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Hi, help required please. I’m confused, are they worth it? Which is the best to have installed, I understand that normally 100 watt crystalline is the norm? We have a 2017 lunar Clubman Sr, but having spoken with our dealer he’s just informed me that they have problems running solar panels via the Sargent EC500 PSU, the psu in question has a fuse which says “solar panel” the control panel above the door also has a solal panel indication on it which suggests to me that a solar panel can be fitted using the vans system, but as I said, the dealer in question appears to be reluctant to use this, they said today that they’ve experienced problems in the past, but they’re happy to fit a trauma panel for £450 directly to the battery. Does anyone have any ideas

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Just a suggestion. Simple solution is a folding panel (mine is 150w), just plug it into the 12v / 10amp solar socket in the battery box, or connect direct to battery, IP66  waterproof controller on back of panel.

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I take it your camping off grid most of the time? No point in having one if you always have hookup.

 

With a solar panel you have two choices, roof mounted or freestanding

 

Roof mounting gives the advantage that it is fit and forget, but the disadvantage that it's more expensive  and not able to be positioned in the most ideal angle to face the sun.

 

Freestanding gives the advantage that they are cheaper and can be moved by hand to face directly at the sun, but the disadvantage that you have to store it somewhere, it wont keep your battery topped up in storage and you have to move it by hand as the sun moves across the sky.

 

I personally went with the freestanding because I got 120w for £120. My battery is like this

https://advancedbatterysupplies. co. uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/cxv27-numax-leisure-battery. jpg

so I have double poles and can screw eyelet connectors directly onto the battery from the solar panel, it takes about 2 minutes to do. I don't keep my batter in the caravan in storage, I take it home and recharge it on a smart charge, in fact i don't even tow with it in place, I'd rather the 30kg was in my rear passenger footwell low down in the centre of the car.

Edited by anthdci

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I have been using a solar system directly coupled to the van's battery since 1996, with zero problems.

 

Note solar "system" ie a panel coupled via a solar controller. Since 2006 it has been an 85 Watt Kyocera multi crystalline used via a Morngstar PWM controller, both very high quality items.

 

Whilst in 2006 the panel cost £400ish, decent panels these days purchased with care would save at least two thirds of that old price. I did everything DIY.

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11 hours ago, anthdci said:

I'd rather the 30kg was in my rear passenger footwell low down in the centre of the car.

That's not a good thing to do for several reasons:-

IF there was any leakage you will transfer battery acid to your cars interior

There a possibility of shorting the terminals out unless protected (a friend had an umberella roll off the back seat in a similar situation, his car was burned out).

Its possible for the battery to be giving off Hydrogen and Oxygen to the interior of the car (hope you don't smoke)

The most dangerous one is in the case of an accident  a 30Kg lump full of acid flying round the car doesn't bode well. If your battery isnt secured properly on the car it will fail an MOT for good reason, to have it inside with you really is a bad idea.

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Thanks all for the responses, any One any ideas Re the lunar control panel

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The choice between a fixed panel and a free standing one has been well summarised here.  But in my opinion If comes down to efficency vs convenience.  A free standing panel is potentially more efficient than a fixed panel because it can be aimed at the sun.  I say potentially because if have lost count of the number of free standing SPs that are facing entirely the wrong direction or blown over:D    Properly used a you need a much smaller freestanding panel than a roof mounted panel.  The advantage of a roof mounted panel has two linked advantages convenience nothing to setup and it’s always on.  Because we have the caravan in storage we have opted for a fixed panel.  If it was at home connected to electric then I might of made a different decision.  

 

I have no knowledge of the Sargent PSU that the OP has.  The solar input is slightly misleading as connecting to this removes the need to connect direct to the battery.  It does not remove the need for a seperate controller.  The PSU in our caravan has such a connection point and I have a lead that goes from the controller output to this.  For me this is one less set of cable onto the battery.

I have always thought that the Truma systems are very expensive.  When I fitted my panel which was 150W panel and a Morningstar controller and display (which aren’t cheap) with bits and pieces cost me arround £280.  Check the prices on the net (try EBay first) and you will see how cheap panels have become.    I self fitted mine and as a diy job it was simple to do drilling the hole in the roof is bit that takes nerve but it’s not rocket science.  

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I can't help with your query regarding connecting to a Lunar control panel as my Lunar Clubman SB is a 2011 model without that facility.

