Dive Into RV Solar
What Can Solar Do For My RV?
More importantly – What can solar do for you?
Installing solar on your RV allows you to stay off the grid longer, without the need to find a power source. You won’t be limited to staying at RV parks that offer power anymore. You’ll have options, many, many more options. It’s an easy way to get off the beaten path and still use the convenience of your RV.
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Solar Can Power RV Electrical Devices
RVs have many electrical devices. Some of the devices in an RV use the power of the battery, while others need to have a power source connected to the RV.
A power source that gets connected to the RV is called shore power, or generator power. Battery power is commonly referred to as 12-volt power.
Shore Power = Plug-In Somewhere or Generator
Battery Power = 12-Volt Power
When you’re RV is plugged into shore power you get to use appliances like microwaves, blenders, TVs, etc. It’s just like if you were at home. Just about anything you would use at home you can use in a “plugged-in” RV.
While on the other hand devices like your lights, fans, water pump, and other smaller devices are powered off the battery. They wok on 12-volt. They will work if you’re plugged in or not, as long as you have battery power.
What Else Can I Power With Solar on my RV?
With enough solar panels and battery capacity, you can power anything in your RV. Even an air conditioner. But the size of your RV, the expense of the solar system, and the need for devices will make you analyze what you really need.
It’s very unlikely that you will want to, or can, add enough solar panels or battery power to run an A/C unit. Additionally, in most parts of the U.S., the air conditioner isn’t needed all the time. And if so, you can still plug your RV in on those occasions.
Most RVs can get by with smaller more manageable solar systems. Smaller RVs that don’t use much power can harness the benefits of a suitcase-style solar system, also referred to as a portable solar system. Medium and larger RVs that have more devices can sometimes get by with a portable solar system but are better suited to harness rooftop solar systems. Rooftop systems are generally larger than portable systems.
The Size of Your RV Matters
There is only so much space on top of RVs where you can add solar panels. Larger RVs have a good amount of space, but they also have a good amount of electronics to power. Smaller RVs are more restrictive for solar panel space. There are devices that are on the roof of the RV that can limit where you can add solar panels.
The Expense of Your Solar System
You might like the idea of running your air conditioning unit off of solar. It means you can go anywhere and still be in a temperature you control. But once you figure out what it takes to run a power-hungry device like an air conditioner you might rather just go find a place to plugin.
Additionally, if you’re not in an area that is exceptionally hot, like the American Southwest in the summer, you won’t need to use the A/C all that much. So why build a solar system that can power the A/C unit when it’s not used often?
But, even if you’re not planning to run an A/C unit you’re likely looking at a couple of thousand dollars to get a solar system installed. Even doing it yourself can still cost a good chunk of money. If you’re like average American RV users, you only use your RV for 3 to 4 weeks a year. At that point, you have to ask yourself if you really need to have all the comforts of home.
All Those Devices
So if you’re a typical RV user that only uses their RV for 3 to 4 weeks a year there’s a good chance you can go without some of your creature comforts. You might decide that you can go without bringing a crockpot or running a large flatscreen all day. These devices can use a ton of power, and it adds up. And hey, it can add to the experience of RVing and camping when your RV life is different than your daily life.
Dive Deeper Into RV Solar
Now that know that solar helps you power the devices you love, it’s time to dive deeper.