’s batteries.

If you’re ready for the challenge, we’re here to help. So, let’s get to it!

The 8 Parts of a Successful Camper Van Solar System

A successful solar ‘PV’ system can be divided into eight parts. We provide the necessary information in each section to help you plan your system. In summary, the eight parts are:

Part 1: Picking the Right Solar Panels

There are several different types of solar panels on the market today, such as rigid, flexible, and foldable panels. In this section, we go over the pros and cons of each type of panel and give our recommendation based on our experience and from other van lifers we’ve met.

Part 2: Calculating Your Ideal Solar Array Size (Watts)

The more power a camper van’s electric system requires, the larger a solar array must be to recharge a battery bank by the end of the day. In this section, we provide a simple approach to calculating your ideal solar array wattage to ensure you have adequate power to last you throughout the night.

Part 3: Series vs. Parallel Panel Wiring

Connecting multiple solar panels impacts the entire system in several critical ways. This section provides the pros and cons of series and parallel panel wiring and recommends which connection style we prefer.

Part 4: Solar Charge Controller Sizing

The size of your solar charge controller depends on the total wattage of your solar array. This section covers what charge controllers do, why they’re essential, and how to calculate the ideal charge controller size for your solar array system.

Part 5: Solar Wire Sizing

Your ideal solar wire thickness (AWG) depends on the total wattage of the solar array and whether the panels are wired in series or parallel. In this section, we show you how to determine the ideal solar wire size to keep your system safe from overheating and catching fire.

Part 6: Solar Fuses & Breakers

Fuses and circuit breakers help keep your solar system safe from overcurrent situations. In this section, we identify the three areas of a solar system that you’ll need to fuse and teach you how to size the fuse for each area properly.

Part 7: Mounting Panels to Roof

How will you attach the solar panels to your camper’s roof? And will you mount them vertically or horizontally? This section discusses key layout and mounting considerations before hoisting the solar panels on top of your vehicle.

Part 8: Step-by-Step Solar Installation Guide

Once you understand the previous seven steps, we provide a step-by-step installation guide to connect your solar panels to the batteries. We include detailed wiring diagrams and key product recommendations so that you can start charging your batteries ASAP.

Chapter 1: Selecting the Right Solar Panels

In this first chapter, we go over the three different types of solar panels available on the market today and discuss the pros and cons of each, especially as they pertain to camper vans.

Rigid Panels

Rigid solar panels are the most common type and are often installed on house roofs and solar power plants. They are also popular for camper vans because of their sturdy design, which includes a rigid aluminum frame and a top layer of tempered glass to protect the photovoltaic cells. A tempered glass top layer is a critical feature for solar panels on campers because it protects the cells from scratches and scuffs from low-hanging branches, dust, and sand.

BougeRV | 200W Solar Panel

We've spoken with BougeRV reps and came away impressed with their customer service. They also make excellent quality, highly efficient '9BB' solar panels. Consider installing a larger 200W panel instead of multiple smaller panels.

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Most Popular: Rigid panels are the most popular type of solar panels for camper vans because of their durability and longer lifespan. This is what we use for our van conversion.

Flexible Panels

These panels are flexible because they eliminate the traditional aluminum frame and tempered glass top layer. Instead, the solar cells are sandwiched in-between plastic and rubber-like material layers that allow the entire panel to flex and bend. This is great when mounting on curved surfaces. Doing away with the rigid frame also means that these panels are thinner and more stealth-friendly.

Renogy Flexible Solar Panel 175W

Flexible panels are popular for those who want to maximize stealth and/or do not want to drill holes through their van's roof. This 175W panel from Renogy is a common alternative to rigid panels.

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

However, the loss of the tempered glass top layer and aluminum frame means these flexible panels have significantly shorter lifespans than rigid panels. These panels also tend to develop permanent scuff marks, sunburns, and decreased solar efficiency after just a few months. (Source)

Our Take? The flexible panel’s lack of durability prevents us from fully recommending them for van conversions. We know a camper van traveler who has undergone six flexible solar panels in three years. Their panels tend to last 6-8 months before needing to be replaced.

Foldable Panels

Foldable solar panels provide the ultimate solution for stealth camping. When not needed, these panels fold neatly into the van and are unseen by the outside public. And when you need to charge the batteries, take the panel out and point it directly at the sun.

Renogy 100W foldable suitcase-style solar panel
100W Foldable Solar Panels

The downsides are you won’t be able to charge your batteries when you are out in a public area, and these panels take up valuable storage space inside the van.

