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How to Design and Install Solar on a Camper Van

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How to Design and Install Solar on a Camper Van

New here? Welcome! This blog post houses all of our DIY solar and electrical tutorials for campers, vans, truck campers, and RVs.

Been here before? Welcome back. The page has a new look. There was SO much information here it was getting messy, so the topics have been broken up into individual topics so they are easier to find and gives a better user experience.

Our interactive solar wiring diagrams have been a real hit, but most of you want to know more about the ‘why’ behind the interactive diagrams. Perhaps you’re building something completely off the wall and are looking for some more, general learning about solar and mobile solar systems. You’re in the right place!

Keep reading to see our step-by-step guide for how to install a mobile solar and electrical system in a camper, van, truck camper, or RV.

DIY Camper Solar System Guide

This DIY Camper Solar System Guide is a multi step, complete educational series that by the end, you will know what all of the parts of a solar system do, how they work together, what you'll need for YOUR specific system, and what to expect during the build. These lessons go in order so I recommend starting from the top.

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Scott

Wednesday 31st of March 2021

For an installation on a RV with an existing 12V battery, does it make sense to remove that battery (generally mounted on the tongue)? If so, as the 7-pin connector from the Tow Vehicle provides some power, is a battery isolator needed or is the current so negligible that it won’t burn out the alternator or drain the battery?

David G

Sunday 4th of October 2020

I want to design a system for a remote cabin where the battery(ies) will be removed over winter for warm storage/charging. In that case, what is best practice for the solar cell? Does it NEED to be covered? I hope not as it will be mounted high at the roof peak. Should it be disconnected from the charge controller or left connected?

Nate Yarbrough

Monday 5th of October 2020

You can just turn of the dual pole disconnect between the charge conntroller and the solar panel array. That will work just fine.

Terry

Monday 24th of August 2020

Hello Mr. Yarbrough, I have a question that you may be able to help me with. I bought a Bluetti EB240 Power Station that has a Maximum DC solar input of 60 volts. Will three 180Watt solar panels in series, exceed the Bluetti's capacity (especially in cold weather) with their Open Circuit Voltage of 22.5 volts (22.5 x 3 = 67.5 volts, does OCV voltage matter?) and their Maximum Power Voltage of 19.01? (19.01 x 3 = 57.03 volts, is MPV the important voltage?) Would freezing weather bring those voltages up? Thank you, Terry

Nate Yarbrough

Friday 28th of August 2020

It does, indeed, look like the voltage would be exceeded and therefore damage the unit if wired like that.

Robert Clark

Monday 29th of June 2020

A lot of useful information in here. I think it will help me a part to chooce a good rv solar panels. Do you have advices?

Nate Yarbrough

Sunday 5th of July 2020

This website is filled with advice. :) If you ask a more specific question, I can provide a more specific answer.

darrun

Sunday 1st of March 2020

hi Iv just found your site with a lot of great info. I ve been looking to try and sort out a queston that has been worrying/nagging me. I have installed solar panels directly to the roof of my van. They have been installed using metal brackets with no insulation between the frame work of the panels and the van. eg the grounding of the panels is directly connected to the chassis of the vehicle and therefore connected to the starter battery. My question is should my house batteries (negative) also be connected to the chassis to complete the circuit and would this have any effect on the vehicle electrics? Thanks for your time Darrun

Nate Yarbrough

Thursday 5th of March 2020

As long as there is a dedicated negative wire from the solar panel to the charge controller you should be fine. But I do recommend making a battery to chassis connection in any regard.