Which RV Solar Kit is Right for Me?

Which RV Solar Kit is Right for Your Needs?

This page will help you in making the correct choice.

When we are out camping in our RVs battery power is everything since most items run off of 12 Volt power with a few exceptions that can run off propane or 110 power.  Keeping the batteries maintained and charged to the proper level is determined by the amount of 12 volt power use and how many batteries you need to charge.  Power to the refrigerator with 12 Volt or 110 with an inverter off the batteries is an expensive task using solar power.  Running a refrigerator using propane is much more efficient and less costly.

With the right amount of battery storage and solar panels an RV owner can camp or live without shore or generator power for an unlimited amount of time with charged batteries and propane.  Pure Sine Wave Inverters work very well producing 110 power in RVs for TVs, DVD players, and for charging and running electronics such as computers and cell phones.  They also work well for microwaves and hairdryers but you need to have the correct size inverter.  TVs, computers and electronics need approximately 600 Watt power inverters.  Microwaves and hairdryers need approximately 1500 Watt inverters for short term use only.  Most RVs do very well with two Group 27 marine batteries unless power inverters are being used to power items for extended periods of time.  The 5 Stage Deluxe Digital 30 Amp Controllers we offer with our kits will maintain your batteries without over-charging while camping or while in storage.

Managing your power use at night may be needed if you are using extensive power.  If so, purchasing an extra solar panel and battery should resolve the problem.

We are avid campers and own a Toy Hauler with a 200 Watt RV Kit installed.  We spend 10 to 12 days at a time camping without shore power.  Two Group 27 marine batteries give us lights inside and out, including awning lights and outdoor landscape lights, with a 600 Watt Power Inverter.  We also power our stereo for music for several hours a day and run the heater in the evening if it’s cold.  In the morning, our batteries are still at 80% capacity.

Most RV’s and boats typically have Group 27 deep cycle RV/marine batteries.  We recommend 50 to 75 Watts of charging power per battery.  In some cases 100 Watts per battery is preferable.  If there is high power use or if your panels are in limited sunlight during the day then a higher wattage per battery is recommended.  Our controllers will protect your batteries from overcharging.

Example: Two Group 27 batteries will require from 100 to 200 Watts of charging power, depending on usage and hours of sunlight.


One important thing you should do before purchasing a solar kit is to measure the open space on your RV’s roof or boat to see what size panels will fit.  Be sure not to position your panels where they will be shaded by antennas or vents.

What size Solar RV System will work best for me?

To determine the best RV Solar size we need to know three key factors –

  1. How much power do you use?
  2. Where do you plan to do most of your camping?
  3. What time of year do you camp most frequently?

Daily Power Use

It’s important to understand how much power is used on a daily basis while out in the field to best size up a battery bank and solar system. The size of solar needed can be determined by calculating how much average energy is used out of a 12 volt battery in a 24 hour period. That energy consumption is replaced by solar the next day.

Camp Location

Campers in Central and Southern U.S. generally can get by on a smaller RV Deluxe Solar Kit as compared to those in more Northern States. Southern areas generally get more hours of sun with less rainy, cloudy days. Our solar panels will still charge a battery bank during cloudy days but the charge will be diminished. Calculating an average for daily sunlight helps narrow down a solar system for battery recharging. Our solar panels can charge batteries under moonlight and florescent, albeit it be small.

Time of Year

Time of year is an important factor for selecting an RV solar panel system. The quality of sunlight is an important factor when selecting a solar system. Short days with frequent clouds and unpredictable sun exposure can drastically cut down on the amount of power a solar system can deliver for battery recharging.

Here are some examples of kits we offer:


This Zamp Solar 100 Watt Deluxe RV Solar Kit is a great starter kit for smaller RVs with only one deep cycle battery.  It will produce 5.6 Amps and comes with all wires and connectors plus a 5 Stage Digital Deluxe 30 Amp Controller.  As with most of our kits, this one can easily be expanded by adding one to three more panels (up to 300 Watts) in the future if more batteries are added.  This kit is capable of powering your lights and other 12 volt devices, such as stereos, and the water pump.  To run a heater for more than short period of time, you will need more than one battery and at least two solar panels.


This kit works very well with two deep cycle batteries.  The Zamp Solar 160 Watt Deluxe Kit includes a 3 Port Roof Cap and will accept two additional 160 Watt panels (three total panels) in the future.  This kit puts out 8.9 Amps. Small Pure Sine Wave Inverters can be used with this kit to charge laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices and you could watch a couple hours of TV.  This kit will give you plenty of power for lighting, water pump, stereo and to run the heater when needed.


This is a power house kit that can produce over 100 Amp hours of DC power per day during long summer days.  Great choice if you have two or more deep cycle batteries.  The 320 Watt Zamp Deluxe Kit comes with a 5 Stage Deluxe Digital PWM Controller with easy to read display and the power to watch TV and other electronics with the addition of a small inverter – run all your lights, water pump and the heater.  This kit is perfect for those longer camping trips.  Solar power may be limited during the winter months with shorter days and fewer sunny days.  This kit will provide that extra needed battery power in those conditions.  An extra solar panel can be added in the future to these kits for more charging power.

ZS-480-30A-DX or ZS-640-60A-DX

These supreme RV Solar Kits range from 480 to 640 Watts and are great for full-timers that dry camp for weeks at a time.  These units will power four or more deep cycle batteries.  With the purchase of a Zamp Pure Sine Wave Inverter you will have power for your microwave and hairdryers, as well as the TV, electronics, lights and music.

We offer many sizes of RV Solar Kits from 100 Watts to 640 Watts with many different panel sizes to fit your needs.  We can also customize a kit for you.

Note about air conditioners:  Air conditioners are the one thing that cannot easily be run with solar power.  They pull so much power that you would need too many batteries to store in most RVs.  Running your AC with a generator is the best option.

Note about refrigerators: Power to the refrigerator with 12 volt or 110 with an inverter off the batteries is an expensive task using solar power.  Running a refrigerator using propane is much more efficient and less costly.  

If you need additional assistance in determining what kit will be best for you, please contact us at 970-882-8046 or joe@backcountrysolar.com and we will be happy to assist you.

Not all applications are the same.  We will be glad to help with what you need for your application.  We cannot guarantee that any product will run any specific application due to variations.

If you need additional wire or other accessories for your RV solar kit, please contact us. We can add this to your purchase.