RV Solar Panels

RV solar panels are spearheading the penetration of solar photovoltaic technology into vehicles. To remove doubts, RV still employ internal combustion engines, the RV solar panel is used to recharge the RV deep cycle batteries that power the RV appliances. We are not yet in the era of RV with electrical motors.

Why RV solar panels?

RV appliances are powered off the RV deep cycle batteries and recharge is needed within a 24 hours cycle. Traditionally, RV parks are providing for power outlets that are used to recharge the batteries. This situation creates a dependency on RV parks services for battery recharge. RV parks are great and really provide a very good service, however they are not everywhere and in the season they might be overbooked. A solar panel can be used to recharge the RV deep cycle batteries during daylight hours.

Where to buy solar panels for RV?

There are two ways to buy solar panels for RV. As stand alone or as a complete solar RV panel kit. Either way they can be bought from RV dealers that can also install the solar system; they can also be bought from on line stores or solar stores. Many new RV comes ready for solar panels installation. Since the RV roof has a limited area size, make sure you buy panels that are efficient and that will give you the maximum power per square feet. You can expect panel prices in the $5-6 per Watt range.

Installing the solar panels on the RV

Unless the RV has the necessary arrangements, the panel needs to be mounted on the roof and some drilling, bracketing and bolting is needed. In theory tilting the panel will increase the output power by 10-15%. On the other side of the equation a tilting mount is more expensive and more labor intensive, a tilted mount increases the wind drag on the RV and the fuel consumption as a result.

Maintenance and Care for Solar Panels

Solar panels are resilient and, have no moving part and can live more than 20 years. The panel must be cleaned to avoid shading of the active solar cells. The wires and clamps must be checked to see that they are not rusted.

What are the add-ons?

To utilize the solar panel to its full extent and to protect the batteries a battery charge controller, preferably a MPPT charge controller is a must. Don’t compromise on the features set of the charge controller, a good charge controller guarantees the longevity of the batteries and maximizes the utilization of the solar panels.
Most RVs are using DC electrical appliances. However, adding a DC to AC converter, also known as pure sine wave inverter opens the doors for AC operated appliances. DC or AC, the limited size of the RV limit the output power of the solar panels, so even with the solar panels installed the appliances can’t be all operated simultaneously. A minority of the RV systems have greater than 500 watts solar panels, and most systems are anywhere from 60 watts to 400 watt.

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