Running an RV or camper can be an expensive experience. As an RV owner or user you’ll know that it’s rarely cheap to keep your camper on the road and the cost aspect can dent your enjoyment levels and the amount of time that you can afford to use it.
Many RV owners are looking at or have gone ahead and purchased solar panels for their camper vehicles in efforts to reduce the expensive energy costs that they incur when using their RVs. With more and more affordable solar power options for campers becoming available the movement to solar power for camper is a sensible one.
Traditional ways of keeping a camper going with electricity involve using generators that run on gas or diesel both of which are becoming more and more expensive, are noisy and generate fumes and a typical RV can guzzle it’s way through this stuff.
It makes sense to look at solar panels as a solid and reliable energy source for your camper.
There is a variety of solar panels available for campers that are both portable or able to be permanently installed on the roof of the RV. With a suitably sized solar array you should be able to meet most of your energy needs when on a trip.
Renogy are a recognised and experienced provider of solar panel kits for RVs and they have a wide range of cost effective options available. You can find some of their camper solar kits here on Amazon.
You really have two sets of options for your RV solar setup.
- You can mount the solar panels on the roof. You’ll need brackets for the panels to keep them secure, cables and a flange where the panels enter the vehicle.
- If you don’t like the idea of drilling holes in your camper then you can get a portable solar array that you erect outside, next to your RV when you park up. The advantage is that you can get a larger set of panels – so you get more power – and, if you sell the RV then you can keep the panels. You can also use the panels at home with a grid tie inverter to save money on your home utility bill. The only downside with this system is that you have to put it up when you park up and take it down again when you move on.
Estimating your power needs could be worth doing as this will help you to get an idea of how many panels you are likely to need. Typically, on a sunny day, two 100W panels will charge your camper batteries within a few hours which will provide you with enough electricity for the evening for average power use.
The number of panels will also be affected by where you are, sunny areas will provide more power than cloudy ones although all modern solar panels generate good levels of power in all weather conditions.
When you park your RV up always try to place your solar panels in direct sunshine. A portable system may be better as you if you are in a hot sunny area then you will probably want to park your vehicle in the shade – if you have portable panels you can place them away from your RV, so you get the best of both worlds.
An example of a portable solar array for your RV. Put it out, connect it up, and you've got power. Easy.
To get the best from your RV solar panels you’ll want to get some deep cycle batteries. The designed for this type of use and are different from car batteries which are unsuitable for long term use with solar.
You will also need a charge controller which will prevent your batteries from overheating and becoming damaged. Most RV and camper solar installation kits come complete with panels, cables and the charge controller.
Solar power is growing, not only for homes but for campers, travel, small energy needs, lighting, security and lots more.
The options for RV owners to save money on their energy costs are now credible and there are many camper solar kits available that won’t break the bank with some systems starting at less than $100.
The installation of solar is well within the reach of the average DIY er, even if your skills are basic, and with a kit you get everything that you need, including instructions and often helpline support services.
Solar power for your camper is worth thinking about. It’s cheap, clean, maintenance free and easy to install.
It will also give you a sense of satisfaction that you’re using electricity that you’ve generated yourself, from the sun, that hasn’t cost you a bean.