Solar Power Systems
Whether you’re on the roadway or establishing camp someplace, you’ve probably got a need for electrical power. With RVs, there are many choices for how to power up, from the typical generator to personal wind turbines and solar panels for RV electrical components.
One power supply gaining popularity is portable solar panel kits for camping and solar rooftop installations using photovoltaic panels. Solar panels provide power to all sorts of RV electronic devices and appliances.
How Do RV Solar Panels Work?
RV solar panels are a cost-cutting way to power your RV while on the road. The sun’s energy is transmitted by photons absorbed by the panel’s photovoltaic solar cells. These cells are produced out of semiconductor materials like silicon. When the photons strike them, they create an electric field that generates electricity.
RV solar panels are typically made up of multiple solar panels that are connected. A solar photovoltaic panel essentially acts as an auxiliary electrical power system or battery bank for your RV.
This current is ultimately used to keep your batteries charged until you need the stored energy. When required, an inverter converts stored electrical power into usable power for your RV. The system uses the electrical energy generated by solar panels to power your electronic components. Solar panels can be used to power all sorts of RV appliances, including lights, fans, televisions, and refrigerators.
Solar panels are usually installed on the RV’s roof, or portable panels are used. The solar panels may need positioning and be in direct sunlight for optimum results. However, a great RV solar system will produce power even with your RV in the shade or on cloudy days. The sun hits your solar panels and creates an electrical current.
Suppose you’re using your RV solar panels to power your RV. In that case, you’ll need to ensure that you have a sufficient number of panels to handle or provide the amount of power you need. You’ll also need enough batteries to store the solar power to use when you need it.
RV Solar System Devices
What Devices Do I Need?
For your solar panels to function, they must absorb the sunlight that produces an electrical current. A solar charge controller device ensures that your batteries are not overcharged by limiting the amount of current flowing to the batteries. The stored electric energy from your battery’s direct current (DC) passes through an inverter.
This inverter converts the direct current (DC) from the solar panels into alternating current (AC) or usable energy. Once converted to functional or usable energy, it can power the electrical systems in your RV and allows household items or appliances to be used.
Do You Need an RV Solar Panel System?
Perhaps more than you think! There are certain benefits to using solar energy. You can charge your batteries for free when it’s bright out and on cloudy days. Your only cost is the preliminary cost of the solar panels for your RV and the setup. Plus, solar energy is environmentally friendly and does not spew out toxic fumes from a generator.
However, using solar panels as an energy source does not quickly produce an abundance of electrical power for your RV. The average-sized photovoltaic panel provides a charge of up to 25 amps an hour or so.
Even if you believe you don’t need solar panels, they can be a backup power supply. And portable solar power can be taken just about anywhere. The panels can work if you’re camping in one area for a while, as you can set the panels up and let them charge your RV batteries throughout the day.
Different Solar Panel Types
There are a couple different types of solar panels available on the market, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
The most used type of solar panel is the crystalline silicon panel. These panels are made from silicon crystals specially treated to create an electric field. The crystalline panels are very efficient at converting sunlight into electricity but are also quite expensive.
Thin-film panels are another type of solar panel. These panels are made from a thin film of photovoltaic material deposited on a substrate. These panels are less efficient than crystalline silicon panels but much cheaper to produce.
The third type of solar panel is the concentrator panel. These panels are made from a photovoltaic material that is much more efficient at turning sunlight into electricity than standard solar panels. Because of this, they can be smaller and capture the same amount of energy as much larger crystalline silicon panels.
Best Solar Panels for RVs
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline are perhaps the best solar and most popular panels for RVs. Monocrystalline panels are more efficient but also more expensive. Polycrystalline panels are less efficient but still provide enough power for most RVs.
Monocrystalline panels may be the best option if you have a large RV or one exposed to a lot of sunlight. If you have a smaller RV parked partly in the shade for part of the day, then polycrystalline panels may be your best choice.
What to Look for in Buying an RV Solar Panel System
Before buying your solar panels for your RV, consider the following; too weak of a solar panel will not provide enough power for all of your electronics– you may find yourself without A/C on a hot summer day. Whereas producing too much power will add strain on some of the components of the solar power system.
You will not be able to store the excess electrical energy your solar system generates. Read on further to determine your electrical power needs before going out and picking up a solar photovoltaic panel.
