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Take Your Solar Benefits To-Go

Jessica PirroMay 28, 20193440

Take solar energy's benefits to the open road

Solar panels get the stigma that they are only for household use, however, there is a lot more ways to use solar panels than just for your homes power. You are now able to use solar panels on you RVs!

The Basics

An RVs solar panels can work in the same way that a residential solar installation operates. A solar panel captures the sunlight and then converts it to electricity, once converted you can then use the electricity that is converted to power appliances.

You can solar panels that are designed specially to be portable. They are easy to set up and tare down for RVs. There are also small portable panels that are flexible and designed specifically to be mounted on the roof of an RV.

A very significant difference between residential solar panels and RV solar panels is the size of the solar system. An RV solar setup are typically designed to provide enough power to recharge small devices or some of the larger kitchen appliances, but a home solar system is usually larger because it is sized to cover all of your homes power needs.

With and RV it is possible to add more panels to the solar setup, but since an RV typically on the smaller side and the energy storage capacity requirements are usually on the smaller side as well. An RV solar system, in general are on the small side compared to residential solar rooftop installations.

If you spend a lot of your time in an RV, camping or traveling, a solar setup is an efficient, cost-effective, clean and a convenient way to use electricity while in the go. A solar panels system usually doesn’t require very much maintenance and it is also a very dependable source of electricity, as long as the sun is shining.

If you are an RV camper who tends to camp in campgrounds with full electrical hookups, adding solar panels to your RV, there really won’t be much an extra benefit, in order to rationalize spending that much money on the panels.

What Does an RV Solar System Need?

An RV solar setup will need a few different items before it can start producing power for your solar system!

  1. The first item you will need is solar panels
  2. You will also need a charge controller so that you don’t overcharge your system
  3. You will need some solar batteries to store the energy that is produced
  4. You will also need a solar inverter because like your house, your RV uses AC  power

All of these components are available for purchase separately, however there are some RV solar panel kits that include most of the components that you’ll need.  

You will need to make sure that you gave all of the required cables, wires and hooks to connect all your panels together. You’ll also need to make sure that you have all of the right racking and mounting equipment for your panels. This stuff if typically included in you solar panel or solar battery system purchase.  

How to Get Started Using Solar Power on Your RV or Camper

Getting started is simple: like with a home, installing solar panels onto your RV or camper is the first step you need to take in order to get energy flowing through your house on wheels. You’ll need to make sure you get the appropriate sized panels in order to keep your RV charged all day long.

The next thing you’ll need is a charge controller, which regulates energy that is stored and doesn’t let your batteries overcharge. If your batteries begin to run out, the charge controller will usually stop working, letting you know. After hooking up your new PV panels, you can use them to supply the batteries in your RV with energy from the sun. While your RV should already have a battery, you may consider getting more to make sure you have enough energy storage.

The final thing you’ll need is an inverter, which converts the energy into AC form allowing it to power your electronics. Unless you have any large appliances within your RV, you’ll probably only need a 1500 watt inverter to power it. You are now equipped to get as much energy as you need for as long as you need without having to worry about electrical charges.

How to Make Sure You’re Generating Enough Energy

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to generate enough energy, you can let your mind rest easy, as the panels on your RV will be able to keep generating energy throughout the day, every day, even if it’s cloudy. The only thing you should worry about is that you have enough panels (three to six 100-watt panels should be your target) and how many large appliances you need to power.

Look up the amount of power you need for each appliance and plan accordingly per how many hours a day you plan on using them. Also, don’t forget you’ll also need to plan to have enough batteries based on how many panels you have and how much wattage each panel has.

Make Sure You Don’t Waste All Your Energy

While you may have planned accordingly based on your panels, batteries, and appliances, you’ll still want to be sure that you don’t overdo your energy usage. A backup generator can also help keep you from going dark, but if you don’t want to have to use it, keep in mind that conserving your energy is also a good idea. You can do this by not overusing your A/C and heater or getting a mini fridge instead of a full sized one. When you aren’t using your laptop, keep it shut, and when it’s charged, unplug it. And make sure you aren’t using too much phantom energy by unplugging any devices you aren’t using.

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