When you’re away from home in your RV, making sure you have enough electricity shouldn’t be something you have to worry about. Solar power is a renewable energy source that can keep your RV batteries charged and electricity flowing. There are both temporary and permanent types of RV solar systems that can take advantage of this. Using solar power also gives you added peace of mind, so you don’t have to depend on just a campground hookup or generator as your only source of electricity. This is especially ideal if you go boondocking and don’t have a campground power source.
Using solar power with your RV offers several benefits. It provides a less expensive power supply in the long run and is a renewable energy source. Using solar power emits no noise or smell, and systems typically require little to no maintenance. You can get power without being tied to a campground, broadening your possible destinations. You can choose between a permanent solar system or a portable one. Permanent systems mount to your RV’s roof and are always charging. They also are only installed once, so you don’t have to think about packing the system up and storing it during travel or if you leave the campsite. Using portable systems can be less expensive than mounting installations on your motorhome's rooftop. They are typically placed on the ground and do not need to be mounted anywhere. Because they are not attached to the RV, they can be placed directionally and moved around to where the sun is the strongest.
RV solar systems are made to absorb energy from the sun and send the power to your RV’s batteries, keeping them charged. The size of the solar system (how many panels you need) depends on how much power you typically use and how much power will be sent to the battery from one panel. Other factors in picking the size and type of an RV solar system include how often you go boondocking and the amount of sun you usually get. Solar panels are also not usually able to handle full capacity all day or run large size appliances, like refrigerators or the A/C. A full solar system also includes a power inverter in order to convert the 12V DC power coming from the batteries to 110V AC power that many small appliances use, such as coffee makers. Keep in mind the panels will absorb more energy than the batteries are able to store. To that end, it’s also good to have a charge controller to keep the batteries from overcharging, as it regulates how much power the batteries receive. The power then goes from the batteries to the inverter, and then to your RV outlets.
If you’re looking to add a solar system to your RV, the
Go Power Overlander solar charging kit offers a permanent, roof-mounted solution. It has a 30 Amp modulated charge controller and features 4-stage charging. It has an output of 190 watts and a rated current of 9.3 Amps. For a portable system, there is the Zamp Solar charging kit, which has a 5-stage 10 Amp charge controller. It has a power rating of 180 watts at 10 amps and includes a carrying case, as it can fold up when not in use. Nature Power also has a folding solar panel, that can even be hung where needed. It has an 8 Amp charge controller and has a rating of 40 watts.
Whether you are boondocking, or would just like some added peace of mind, having an RV solar system can prove to be a useful investment. With the types available there is sure to be a charging kit that is able to meet your needs.
Using RV Solar Systems