Solar Panels

(rev. 7/2016)

What’s the purpose of Solar Panels? Solar panels collect the sun’s energy and store it in your auxiliary battery/batteries.

Auxiliary batteries are standard with Sportsmobile’s Standard Equipment Package. The energy stored from solar panels is the same as when you run your van’s engine to have the van’s alternator charge your batteries. Or, when you are connected to a 110V hook-up or generator, your power converter/battery charger will keep your auxiliary batteries charged.

Do You Need Solar Panels? The question is, “Will you be camping for a long period of time, three to four days or longer, without starting the van’s engine or plugging into a 110V hook-up to charge the batteries?” If yes, figure out amp usage per day and the time parked in the sun. Then we can install the right size system for your needs. See amp usage below.

Keep in mind: When driving or plugged into a 110 volt hook-up or running generator, your solar panels are not charging the batteries. However, your van’s alternator or power converter/battery charger is. The panels are for recharging when you do not have a 110 volt hook-up or generator. In shade, panels are not producing much power, if any.

“We sometimes camp for a week or so without a hookup. Our two panels take care of our needs very well.”
— David and Julia Olsen

Solar Panel technology is changing rapidly. Photos show examples. Please contact Sportsmobile for latest wattage, dimensions, weights and colors.

One solar panel will pretty well take care of an electric refrigerator.

Two will normally take care of your refrigerator and provide plenty of power for 12V lights, water pump, attic fan, etc. Solar panels include an advanced designed Solar Controller and control panel (see below).

How many panels
can be installed?

RB Vans
• No attic fan or A/C – 4
• With attic fan and
A/C – 2
• With attic fan, no
A/C – 3

EB/LB Vans
• No attic fan or A/C – 5
• With attic fan and A/C – 3
• With attic fan, no A/C – 4

Warranty Standard 20 year power output warranty and 5 year workmanship warranty applies in USA. Standard 20 year power output warranty and 2 year workmanship warranty applies outside of USA. Refer to warranty policy for details.

Zamp ZS-30A Digital 3 Stage PWM Charge Controller

The Zamp Solar ZS-30A 12 Volt / 30 Amp Solar Controller / Regulator suits Gel,
AGM, Conventional lead-acid and Calcium Batteries.

It contains a built in regulator to prevent your battery from being overcharged. (Overcharging occurs when the charge voltage is unregulated. This can result in premature battery failure.)

The controller will stop charging when the battery is full and will automatically start charging the battery as required.

Protects your battery from discharge at night. Under low light or no light conditions the solar panel voltage could be less than the battery voltage. The unit contains a special circuit which prevents current flowing back from the battery and into the solar panel.

  • Colored LED’s to indicate the operational status and the charging progress for when a solar panel is connected.
  • PWM & 3 Stage Charging Technology
  • Digital LCD to Indicate Battery Voltage or Current. (Switch Selectable)
  • Surface Mount or Flush Panel Mount Options
  • For use with 12 Volt Systems Only.
    Suitable for Solar Panels up to 500 Watts.

Product Specifications subject to change without notice.

Pre-Wiring for Solar Panels
We can also pre-wire with a solar controller for customers who want to use a portable solar panel. We install a marine exterior 12 volt, 15 amp connection wired to a solar controller, then to the battery system. The panel can be mounted to the van’s roof or keep it portable so you can place it in the sun when you park in the shade.

“How many amps do I need?”
— Harry Rose

How Many Amps Do I Need?
This is a difficult question to answer without knowing your typical daily 12-volt needs. See our typical 12/110V requirement examples below. Knowing how many amp hours you will be using in a 24 hour period is critical in knowing how large a solar system is needed.

Amp usage:
One panel will produce about (depending on variables) 5 amps per hour of 12 volt power.
If you have 8 hours of sunlight, you will be able to put a max of 40 amp hours into your battery system.

A 4 CF refrigerator uses 2.8 amps per hour when it’s running.Most refrigerators will run for about 16 hours (or 65%) in a 24 hour period. 16 hrs x 2.8 amps = 49 amps. This is average daily amp consumption of the refrigerator.
If you put in 40 amps per day in the auxiliary battery and the refrigerator uses
about 49 amps, you will have a negative battery charge of about 9 amps over 24 hours.
Most customers like the security of a second solar panel, which will provide additional amps for 12V lights, water pump, TV, etc. Some order four panels.

Keep in mind: When driving or plugged into a 110 volt hook-up, your solar panels are not charging the auxiliary batteries. The panels are for recharging when you do not have a 110 volt hook-up or generator. If you park in the shade, the panels are not producing much power if any.
Also, solar panel output will vary with location, time and date as the sun’s angle changes. Note — product design can change. The specifications below can also change.

Typical 12/110V Requirements

Refrig. 3E – 2.7CF, Elect 2.5 (1) .11 30
Refrig. 4E – 3.6CF, Elect 2.8 (1) .2 34
Refrig. 7E – 7CF, Elect 3.2 (1) .4 132/1560 N/A Chevy Van.
Refrig. 6EP – 6CF, Elect/Prop 12 (1) 13 38.5 12/110V & Propane Refr. use lots of battery power. N/A Chevy Van.
TV – 22″ Flat Screen 4.2 50 TV can use .2 amp per hour even when switched “OFF.” Unplug TV to eliminate drain.

LED Lights .1 1.1
Water Pump 4 (1) 48
Fan 1.7 21
Attic Fan – On Low 1.9 23
Attic Fan – On Medium 2.3 28
Attic Fan – On High 3 36
Detectors: LP, CO, or Propane .2 2.4

A/C Danhard (ON HIGH) (S) 24 (1) 8.4 1,008
A/C Danhard w/Gen. (O) (S) 24 (1) (2) 6.8 816 (2) For 12V Blower Fan and Condenser Fan
Roof A/C 12,500 BTU (1) 12.9 1,425
Furnace (1) 56
Microwave 8 1,000
Water Heater, 110V (1) 12.9 1,500
Hair Dryer 3-4 350-500
Electric Blanket (1) .5-1.5 50-200
Computer .5 30-50 Depending on 12 volt load
Power Converter/Charger
0-4 0-500

Note: some items shown are options.
(S) not available for Sprinters

(1) These items will cycle on and off as power is required. Amp x Volts = Watts

Please keep in mind we offer over 20 different chassis sizes and models. All options are not available for all chassis. For details on compatibility please contact Sportsmobile. 

Sportsmobile Custom Camper Vans