Are you interested in solar for your RV? Join the solar discussions on RVillage to share and learn from other RVillagers.

If you are new to the idea of solar for your RV, you are probably finding hundreds of videos, blog posts and solar installers out there. Where do you begin? From all the discussions, it seems it can be as complicated & expensive as you'd like, or it could even be simple and affordable! Fortunately, technology keeps improving and getting less expensive. See the benefits of going solar.

Solar basics

A simple solar diagram
The illustration below is a simplified diagram of the basic parts (not meant to be an actual wiring diagram).

The components

Diving into the discussions around RVillage, there are countless opinions about types and configurations for panels, charge controllers, batteries and inverters. Rooftop or portable panels?  Self-install or hire a pro? Every RVer's situation will be different, so it’s best to do your research.

Solar panels

How do solar panels work?

Large array of rooftop panels. Photo: Robbie & Alice

So many choices. What to buy?

A few helpful ideas to get started with.

Portable or rooftop?

See the pros and cons of each. Opinions vary, but it seems rooftop (or "fixed" panels) are the most popular.

Tilting rooftop panels

Tilting panels. Photo: Steve Paynter

RVillagers weigh in.

Rigid or flexible panels?

View responses.

What's the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels?

Can you use older panels?

RVillagers advise.
(Did you know that the life expectancy of rigid panels is 20-25 years?)

Can you mix different types of panels? Apparently yes, but you'll need to use separate charge controllers for each array (group).

Professionally installed or self-installed?

Where can you find solar installers? RVillagers offer suggestions (with preferences), and more info here.

Do-it-yourself tips:

Charge Controllers

A charge controller regulates the voltage and current coming from the solar panels going to the battery, to keep batteries from overcharging. What size (amps) controller do you need? See RVillagers helpful advice here.

Inverter and charge controllers. Photo: Bythebuffalo

Inverters

Batteries and pure sine wave inverter. Photo: Kimble & Cristina

Learn all about inverters and inverter/chargers in this post: Inverters.

Batteries

The more storage you have, the more devices and appliances you can power.

Lithium batteries. Photo: Battle Born

Get your questions answered about batteries in this related post: RV Batteries & Charging.

Sizing your system

View responses.

Learning how to use your setup. If you have solar, do you need to supplement charging with a generator?

LOTS of helpful info.

With solar, boondockers can generate their own power anywhere there is sun. Photo: Cinn

Why go solar?

RVillagers share their thoughts about the benefits of solar.

  • Freedom: You'll be able to generate energy wherever you are, and not be dependent on finding an RV park or campground with hookups. This can also be useful in areas experiencing power outages.
  • Save on weight and space: There is no need to carry extra fuel for a generator (or the generator itself).
  • Save money: A solar system will actually will pay for itself, by enabling you to "dry-camp" in places that are usually free, or very low-cost.
  • Enjoy the outdoors: You can relax and really enjoy the quiet and the fresh air of your natural surroundings.
  • You're always observing quiet hours: If you're used to having to hurry up & finish watching that movie to turn off the generator by the respectful 10PM "quiet time," even a modest solar system will allow you to watch TV as late as you want; and then start your coffee maker really early in the morning—without waking up the neighbors!
Related post: The RVillagers Guide to Boondocking

RVillage groups

Learn from other RVillagers in the solar groups. Have you done a solar installation or want to? Join these RVillage groups to ask questions and learn, or share your knowledge & experience and help others!

Return to: RV Electricity


Disclaimer: The information gathered here is compiled from the posts and opinions of RVillagers, and not of RVillage itself. RVillage assumes no responsibility for any inaccuracies or omissions.


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