 

However, just to add to the debate I installed a roof mounted 100w panel connected directly to our battery via a charge controller. Its primary purpose is to keep the battery charged during storage but it also helps when going off-grid.  

 

If you go the roof mounted route for off-grid use I suggest installing the largest panel possible and not worrying about the efficiency.  

 

Our panel adds about 5Kg to the payload.

 

I wrote about its installation HERE.

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Our clubman SR (2018) has a roof mounted 150W panel, with the controller mounted next to battery box. The controller is wired directly to battery (via fuse). 

I did enquire about having it wired through the Sargent box,  The box can only handle up to 100W, so no good for my panel.  

As far as I recall, you still need the solar controller and a harness wiring lead, which is simply a cable with suitable plug to go into the Sargent box.  

Although it would be nice to be able to see  the charge rate on the over door control panel, I find that just been able to observe an increase in battery voltage gives me confidence the battery is charging.  

So far, with 12 months of use, not had any issues. , when using van. However, when in storage, I need to charge the battery every six weeks or so (alarm and tracker)  BUT our van is stored inside, so the solar has no chance.  

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13 minutes ago, DaveMiller said:

I can't help with your query regarding connecting to a Lunar control panel as my Lunar Clubman SB is a 2011 model without that facility.

 

However, just to add to the debate I installed a roof mounted 100w panel connected directly to our battery via a charge controller. Its primary purpose is to keep the battery charged during storage but it also helps when going off-grid.  

 

If you go the roof mounted route for off-grid use I suggest installing the largest panel possible and not worrying about the efficiency.  

 

Our panel adds about 5Kg to the payload.

 

I wrote about its installation HERE.

Many thanks Dave I’m going to research costs, I’m pretty handy my self so I may have a go, I like the directly fitting to the roof

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I have a 50w Kyocera multi crystalline freestanding panel to a Morningstar controller under the seat near the battery which has kept the battery full for a lot of years while we have been off hook up, plenty of tv usage included.

I've since stuck 90w to the roof for charging while the caravan isn't used, ok in summer but not very good this time of year, the roof ones go through thick solar cable to another Morningstar controller which is also is  near under the front seat near the battery box, with hindsight this should have been at least 150w.

 

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There are plenty of controllers that show you what the panel is passing to the battery.  Some simply have lights in various combinations.  Mine gives me the battery volts and how many amps are being generated.  More use to me that a green flashing light.  

 

Yes the kits kits sold by truma etc at the dealers are daylight robbery price wise. As for the Sergeant problem,  never take a dealers word. Ring or preferably email Sergeant and ask them.  I find a series of definite questions works best. Eg What power can it handle ?  

 

We we are mostly off grid.   100w on the roof and a plug in 60w free standingthat is used when needed.  I am considering adding more to the roof (flexible light weight) as moving the 60 w can be a pain  

 

 

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1 minute ago, Alan Stanley said:

There are plenty of controllers that show you what the panel is passing to the battery.  Some simply have lights in various combinations.  Mine gives me the battery volts and how many amps are being generated.  More use to me that a green flashing light.  

 

Yes the kits kits sold by truma etc at the dealers are daylight robbery price wise. As for the Sergeant problem,  never take a dealers word. Ring or preferably email Sergeant and ask them.  I find a series of definite questions works best. Eg What power can it handle ?  

 

We we are mostly off grid.   100w on the roof and a plug in 60w free standingthat is used when needed.  I am considering adding more to the roof (flexible light weight) as moving the 60 w can be a pain  

 

 

 

The flexible lightweight seem to have a short lifespan before they go opaque and loose efficiency, I don't know if all makes are included in the problem.

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The charge controller fitted to ours is https://www. solartechnology. co. uk/solar-panels/solar-accessories/charge-controllers-voltage-regulators?product_id=466

 

It can be used with their Bluetooth app on your phone 

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I’m sure if the op decides to go the diy route then I am plenty on here that can provide advice and a shopping list.    My advice before shopping would be planning.

I agree to go for the largest possible panel if roof mounting.  But check first it will fit on your roof.  I mocked up a cardboard template just to check.  I can and have walked on my roof.  I don’t know how structurally sound a lunar roof is?   I would also check out on YouTube the effect of shading has on solar output it can be huge.  MPPT controllers have definite theoretical advantages. If you buy a controller for £15 off the net it won’t be mppt no mater what it says on the outside.  I am sure other advice will be forthcoming.  

