Review – 100W Solar Panel Kit

Description of It We self-installed a 100W 12V solar panel kit to our Hymer B544. It is connected to a single 100Ah leisure battery and charges it during hours of daylight. We bought the panel as part of a kit, which included the panel, 4 angle brackets and bolts, 5m of cable, a charge regulator and a roof entry gland. It didn’t include any Sikaflex glue, or Sikaflex primer.

How We Use It We probably don’t get as much out of our panel as we should. We drive often, so the leisure battery gets at least an hour’s charge from the engine every day or two, usually more. We use LED lighting, haven’t had the heating on much, don’t use a TV and charge gadgets infrequently. On the other hand, when we are parked up for a few days, it is a comfort knowing the battery is being topped up and feels great watching the top LED flashing on the controller, showing the battery is almost full.
What Do We Love?
  • I’m an amateur but managed to install it OK myself, and it’s showing no signs of coming loose or leaking water after six months
  • Apart from the Sikaflex glue and primer, the kit included everything we needed
  • It’s a great feeling knowing we are generating our own power and means we hardly every pay for hook-up, even on campsites
  • The pre-installed wire ducts in our van made wire routing really easy
And What’s Not so Great?
  • We’re not convinced it is the best solution for us. Maybe we could just run the engine each day to top off the battery (noisy though) or have a second leisure battery (adds more weight though)?
  • The instructions for the charge controller were incomprehensible! They were a comical Chinese to English translation. Having said that, it was very easy to fit, and I made lots of references to YouTube videos on the subject which helped a lot.
Our Summary Our rating is a combined one, for the seller, the kit and for our subsequent use of it. We bought from the solar-supplier eBay UK seller and were very happy with them. The instructions were a real let down, but with all the YouTube videos I worked around them. The panel is working perfectly, although as it is fixed flat and it’s not seen summer yet, we’ve seen nothing like 100W from it. To measure the output more than just seeing 4 LEDs flashing, you’ll need a multi meter. As we drive so often, it’s possible we don’t need the panel at all, but it is a really great feeling having it there helping us stay off grid.
Where Can I Get It? We bought our panel, wire and regulator as a kit, as I didn’t know enough about the individual components to try and select them myself. After checking around eBay and other sites, I settled on a kit from lensunhk, now called solar-supplier on eBay. Their latest version of the kit is available here (£256 including shipping), although it has plastic mounting brackets while ours are aluminium.We bought Sikaflex 221 glue and Sikaflex 210T primer from www.aireandsun.co.uk. They were very good, selling me just the quantity of primer I needed.