Adding a solar panel

A solar panel is a wonderful thing, you get free energy from the sun, granted in the UK that yellow thing in the sky is a rarity  however once you get out of blighty and into warmer climes it comes into it’s own.

For our van the solar panel will keep the 110Ah gel leisure or house battery as our friends in the US call it topped up when we aren’t on the move. There are a number of things that will be hooked up to the leisure battery.

  1. Maxxair fan
  2. Diesel heater
  3. usb sockets x 2
  4. water pump
  5. cabin lights
  6. fridge lights
  7. aircon light

There are calculators you can use but based on my past experience with our T4 a 100watt panel will do the trick, the only things from the above list that would be on for any length of time are the LED lights which are extremely low power and the maxxair fan, again, at a low level not drawing much juice.

I bought a kit from ebay for about 100 quid and set about installing it..

The panel is a rigid one, on my T4 I used flexible panels just because they were a bit more incognito, the sprinter is a hightop van and has a whole load of stuff on the roof so the solar panel doesn’t look out of place.

First thing to do is install mounts to the panel, then take the whole thing up on the roof and work out where you are going to put it.


I used some foam underneath each foot to make a gasket, I then used self tapper screws to fix to the roof.

Once it’s fixed to the roof take a selfie for social media purposes.

The kit I came with had an entry box for the cables, I routed them into the entry box, drilled a couple of holes through the roof, fed the cables through and then used sikaflex to stick and seal the box to the roof.

The underside of the installation looks far less glamorous.

I used grommets for the cable entry holes to protect the cable from sharp metal edges and a bit of silicon under each screw for extra water proofing.

I didn’t use the solar controller that came with the kit as my Ctek unit has a controller built in, it was about a month or so after I installed the panel till I actually hooked it up but when I eventually did it worked like a charm keeping the battery nicely topped up.