Find the perfect Solar Panels for your RV In Just 3 Easy Steps
- Discover how much electricity you use in your RV on average a day (very easy to do)
– Just use our handy RV Solar Panel Calculator to find the answer
- Find the perfect solar panels for your RV that matches your answer from step one
– You’ll find it right at the bottom of the RV Solar Panel Calculator
- Order your RV Solar Panels and you’re done!
Hi there and thanks for visiting my Blog. My name is Jason Watts and I spend about 6 months of the year traveling around North America in my RV.
I’m from Seattle, Washington and I’m not an electrician or anything like that. I’m just guy who likes to travel a lot and who figured out the best a way to generate power in my RV was to use solar panels. Hopefully my story will help you to find the right solar panels for your RV.
Why Did I Need Solar Panels for My RV?
I love to travel. I love to see things that most people will never get a chance to in their lifetime.
In my youth, I used to backpack a lot through Europe. As much fun as that was, I’m a lot older now and don’t have the body to pull off that kind of adventure anymore. But traveling in an RV to new places all around the States and Canada for 6 months at a time gives me the same kind of thrill.
Now when I first started out, I had to stay in parks and campgrounds that could offer my RV hook ups. I needed the electricity to run all the electrical equipment I like to have. Stuff like a TV, DVD player, stereo, Satellite dish, computer, etc.
RV parks are nice but I quickly got tired of the noisy neighbors with all their music, parties, generators and late night talking. Not only that, over time it became expensive and limited what I would be able to experience.
I wanted more. I wanted to have the freedom all those RV brochures promised me I would have. That’s when I decided on boondocking full time.
By boondocking full time, the whole of North America suddenly opened up for me and I could go to places I only dreamed about – like the desert. There’s nothing quite like sitting outside in a quiet desert, watching the shadows lengthen and the sky redden as the sinking sun flames the eastern mountains.
But I had a slight problem – not having enough electricity.
I couldn’t run all the electrical stuff as long as I wanted without draining my battery to dangerously low levels or worse – dead. I realized I had a choice to make. It came down to running a generator or using solar panels.
At first a generator seemed to make a lot a sense. But then I figured out what it would cost me in fuel over a six month period – not to mention environmental issues, the noise factor, limited generator life span and my restricted fuel storage capacity. It immediately became clear that solar panels were the logical choice.
Solar panels are a clean, environmental friendly technology that can produce all the power I wanted for free. All I had to do was find the right ones for my RV.
How I Found the Best Solar Panels For My RV
The first thing I had to do was figure out how much power I used in a day. I won’t bore you with all the details because I created an RV Solar Power Calculator to figure all that out for you (you can find it on this blog).
After I worked out how much power I used, all I had to do was find two things:
1. A brand that I could trust
2. A supplier that I trusted
After doing a lot of research I decided on the world’s leading manufacturer of solar panels: Sharp.
Sharp’s solar panels have been proven to work in all kinds of conditions – everywhere from rooftops to outer space. The ones they design for RV’s are totally weather proof and come with a 25 year warranty.
Finding a supplier was easy. Even though there are lots of companies on the Internet selling solar panels, I went straight to Amazon.com.
Why? Because I know they are going to be around a long time, they always have solar panels in stock, offer fast delivery, and most importantly – I know I can send it back without any hassle. I can’t say any of that about a company I never heard of before.
So there you have it. My quick story about why I love having solar panels on my RV and the freedom it offers me.
Be sure to check out the rest of my blog. It’s crammed with lots of great information to help you understand more about RV Solar Panels and all the stuff that goes with it!
When it comes to solar power, there’s more to it than just the shiny blue panels you see everywhere on roofs and RVs. You also have to consider the inverters which turn the electrical DC power into AC which makes it the second most important part of any solar panel system.
And now the new micro inverters created by a company called “Enphase Energy” of Petaluma CA can increase the efficiency of a solar panel system by 5% to 25%.
In a typical setup whether it’s on a roof or an RV, all the solar panels are connected together and the electricity generated is funneled into one inverter. The logic circuit in that inverter is designed to optimize the total current and voltage levels.
