Whether you're on the road or setting up camp somewhere, you've probably got a need for electricity. With RV's, there are all kinds of options for how to power up, from the typical generator to personal wind turbines. One power source that has been gaining popularity is solar power from RV solar panels.
Does solar have a place in your rig?
The answer is maybe. There are some definite benefits to using solar power. When it's sunny out, you can charge your batteries for free. Your only expense is the initial cost of the equipment. Plus solar power is environmentally friendly and doesn't produce toxic bad smelling fumes as a generator can. However, solar energy may not be an efficient power source for your RV– an average-sized solar panel can only charge up to 25 amps an hour.
Solar energy is a great option as a back-up power source. It can also be useful if you're going to be camping in one area for a while, as you can set the panels up and let them charge all day long.
What Does A Solar Panel Do?
A solar panel essentially acts as the charging station for your electrical needs. The panel takes light from the sun and converts it to usable energy. This energy can then be stored in a battery used to power your electronics.
What Equipment Do I Need?
You need a solar panel to absorb light. Next, that energy needs to go to an inverter, which is a machine that converts the energy produced by the solar panel into usable energy. Once that energy has been converted, it can be stored in a battery. It is good practice to have multiple batteries available so you can swap them out when one becomes fully charged.
A generator can also be a part of your rig. The generator is useful for days when there isn't much sunlight and your batteries are drained. Some people don't find it necessary, however– it really just depends on how heavy your needs for electricity are.
How Much Solar Power Does My RV Need?
This is an important thing to consider prior to purchasing any equipment. Too weak of a panel and you won't be able to provide enough power to your electronics– you may find yourself without A/C on a hot day. Too powerful of a panel and you won't be able to store all the excess electricity that your rig produces. It's best to accurately gauge your electricity needs before committing to a certain sized solar panel.
You will need to have some idea of your energy usage in order to determine the right sized panel for your needs. One way to do this is to see how long it takes you to drain your current battery. Divide that by the number of days. For example, if you used 200 amp-hours over four days, you would need 50 amp hours per day. The average 100-watt solar panel can deliver 30 amp-hours per day, so you would need two 100-watt solar panels.
Solar energy can be an efficient and a great green option for powering your electronics, and it works well as a back-up or alternate power source. If solar energy is right for you, be sure to first consider what your energy needs are before making a purchase. Check out this link for solar panels for RVs.