Solar Panels For VW (Cool Tips + Tricks)

If you are wondering about solar panels for a VW California, you are in luck! There are many options available, and some of those include specific kits for the VW California. 

Do you want to add solar panels to your VW California? 1,800-watt quad kits start in the $1,600 range, or you can go the DIY route too.

In this blog, we also discuss:

  • Why solar installation on a VW Transporter is a good idea
  • How to install a solar panel on a roof of a VW Transport T5 or T6
  • And some other essential bits of information. 

Keep reading as we go over what you need to know about solar panels and VW California vans, and we toss in some other essential information. 

VW Camper Van In the desert

When to Install Solar Panels on a VW Transporter?

If you own a VW Transporter van and consider adding solar to it, you might wonder when to add solar panels to it.

The short answer is that there is not an inopportune time to add solar panels to your VW Transporter. The benefits of adding solar power to the van include:

  1. Adding available electricity for work vans even when tethered power is not available. For example, if you work at new construction building sites where power is not established, you could tap into the solar battery system of the van and get the job done. That’s a plus that boosts your business and job capabilities. 
  2. Adding available power to run an automotive refrigerator. With onboard electricity, you can power a small portable cooler or refrigerator to keep food, products, or drinks cold. Adding solar to your VW Transporter would be ideal for industries such as catering, Food delivery, and floral delivery shops. 
  3. Take the Party With You! With onboard electricity and solar power, your van can become the mobile DJ or event powerhouse. Amp up the music and let the fun begin. 
  4. Feeding the Masses! With onboard electricity, your VW Transporter can become a mobile kitchen with power to cook, cool, and store food and beverages. 
Reasons for VW Camper Van Solar Panel Installation
Reasons for a VW Camper Van Solar Panel Installation

The truth is that solar power onboard your VW Transporter van has infinite possibilities to increase the joy of leisure time or to boost the abilities of your small business.

With solar installed onboard, you have the power to do more, work efficiently, and work remotely. So play hard, work hard; that’s a new motto for the mobile crowd. 

Why Install VW T6 Solar Panel Kit?

If you consider installing a solar panel kit on your VW T6, you might wonder why that might be a good idea. The real question is not why you should install a solar panel kit on your VW T6, but why not. Why not have:

  • Electrical capabilities on the go?
  • Electricity on your work van? 
  • The capabilities able to brew a cup of tea or coffee for lunch?
  • The option to entertain without worrying about running down the battery?
  • The ability to boost the number of services that you offer while on the go?

The truth is that there are so many reasons to add solar to your VW T6. If you run a business out of your van, you have many options to improve what you do.

Energy onboard makes your day easier. The list goes on, and the benefits are all positives. 

See also: Solar Powered Vehicles: A Comprehensive Guide to the Future of Transportation

How to Fit Solar Panels to VW T5

Fitting a solar panel to the roof of a VW T5 is an adventure. Here are the steps you need to follow to add mobile solar to your T5.


Prepare the Roof of the T5 — Make sure the roof area where the panel will sit is spotless. 


You have to decide if you want the wires to go directly into the van or if you want them to skirt the outside of the canvas popup.

The most local placement is directly into the van so that you do not have to fit the wires through the frame that supports the canvas popup.

You will have to become confident about drilling a hole through the roof of the van.

You also want to make sure that you do not nick the canvas as you drill, so position the housing far enough away to avoid damaging the housing. 

How To Install Solar Panels on a VW Camper Van
How To Install Solar Panels on a VW Camper Van


Position the panel in such a way on the roof so that if needed, you can add additional panels. Some installations place the rectangular-shaped panel left to right and others top to bottom.

There is no wrong way to choose where the panel will fit. A good tip is to place the panel on the side of the roof closest to where your controller box will be. 


Place the housing unit and the panel on the roof where you want them. Mark those spaces with masking tape so you can remove both units as you work.

You will also want to place a piece of masking tape where the wires will exit the housing box and travel through the roof.

That spot is critical as that is where you will drill the hole into the roof of the van. Make sure that the drill bit is slightly larger than the wiring. 


The roof of the popup is made of fiberglass. You will need to wear eye protection and a mask to keep from breathing in the fiberglass partials and keep them out of your eyes.

If your T5 van has a metal roof, you will need to use a grommet to protect the wiring from the metal edge.


Re-clean the roof to make sure that all the fiberglass is removed. You will adhere the panel and box to the roof using a sealant. Sargent EC160 is a good choice for sealant. 


Apply the sealant to the bottom side of the solar panel. Then carefully place the panel onto the spot on the roof you have marked with tape.

Once the panel is in place, clean the edges where the sealant has seeped out. Use a piece of plastic to smooth the sealant into a nice flat bead.

You can wipe off the residue using paper towels if needed. 

Remove the tape. 


Feed the solar panels cables through the housing unit and run the wires through the hole in the roof. 

At this point, we HAVE NOT applied sealant to the housing unit. 

Once the cables are attached and running through the box and inside the van, you can put sealant on the underside of the housing box and press the box firmly into place.

Finishing Touches

Follow the steps above to clean the edges and thin the excess sealant into a smooth bead. Remove the tape once the sealant sets and that part of the project is finished. 

If the van does not have a solar component box inside, you will need to install one of those. That process is pretty straightforward.

The cables from the roof will connect to the charge controller, and once that process is done, the project is complete. 

Disclaimer: These are general instructions. They are not meant to replace the professional guidance of an electrician. 

Will Flexible Solar Panels Work on a VW T5?

Do you need to know if solar panels will work on your VW T5? The simple answer is that they will work.

You can install them yourself with a solar panel kit designed for the VW T5, or you can take the van to most automotive shops and have them do that job for you. 

Adding solar panels to your VW Transporter is an easy way to increase what you do.

From adding music and entertainment or a power bank that powers your power tools for work to the simple act of making a cup of tea or coffee wherever you are, make the chore of adding solar so much sweeter. 


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Elliot has 20+ years of experience in renewable technology, from conservation to efficient living. His passion is to help others achieve independent off-grid living.

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