To learn more about solar panels for campers, read our more thorough van life solar panel comparison.

Our Opinion: Forget about being stealthy. We recommend choosing rigid solar panels due to the rough nature of van life. Rigid panels last longer, are more durable, and better withstand scruffs from low branches and dirt.

High-Efficiency ‘9BB’ Panels

Whichever style of solar panel you select, we recommend getting the newest, highly efficient ‘9BB’ solar panels. Not only are they more efficient at converting sunlight to usable power, but they also have a smaller area footprint and are more resistant to micro-cracks compared to older technology panels.

9BB vs. 5BB solar panel efficiency difference
9BB vs. 5BB solar panel efficiency

To learn more about these specific types of panels, check out our 9BB solar panel post.

Chapter 2: Calculating Solar Array Size (Watts)

Spending time to calculate the minimum solar array wattage that is suitable for your camper van is a critical step. If the solar array wattage is too small, the panels cannot fully charge your batteries throughout the day. This can lead to an insufficient battery charge during the evening and potentially running out of battery power at night.

We recommend the following three steps to calculate the ideal solar array size for your camper.

  1. Calculate your daily power usage (DPU)
  2. Determine battery bank size (Amp-hours) from DPU
  3. Match solar array size to battery bank size

To accomplish steps 1 & 2, check out our post “How To Calculate Your Battery Size”.

Once you have a correctly sized battery bank, follow the information and table below to get your ideal solar array wattage.

Match Solar Array Size (W) to Battery Bank Size (Ah)

If you have a 12V battery bank, use the below ratios to determine your solar array wattage size.

  • If you use LITHIUM batteries, use a 1:1 ratio of battery bank Ah to solar array watts.
  • If you use AGM batteries, use a 2:1 ratio of battery bank Ah to solar array watts.

Have A 24V System? Use a 1:2 ratio for lithium batteries and a 1:1 ratio for AGM batteries.

Refer to the table below to locate your ideal solar array size (based on 12V battery Ah size AND chemistry). But remember, you should only reference the below table if you followed our battery sizing post first.

Our Opinion: The table above only suggests the minimum solar array size that would meet your power needs. If you have extra available space on your roof, feel free to add more panels to your array. We have 300Ah of lithium batteries and have a 360W solar array.

To learn more, read our post on how to calculate your ideal solar array wattage

Chapter 3: Series Vs. Parallel Solar Panel Wiring

Like wiring multiple batteries together, you can also connect multiple solar panels together in either series or parallel. By choosing which way to wire your panels together, you can manipulate the volts and amps that are sent to the solar charge controller from the solar panels. The diagram below shows how the two styles differ when wiring two solar panels together.

You can initially see that wiring panels in series is relatively simpler, and parallel wiring involves additional components like branch connectors and, potentially, solar fuses.

Series vs. Parallel Solar Panel Connections
Series vs. Parallel Solar Panel Connections

There are pros and cons for both wiring styles, which we discuss below, and it will be up to you to decide how you want to connect your panels together.

Wiring Solar Panels in Series

Wiring panels in series is the most common approach in camper vans because it is simpler and involves fewer components than wiring in parallel.

How to wire? To wire panels in series, take the negative line of the first panel and connect it to the positive line of the second panel. Then, take the negative line of the second panel and connect it to the positive line of the third panel. And so on. In the end, you will have one available positive line (from the first panel) and one available negative line (from the last panel) to connect to the solar charge controller.

If you have three solar panels, the final result will look like the series wiring diagram below.

Three solar panels wired in series
Three solar panels wired in series

The result of wiring multiple solar panels in series is that the overall solar array voltage (V) is equal to the sum of the output voltage of each individual panel. Essentially, the voltage increases. But the total current (A) stays equal to the current output of a single panel.

  • Voltage (V): Adds up
  • Current (A): Stays the same

Series Wiring Benefits

For smaller camper van solar setups, the primary benefit of connecting panels in series is a simpler wiring process. Fewer components are involved, and you don’t have to worry about getting MC4 in-line fuses (we’ll talk more about those later).

Saving Money? Some sites claim you can save money because series wiring allows you to use thinner solar wires since the solar array produces less current (amps). But the savings are negligible because wire runs are short in a camper van, and you would still need to buy thicker wire to connect the charge controller to the batteries. We talk more about solar wiring in chapter 5)

The downside of series wiring is that the total solar array is less efficient when the panels are exposed to partial shading. This is because shading reduces the overall current of the solar array. And arrays wired in series already create less current than parallel arrays.

