RV Solar Panel Kit FAQ’s

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Believe it or not, there’s such a thing as a solar panel kit for RVs. With a little bit of work, you can install a set of panels on the roof of your RV that will power – or at least help power – all the goodies in your camper. Here are some basic questions and answers from a guest author.

Sunforce solar panel kit for RVs

This Sunforce solar panel kit for RVs, boats, etc. can produce as much as 260W of power and costs less than $1,000

Q. What exactly are motorhome solar panel kits?

They are convenient easy to install kits that can convert your motor home to run off of solar power. In each kit you will find a solar panel, a battery to store the solar energy, a charge controller, and an inverter.

Q. Why choose solar power for your RV?

Apart from the savings in money – you don’t have to fuel your gas generator as much nor do you have to maintain it as frequently – solar power makes you more self-sufficient.

Q. How can you convert your camper to Solar Power?

Acquire the appropriate RV solar panel kit for your energy needs and install (I suggest you the Sunforce solar panels).

Q. How do I find out my RV’s Solar Power consumption and needs?

For example, let’s say you want to watch TV and run your refrigerator (full of ice-cold beer) completely with solar power:

A 37″ LCD flat screen uses 50-75 Watts, and an RV-sized fridge uses 80-120 Watts. If we estimate the total wattage to be 160 Watts, then you need at least 160 watts of panel OR a slightly smaller panel with a battery storage system.

Q. Let’s say you only have the budget for a 60w solar power array – is it worth the cost?

Using our example above, you take the wattage of our TV-fridge combo (160) and divide it by the system voltage (almost every RV in North America runs on a 12V system). SO, our 160 watt TV-Fridge combo uses 13.33 amps. If we have a pair of batteries that can store 200 amp hours each, then we have 400 amp hours available (although in the real world it’s less, but this is just an example).

At 13.33 amps, our TV-fridge combo kills the batteries in 30 hours…unless we have a 60W solar array.

If the 60W solar array can only store 60W of energy for 8 hours, that’s still adding back 40 amp hours of storage to our battery. You may be saying, “ya, but that still only extends the battery life about 3 hours,” but consider this: batteries are more efficient when they’re discharged more slowly. In the real world, our 60W solar array cuts back on the wear and tear of our batteries and keeps them running better longer.

However, if we go to a 120W solar array, we extend our total operating time to 40 hours…except that the clock resets every 24 hours. As the sun rises after 24 hours, we start charging our batteries again. During the day, we use very little battery power to run our TV and fridge, and then our battery capacity keeps us running at night.

As you can see, even a little 60W solar system helps. While you won’t be able to use it to run your RV indefinitely, at the very least it can keep your batteries topped off and supplement any power you need when you’re not near a campground power source.

Q. What would be an acceptable RV Solar Panel with good wattage?

This will largely depend on the size of your RV, the number of people, the length of time and what appliances you’re running. For example, an 80 watt panel will easily power fans, charge batteries, and run some lights. A 125 watt panel would be great for prolonged television use, and those mentioned previously. The 140 watt panel is for heavier usage, and prolonged stopping. Or you may install two 125 watt panels, and this is highly recommended if you are running a refrigerator, compressor, stopping for long periods at a time, and for year round usage.

Q. What parts are needed for solar on a RV?

You will need the following parts, RV Solar Panels, Solar Charge Controller, Batteries, and an Inverter. RV Solar Panel Kits, will have everything you need for your RV power needs.

Q. How do I self install the panels on my RV or Camper?

There are two common methods to installing solar panels on your RV. The first way is flat on top of the roof, and is excellent fro traveling in warmer months. The second method is for tilt positioning so that your panels are perpendicular with the sun, and is superior for collecting Solar Power in the cooler months.

Q. How to wire a solar panel to two batteries on a RV?

Connect the positive and negative leads from the solar panel, to the positive, and negative terminals of one battery respectively. Attach jumpers between both batteries to connect the positive to positive, and negative to negative.

Q. What appliances or electronics can my RV run off of a 220 Watt Solar RV Kit?

It will run everyday items like interior lights, televisions, a laptop computer, and fans. I would not suggest running power draining appliances like refrigerators, but a toaster, toaster oven, and possibly a microwave oven.

Q. Will a 60 watt solar panel charge my RV battery?

Yes, although your battery size will determine how quickly.

Q. Can solar panel run a RV air conditioner?

Yes, but you will have to size the solar panel for the power needs of the A/C. Considering that a 11,000 BTU air conditioner could pull as much as 1000 watts (older models), air conditiong is the one thing you might not be able to have without a generator.

About the Author: E. Fortie is a small business energy consultant and RV owner. He writes for renewable energy blogs and posts threads in forums and communities. You can shoot him a note or request answers to solar questions by mail at info [@] 12voltsolarpanels [.] net


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  1. Mickey says:

    Not bad… We got the hybrid camper and now we got solar panels for the camper. Jason are you getting us ready for something? You know something we don’t? This would be great for a camper especially if you go where they have no plug ins. Definitely self sufficient when a hurricane hits and you left in the aftermath. That is if the camper survives.

  2. Rich says:

    Solar panels are great if you do a lot of boondocking but the cost just doesn’t make sense if you rarely go unplugged. I constructed my own wind generator from a treadmill motor…that’s another option to be explored. Its always fun to look at ways of harnessing mother nature…lol.

  3. Mickey says:

    Went to the home show last weekend and yes the solar panel companies are up from 2 last year to over a dozen this year. Big thing was this new computerized hybrid hot water heater.

  4. Jason (Admin) says:

    Mickey – LOL. All I’m trying to do is get caught up and get this site back on track…been absent for a few weeks. My apologies. Cool note about hybrid hot water too…smart idea.

    Rich – That sounds pretty awesome.

  5. Mickey says:

    Jason you are the only one doing this. The other forums have so many others that run it. I’m not complaining about it. You also need vacation time like the rest of us.

  6. Jason (Admin) says:

    Mickey – Thanks. I’m getting some help! 🙂

  7. Certainly, but we all need to realise that adding Solar on their property is an purchase that should raise the longer term valuation of their home if / when they make a choice to sell. With the environment the way it is going we are unable to underestimate any solution that offers no cost power at no cost to both the client and more importantly the earth!

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