 

 

 

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Lunars used to have a so-called "floating roof", ie a skinning not bonded all over to the foam substrate but a weather proof sheet of possibly alloy fixed only at its edges, and roof furniture edges.

 

Whilst others have simply bonded solar panels onto this it has some serious issues that may or may not manifest over time; there is nothing fixing it down vertically unless you provide that to structure underneath. Another planning area to find where you can  fix to that securing structure that aligns with the panels fixing.

A semi flexible might ease fixing issues, but note these panels are only semi flexible in the sense you can fit them to curved surfaces, IMO they are not well suited to bouncing around in wind buffeting whilst towing or the significant movements as the roof heats up and cools[ the very reason they use a floating roof]. 

 

If as is generally the trend the roof is a 100% bonded sandwich, then this is not an issue, nor is only bonding  to mount the panel, if done correctly though that's little challenge, if read up on beforehand.

 

 

Edited by JTQ

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I was earlier yesterday looking at flexible panels.   The price seems to have come down a lot to less than £1 per watt.   I wish I could recommend one because the weight saving compared to a standard framed panel is huge.   But there still seems to be some issues with both premature failure and them becoming opaque.   I suppose you pay your money and take your choice.

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Our van is a dealer special and came with a 100W panel and a Truma controller, never liked the controller and it's being changed to a Votronic mppt controller.

The solar panel has been big enough most of the time but a few times in the autumn the battery was low and we had to find a CL with electric. I will probably buy a freestanding solar panel to help. If I was starting from scratch I would check if a LG 360W solar panel would fit on the roof.

 

The semiflex panels are light but does not seem to last.

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On 29/01/2019 at 11:24, fred said:

I’m sure if the op decides to go the diy route then I am plenty on here that can provide advice and a shopping list.    My advice before shopping would be planning.

I agree to go for the largest possible panel if roof mounting.  But check first it will fit on your roof.  I mocked up a cardboard template just to check.  I can and have walked on my roof.  I don’t know how structurally sound a lunar roof is?   I would also check out on YouTube the effect of shading has on solar output it can be huge.  MPPT controllers have definite theoretical advantages. If you buy a controller for £15 off the net it won’t be mppt no mater what it says on the outside.  I am sure other advice will be forthcoming.  

 

 

 

I’m not sure anything is sound on a lunar, we had a mild-ish hail storm in France last year, now the roof is full of dents, basically, lunar are bad language  removed vansbut we do love, it spoke with a dealer recently that sells about six different manufacturers vans and he said in his opinion all vans produced from 2014 up to today are rubbish, Friday afternoon builds, he’s not come across a van made in this period that’s worth buying and he’s selling them

Hi again, decided to buy and fit my own panel, has anyone out there drilled through the roof of a 2017 lunar Clubman Sr ? If so any suggestions. I. e. do you know if there is anything running through the roof electrics wise ?

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49 minutes ago, Johnnyboy1 said:

I’m not sure anything is sound on a lunar, we had a mild-ish hail storm in France last year, now the roof is full of dents, basically, lunar are bad language  removed vans but we do love, it spoke with a dealer recently that sells about six different manufacturers vans and he said in his opinion all vans produced from 2014 up to today are rubbish, Friday afternoon builds, he’s not come across a van made in this period that’s worth buying and he’s selling them

Hi again, decided to buy and fit my own panel, has anyone out there drilled through the roof of a 2017 lunar Clubman Sr ? If so any suggestions. I. e. do you know if there is anything running through the roof electrics wise ?

 

2013 we were in Southern France and temp was 32c within mins we were hit by thunder and hailstone storm passed within 10 mins every van, car and tent were wrecked 3 people were killed in the village whilst walking, the chateau windows were smashed, our car needed extensive body repairs and the van a 2010 Coachman Pastiche (with floating roof) had hundreds of dents, the roof windows were smashed, the van had to go back to Coachman for repair (new roof),  So I wouldn't say Lunar roofs were any worse than any other make, as thin material will dent at the lightest of impacts. By the way the hailstones were about 3" dia but very mis-shaped. .

