Replace the solar panel of the camper with DIY! |MOBY [モビー]

MOBY introduces an article written by a writer who actually enjoys staying in the car and camping car from the web magazine DRIMO, which distributes information on camping, staying in the car, van life, outdoor & car trips, including camping car information. To do. *The contents of the following article are quotes and references from DRIMO

hello. This is Sasaki and his wife, who live a camper life at LIVING STONE5.

Although the state of emergency was declared this time, we made full use of GW at Stay Home and replaced the solar panel, which had been a problem after purchase.

This time, I will introduce the DIY work.

I sincerely hope that this situation will end as soon as possible, and that we will be able to return to the world where we can travel across Japan and travel to other prefectures as in the past.

About choosing a solar panel for a camper

First of all, I will introduce the selection of solar panels and equipment.

In order to attach the solar panel to the camper, the panel body, mounting hardware (tapping screws and urethane adhesive), charging equipment for the sub-battery (MPPT and PWM), and other wiring are required.

And how well these are selected is important to ensure power generation performance and safety.

solar panel size

First, check the shape and dimensions of the roof of the car body.

You may think that the roof of a camper is wide, but there are many structures such as ventilators, roof air conditioners, BS antennas, etc., and the empty space is surprisingly limited. Therefore, it is essential to select a compact panel with high power generation capacity.

solar panel shape

There are two types of solar panels: aluminum frame type (hard type) and flexible type.

That’s exactly why I needed a DIY replacement work this time.

Below is a picture of the installed solar panel. The smaller one is a flexible panel that can be used in any car.

I brought it in at the time of purchasing a new car and had the builder install it.At first glance, there seems to be no problem, but in fact, Livingstone’sNot suitable for roof shapeIt’s like.

Since the roof of Livingstone has a corrugated shape to ensure strength, when solar panels are installed on top of it, both ends of the recessed part will be blocked, preventing rainwater from flowing into the drain and accumulating. put away.

Every time it rains, rainwater collects in the five recesses between the sunroof and the panel, and when it dries naturally, it turns into a black mush. At this rate, the roof may eventually corrode and open a hole.

Therefore, we decided to replace the smaller one with the same aluminum frame type as the larger one.

Selected panel

I also chose a hard type for the smaller panel, and installed it in a state where it was raised from the corrugated sheet of the roof using metal fittings.

All the recessed parts are open, so even if it rains, the rainwater will flow into the drain.

After all, for this type of roof, the hard type that can be installed in a floating state seems to be the best choice.

Solar panels become less efficient as the temperature rises. Therefore, hard type panels have an advantage in terms of power generation efficiency as well. (Because there is a space behind the panel, the temperature rise can be suppressed more than the flexible panel.)

By the way, we plan to use the flexible type that is no longer used as a supplementary charge during the day for the uninterruptible power supply as a countermeasure against blackouts.

This is an uninterruptible power supply that I DIY at home. With a capacity of 1,280wh, you can watch a 40-inch TV for about 10 hours even during a power outage. It is used for supplementary charging of this battery during the day.

Panel electrical characteristics

When choosing a solar panel, it is also necessary to check the electrical specifications.

This is because the solar panel you should choose depends on whether the voltage of the sub-battery of the camper is a general 12V or a high-performance 24V.

Livingstone 5 is a 12V sub-battery, so select 12V compatible equipment. Since 100w is required, it is a panel with generated voltage (Vmp) = 18.9V and generated current = 5.29A (99.9w).

By the way, if it is 24V, you will need twice this voltage. It depends on the panel, but if you choose one with a generated voltage (Vmp) of 17V or higher, it can also be used in a 12V system.

Charging equipment (solar charger)

A solar charger is required to charge the sub-battery with the power generated by the panel.

The table below is a graph I found on the site “Taiyo Seikatsu”, which summarizes solar power generation.

Source: Taiyo Seikatsu

It takes time, so in order to charge the battery more efficiently, it is better to use an MPPT charger that has excellent conversion efficiency.