The problem in this kind of set up is if the current in one panel drops, it affects the output of the entire system. Something as simple as dust, debris or shade on one panel can make the whole connected array suffer and produce less than optimal results.
But micro inverters created by a company called Enphase Energy of Petaluma CA are set to change all that.
Micro-inverters optimize the voltage-current levels on each panel individually. This squeezes the most power from each panel and then adds it together, increasing the system’s efficiency. Any negative impact on a panel is limited to that module alone and no longer brings the entire system down.
Micro-inverters also have another advantage, flexibility.
You can simply plug in more panels to your array if you need more power. In a traditional solar panel system you can’t really do that because if you add more panels than the inverter can take, you’d have to go replace the second most expensive part of the system: your inverter.
In the race to create and improve renewable energy sources, a new technology has just burst on to the horizon: Organic Solar Cells.
Organic solar cells offer some really cool advantages:
- Easy to manufacture
- Inexpensive to create
- very low environmental impact
- can be applied to flexible materials
Currently the performance is still fairly low when compared to solar cells made with crystalline silicon (around 5% efficiency vs. 15% for silicon cells), however their advantages offset what may turn out to only be a temporary hurdle.
Unlike crystalline silicon, which are produced at very high temperatures, organic solar cells can be manufactured cheaply with low energy cost and environmental impact an argument which is by no means insignificant when it comes to renewable energy.
Even though this is a promising breakthrough, organic solar cells at this point are not intended to compete with silicon, but rather to be used for specific applications, such as packaging, clothing, flexible screens, and recharging cell phones and laptops.
For RVers who remain mystified by their RV’s electrical systems–120-volt alternating current (AC) and 12-volt direct current (DC)–this book is a godsend. It provides a better understanding of what electricity is and what it does.
This problem-solving reference answers questions such as: “Why do interior lights dim or burn out rapidly?” and, “Why won’t the batteries recharge after a night without electricity?” It tells you how to repair and improve electrical systems; how to troubleshoot faulty brakes, taillights, and “house” circuits; how to detect dangerous shorts, faulty grounds, inadequate connections, malfunctioning switches, dead battery cells, or current leakage; and much more.
This book could save your vacation, or even your life.
All you need to know about RV electricity, including:
- How to safely use a campground hookup.
- How to increase battery charging efficiency.
- How to take the pulse of your AC and DC electrical systems.
- How to recognize and correct dangerous wiring practices.
- How to troubleshoot electrical problems of all types.
- How to upgrade your RV from fuses to circuit breakers.
- How to calculate your electrical needs and upgrade your system to meet them.
- How to select the most effective components–batteries, alternator, regulator, coverter, charger, generator, solar panels.
- How to recognize phantom electrical loads that can drain your batteries.
Read the comments other people who bought the book had to say about RV Electrical Systems: A Basic Guide to Troubleshooting, Repairing and Improvement
A new world record has just been established in the area of solar cell technology.
Physicist Bram Hoex and his colleagues at Eindhoven University of Technology worked closely together with the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany and managed to increase the efficiency of solar cells from 21.9 to 23.2 percent – a gain of 6%.
It may not seem like it but this is an important advancement. Most thin-film solar cells are between eight and 10 percent efficient. Anything below 10 percent efficiency means you can’t really afford to install them because, for example, too much of your roof area would be taken up to power your house.
Once the technology approaches 15 per cent efficiency, it becomes commercially viable. The more efficient a cell becomes the less you need to have to power your equipment weather they are in your house or in your RV.
More efficient solar cell technology also means you can produce more electricity on less sunny days.
Now it’s just a matter of time before this new advancement in solar cell technology becomes commercially available.
According to researchers in India, after doing a thorough engineering and economic analysis, solar water heating systems have been shown to only take about two years to pay for itself. The payback time for all the costs on equipment and installation is just two years. It would take a photovoltaic system (used to generate electricity to heat water) about a decade and sometimes double that in order to get back the entire investment. This report comes from the International Journal of Global Energy Issues that discusses the success of the 1000-liter hot water system operating at a university hostel.