Wiring Solar Panels in Parallel

To wire multiple solar panels in parallel, connect all the positive lines together and all the negative lines together using branch connectors.

  • If you have two solar panels, use a 2-to-1 branch connector.
  • If you have three solar panels, use a 3-to-1 branch connector.
  • And so on.

If you have three solar panels, the final result will look like the parallel wiring diagram below.

Three solar panels wired in parallel
Three solar panels wired in parallel

The result of wiring multiple solar panels in parallel is that the total current (A) produced by the solar array is equal to the sum of the output current of each individual panel. Essentially, the current increases. But the total voltage (V) stays equal to the voltage output of a single panel.

  • Voltage (V): Stays the same
  • Current (A): Adds up

Parallel Wiring Benefits

The most significant benefit of wiring solar panels in parallel is that the array is more resistant to the adverse effects of partial shade. This is a very real benefit because your camper van will always be parked in partially shaded environments. Whether it’s shade from trees, mountains, buildings, or electrical poles, your solar array will experience lots of shade. So, wiring the array in parallel to be more efficient in shaded situations may be a smart choice.

Series vs. Parallel: Which Solar Panel Wiring Is Best?

Because of their higher efficiency in partial shade, we prefer wiring panels in parallel. However, parallel wiring gets more complex if you have more than two panels. That’s why we recommend the following guidelines.

2 Panels Only –> Wire In Parallel

If you only have two panels, wiring in parallel is the best choice. Not only will these panels perform better in partial shade, but having only two panels ensures that you do not need MC4 in-line fuses and that you won’t require needlessly thick wires to connect them to your charge controller.

If you require a larger solar array wattage, consider getting two bigger solar panels instead of three smaller panels.

In Our Van: We installed two 180w solar panels and wired them in parallel

3+ Panels Only –> Wire In Series

For three or more solar panels, consider wiring the array in series. Not only will the wiring process be simpler and with fewer components, but you can use thinner wires since the array is producing fewer amps.

Have A 24V System? You will likely need to wire your panels in series to create a voltage high enough to charge your batteries.

To learn more, check out our series vs. parallel solar panel wiring post.

Chapter 4: Solar Charge Controllers

Solar charge controllers are a vital component of every camper van’s solar system. These controllers take the power produced by the solar array and regulate the incoming voltage so that the power can be accepted by the batteries for proper charging. Without a charge controller, the solar panels would quickly overcharge and destroy the batteries.

To get more details about what a solar charge controller is and why you need one, check out our post.

Victron | DC-DC Charger (30A)

Charge your leisure batteries quickly with Victron's 30A DC-DC charger (up to 360W). Works great for both lithium and AGM batteries. But the highlight is the charger's Bluetooth connectivity, which pairs with Victron's UX-friendly smartphone app.

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

How To Size Your Charge Controller

The first question you’ll need to answer is what size charge controller you need.

Charge controllers come in different sizes and are sorted by their amp ratings. For example, the three charge controllers we list in the below table are rated for 15A, 30A, and 50A, respectively. The higher the number of amps, the faster the charge controller can charge the batteries.

But a solar charge controller with which amp rating do you need?

The controller size you need is dependent on the total wattage of your solar array. The greater the number of watts produced by your solar panels, the more current (A) that will be sent to your batteries for charging. No matter how many watts your solar array can produce, if your charge controller is only rated for 15A, then only 15A will be fed to the batteries. The rest is wasted.

You can reference the product table below to find your ideal charge controller size based on the wattage of your solar array.

Have A 24V System? Divide your solar array size by two and use the below table.

Our Recommended Charge Controller

Although pricier, Victron charge controllers are the best option for camper vans. This is because they are one of the only brands manufacturing Bluetooth-enabled charge controllers. And with their Victron Connect app, you can easily view vital solar statistics via the Victron app and keep an eye on your daily solar production.

VictronConnect App Solar Charge Controller Data
Instantaneous solar statistics from our smartphone

Through our smartphones, we can also update the controller’s settings, switch the device off for maintenance, and even view a 30-day history of solar harvesting data.

To learn more, check out our Victron solar charge controller review.

Chapter 5: Solar Panel Wire Size

Getting the correct size wires for your solar system is critical because if the cables are too thin, you risk pushing more current (A) than the wires can handle. This overheats the cables and can eventually be a fire hazard.