The charger we chose has low standby power of 0.1W or less, rather than the typical 2W standby power.

The reason for this is that the power consumption at night can be greatly reduced.

Generally, power generation is not possible from 18:00 in the evening to around 5:00 in the morning, so standby power is consumed during that time. In other words, it is calculated that 3.8% of the amount of power generated during the day is consumed at night.

It’s kind of a waste, isn’t it?

With the low standby power type, 12 hours x standby power 0.1W = 1.2W, so the difference is obvious! In addition, I think that this low standby power type will come in handy because it consumes electricity when it rains or cloudy.

About installing the solar panel

Installation of the panel requires work such as fixing it to the roof, wiring the solar charger, and checking the power generation and charging operation after installation.

panel installation

In order to prevent the panel, which weighs as much as 6 kg, from falling off, we fixed it by attaching 3 mm thick L-shaped metal fittings made of stainless steel that do not corrode.

By the way, all tapping screws are also made of stainless steel.

In order to fix it to the roof more firmly, a urethane-based shock-resistant and water-resistant adhesive is also included.

Install a low standby power type MPPT solar charger

Two low standby power chargers are installed inside the electrical box.

The secondary battery capacity will no longer drop below 100% when left idle for several days at night or on cloudy days.

Mounting the remote meter

The solar charger monitor, which was originally in the electrical box, was re-installed in the bedroom to check the amount of power generated. It’s not because I want to check it while sleeping, but simply because of the wiring length restrictions.

By the way, the amount of power generation is 155W panel = 121W (power generation efficiency 78%), 100W panel = 72W (power generation efficiency 72%). Although the value was obtained around 13:00 on a sunny day, it is generating electricity properly for a parking lot in a residential area.

(The image is a reference value and is different from the maximum value)

DIY notes for replacing the solar panel

Replacing solar panels DIY can sometimes lead to big problems.

Therefore, I would like to briefly supplement the regulations and safety considerations for vehicle inspections that you should be aware of in advance.

issues such as vehicle inspection

According to the regulations of vehicle inspection, the total height of the vehicle is within plus or minus 4 cm from the description on the vehicle inspection certificate.

In the case of Livingstone, the maximum total height is the height of the roof air conditioner, so there is no problem as long as it does not exceed that. This time, it will pass inspection without any problems.

When you do DIY,Be sure to check the total height in advance and make sure it does not exceed 4cmPlease be careful. Alternatively, if you change the structure (change the overall height) at the time of vehicle inspection, it will be possible to install it.

Consideration for safety

Since the solar panel is a “structure” installed on the roof of the vehicle,Selection of parts that do not deteriorate over time, and strong fixing to prevent them from falling during drivingis required.

Even carriers that carry skis are required to periodically check their equipment for slack.

In addition, the battery system is very delicate, and a short circuit can quickly lead to a “fire.”Sufficient attention must be paid to the protection of wiring when laying electrical

Of course, we always try not to neglect regular safety checks before operation.

All DIY accidents are the responsibility of the individual, so if you are worried about your skills or knowledge, please do not overdo it.

At home, I have acquired a general knowledge of electricity on the job. Even so, when it came to installing solar panels, there were some things that I could not help but imitate.

I think everyone can reduce the risk of accidents and malfunctions by doing proper research in advance before starting work.


We introduced how to select solar panels, solar chargers, and actual installation work.

As I wrote earlier, it is necessary to pay close attention to DIY electrical equipment.

Even if you are accustomed to DIY, if you do it casually, it may lead to an unexpected accident.

If you are unsure about your knowledge or skills, do not hesitate to consult a professional.

DIY processing and modification may affect safety. In addition, you may not be able to receive after-sales support, etc., so please comply with laws, regulations, standards, etc. and do so at your own risk. If you are unsure, please check with your retailer before proceeding.

Writer: Sasaki Couple

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