solar power for camper

RV Solar Panels – How To Get Started

RV Solar panels are still a new concept to many RVers.

Many believe that solar power systems are not practical or that the systems are too complex and expensive.

There are a number of ways to put solar power on your RV and, with the use of an easy to use RV solar panel kit, it is well within the scope of an average DIY installer.

Once you’ve tried solar power with an RV you’ll quickly realise that it is easy to use and setup, and a great cheap way to charge your batteries and provide power for all your RV needs.

If you just want to skip to see some great RV Solar Panel options then you’ll find some great kits here for your RV.

Table of Contents

How does solar power work?

The creation of solar power is pretty simple. Solar panels convert light from the sun into energy.

The process is known as “photovoltaic process”. The word Photovoltaic is a combination of the Greek word for Light and the name of the physicist Allesandro Volta.

95% of all solar cells are made up of the semiconductor silicone (SI).

As light hits the cells, the semiconductor absorbs the light and electrons on the semiconductor are excited creating an electrical reaction in the form of a DC charge. The DC current can then be used immediately or routed to batteries for storage.

Setting Up An RV Solar Panel System

The components needed to set up an RV solar panel system are:

Multiple solar panels can be wired together to generate enough power for the needed output.

The most important factor when choosing the right panels is the semiconductor material.

Crystalline panels produce power more efficiently and have a longer life span than other semiconductor materials.

A charge controller is another piece of equipment needed. The charge controller monitors the batteries and when current is needed, it is supplied in the right amount.

The controllers voltage regulation is needed to ensure the batteries are not damaged by excessive voltage.

12v solar panels can produce voltages up to 19-21 volts depending on the amount of sunlight.

Charge controllers are rated in amps. This is the total amount of current is can regulate.

Easy to install RV Solar Panels Kits

Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer
Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Premium 4 Pcs 100W Panel+40A MPPT Charge Controller+ Bluetooth Module Fuse+ Mounting Z Brackets+Adaptor Kit +Tray Cables Set, 400W, Grid 12V Solar Power System
Renogy 160 Watt 12 Volt Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel - Ultra Lightweight, Ultra Thin, Up to 248 Degree Arc, for RV, Boats, Roofs, Uneven Surfaces
WindyNation 200 Watt (2pcs 100 Watt) Solar Panel Complete Off-Grid RV Boat Kit with LCD PWM Charge Controller + Solar Cable + Mounting Brackets
ECO-WORTHY 100 Watts Solar Panel Off Gird RV Boat Kit :100W Mono Solar Panel +20A LCD Charge Controller+Z Brackets
Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer
Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Premium 4 Pcs 100W Panel+40A MPPT Charge Controller+ Bluetooth Module Fuse+ Mounting Z Brackets+Adaptor Kit +Tray Cables Set, 400W, Grid 12V Solar Power System
Renogy 160 Watt 12 Volt Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel - Ultra Lightweight, Ultra Thin, Up to 248 Degree Arc, for RV, Boats, Roofs, Uneven Surfaces
WindyNation 200 Watt (2pcs 100 Watt) Solar Panel Complete Off-Grid RV Boat Kit with LCD PWM Charge Controller + Solar Cable + Mounting Brackets
ECO-WORTHY 100 Watts Solar Panel Off Gird RV Boat Kit :100W Mono Solar Panel +20A LCD Charge Controller+Z Brackets
$332.49
$635.13
$773.55
$225.99
$118.00
Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer
Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer
$332.49
Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Premium 4 Pcs 100W Panel+40A MPPT Charge Controller+ Bluetooth Module Fuse+ Mounting Z Brackets+Adaptor Kit +Tray Cables Set, 400W, Grid 12V Solar Power System
Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Premium 4 Pcs 100W Panel+40A MPPT Charge Controller+ Bluetooth Module Fuse+ Mounting Z Brackets+Adaptor Kit +Tray Cables Set, 400W, Grid 12V Solar Power System
$635.13
Renogy 160 Watt 12 Volt Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel - Ultra Lightweight, Ultra Thin, Up to 248 Degree Arc, for RV, Boats, Roofs, Uneven Surfaces
Renogy 160 Watt 12 Volt Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel - Ultra Lightweight, Ultra Thin, Up to 248 Degree Arc, for RV, Boats, Roofs, Uneven Surfaces
$773.55
WindyNation 200 Watt (2pcs 100 Watt) Solar Panel Complete Off-Grid RV Boat Kit with LCD PWM Charge Controller + Solar Cable + Mounting Brackets
WindyNation 200 Watt (2pcs 100 Watt) Solar Panel Complete Off-Grid RV Boat Kit with LCD PWM Charge Controller + Solar Cable + Mounting Brackets
$225.99
ECO-WORTHY 100 Watts Solar Panel Off Gird RV Boat Kit :100W Mono Solar Panel +20A LCD Charge Controller+Z Brackets
ECO-WORTHY 100 Watts Solar Panel Off Gird RV Boat Kit :100W Mono Solar Panel +20A LCD Charge Controller+Z Brackets
$118.00

Where To Store The Power For Later Use

The energy produced by solar panels is normally stored in “Deep Cell” batteries for future use.

Deep cell batteries are the favored choice due to the fact that they are designed to be discharged and recharged over and over again.

The amount of power need determines that amount of batteries needed.

Batteries are rated in amp hours. For example, a 1 amp hour battery will provide 1 amp of current for 1 hour.

Two 150 amp hour batteries in parallel would total 300 amp hours and would provide 10 amps of power for 30 hours.

To determine how much power is needed, Add up the total current draw of all the loads on your RV.

Inverters for a solar powered RV

The lights in your RV are typically DC and can be operated from the storage battery But most appliances run on AC power. In most cases you will need an inverter. An inverter converts DC power into standard AC current.

Inverters usually come in two types, “True Sine Wave” and “Modified Sine Wave”. Modified sine wave inverters are usually cheaper and can be used to power basic ac power devices.

True sine wave inverters are best for sensitive electronic equipment such as laptop computers, etc. Inverters are rated based on how much power they can supply.

Connecting Solar Panels Together

Solar panels can be connected together to obtain a higher voltage or power capacity. Connecting two 12volts 5amp panels together in series would give you 24volts 5amps. Connecting two panels in parallel would yield 12volts 10amps. The same is true for batteries.

The panels are then connected to the charge controller. The controller then connects to the batteries. And then the batteries would connect to the inverter. The inverter can then be connected to route AC power to the RV’s electrical outlets.

Conclusion

So there you have it. RV solar panels are great for dry camping or on the go. Solar power is clean, reliable, and the most cost effective means of keeping your batteries charged and the lights on.