With summer quickly approaching, now is the time to start making plans for your next RV camping trip. Thinking of installing solar panels on RV? Are solar panels expensive? Planning to run RV AC on solar? There is a lot to think about when shopping for solar panels for your RV, including RV solar systems, inverters, and knowing which solar system is best for your RV.
Advantages of using Solar Power for RV
Energy independence is the primary motivation for installing solar panels on RVs. Owners of recreational vehicles are restricted from boondocking in any location they please due to their dependence on shore power and full-service RV parks.
However, with RV solar panels installed, either permanently or with a portable solar kit, campers can boondock or stay in the desert for as long as they like.
Oftentimes, campsites on public lands, state-owned land, and National Parks do not have hookups, so becoming energy independent has obvious aesthetic benefits.
Moreover, RV solar panels are much smaller than those used for homes; this means they produce less power, but they are also much cheaper. There is a wide range of possible costs due to the fact that installing panels often necessitates upgrading or installing additional components.
Installing solar panels on an RV is a more cost-effective long-term investment where systems can cost between $25,000 and $40,000. This is especially true if you plan to spend significant time away from home.
In the long run, you will save money on camping fees once you have paid off the initial cost of your solar power system. That means less fuel use and savings from not having to run the generator as often.
The environmental sustainability of RV solar panels is one of the more obvious benefits. Solar energy doesn’t produce pollution or global warming because it doesn’t burn fossil fuels.
Using solar power is also an excellent way to reduce pollution and save money in the long run. All that RV travel can be balanced out by doing this.
Some campgrounds prohibit the use of generators after a certain time due to the noise they produce. You can have less noise and more peace and quiet at the campsite by installing a solar power system.
Running RV AC on Solar Power
When estimating your budget for RV solar panel kit, it’s important to think about things like how you’ll get backup power, what your energy needs are, and whether you want a kit or permanent panels.
An inverter, batteries, and solar panels are all that’s needed to run RV AC on solar. Because solar panels produce DC (direct current power), while air conditioners use AC (alternating current power), an inverter is required to convert the energy from the solar panels to the type of power used by the air conditioner.
Thereafter, you can choose between installing an on-grid or off-grid solar power system to run your air conditioner. Alternatively, you may put in a solar-powered AC unit.
Also Read: Best Boondocking Sites & Tips to Keep in Mind
5 Best RV Solar Panels
The increasing popularity of solar camping has resulted in a greater variety of solar-powered accessories for recreational vehicles. The best solar equipment can collect a charge even on cloudy days, so you practically never have to worry about running out of power when using the sun as your charging device. Have a look at the items below if you plan on going completely off the grid on your next camping trip but don’t want to be in the dark.
- Renogy 200 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline RV Solar Panel Kit
- Newpowa 220W Monocrystalline 10BB Cell Solar Panel
- ACOPOWER 200 Watts 12/24 Volts Monocrystalline Panel Solar RV Kits with 30A MPPT LCD Charge Controller/Mounting Brackets/Y Connectors/Solar Cables/Cable Entry housing （2x100W Kit）
- SUNPOWER Portable Solar Panels, Flexible Panel / Monocrystalline Cells / Lightweight/ MC4 Connectors Camping, boats, RV + more (100W)
- Nature Power 50215 215 Watt 12 Volt Cables and Mounting Brackets Solar Panel, Black
How many Solar Panels do I need to run my RV?
The first step is to evaluate the energy demands of your RV. If you want to power your RV’s appliances (like the AC unit, fridge, microwave, phones, TV, etc.) with solar energy, you’ll need to calculate the total wattage (or watt hours) of those appliances. Basically, you’ll need to figure out how many watts each appliance in your RV consumes.
Read more: Estimating Appliance and Electronic Energy Use
Factors to consider for Solar Panels For Camper:
A safe and reliable solar RV installation requires six different components. You should probably go with the higher wattage panels since you have limited space, and your air conditioners need a lot. The wattage of these panels ranges from 100-600 watts. They are available in flat panels that can be mounted on the roof of your RV or placed on stands on the ground. The roof can be covered with flexible panels that simply stick there.
- Solar Charge Controller: Here is where the magic of your solar power charger takes place. It controls how much energy is transferred from your solar panels to your storage batteries. After a battery has been fully charged, the voltage should be lowered to a trickle charge to prevent the battery from being overcharged. When it comes to using solar energy to run an air conditioner, MPPT solar panels are your best bet due to their high charging efficiency.
- Battery Bank: The power generated by the solar panel is stored in batteries so that your RV may still
be used even when there is no sunlight. The most viable alternative is lithium-ion batteries.
- 4,000-Watt Inverter: Simply put, an inverter works in the opposite direction of a converter. It inverts the direct current (DC) power from your batteries into alternating current (AC). Since your air conditioners and other appliances will be using a lot of power all at once, a 4,000-watt unit would be ideal.
- Solar Power Meter: Having this sort of equipment in place will allow you to check the efficiency of your panels at all times. The voltage, wattage, and amperage values you observe can be utilized to predict future problems.
- Battery Meter/Multi Meter: It is vital that you check the input and output of your batteries. Batteries can lose their charge capacity, leak, or have other problems after many years of use. It’s a great preventative maintenance practice to check them on a regular basis.
- A/C Soft Starter: With the help of soft starts, air conditioners can start up using much less energy. When using RV solar power, turning on the air conditioner can be a challenge, but a soft starter makes it easier to run RV AC on solar. A soft starter can provide the initial power surge needed to turn on the RV air conditioner. It reduces the power demand by up to 75%. The air conditioner in your RV can usually be powered by the RV’s solar system. It has no luck getting it going. RV Air Conditioning Soft Starters serve this purpose. Having a lot more success keeping cool while boondocking or on limited power is possible by installing a soft starter for each air conditioner in your RV. You can use solar power or a campground hookup to power your air conditioner with the help of these simple-to-install, small RV AC Soft Start Kits.
Installing solar system is a must whether you plan on living full-time in your RV or going off the grid.
A variety of factors, including your energy needs, your geographic location, and the efficiency of the panels themselves, will decide the precise quantity of panels that will be necessary.
A solar system for an RV needs to be compact, lightweight, and robust, so you should give some thought to your energy needs and the available space before making a final decision.