The Minimalist Solar Package
This setup works well if you:
- Plan to install in a minivan/car
- Want a lightweight setup that is aerodynamic
- Plan to run a laptop, USB charger, and some LED lights (but do not plan to run any large motors/microwaves or large appliances)
- 50-150 amp hour deep cycle battery
- 100-200 watt solar panel and a MPPT charge controller (PWM controller if on a tight budget)
- 500 watt inverter
What I recommend
Buy this battery:
If you plan to use your system for less than 3 years, and weight is not an issue, you can buy this battery instead:
Buy 100- 200 watts of Solar Panels:
Glass solar panel:
Weight: 16.5 pounds
Click here to buy a high quality 100 watt glass solar panel
Flexible Solar Panel:
41.8 x 21.7 x 1.3 inches
Click Here for a high quality 100 watt flexible solar panel
Choose a Solar Charge Controller:
If you are on a budget, a cheap PWM controller will work... but I highly recommend buying an MPPT charge controller. The increased efficiency of an MPPT charge controller makes it worth the money. The MPPT will take care of your batteries better in the long run (it has temperature compensation and other battery maintenance features). The MPPT controller below will also let you know how much power your solar panels is producing (if you buy the MT-50 with it). There are more reasons that I could list, but buying a MPPT is a no-brainer. Spend the extra money and buy it (unless you absolutely cannot afford to do so).
Recommended MPPT Charge Controller
Max. Solar Input Power:
260 watts of solar panels
This charger has over-current protection which means that the figures above can be doubled!
20 amp MPPT charge controller (98% efficiency)
Recommended MPPT Accessories:
Temperature Compensation Module (click here)
MT-50 Control Display and Interface (click here)
Recommended PWM Controller
Buy an inverter:
Either one below works great and will power a laptop, lights, a fridge and more!
Solar Panel Cable Entry Gland
When your solar panel array wires enter your vehicle, you will need to drill two holes. Use this cover to prevent roof leaks from developing.
Solar Panel Mounts:
Every vehicle is different, so check out my book or this page (click here) to figure out how to mount your solar panels
Crimp Connector set
There are cheaper crimp connector sets available, but they are junk! Spend the extra money and buy a high quality set of connectors. The cheap chinese ones will fail and I have had it happen before. This is what I currently use:
When connecting fans or lights or pretty much anything, use these quick connectors that are rated to 60 amps! I have used them for years for my rc airplanes and helicopters, but they are insanely useful for living in a rv.