And solar systems can produce a lot of current for extended periods of time, meaning that even correctly sized wires will be quite warm during the day.

In most solar systems, there are two sections of wires that you will need to size independently.

  1. Solar panels to the charge controller
  2. Charge controller to the batteries
Introduction to solar wire sizing showing the two sections of wires to account for.
Two sections of solar wires to account for

We discuss each of these two sections in more detail below.

Solar Panels To Charge Controller

To calculate the ideal wire size to connect the solar panels to the charge controller, you must know the maximum amps (current) produced by your solar array. Remember:

  • Panels wired in series DO NOT add the amps produced by each individual panel.
  • Panels wired in parallel DO add the amps produced by each individual panel.

Once you know the solar array’s maximum amps produced, round this number up to the nearest 10. For example:

  • If the array can produce 5.5 amps, round up to 10A.
  • If the array can produce 13.4 amps, round up to 20A.

In Our Van: Our two 180W panels, wired in parallel, produce a maximum current of 22.4A. Therefore, we round up to get 30A.

Next, take your rounded-up number and use the table below to find your ideal wire size (AWG) to connect your solar panels to the charge controller.

* Though you can use 12AWG wires, we always recommend getting a minimum of 10AWG wires for solar systems.

Marine Grade Wires: For all wires in solar installations, we always recommend ‘marine grade’ wires. Not only are the wire jackets more resistant to the outside elements (e.g. rain, salt, UV light), but they also have superior insulation. This allows them to handle slightly more amps than conventional, cheaper wires.

Charge Controller to Batteries

In this step, you will calculate the wire size required to connect the solar charge controller to the batteries.

Actually…Not Directly To The Batteries: If you’ve followed our electrical system guide, then you know that we do not wire the charge controller directly to the batteries. We will wire the controller to the bus bars, which are already wired to the batteries.

The wire size you need depends on the amp rating of the solar charge controller you selected in Chapter 4. Refer to the table below to locate your ideal wire thickness based on the charge controller amp rating.

* Though you can use 12AWG wires, we always recommend getting a minimum of 10AWG wires for solar systems.

Summary

In summary, to determine the best size for your solar system, follow the below graphic.

Wiring diagram with a summary of factors that determine solar wire size
Solar wire size summary

Chapter 6: Solar Fuses & Breakers

When installing fuses and breakers into a solar system, there are three areas to be aware of.

  1. MC4 in-line fuses before branch connectors (parallel wiring only)
  2. Solar DC breaker after solar panels
  3. DC breaker after charge controller

Refer to the below graphic to locate each of the three areas.

Solar fuse introduction wiring diagram showing the three areas to consider when fusing a solar system.
Three parts to fusing a solar system

We take a look at each of the three sections below.

MC4 In-Line Fuses

Solar fuses only need to be used when three or more solar panels are wired in parallel. You do not need a solar fuse if your array is wired in series. The size of the MC4 solar fuse you need equals the ‘maximum series fuse rating’ listed on your solar panel.

You can often locate the “maximum series fuse rating” on the solar panel’s online product page. Below is an example we found on Amazon for a standard 100W solar panel. In this situation, you would use a 10A MC4 solar fuse with this panel.

How To Determine Solar Fuse Size From Max Series Fuse Rating
Solar Fuse Size = PV Panel’s Max Series Fuse Rating

If you already know the maximum series fuse rating for your solar panels, select your required fuse from the table below.

Solar DC Breaker After Solar Panels

Not only does this DC breaker protect your wires and connected devices from unforeseen surges, but you can also flip the breaker and disconnect the solar system during maintenance.

To select the ideal breaker for your system, identify the total short circuit current (Isc) produced by the array, then multiply by 1.25 (NEC safety factor) and multiply by 1.25 again (for continuous current). Then, round up the result to the next available breaker size.

Example: Two 200W Newpowa panels wired in parallel have an Isc of 22.94A (11.47 x 2). Then, 22.94A * 1.25 * 1.25 = 35.8A. Rounding up means a 40A breaker is appropriate to use.

DC Solar Circuit Breaker (40A)

A DC Solar Breaker is used to protect the solar wires between the panels and the charge controller. It also provides an easy way to disconnect the panels during regular electrical maintenance.

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

DC Breaker After Charge Controller

The size of the DC breaker after the charge controller is related to the amp rating of the charge controller itself.

To calculate the breaker size, take the amp rating of the controller and multiply it by 1.25. Then, round up the result to the next breaker size.