Know How Many Solar Panels Do You Need?
To determine how many solar panels you need, you must decide how much solar energy or electrical consumption is used to identify the right-sized solar panels for your RV. You can determine energy consumption by measuring how long it takes to drain your current battery over a few days.
For instance, if you utilized 200 amp-hours over 4 days, you would require 50 amp-hours per day. The typical 100 watt solar panel can provide 30 amp-hours daily, so you need two 100-watt photovoltaic panels.
A 100-watt solar panel will generate approximately 8 hours of power if the sun shines brightly. This can be used to run small appliances or recharge batteries. Solar panels are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Do You Need Batteries for Your RV Solar Panels?
Now that you’ve decided to add solar panels to your RV, one of the questions you may be wondering is – do you need batteries for your RV solar panels?
The answer is maybe. Suppose you only use your solar panels to power small devices like lights and phone chargers. In that case, you probably won’t need batteries. However, suppose you want to use your solar panels to run larger appliances like a fridge or air conditioner. In that case, you will need batteries to store the power generated by the solar panels.
You will need batteries if you want the capability to use your appliances even when there is no sun. Even if the sun is out, there may not be enough light reaching your solar panels to generate enough power for everything you want to run.
Type Batteries for Solar
The battery type you should buy for your RV will depend on a few factors, including the RV size and weight, the type of electrical system you have, and how often you plan to use your RV.
If you have a large RV with a heavy-duty electrical system, you’ll need deep-cycle batteries that can handle frequent use. Battery manufacturers designed deep cycle batteries to provide a smaller amount of power for more extended periods.
Battle born batteries are designed to provide high performance and long-lasting power for your devices. These batteries are made with quality materials and construction, so you can trust them to keep your devices running for a long time. The batteries are available in various sizes and configurations, so you should be able to find the perfect one for your needs.
Lithium batteries are designed to provide a long-lasting, reliable power source for recreational vehicles. Lithium batteries can provide significantly more power than traditional lead acid batteries and are much lighter in weight, making them ideal for use.
You can get by with standard automotive batteries if you have a smaller RV with a less demanding electrical system. And if you only plan to use your RV occasionally, you can get by with even cheaper lead-acid batteries. RV batteries should be selected based on the type of RV and the planned use.
Installing Solar Panels on the Roof of Your RV
If you’re looking for a way to power your RV with renewable energy, setting up your RV with solar panels is a great option. Here’s a step-by-step RV solar setup for installing solar on the roof.
1. Park your RV in a sunny spot and set up the panel support frames on the roof. Make sure the frames are securely attached to the RV roof.
2. Position or move the panels on the frames and secure them.
3. Connect the positive and negative leads from the solar panels to the charge controller.
4. Connect the charge controller to your RV’s battery.
5. That’s it! Your RV roof-mounted RV solar system is done!
Costs of Roof-Mounted Solar panels for RV
There are a few things to mull over when determining the cost of solar panels for an RV. The size of the RV, the type of solar panel, and how many panels you will need are all critical factors.
Solar panels run around $100 to $2000 in price, depending on the size, quality of the panel, and how much solar power you need to produce. The average RV will need two to four panels to provide enough power. So, the total cost of solar panels for an RV can range from $200 to $8000.
The initial cost for a quality RV solar installation may seem high. Still, solar electric systems can save you significant money in the long run. They provide a free and renewable source of energy that can help offset the cost of electric bills. In addition, solar panels also have a very long lifespan, so they will continue to save money for many years after installing them. (check prices on amazon)
Conclusion: Benefits of Solar Panels on Your RV
As you now know, there are many benefits to installing solar panels on your RV. If you’re looking for a way to power up while camping, RV solar panel kits are a great option. It will provide you with a clean and renewable energy source, and an RV with solar power can save you money on your electricity.
Many portable RV solar power systems are easy to set up and provide enough power to run your appliances and lights. Solar power is an efficient means for powering your electronic systems and will serve you well as a backup or an alternative energy source to power your RV. Consider how much power your solar panels produce and your energy requirements before picking up an RV solar kit.
Solar panels are also relatively inexpensive, so they’re an excellent option for budget-minded RV owners. With all these great benefits, there is no reason not to use solar power and begin installing RV solar today. The time and money you invest will be well worth it!