5 Considerations for Mobile Power Systems
Looking for power on the go? If you are interested in a reliable mobile power system that includes solar, there are a few key things to keep in mind during the design process.
Common off grid solar mobile applications include:
- Tiny Home
- Food Truck
- Camper Van
- Work Truck or Trailer
Here are 5 important design considerations for mobile solar applications:
Mobile Components. Without permanent access to power hookups, you are essentially looking for an off grid system to run your loads. The main components of an off-grid system include: solar panel(s), inverter/charger, solar panel racking and most importantly, battery for energy storage. While the components may be the same for a mobile application, it is important to look for products that are designed specifically for mobile use. Connect with FMS About Mobile Components
Grounding. Since many mobile applications are constantly on the go, there can’t be an earth ground rod physically inserted into the ground. Proper grounding is critical to the safety of all solar applications, stationary or mobile. A simple solution is to make sure you have the proper inverter for your application. Mobile inverters provide proper grounding isolation for when you are both stationary and in transit.
Solar Panel Mounting. Most mobile vehicles have thin and flexible roofing and deck material making it difficult to find a surface strong enough to fasten solar racking onto. And any penetration of the roof or decking creates potential for leaks and could void certain aspects of your vehicle warranty.
Uplift force. Proper installation and secure attachment of a solar array is important due to potential weather conditions. But in mobile applications, any amount of space between the solar panel and the roof or deck of your vehicle can result in a strong uplift force while the vehicle is in motion, potentially resulting in your solar panels being torn off. To prevent this from happening, it is important to ensure that the panels are bolted securely to your vehicle and that there is no excess space between the panels.
Array Orientation. Sufficient solar panel production greatly depends on the location, tilt direction, and tilt angle of the array. To ensure maximum production, your vehicle should be parked in an open space away from any possible shading with the panels facing south (for the northern hemisphere) and tilted to a desirable angle if possible. You may also want to consider solar racking or mounts that can be adjusted to different angles, allowing you to adjust the tilt of your solar panels to achieve an optimum solar exposure.
Many FMS clients with mobile power systems store their solar panels in a safe compartment when the power system is not in use. When they are ready to charge their batteries, they simply pull out the solar panels, plug them in, and orient them to maximize solar exposure and thus system production.