When I first started using Solar in February 2015 I didn’t know one thing about it. I was so pleased with myself when I impulsively ran out to Harbor Freight and bought a Solar Panel kit. The picture on the front depicted this big Class C with the same panel sitting outside of it. It sure looked big enough for me to charge my Laptop and telephone and probably a few other things as well.
I said I did it impulsively because I had spent days researching online and all the information made my eyes cross. I didn’t understand any of it.
So this panel was only 45 watts and it was 3 large15 watt panels that I had to put together each time I needed to use it. I bought 2 deep cell marine batteries and a 750 watt inverter as well. Of course it was nowhere near what I needed – too little wattage in the panels and more than I needed in an inverter and batteries for those panels to charge.
Now, today, in 2021 I have learned a great deal and I hope my experience can help you in some small way. This is not a “How to” conversation. Everyone’s needs are different and there are MANY MANY variables in order for you to figure out YOUR needs.
My needs were simple. I wanted to charge my phone, my tablet and my laptop. A guy who I met along the way told me that the best rule of thumb for my simple needs was to figure that I would need 100 watts of solar power for each `12v deep cycle lead acid battery I had. I realized that I really only needed 1 suitcase 100watt solar panel with a charge controller included and 1 12v deep cycle battery and a 400 watt inverter or less.
This is the setup I have been using when tent camping. I have a different setup in my converted school bus, but this handles my needs.
I hope this helps some of you.