This is a 600 Watt Solar Panel Wiring Diagram with a complete list of DIY parts needed and kits available.
Use this as a guide to fitting your RV, campervan, motorhome, or caravan solar setup.
We’ve designed the diagram so it’s simple to understand for newbies to campervan electrics.
Campervan electrics can be dangerous, so if you’re unsure what you’re doing or don’t feel confident about completing a solar setup yourself, seek the help of an electrician.
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What Can a 600 Watt Solar Panel Power?
How much 600w solar power systems can support depends on several variables, including the time of year, the weather, your location, and the type of charge controller you install.
But here’s an idea of what you might expect to get on an average day of 4 peak hours of sun with an MPPT controller.
600 watts of solar panels will provide about 180 – 192 amp hours daily.
That’s about enough to run:
- a power inverter for a TV, charging laptops and a coffee maker,
- a good-sized, energy-efficient fridge,
- recharge plenty of small devices on a USB like phones, tablets, and Kindles,
- run your roof vent during the day and night to stop condensation,
- keep a composting toilet’s fan running 24/7,
- run a diesel heater during winter and
- switch on LED lights inside the campervan.
Bear in mind this is based on an average sunlight day.
A 600w solar system gives a good couple of days in reserve, depending on usage and without other sources of recharging.
If you intend to live in a camper in the winter months, 600w is sweet.
You may not be able to replenish the batteries every day, so consider what level of contingency you need to avoid cycling the batteries more than necessary.
Who Will Suit a 600 Watt Solar Panel System?
A 600 watt solar setup is a good size for a couple or small family with a large RV or camper with roof space for the panels.
It can support wild camping or boondocking in your RV for long periods year round with careful use and monitoring of the battery levels.
Though you’ll always need to monitor usage and battery levels, with a solar system this size, you’ll comfortably have enough power to meet the needs of 4 people.
If your ideal solar system is even larger than 600w, or more importantly if you have space on your roof for more panels, build the system with scalability in mind.
You can add panels and batteries in the future without having to replace the more expensive components of the solar system.
You could consider extra juice from a portable solar panel system, but that’s for another post.
600 Watt Solar Panel Wiring Diagrams
There are a few points worth clarifying about these wiring diagrams before you get into the detail:
- The wiring diagrams show only the supply side installation of a 600 watt solar panel system. They go as far as charging the battery. For the load side detail, check out our post on campervan wiring.
- They exclude charging the battery from shore power or the alternator.
- This setup needs a minimum of 220 – 270ah of battery, so the diagrams have 2 x 12v batteries wired in parallel.
- For more information on how to fit the batteries or to wire them in series if using 6v batteries, see our post on camper van batteries.
- The diagrams also exclude wiring a power inverter – it sits on the load side of the battery.
- The first 2 diagrams below show a 600 watt solar panel wiring diagram wired in parallel and series with 3 x 200w panel configurations.
- The 3rd diagram shows a 600 watt set wired in a combination of parallel and series with 6 x 100w panel configurations.
- For a full breakdown of the detail, comparisons, and even an interactive calculator for mixed panels, check out our complete guide to wiring your solar panels in series or parallel.
600 Watt Solar Panel Wiring Diagram in Series with 3 x 200w panels
600 Watt Solar Panel Wiring Diagram in Parallel with 3 x 200w panels
600 Watt Solar Panel Wiring Diagram in Series & Parallel with 6 x 100w panels
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DIY 600 Watt Solar Panel Parts List
This is a list of every component you need for a 600 watt solar panel setup on your RV or campervan.
Solar panels harvest sunlight, converting it to electricity.
There are different types of solar panels, but we recommend using monocrystalline as they’re the most efficient.
6 x 100w Rigid Monocrystalline
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3 x 200w Rigid Monocrystalline
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What Size Charge Controller for 600w Solar Panel Setup
Solar charge controllers regulate the current from the panels to a safe level so they can charge the batteries.
A 50A controller is adequate for a 600 watt solar power setup, though a 60A is more readily available.
At this size and investment, we recommend installing the MPPT controller.
A PWM controller is a fraction of the cost of an MPPT, but the considerable loss of harvested energy would offset the cost of the larger system.
If you think you may want to scale up your solar capacity in the future, consider a higher rated device, and it’ll be more cost effective in the long term.
- 800 watt solar system | 100a (70a will be fine if you can find one)
Choosing the right charge controller for your solar panel system is a critical decision that can impact the effectiveness and longevity of your entire setup.
A charge controller regulates the voltage and current coming from your solar panels and ensures that your batteries are charged safely and efficiently.
Factors like the total wattage of your solar panels, the voltage of your battery bank, and the daily energy consumption should all be considered when choosing a charge controller.
Check out our complete guide on selecting the right solar charge controller for your setup.
And if you need to know what size to get, use our interactive solar charge controller calculator.
How Many Batteries Do I Need for a 600w Solar System?
How large a battery bank you need depends mainly on how much power you use and even when you use it.
Use our solar battery bank calculator to work out how much energy you use each day and what size battery bank you need to meet that level.
That said, a battery bank stores the power generated from your solar panels. If you don’t have a large enough battery bank, you could potentially waste the energy you’ve worked so hard to harvest.
A 600W solar panel setup could generate as much as 50ah of power per peak hour.
