RV Solar Panels Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the different types of solar panels available for RV’s and what should I be looking for?
There are a few different types of panels you can choose from and they have quite a few significant differences between them.
* The first types of panels are the monocrystalline and polycrystalline . You can recognize these by their tempered solar glass and very long warranties. Both the mono- and polycrystalline panels are currently the most efficient ones and will produce power even during overcast conditions.
* The second type of panels are the ones that use thin film and amorphous technology. Panels of this type degrade fairly quickly under operating conditions which explains why they only have warranties 10 years or less. The other drawback of these panels is that require full sunlight to operate properly.
You get what you pay for which is why thin film and amorphous panels are usually a lot cheaper than mono- and polycrystalline ones.
2. How long can I run my RV off of a solar panel?
Solar panels are designed to convert sunlight into electricity so they can only charge your batteries during the day. So how long you can run your RV off of your solar panels depends on three things:
1) The size, quality and efficiency of your solar panels
2) How big your battery bank is
3) How much electricity you use in your RV
Determining how much electricity you can use without running your batteries dead is the most important step. So what you want to do is figure out how the maximum power you would ever use in a day and then get an RV solar panel kit that provides you with 30% more than that. Check out our handy dandy solar calculator to figure out the size of solar panels you would need.
3. How many batteries do I need to use solar power?
The best recommendation we can give you is to have at least a minimum of two batteries with your RV solar panel kit.
Think of it this way. If you had a gas station down the street giving away free gas, you would bring as many cans as you could transport. The same thing goes for solar power. Since sunlight is totally free, you have the opportunity with your RV solar panels to collect and store as much of that free fuel as you can.
So the answer to your question is to store as much as possible. A larger bank of batteries will make sure that you have plenty of power on hand especially if you run into a few days of clouds where the solar panels can’t produce as much power.
4. How do I size a solar panel system for my RV?
Just by using our handy dandy RV solar calculator. It will ask you a series of questions and you input a few numbers and hit enter. The calculator will will then figure out the appropriate size RV solar panels you’ll need. It will even suggest an inverter should your requirements include running AC appliances, such as a microwave.
6. Should I tilt my solar panels?
During the summer months when the sun is riding high in the sky, you can leave you RV solar panels flat on the roof. However because of the different quality solar panels available, you may want to experiment with yours to determine if you see a change.
If you plan to camp during the winter time, tilting your panels can increase the amount of power they produce by as much as 40%.
5. Can a solar panel operate my microwave?
Absolutely! However since both the RV solar panels (and the batteries it charges) creates only on direct (DC) current, you’ll need an inverter. An inverter is a device that takes the direct current (DC) from your batteries and converts it to alternating current (AC) so you can run your 120 volt appliances (like your microwave) in your RV. The great thing is the silent combination of solar power, batteries, and inverter can eliminate the need for ever running a noisy polluting generator.
7. What is an inverter?
An inverter is a device that takes battery power (DC) and converts it to household power (AC). There are two different types of inverters:
* Modified sine wave inverters were the earliest type of inverter. They produce AC power, but not perfectly. Many devices will not work properly when powered by a modified sine wave inverter.
* Pure sine wave inverters or true sine wave inverters, produce a perfect replica of AC power. They will run any AC appliance within the wattage range of the inverter and will not cause you the grief a modified sine wave inverter can bring you.
8. How do I size an inverter for my RV?
The best way is to list out all the appliances you’ll be using when dry camping and then choose the inverter that can handle the one with the largest power requirement. All you have to do is check the wattage on the labels of each appliance and select the one that is the biggest number – usually the microwave. Then using the wattage number of the microwave in this case you just select an inverter that can handle delivering that amount of power.
It’s also important to remember that the wattage requirements tend to be double when you first turn on a microwave so you’ll need an inverter that can handle that surge. Typically most microwaves will run off a 1500 watt pure sine wave inverter without any problem. A convection over generally requires a 200 watt pure sine wave inverter
9. With a solar kit and an inverter will I be able to stop using a generator?
As many RVers have found out first hand – the answer is absolutely!
Every RV owner is different especially when it comes to their power requirements so it is important to figure out ahead of time how much you will use. The easiest way to do that is to use solar power calculator available here. The calculator will allow you to size a system that could replace your generator. You can stop having to pack fuel, listen to the noise, smelling the fumes, polluting the environment and constantly maintaining your generator.
No comments yet.