Solar and electrical

Over the past 10 years we’ve done quite a bit of rewiring of the Airstream and the Franklin. Now the outer skin was off, we had free reign to tidy things up even more.


We had replaced the battery 6 years ago with a new AGM deep cycle 80AH. Once the restoration started, we turned that into a mobile power station for tent camping.

For the rebuilt we upgraded to a new 90AH battery from Aussie Batteries and Solar. We kept it in the same place as the original – at the bottom of the full height wardrobe.

The positive and negative leads then run to two Blue Sea bus bars. We ran leads from here to an external Anderson plug connector. This gave us an easy connection for our portable folding solar panel and other appliances.

Originally we’d planned to put roof top solar on later in the year, but ended up installing it earlier. This also connects to the bus bar.

The positive lead for the solar runs through a Blue Sea toggle circuit breaker. When this is switched off, we can isolate the power flow from the solar panel when we are working on the rest of the system.

The main 12 volt power circuit then goes to another Blue Sea toggle circuit breaker. This isolates the battery and can effectively turn the power system off.

While the battery fits best in the door side cabinet, most of the 12 volt lights are on the street side.

Fuse panel

To reduce power loss, we ran heavy duty cables across to the upper locker on the street side to a fuse panel. Lights, fan and 12 volt power outlets were all wired from there with 14AWG tinned marine wire.


We kept the original front and rear interior lights, and external light, but changed the bulb and bayonet to LED.

The Caravelle has great ventilation, but for those really swampy summer nights, we added a gimballed Sirocco 12v fan.

On either side of the bed we have led reading lights, and USB and cigarette charger sockets. These neat units come from the US and we’d been using them in the Airstream for years. Not cheap, but great quality and much nicer looking than most on the market.


For the solar, I used the same system that I implemented on the Airstream. I like Epever MPPT solar controllers, particularly this model where you can see the state of the battery and the solar flow itself.

The positive and negative wires connect through the roof using Blue Sea bulkhead connectors.

The flexible solar panel I bought was 100W and I was able to bolt most of the mounting holes directly through the upper locker. I made aluminium straps to screw and bolt the other holes across to the street side locker, so no holes went into the main cabin roof.

The tape around the edges of the panel is just for aerodynamics when towing. I also went back and shortened up the negative lead after these photos were taken to make it a bit neater.

Now we have unlimited ongoing power and our battery will never go flat!

I chose not to install a permanent inverter. We have a good quality one that runs from a cigarette lighter socket that we can use if needed.

We do have 240 volt power for the fridge and for the toaster and kettle, but have kept it and the 12 volt system entirely separate.


The best resources I can recommend on all things solar and 12v electrical are Collyn Rivers books – Solar that really works! and Caravan and Motorhome Electrics.

I bought most of my electrical parts on eBay, or from Altronics who have a great range.