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2 hours ago, Johnnyboy1 said:

I’m not sure anything is sound on a lunar, we had a mild-ish hail storm in France last year, now the roof is full of dents, basically, lunar are bad language  removed vansbut we do love, it spoke with a dealer recently that sells about six different manufacturers vans and he said in his opinion all vans produced from 2014 up to today are rubbish, Friday afternoon builds, he’s not come across a van made in this period that’s worth buying and he’s selling them

Hi again, decided to buy and fit my own panel, has anyone out there drilled through the roof of a 2017 lunar Clubman Sr ? If so any suggestions. I. e. do you know if there is anything running through the roof electrics wise ?

Believing that the electric installation on any 2 Lunar’s is perhaps a tad optimistic.  If you don’t have one I think that a hole saw is a good investment.  I think that I used a 19 mm one. I used a bit of scrap wood and some flat wood bits to drill holes to workout what was the best size.  

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On 29/01/2019 at 07:02, AJGalaxy2012 said:

That's not a good thing to do for several reasons:-

IF there was any leakage you will transfer battery acid to your cars interior

There a possibility of shorting the terminals out unless protected (a friend had an umberella roll off the back seat in a similar situation, his car was burned out).

Its possible for the battery to be giving off Hydrogen and Oxygen to the interior of the car (hope you don't smoke)

The most dangerous one is in the case of an accident  a 30Kg lump full of acid flying round the car doesn't bode well. If your battery isnt secured properly on the car it will fail an MOT for good reason, to have it inside with you really is a bad idea.

 

They are in boxes, I was scored when I got my first caravan and tried to recharge the battery that came with it. Well, that battery was busted and it leaked acid all over a wooden table. Not a happy wife.

 

I don't smoke and batteries don't give off anything when they are sitting ideal. I don't charge them in the car.

 

I'll take the advice on about securing them on board, but they are pretty jammed in there, the rear seats are always down so the headrests hold them down. I'd be more concerned about a loose bottle of gin coming flying forwards than either of those batteries moving

 

I still think a 120kg swing towards the car with the precautions I have is sensible. But I do have a steel dog guard that I can either have between the rear seats and boot or between the front seats and rear seats. I'll move it to the later when I'm loading stuff in there just incase.

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3 hours ago, anthdci said:

 

They are in boxes, I was scored when I got my first caravan and tried to recharge the battery that came with it. Well, that battery was busted and it leaked acid all over a wooden table. Not a happy wife.

 

I don't smoke and batteries don't give off anything when they are sitting ideal. I don't charge them in the car.

 

I'll take the advice on about securing them on board, but they are pretty jammed in there, the rear seats are always down so the headrests hold them down. I'd be more concerned about a loose bottle of gin coming flying forwards than either of those batteries moving

 

I still think a 120kg swing towards the car with the precautions I have is sensible. But I do have a steel dog guard that I can either have between the rear seats and boot or between the front seats and rear seats. I'll move it to the later when I'm loading stuff in there just incase.

It is entirely your choice,, if youre confident with it thats great.

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Hello Guys,

 

Firstly thank you very much for the advice on this thread.

I have decided to go for a portable setup. I think that the 15A PV Logic MPPT Pro charge controller would be suitable but could anyone recommend a good portable panel manufacturer? i don't know the size yet as I will measure up the front window and Long roof light and decide which manufacture does one that will fit. we don't do much off grid this would be just for winter store as we have alarm and tracker and movers that are needed from the go.

Regards,

warren.

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3 minutes ago, warrentdo said:

Hello Guys,

 

Firstly thank you very much for the advice on this thread.

I have decided to go for a portable setup. I think that the 15A PV Logic MPPT Pro charge controller would be suitable but could anyone recommend a good portable panel manufacturer? i don't know the size yet as I will measure up the front window and Long roof light and decide which manufacture does one that will fit. we don't do much off grid this would be just for winter store as we have alarm and tracker and movers that are needed from the go.

Regards,

warren.

 

If reading this correctly putting solar panels internally behind our moulded windows is going to massively degrade their performance. The more so in winter with the shallow sun angles and from that shadows thrown by window frames and  the contours in the plastic window itself..

It will yield some, but only a fraction of what it could and the sensitivity will be affected by the intercell connections the panel maker adopts; most are exceedingly poor in part shaded applications.

If the van does not need much topping up, then it can work, but if it does not need much topping up then there could be better ways to cope with that.

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