Hodge's Coaches Solar System

"Once the hardware had been fitted in the workshop and a faulty battery replaced, the system was as close to 'plug-and-play' as you can get and even produces sufficient power when the sky is overcast."

Mark Hodge, Owner

Company : Hodge's Coaches

At first glance, installing solar panels on the roof of a coach might seem a strange thing to do. That is, however, until you learn the cost of calling out an engineer to jump start a 49 seater Volvo is upwards of £200 a time!!

The main reason Mark at Hodge's Coaches wanted to fit solar panels to one of the coaches was to stop the batteries running flat when either the the driver had pulled up to wait for passengers, or because the battery isolator switch had not been engaged when the coach was at the depot. Also, one of the problems with professional alarm systems fitted to coaches is that they draw significantly more than those fitted to cars (about 0.5A) and can flatten a battery surprisingly quickly. In addition, it was hoped that the panels would reduce the total fuel bill because the panels would produce energy, even while the engine was running, reducing the amount of electricity needed from the alternator.

Having calculated the requirements, based on the current draw and also the fact that it is a 24V system, we decided on 2 x 100W panels, connected in series to keep the voltage above the 28V charge voltage, controlled by a Sunware FOX-320 regulator. In addition, we recommended an MP1 remote panel to that the driver would have access to information about the current state of charge of the batteries. To ensure that the panels were held securely in place, with no risk of coming off at speed, they were mounted using TUV approved spoiler mounts and located centrally between the sky-lights. Once the hardware had been fitted in the workshop and a faulty battery replaced, the system was as close to 'plug-and-play' as you can get and even produces sufficient power when the sky is overcast.

Equipment Used:

2 x Cleversolar CS-100 high efficiency monocrystalline solar panels

1 x FOX-320 solar charge controller

1 x FOX-MD1 remote display / control panel

2 x 5m 'clever-clip' solar cable sets