How a simple solar panel charger saved me wasting money on new car batteries

A solar panel charger being attached to a car battery
My handy solar panel charger being attached to the car battery to keep it charged up (Image credit: Future / Amy Willis)

I have a rather old but large white Renault Master van on my driveway at the moment from all the renovation work I have been doing to my house. It is currently serving as a rather unattractive storage unit for recycled kitchen units that I intend to put into my utility room when I finally get around to building it.

Aside from the constant door knocks asking if I want to sell the van for conversion into a mobile home (this is a thing now apparently), the other nuisance is keeping the van's battery charged up in case I have to move it. And if I failed to remember to start up the van every few weeks to give it a boost — the battery not only ran flat, but it frequently would malfunction so it wouldn't even charge. This was a real pain as it meant I couldn't shift this huge van out the way for jobs such as finishing off the driveway or getting a grab lorry in to remove soil and rubble from the site until I went and purchased a new van battery. This happened at least twice, costing around £150 on a new battery each time it needed replacing.

POWOXI 20W Solar Panel 12V Solar Panel Charger Kit + 8A Controller | £59.99

POWOXI 20W Solar Panel 12V Solar Panel Charger Kit + 8A Controller | £59.99
Kit comes with bracket and safe charge box as well as Polycrystalline Silicon solar panel to trickle charge 12V batteries. Rain and wind proof but does state that it shouldn't be submerged in water. 12-month warranty


ECO-WORTHY 10W Solar Panel for 12 Volt battery Charger | £35.99
This super cheap monocrystalline solar panel charger is lower wattage but still capable of trickle charging a 12V car battery. Comes with PVC suckers to stick to a window or windscreen and a set of clips. Has built in blocking diode to prevent reverse discharge

Nicesolar 120W 12V Solar Panel Off-Grid System, Solar Panel Kit | £149.99

Nicesolar 120W 12V Solar Panel Off-Grid System, Solar Panel Kit | £149.99
This kit is a lot more powerful, claiming to generate a whopping 120W. This is ideal for a battery with a higher demand on it with claims you could use if for off-grid living (clearly not for a whole house though!) Comes with connector, controller, bracket, cables and Monocrystalline solar panel

Amy Willis
Web Editor

Amy spent over a decade in London editing and writing for The Daily Telegraph, MailOnline, and before moving to East Anglia where she began renovating a period property in rural Suffolk. During this time she also did some TV work at ITV Anglia and CBS as well as freelancing for Yahoo, AOL, ESPN and The Mirror. When the pandemic hit she switched to full-time building work on her renovation and spent nearly two years focusing solely on that. She's taken a hands-on DIY approach to the project, knocking down walls, restoring oak beams and laying slabs with the help of family members to save costs. She has largely focused on using natural materials, such as limestone, oak and sisal carpet, to put character back into the property that was largely removed during the eighties. The project has extended into the garden too, with the cottage's exterior completely re-landscaped with a digger and a new driveway added. She has dealt with de-listing a property as well as handling land disputes and conveyancing administration.