With the weather starting to heat up, it’s time to start getting ready for those summer camping trips.
One thing that is often overlooked when making sure your 4wd, caravan or camper trailer is ready to hit the road is solar. No matter what type of solar panel setup you’re running, they all need a little care to make sure they’re working at their best.
Being permanently fixed to your roof, fixed solar panels are more likely to accumulate a layer of dust, tree sap, bugs and other grime simply from being exposed to the elements at all times. Having this layer of dirt essentially creates a barrier between the sun and the panel, meaning your solar panel is likely to function at a lower capacity.
Caring for your fixed panel is really easy, and only takes a few minutes whether you’re at home or on the road already. Just grab a wet microfibre rag and wipe down the panel, dry it off and you’re good to go. It’s recommended to clean your panels in the morning or evening when they’re cool, as fixed panels can get quite hot.
While you’re cleaning your panel, making sure they’re still secure and properly mounted is important. Using proper solar panel mounting brackets means that your panels are securely mounted and won’t rattle and vibrate while you’re driving.
To keep your panels performing at their best while you’re on the road, you’ll want to make sure they’re not parked under a tree or in the shade and that if any leaves or debris fall on them, it’s brushed off as to not get in the way of the sun.
Portable folding panels & solar blankets
While portable folding panels or solar blankets might not get as dirty as fixed panels which are constantly exposed to the elements, it’s still worth making sure your panels are given a bit of love to ensure you’re getting as much solar power back into your battery as possible.
When cleaning your portable panels and solar blankets, you’ll want to make sure they’re totally cool and unplugged before wiping down. While it can be difficult as they’re normally on the ground, trying to keep your portable panels as free from dirt, dust and sand as possible will help in preventing scratches and allow it to achieve the best charging performance. When cleaning, you’ll want to steer clear of any chemical cleaning agents, and just stick with using water.
Similarly, to fixed panels, we recommend using a damp microfibre cloth or sponge to remove the dirt and dust and then dry with a dry cloth. You’ll want to make sure your panels are totally dry before folding them away. When travelling with your folding panels or solar blanket, making sure they’re always packed away and stored in a cool, secure, dry place will ensure their longevity for all your future trips.
Maintaining your Anderson connections
For solar panels that are connected via Anderson plugs, you’ll also want to check that your Anderson connections are secure. Dirty or damaged Anderson connections can impact on your solar charging capacity. To make sure your Anderson connections are in the best shape, you’ll want to make sure there are no obvious signs of melting or discolouration and that they click together securely.
If the pins are a little dirty there are a few household items you can use to clean them out. We recommend cleaning them out with a cotton bud and some alcohol or WD-40, a small metal brush or even some wet & dry sandpaper.
If you’re looking to get a solar setup ready for your spring and summer trips but aren’t sure where to start, check out our setting up solar for beginners.