Solar and your RV

The sun shines three trillion watts of free energy on the earth every day. 

Solar energy isn't only the most abundant energy source globally but also the cheapest. It's clean, renewable, and can be a real asset when powering your RV. 

How does solar work, and how can it benefit your camping adventures? We give you the basic information you need to not only understand solar power but use it to benefit your recreational vehicle and travels. 

Why Use Solar to Power your RV?

You can take your RV off the grid and still power your refrigerator, lighting, and other 12-volt appliances with solar. Aside from the added convenience, it's cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and after initial set up, doesn't require much-added maintenance. 

Many RV owners take advantage of mounted and portable solar panels to better equip themselves with varying levels of incoming solar power. 

Once you have the hang of using solar power, it will allow for added freedoms for you and your RV. 

What you Need and How it Works – Solar Basics

Most people have a general idea of how to harness and use solar energy. 

You'll need panels to collect and utilize energy from the sun. These panels are made up of individual photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into usable energy. However, power from this solar panel cannot be directly converted into usable energy for your RV. 

You must use a charge controller to turn the collected solar energy into usable battery power for your RV. The charge controller takes the collected energy and will convert it into DC 12V power. 

All charge controllers send converted DC power to the battery - deep cycle group 24, 27, or better. Think of your 12-volt like a cellphone battery with necessary regular charging, and solar power will fill the battery until it's full at your level of capacity. 

It is best to plan and note how much solar energy you have converted into DC power when out on extended boondocking trips. As long as you plan accordingly, you should be able to power all of your compatible appliances while off the grid. 

How to Maximize your Solar Power RV System for Boondocking

Now that we understand how solar power works in an RV, how do you build a powerful solar system?

To maximize your boondocking capability, you will need a large battery bank and methods to recharge it. Your unit may have a basic panel size, typically 50 to 100 watts, and these panels work great for powering minimal appliances in your RV. 

As you add more solar panels and larger battery banks, you will be able to power your RV more efficiently and for a more extended amount of time. For reference to run a 12-volt Everchill refrigerator unit, you will need a minimum of 120 Watts and two group 27 deep cycle batteries. Solar capability is limitless; RV owners can add as many solar panels and as much wattage as they want to power components of their vehicle. However, one thing to remember is that as you add more solar panels, we will also need to upgrade the charge controllers to meet wattage output. For example, a 10 amp controller can hold 170 watts. 

Here are some tips you should remember for maximum solar performance when out on the road. Solar panels work best when they are clean and in direct sunlight. Try to consider this whenever parking or setting up for an extended stay. Another thing to remember is while direct sunlight charges your batteries more efficiently, they will still pick up battery life in overcast and cloudy conditions.

We hope this educational article has helped you better understand solar power for your RV. Contact Way to speak to our RV experts if you have any questions or want to learn more about our solar products and how they can benefit you while out on the road.