5 Benefits of Using Solar Power in Your Camper Van
When it comes to camper vans, having electricity is critical for many reasons. Your fridge, lights, heater, and ability to charge laptops and other devices all rely upon a dependable source of electricity. Without electricity, having a camper van just isn’t all that cool!
For the most part, camper van electrical systems share one thing in common: they run off of 12-volt batteries, similar to car batteries but with the ability to complete several hundred cycles of charging and discharging. Still, different vans use different methods to charge these auxiliary batteries, which in turn power your van. That’s where solar panels come in. Solar power has several major benefits when it comes to its use in camper van electrical systems.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of using solar panels on your camper van is their “fit-and-forget” nature. Once installed, solar panels require no maintenance or input to work effectively. Simply wire the panels and secure them to the roof of your van, and you will have a reliable source of power for many years to come, wherever the sun shines.
The same cannot be said for some other sources of charging, including generators. Generators not only require the purchase of gasoline to run, but they also will inevitably need some maintenance down the line. The only form of upkeep you need to undergo with your solar panels is cleaning them intermittently to ensure maximum output. This is achieved easily with the addition of a ladder to your camper van.
2. Clean Energy
One major benefit of utilizing solar power in your camper van is the sustainable nature of this power source. Unlike gasoline-powered generators and grid electricity which comes largely from coal-fired power plants, solar power is a completely clean and renewable energy.
If you are using your Sprinter van conversion like most people do, to access the beautiful outdoor spaces you love, then you probably understand the importance of relying on clean energy sources to protect our planet. The amount of electricity used by a camper van is not huge in the grand scheme of things, but every little bit counts. Plus, adding solar panels to your camper van puts money in the green energy industry, which, in turn, helps it to grow.
3. Off-Grid Capabilities
If you want to take your camper van off-grid, solar power is a must. Nothing beats the freedom of being able to camp wherever you want, regardless of whether hookups are available. Solar panels allow you to rely entirely on the sun’s rays to keep your food cold, your devices charged, and your lights on!
If you are concerned about running out of power during cloudy weather, this is rarely an issue. Solar panels are still capable of harvesting some of the sun’s energy, even in cloudy or partially shaded conditions. And, if you have enough battery storage, you should be able to last for a number of days without charging the batteries at all. Just a few hours of full sun is enough to fully charge most camper van battery banks.
4. Sleek and Space-Saving
Another great thing about solar panels is their mounting location on your van. In order to maximize sunlight exposure, you’ll want to mount your panels on the roof of your van. This frees up precious space inside of your rig that might otherwise be used by a generator.
Most solar panels are an inch thick or less. Their low profile means that you probably won’t even be able to see them from the ground. And, given the large size of Sprinter van rooftops, you’ll still have plenty of room for gear and accessories up there.
You might be concerned about how long a piece of glass will last on the roof of your van. Rest assured, however, that solar panels are up to the task. The life expectancy of solar panels is 25 to 30 years. After this amount of time, they don’t stop producing electricity – but they lose enough efficiency to bring them below industry standards. It’s likely that your solar panels will outlast the Sprinter van itself.
Solar panels are not just durable, they are rugged as well. Most panels are built to withstand decades of harsh sun, wind, rain, snow, and even hail. In fact, high-quality solar panels are specifically tested to ensure that they can withstand moderate to large sized hail. As long as they are installed securely by your professional camper van outfitter, the panels will have no trouble withstanding the high wind speeds of the highway.
Every Muse & Co. Outdoors camper van comes equipped with 400 watts of Zamp Obsidian Solar Panels. Zamp Obsidian panels are American made, premium quality solar panels. They are ultra low-profile, extremely lightweight, and very durable. The solar panels easily charge the 400Ah deep cycle lithium batteries located on board.