For Example: If you have a 30A charger controller, multiply 30A * 1.25 to get 37.5A. Rounding up means a 40A breaker is appropriate to use.

T Tocas | 40A Circuit Breaker

This circuit breaker protects the solar wire from overheating and is installed between the solar charge controller and the positive bus bar.

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Fuse Summary

By installing the three different fuses discussed above, your wiring system may look similar to the diagram below.

Solar wiring diagram showing the three areas of a solar system where fuses and/or circuit breakers need to be installed.
Final wiring diagram with fuses & circuit breakers

Check out our solar fuse guidelines post to learn more.

Chapter 7: Mounting Solar Panels to Camper Roof

Before installing any solar panels on your camper’s roof, it’s essential to think about the following two issues.

  1. Solar panel layout – How will you arrange the solar panels on your roof? Horizontally or vertically?
  2. Direct mount vs. roof rack – Will you install the panels directly to the camper’s roof? Or install the panels onto a roof rack instead?

We discuss each of these two sections below.

Solar Panel Layout Planning

There are two ways to orient your solar panels on the roof: horizontally (left to right) and vertically (back to front). The two main factors determining your panel’s orientation will be the dimensions of your vehicle’s roof and the individual dimensions of each panel.

Refer to the diagram below for two solar panel layout examples.

Laying solar panels lengthwise vs. widthwise on a camper van roof
Solar panel layout options on van roof

Creating an accurate solar panel layout plan to scale isn’t tricky. But you will need the exact dimensions of your camper van’s roof and the dimensions of the solar panels. Once you have that, you can use any paid or free drawing software to see how the solar panels look on the roof. For more information on how to do this, we recommend reading the following posts.

Direct Mount vs. Roof Racks

The second important question to answer is ‘how’ you will attach the solar panels to your camper van’s roof. The most common choices are to mount the panels directly to the vehicle’s roof or attach the panels to a roof rack.

Direct Mount

Involves screwing the solar panels directly onto the roof. This method gives the panels the lowest profile and attracts the least attention, which is beneficial for stealth campers. But the downsides are that you may have potential water leaks in the future and that removing the panels for maintenance is a hassle.

Roof Rack

If done right, roof racks can be installed without drilling any new holes in your camper’s roof. Then, attach the solar panels to the roof rack. There is no potential for roof leaks, and you can easily remove the panels when needed. The downside is that the panels will be elevated slightly more off the roof, bringing more public awareness.

Our Opinion: We installed solar panels directly to our van’s roof. They’ve worked great, look streamlined, and we haven’t had any leaks (yet). But if we could do our build again, we’d spend the money on a low-profile roof rack instead.

We used a combination of 3M VHB tape and Butyl tape to ensure that our solar panel installation is not only secure but also waterproof. To learn more, check out our solar panel mounting post.

Chapter 8: Solar Panel Wiring Installation (Step-by-Step)

In this last chapter, we show you how to wire a solar panel system in a camper van. We also discuss all the different devices, components, and wires you will need to complete the installation. When finished, your solar system should look similar to the diagram below.

Complete solar wiring diagram for camper vans for up to 440W of solar
Complete solar wiring diagram for camper vans

Solar Panels

With so many types and sizes of solar panels on the market, it can be paralyzing to know which panels to choose.

Whichever you select, ensure you’re getting the highest efficiency solar panels with ‘9BB’ technology.

Learn more: What are 9BB solar panels?

BougeRV | 200W Solar Panel

We've spoken with BougeRV reps and came away impressed with their customer service. They also make excellent quality, highly efficient '9BB' solar panels. Consider installing a larger 200W panel instead of multiple smaller panels.

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Stranded Copper Wire (Red & Black)

We discussed how to select the best-sized solar wire in Chapter 5.

Whichever size wires you need, ensure they’re ‘marine grade.’ That’s because a portion of these wires will be located outside, on your camper’s roof. Marine-grade wires offer the best protection against the outside elements.

10 AWG wire is what most camper vans will need, but check out our solar wire calculator post to help you choose the best wires for your solar system.

Ancor | 10 AWG Wire (Red)

We love Ancor's 'marine grade' wires for solar installations. The insulation jackets are UV & salt water resistant (good for rooftop installations).

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

MC4 Connectors

MC4 connectors are the standardized connection type for solar systems.

Although solar panels come with two pre-attached MC4 connectors, you will need at least one additional pair to complete your system.

