Home Forums Truck Camper Adventure Forum Choosing a solar panel — how small can I go?

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    • #37269
      Kyle Banerjee

      I’m in the process of selecting a panel for a Capri Retreat on the back of my 2019 Ranger, and I’m trying to decide what size to get. More specifically, I’m wondering if a 50W panel would do the trick, or if I should go with 100W. The reason I don’t just go with 100W is both space and weight are at a premium since the wife and dog are usually with me.

      I have a single battery and need to power a 12v refrigerator, lights, and the roof fan. I tend to be in places where it’s cool at night (attached picture is from this past weekend, going to do a similar thing next weekend) so the fan rarely gets more than a couple hours. I’ve gone as much as 4 days without recharging, though batt was getting low by the time I got back.



    • #37272
      Mello Mike

      Since weight is such a big concern, I’d go with one of Zamp’s new obsidian series solar panels for the roof. Lighter but still packs a punch. They make 45 watt and 100 watt panels in this new series. Otherwise, I’d get a portable 100 watt panel.

      Zamp Unveils Lighter, Thinner Solar Panel

    • #37297
      John Perz

      To a certain extent, it depends on WHERE you camp. Someone who spends their time in the AZ desert can get by with less panel than someone who spends their time in the rainy, cloudy Pacific Northwest. Likewise, if you do all of your camping in heavy timber, you’ll need more panel than someone who camps on open grasslands.

      The higher you keep your battery(s) state-of-charge, the more cycles you’ll get from it and the longer it will last.

      I don't like to make plans. They cause the word "PREMEDITATED" to get used in court!
      My Body is a Temple! Ancient, Crumbling, Probably Cursed . . .

    • #37303

      You made no mention of LPG, so a large part of this answer will depend on your refer type (danfoss, lpg, etc). A 12v resistance-element will place a considerable load on a single battery, even with a 100w panel…BTW, most folks consider a 50w panel to be a battery maintainer…


    • #37408
      Kyle Banerjee

      Thanks for the feedback — sounds like 100W portable will be the ticket for me.

      Although my fridge is 12v only (no LPG), my electrical usage is low. However, I’m almost always in obscured conditions so 50W might not be enough.

      I have a Zamp solar ready port on the exterior of my camper — my understanding is that they’ve reversed the polarity. However, their panels are enough more that I’m inclined to explore cheaper options


    • #37938
      Coly Hope

      I have a Capri Maverick and am looking to get solar panels and maybe an inverter. Would like to hear how this all works out for you.

    • #37941
      Joel Gambino

      As a point of reference, I have 2, 100 watt panels and before I changed to a 12V compressor refrigerator, they were just enough to replace the power that I used during a 24 hr period. Since I added the compressor refrigerator, I usually run a small deficit unless I have lots of sun. I am adding a 160 Watt panel to bring the total to 360 watts. So, I would say you will need at least 100watts to go 4 days, maybe more. If you have a lead acid battery, you don’t want to go below 50% (which I think is around 12.0 Volts)

      Here’s a link to my solar install description: https://www.truckcamperadventure.com/forums/topic/my-solar-power-installation/


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