When it comes to Boondocking, the question is going to come up about which is better to supply you with power when you’re not hooked up to shore power: solar panels or generators?
On the one hand you have purists who only use solar. The thought of running generator and disturbing the tranquility of their natural surroundings is not one that sits well with them. Even though they have all the comforts of home, the reason for boondocking is about getting away from turbulent civilization and enjoying the peace only nature can provide.
Solar panels on the RV provide a clean and quiet way of generating electricity without disturbing the environment. If you have a large enough array of high efficiency solar panels and several batteries, you shouldn’t have to worry about running out of power.
Generators on the other hand tend to be more cost effective for those RVers who don’t boondock all that much.
Choosing clean solar panels over polluting generators is a personal choice based on several factors like:
• Your feelings toward the environment
But in my view, having both makes a lot of sense. Being able to boondock strictly on solar panels is easy enough to achieve. Although, there may be times where you run into extended rainy days which can cut the amount of light for your panels to produce electricity.
In this case having a backup generator is a smart move. You can get by with a small generator to power your toys while you’re stuck inside waiting for the weather to clear.
So, solar panels and generators can co-exist. The option you choose will depend on your finances and how often and where you plan to boondock.
To find the perfect solar panels for your RV, check out this handy RV Solar Panel Calculator.
Having Solar Panels on your RV give you a lot of advantages, but the top 5 reasons to install them are:
- They are a 100% Green technology. RV solar panels convert sunlight into electricity without ever consuming any fuel, creating waste or making any noise. They are, by definition,100% “Green.”
- They can double the life of your RV batteries. RV solar panels generate pure DC current which is exactly the kind of electricity your batteries need. By having a constant steady flow of electricity charging your batteries, you eliminate the life-shortening problem of repetitive deep discharges.
- They are maintenance free. With no moving parts, there isn’t anything to wear out. All you have to do is wipe the panels off every once in a while with a clean cloth.
- They provide you with energy independence. With the right size set of Solar Panels on your RV you can now go anywhere and never worry about having to find a hookup or run a generator.
- They are totally reliable. Today’s RV Solar Panels are so reliable they come with a 25 year warranty and you can expect them to last you over 35 years!
Solar Panels are great technology but for RV owners they can be a bit confusing.
The problem has to do with the terms Watts and Amps.
RV solar panels are generally rated in Watts while the electrical appliances they power are rated in Amps. So how can you as an RV owner know which is the right wattage solar panel for your RV?
There two simple ways to figure it out.
- Use the “Rule of Thumb” method
It takes about a 15 watt solar panel exposed in bright sunlight for one hour to produce 1 (one) amp of power. So if you have a 80 watt solar panel it will create 80/15=5.33 Amps per hour in direct sunlight.
- Use the Amp rating on the solar panel itself
Many high efficiency solar panels have their amp ratings listed on them. Basically that rating means how many amps that panel can create in one hour of direct sunlight. For example, the SHARP polycrystalline 123-watt RV solar panel kit has a rating of 7.16 amps. That means in 4 hours it can produce 28.64 amps which then gets stored into your batteries.
So when it comes determining the wattage of solar panels you need for your RV, the first step is figuring out how many amps of electrical power you usually consume in a day. The easiest way to do that is to use our handy RV Solar Panel Calculator as a guide. Once you have that figure, it’s really easy to know what size of solar panels your RV needs.
123 Watt RV Solar Panel Kit
Harness the awesome power of the sun with this 123 watt solar panel to keep your RV batteries fully charged.
This SHARP polycrystalline 123-watt RV solar panel kit can produce 7.16 amps and comes complete with a male D/C plug, mounting bracket and screws, battery clamps, voltage tester, quick connectors, and extra wiring.
This panel is one of the best solar panel solutions for any RV owner with low electrical power requirements. But if later on down the road you find you need more juice hooking up a second or even a third panel anytime is a snap!
Here is a quick list of the features this 123 watt RV solar panel has for you:
- Designed for RVs
- High Efficiency Polycrystalline Cells
- Easy to Install & Maintenance Free
- Connect Multiple Panels for More Power
- 25 Year Warranty
- Max Output 123 Watts 7.16 Amps