BougeRV | MC4 Connectors

Crimp onto solar wire ends and connect to other MC4 solar components (e.g. in-line fuses & branch connectors). Connectors come with spanners for assembly.

Buy On Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

MC4 Branch Connectors

If you will be connecting multiple solar panels together in parallel, you will need branch connectors to complete the wiring process.

  • For two solar panels, use 2-1 connectors.
  • For three solar panels, use 3-1 connectors.

MC4 In-Line Fuse

If you are wiring 3 (or more) solar panels in parallel, you must install these MC4 in-line fuses onto the branch connectors. These fuses protect each individual solar panel from short circuit situations and prevent potential fires.

The size of the in-line fuse you need depends on the ‘maximum series fuse rating’ of your solar panels. Read our solar fuse guidelines post for more information.

Solar Entry Gland

This entry gland attaches to the roof of your van and protects the solar wires as they enter the vehicle from the outside.

Silicone sealant comes included with this product.

Passes Wire Through Roof
Link Solar | Entry Gland

This solar entry gland protects the solar wires as they pass through the van's roof to the interior. If sealed properly, a solar gland also prevents water leaks from entering the camper.

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Solar DC Breaker

Not only does a DC breaker protect your wires and connected devices from unforeseen surges, but you can also flip the breaker to disconnect your solar system to conduct maintenance.

We teach you how to size the correct solar DC breaker for your system in Chapter 6.

DC Solar Circuit Breaker (40A)

A DC Solar Breaker is used to protect the solar wires between the panels and the charge controller. It also provides an easy way to disconnect the panels during regular electrical maintenance.

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Solar Charge Controllers

Charge controllers regulate the voltage from the solar panels to the batteries and is a critical device for any solar system. We show you how to calculate the ideal charge controller size for your solar system in Chapter 4.

Check out our additional charge controller resources to learn more:

Victron | Solar Charge Controller (30A)

We love this Victron controller not only for it's high quality build, but the Bluetooth feature is rock solid. The Victron smartphone app provides an amazing interface to monitor all your solar data. This 30A charger is good for solar systems up to 440W (for 12V batteries).

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Circuit Breaker

The circuit breaker protects the solar wire from overheating and all downstream electrical components from any unforeseen surges in power.

We show you how to size this circuit breaker in Chapter 6.

Connect your solar wire to the circuit breaker with appropriately sized ring connectors. If using 10 AWG solar wire, these M6 ring connectors will work.

T Tocas | 40A Circuit Breaker

This circuit breaker protects the solar wire from overheating and is installed between the solar charge controller and the positive bus bar.

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Ring Connectors (To Bus Bars)

Use ring connectors to connect the solar wire to the bus bars. If you use our recommended bus bars, get size M10 ring connectors.

You must also size your solar wires before selecting your ring connectors. If, like us, you are using 10 AWG solar wires, these exact M10 ring connectors will be what you need.

Ring Connectors (M10 x 10AWG)

Crimps onto 10-12 AWG wires and connects to bus bars with 3/8" posts.

Buy on Amazon
We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

FAQ

What Tools Do I Need To Install Solar Panels on My Van

Surprisingly, you do not need a huge garage full of random tools to build your own camper solar system. You should be able to complete most of the installation process with the below three tools.

Are Solar Panels Worth It for Van Life?

If you value being energy-independent and getting off-grid, solar panels are worth the investment. If you are on a tight budget, we provide a solar solution that costs less than $450.

Are Tilt Mounts for Solar Panels on a Camper Van Worth It?

If you follow our solar sizing guide, we don’t think tilt panels are worth the money and trouble. Our solar panels do not tilt, and we are getting PLENTY of solar power into our batteries each day.

Conclusion

We hope this camper van solar installation guide was useful for your van conversion project. Although building a solar system can appear daunting, we’re confident that you can install your own DIY system by going slow and doing your homework ahead of time.

If you have any questions, please comment in the below section.

Lastly, be sure to check out our eBooks with helpful wiring diagrams. They are a valuable resource and are all completely free to use.

Happy building!

Was this article helpful?
YesNo
Free Downloads

Van Conversion Essential Bundles

Every resource on our website is 100% free to download and use. We don’t charge you, and we don’t require your email address. Happy building!

  • Electrical Diagrams
  • Battery Calculator
  • Solar Diagrams
  • Solar Calculator
  • Plumbing Diagrams
  • Full Product Lists

Similar Posts

Have A Question? Let Us Know!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *