You’re an RVer because you want to be able to camp anyplace you want. So what about electricity? Do you really want to settle only in spots where you can plug in to the mains? Certainly not! Generators are incredibly noisy, and as a nature lover, you’re probably none too pleased with the thought of all that noise and exhaust fumes.
Fortunately, there are tons of solar solutions out there for you these days. Being informed as to the available options will help you to choose the one that’s right for you. Making your RV self-sufficient is as easy as tapping in to sunshine!
Portable solar systems
There are some great fold-away solar panel systems that you can set up as needed. There are several advantages that portable solar systems offer. First and foremost, you don’t need to park your RV in the sun as you would with a roof-mounted solar system. You can also move your panel about and angle the stand to catch the sun’s rays efficiently when the sun is low in the sky. The only disadvantage would be the fact that you have to set it up every time you use it, but since set-up is as easy as positioning your panel and plugging it in, it’s really not a biggie.
The GoPower portable kit delivers a tidy 120 watts of power, however, you don’t have to go that big. The dinkiest version is an 18-watt panel that comes with laptop adaptors and that can charge a 12 volt battery at 1 Amp per hour. You can also get a nifty 40-watt fold-away panel, or compromise with an 80-watt portable panel.
Roof-mounted panels and kits
The major advantage of roof-mounted panels is that they’re up and charging even while you drive. Of course, you can also opt for a bigger array that handles heavy power users like your water heater along with a few other appliances simultaneously. Although your panels won’t be as efficient if you’re parked in a shady spot, modern solar panels are sensitive enough to charge up nonetheless.
The easiest option is to go for a full kit like the GoPower extreme kit that packs a whopping 480 watts of power. It consists of three 155 watt panels and comes with a 300 watt inverter that allows you to run your setup just as you would standard household AC. Another advantage of kits such as these is a facility that allows a direct connection to power outlets inside the RV.
You can monitor and control everything from compact equipment inside your RV including an inverter remote control that tells you how much available power you’re pulling once appliances are switched on. There’s also a solar controller that lets you check your battery life and how much power you’re drawing from the sun.
Alternatively, you can create your own kit using separate parts such as those offered in the Elektra range. You can still get a solar controller and create your own solar array using panels as powerful as 130 watts and inverters that handle up to 3000 watts.
Provided that you install a large enough solar panel array, you can run pretty much anything electrical in your RV within reason. The one big exception is your air conditioning unit(s). They simply draw too much sustained power, and it’s not cost efficient to install a solar array large enough to generate that much power.
You can increase the efficiency of your solar system by replacing all of your lights with LED replacement lamps. This will greatly decrease the amount of solar power you need, since lighting fixtures are the loads you will have constantly on for sustained periods of time. LED Lamps can save up to 75% of the power requirements compared to incandescent lamps. Plus, they last up to 10 times longer.
You can be as ambitious or as conservative as you like with solar power. If you’d like to ask us some questions, feel free to contact us, and our experts will help you to choose the components you need.