However, how many peak hours of sun you can reasonably expect to receive differs by location, time of year, and the weather.
In the US, you’re unlikely to get much more than 5 or 6 hours of peak sun conditions in mid-summer. Therefore, a 600w solar panel system will generate a maximum of 250-300ah daily.
Although you may use some of that energy as you generate it, it’s more simple and prudent to err on the side of caution.
So the minimum size battery bank you need for a 600w setup is 300ah – more if you don’t install Lithium batteries.
You may have more than one charging source or want some contingency, so you can increase that size as much as you like.
If space isn’t a significant issue, you’ll never be unhappy with a bigger battery, so always go up a size rather than down.
Solar Panel Mounting Brackets
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These allow you to mount the solar panel to your van without drilling holes in the roof. You need one pack for every panel.
Always resist any urge to breach your roof.
Solar panels come with about a meter of cable, so they’re not normally long enough to reach your battery bank.
MC4 connectors are rated to cope with the current and are weatherproof, so you can extend the cable.
For wiring 3 panels in series, you need 1 single pair of MC4 cable connectors.
For wiring 6 panels – 2 pairs of 3 in series, then both strings in parallel, you need 1 pair of Y branch connectors and 1 single pair of MC4 cable connectors.
Solar Panel Cable
The point of using different colors is to easily identify the negative and positive wires.
If you can’t get red, use the black cable and mark it with red electrical tape or heat shrink.
Measure how much extension cable you need before you buy.
For both the positive and negative sides, you need enough to run from the end of the existing solar panel cables to the battery via the solar charge controller and kill switch.
What Size Cable for 600w Solar Panel Setup
Choosing the correct wire size for solar panels is a crucial aspect of the installation process.
The wire size, determined by the American Wire Gauge (AWG) system, directly impacts the efficiency and safety of your solar power system.
The appropriate wire size depends on several factors, including the total output of your system, the voltage at which your system operates, its configuration, and the distance between the solar panels and the charge controller.
For instance, a 600W solar setup wired in series would require a different wire size than the same setup wired in parallel.
Selecting an inappropriate wire size could lead to energy loss and potential safety hazards, so it’s a decision that should be made with careful consideration.
Solar Panel Gland Seal
Sadly, drilling a hole is the only way to run the solar cable into the van. Plug it up and make it watertight with a gland seal.
This sits between the solar charge controller and the battery cut off switch.
Bear this in mind if you’re traveling to areas where online shopping may not be an option.
When wiring in series, the fuse between the solar panel and the solar charge controller should be 1.3 times the size of the lowest Optimum Operating Current of the panels in the array (see the back of the panel for their specification).
When wiring in parallel, the fuse between the solar panel and the solar charge controller should be 1.3 times the total of the Optimum Operating Currents of all the panels in the array (see the back of the panel for their specification).
2 x 1250 Amp Battery Cut Off Switches
Cut off switches on the battery supply line, and the circuit supply lines allow the battery to be isolated.
The battery cut off switch must be greater than the total capacity of the battery bank.
If you want to upscale in the future, it’s worth fitting a larger one now to save changing it later.
Battery Terminal Eyes / Wire Lugs
These allow you to connect the cable to the battery.
Choose a lug size rated greater than your wire gauge and with an eye large enough to fit on the battery terminal.
1/4” Red & 1/4” Black Heat Shrink
Heat shrink seal electrical joints to cover the bare wires.
On this solar install, you’ll need it to connect the inline or ANL fuse and the battery terminal connectors.
Sikaflex 221 (Panel Adhesive)
Use this adhesive to secure the solar panel mounts to the van roof.
It’s a bit messy, so wear latex gloves when applying it.
You need about 4 or 5mm of sealant between the bracket and the panel for a robust bond. It takes about 24 hours on a dry day to cure.
Fuses and wires must be rated for the system’s load and cable run length. We’ve covered everything you need to know in our campervan wiring post.
600 Watt Solar Panel Kit
If you’d prefer to avoid shopping around, you can buy pre-configured solar panel kits.
They usually include the solar panel, solar charge controller, and mounting brackets. Some include extension wires.
If you opt to buy a solar kit, check what’s included and what other things you’ll need to buy.
And make sure it makes economic sense.
This 600 watt solar panel includes the following:
- 6 x 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- 40A MPPT Charge Controller (for a series & parallel combined configuration)
- all cables and connectors
- mounting brackets
- fuse holders & fuses.
You need to buy the cable entry housing and battery separately.
How to Install 600 Watt Solar Panel System
Our guide details everything you need to install a campervan solar panel system.
It’s written to suit any size of system, so it makes reference to how to install multiple panels.
It may come in useful when considering upscaling your setup, though.
There’s also a section about the tools you need to install your campervan solar panels.
Some of these tools can be pretty expensive, so unless you expect to get a lot of use out of them in the future, try to borrow them where possible.
Check out our complete guide for using a digital multimeter in your camper.
It’s on our van life essentials list for good reason!
Graham is a seasoned marine electrical engineer with two decades of experience designing customized electrical systems for plant machinery and converting campers and overland vehicles. His expertise has led him to author the reputable Campervan Electrics Handbook and become the chief designer of the RV Wiring Design Tool. As a knowledgeable figure in the field, his YouTube channel, blog, Facebook group, and newsletter, offering electrical advice and product reviews, reach more than a million users each year.