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How does a solar power system work?typical solar power system
In simple terms, energy from the sun is captured by a solar panel which converts it into DC electricity.  
The power is stored in a battery bank for use when you need it.  12V DC power can be taken straight from the battery bank to run 12V appliances and the likes of 12V LED lighting.
An inverter is used to change the DC power to AC (mains) power capable of running all of your modern appliances.
A generator can be added to the system as a backup for charging the battery bank when there is a lack of solar energy to harvest or heavy loads are being put on the system.
How much power will you need?
This is a little like asking how long a piece of string is, as everyone's power usage is different.  However, we have an example below of what may be considered typical needs when camping.  
                     typical power usage chart
Your batteries are measured in amp hours (Ah) and you need to make sure that your total battery bank Ah is enough to cover your needs plus a buffer - just in case.  
To calculate your daily requirements, take the Watt (A) rating of your appliance and multiply it by hours (B) of use.  Divide this figure by volts which will give you your amp hours (Ah) required to run the appliance.  A x B divided by volts = Ah.  Do the same for each of your appliances.  Add all these figures up to give you your total Ah requirements per day.
A typical setup on an RV or caravan is made up of 3 Kyocera KD135 solar panels and 3 120Ah Fullriver deep cycle batteries.  
The rule of thumb is to have at least one deep cycle battery per panel - the solar panels will keep producing power as long as they are exposed to the sun, but you need to have enough storage for that power.
Why do I need a regulator? 
A solar regulator controls the energy running into your batteries, delivering constant voltage battery charging. This means your batteries will last longer, your solar system will be more reliable and you will get more energy from your solar panels. 
A solar regulator prevents your batteries from over charging or heating, thereby extending their life. As batteries are one of the more expensive components of your system, you need to look after them well. A solar regulator will do this for you. 
Pulse width modulation (PWM) and maximum power point tracker (MPPT) techno-logies adjust charging rates depending on the battery’s level, to allow charging closer to its maximum capacity. 
What is MPPT all about?
Morningstar’s TrakStar Maximum Power Point Tracking Technology (MPPT) is an advanced control algorithm that maximises the energy harvest from your solar panels and in to your battery bank. MPPT recognises multiple power points during shading and also provides excellent performance at sunrise and low solar levels. 
MPPT regulators can provide up to 25% more power than a standard regulator. 
What is a Deep Cycle battery? 
Deep Cycle batteries are especially designed to have more capacity and a high cycle life - meaning your batteries last a lot longer. 
We stock Fullriver Deep Cycle AGM batteries. They are totally sealed, so there is no maintenance, you’re not exposed to gases or fumes and they are spill & leakproof.  AGM batteries have faster recharge times than flooded batteries and excellent recovery from deep discharge. 
So what’s an AGM Deep Cycle battery then?
AGM stands for absorbed glass mat. AGM Deep Cycle batteries have many advantages over standard batteries including - 
~  AGM batteries are totally sealed, ‘transport’ classed as spill proof and never
    need topping up with water.  Ever! 
~ They can be installed at any angle (except upside down.) 
~ They have very rapid recharge times - much faster than gel cell and lead acid
~ They have a low self discharge rate. 
~ They can be mounted inside a car, caravan, motorhome etc and only need to be
    vented to atmosphere - they do not need to be in a sealed box vented to the
    outside like wet batteries, and can be mounted on their sides or ends if needed. 
~ AGM batteries were originally developed for the military, they are very robust and can take a real pounding. 
What does an inverter do? 
An inverter takes the DC power stored in your battery bank and changes it into 240V AC mains power. True or Pure sine wave inverters supply clean electricity for modern demanding appliances, such as fridges, microwaves and washing machines
What size inverter will I need? 
The general rule of thumb for sizing an inverter is to multiply the largest running load at any one point by two. 
What sort of battery charger should I get?
Batteries can be fussy beasts and need to be handled kindly.  That way they will last a lot longer, and as one of the more expensive components of your system, you want to get as long a life out of them as possible.
A ‘smart charger’ like the Victron range of chargers cares for your batteries by performing a series of stages during the charging process to disulphate, revive, charge, condition and maintain all types of lead-acid batteries.
Smart Battery Chargers stay in constant communication with the battery throughout the charging procedure, charging only to meet the needs of the battery so that you don’t need to worry about over or under charging the battery and reducing its lifespan as a result. 
Victron also produce inverter/chargers - so the one unit carries out two functions - both charging and inverter.
Is a DC generator the way to go? 
The simple answer is yes! Unlike AC power, DC power can be stored. DC power generated by your solar panels or generator is held in your Deep Cycle Battery bank for use whenever you want it. 
The ability to store DC power lengthens the life of your generator - rather than running 24/7, it is only needed to top up your batteries. DC generators use variable speed technology, providing up to 40% savings in fuel use and extending the engines life. DC generators are as much as 15% more efficient at producing power than AC generators. 
High demand starting is no problem for a DC power system - power is drawn from the battery bank, so no stress is placed on your generator. This means you can use a smaller generator - taking up less valuable real estate. 
Your stored DC power is easily transformed into AC (mains) power using a pure sine wave inverter. This gives you clean power capable of running all of your modern appliances. 
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