Going Solar

Having researched this subject for quite a while now, I was debating whether it would be worth putting solar panels on the roof of my Vdub, buying a portable array or just using hook-ups whenever I needed to re-charge the leisure battery. In the end, I decided I wanted the ability to spend several days at a time at campsites that would not necessarily have hook-up facilities. So I opted for these panels from Baird:

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Folded up – around 13kg so not so heavy and can be positioned to face the sun easily

They are not too heavy and I can store them easily in the bus when travelling. A couple of minor issues with the cables that were supplied, but otherwise seem to be very good.

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Testing the panels – steady 12.9Volts

I opted for 120W panels as these should easily cover our daily electricity use. Details on how to calculate this here. Fixing then up to the bus was not difficult, but entails getting some solar cable and connectors as well as some battery connectors. Details in pictures below. My California is a 2015 Beach – the wiring layout picture might be a useful reference for other Beach owners.

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Electrics under beach passenger seat
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Solar connectors attached to battery terminals
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Wires all neatly hidden and routed. The blue cable ties hold the routed cable securely Note solar plugs in seat side pocket – ready for attachment to the panel connectors

For security, I will padlock the panels to the bus with some cable, and to prevent any wind damage I’ll peg the units to the ground with some large tent pegs.

 

California Beach – New Layout in Rear

Our California Beach is configured with a 3 bench seat and we also have 2 additional back passenger seats. Most of the time we only use the bench seat or the bench plus one of the passenger seats. My wife had a brain-wave – why not remove the bench seat and just have the two cabin seats in the back. I was a little reluctant: the single cabin seats aren’t light and the bench seat is hard enough to just slide around on the runners. Anyway, I thought, why not give it a try – the result is fantastic. Much more room and a lot less weight in the back. We used an engine hoist to shift the bench seat – and it worked seamlessly. Our ‘kitchen’ units fitted in front of the multi-flex board, giving loads of space for luggage and passengers.

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