Leading 4WD motoring journalist and photographer, Ray Cully from Get Behind The Wheel recently reviewed the 115W SOLAR BLANKET SUNPOWER® CELLS. His article was recently published in the West Australian West Wheels weekly 4WD column.
Many campers now enjoy the benefits of quiet, passive-solar power, obtaining free energy from the sun to extend the operational capacity of auxiliary batteries and techno gadgets, while keeping the fridge running.
So what’s the best option? Fixed or hard folding solar panels are ideal for permanent storage on caravans, campers or canopy rooftops.
The latest in folding solar blankets provide four-wheel drivers wanting to travel light with much greater flexibility for positioning, excellent overall size versus capacity, and compact size for storage and transport.
With that in mind, I was keen to have a closer look at REDARC's latest solar blanket option, the SunPower Cells SSF1115.
From first unpacking, there’s a positive impression of attention to detail given the visual finish and quality materials used in its construction.
Even the cables and connectors are all robust heavy components, setting up the expectation that Red Arc designed the equipment for longevity and reliability.
Our set-up consisted of an 115W solar blanket, 10 amp power regulator with multistage charging for boost, absorption and float voltages, remote monitor to keep an eye on things, and heavy-duty extension cable pack.
Talk about plug and play; it doesn’t get any easier than this.
Lay the blanket across the front windscreen (which also helps keep the vehicle cool) and plug the blanket into the regulator via a solid SB50 Anderson harness.
Hook the regulator to the vehicle battery via alligator clips, click in the monitor, and job done.
REDARC'S solar blanket brings portability to a new level — this kit can be moved easily from vehicle to vehicle. Extended, its 1080mm long and 930mm wide, but folds down to not much more than a laptop. And it’s an impressive one-third of the weight of a similar-sized hard folding panel.
There is no glossy easy-to scratch surface or grid lines, thanks to the UV resistant, anti-reflective ETFE non-stick coating, which protects the cells from corrosion and makes clean-up a simple wipe over before storage.
Beneath the tough outer coating you’ve got a solid copper backing with robust connectors to ensure the panel’s efficiency, durability and reliability in the toughest conditions.
Monocrystalline cells as used in the SF1115 provide greater efficiency over polycrystalline cells and generally use a smaller footprint than amorphous cells for the equivalent output. REDARC indicates an output power of 114.8W with a maximum voltage of 19.8volts and current of 5.8amps. To work out what solar panel capacity you need, visit the REDARC website at redarc.com.au/calculator/solar and use their calculator to work out your power requirements.
Investing in a quality solar system will ensure you have many years of trouble-free operation.
We thank Ray Cully who has allowed us to republish this article with his permission.