Well I finally got around to fitting the Solar Panel provided by Leading Edge. I have to admit to knowing someone in the company so I have no hesitation in linking to their site. As a complete novice in this area I needed all the help I could get which is why I went to Leading Edge. David and Martin both talked me through the installation and along with notes made from the excellent A & N Caravan Services website I set about gathering all I needed.So what did I need?
1) Solar Panel (100w), cables and connections
2) Solar panel controller (Schaudt LRM1218)
3) Solar panel readout panel (Schaudt LT320)
4) All appropriate connectors
5) Cleaning compound and mounting glue for the solar panel spoilers and cable gland.
6) A willingness to drill a hole in something that is meant to keep you dry!!
The last point being the most scary. The solar panel came with all the necessary, 5m cable (more on this later), connectors, mounting spoilers and cable entry gland.
The solar panel controller came with all the necessary connections for all the different options that are possible (connection direct to batteries (not recommended), connection via Electroblok with analogue 12v panel (IT 992) or a more modern digital readout panel. The cabling that came with the controller allows for starter battery charging and limits/controls the amount of charge going to the batteries, first charging the leisure batteries and once they are full will charge the starter battery only if required.
The Schaudt solar panel readout panel (LT320) also comes with all the necessary instructions and cable connections (essentially only data supply from the controller).
I would recommend downloading the pdf’s for both the controller and the readout panel from the Schaudt website. Thoroughly read it all and ‘visualise’ how it all fits together and works before attempting to fit. Of course there are those of you that will be familiar with electrics and 12v systems so it could be a breeze for these people. For those like me who are unfamiliar with all this, the pdf instructions and the A & N Caravan Services website are a must for reference.
The only way I could get through this is by writing EVERYTHING down starting with what I thought was the obvious. I have taken a photograph of my notes just to show you how little I know about these things and how much assistance I need!
The very first notecheck – the leisure battery type (as the MPPT controller needs to know). The main thing to sort out first was the cable run – make sure you have enough! With 5m I only just had enough (although I could have mounted the solar panel a little more forward if necessary). I am not going to run through the whole procedure as it would be rather dry and boring. What I will say is that one of the very first jobs to do is to sort out your cable run and where the controller will be fitted (has to be close to the Electroblok).
The information that you can get from the Schaudt website is really useful, download pdf’s of all that is necessary. All the necessary cables come with the controller for the different set up’s you might have. Follow the instructions and you should not go far wrong. Just to prove that all was working when finished I switched all the lights and the extractor fan on at the same time – the readout panel gave a magnificent 5.2A being fed back in to the batteries (it was sunny with a little light cloud).