Your RV gives you a lot of freedom. You go where you want to go, see what you want to see, and don’t have to worry about booking hotel rooms or finding accommodations for your pets. You take your home along with you on every adventure. But those adventures need power. Sometimes you want a few creature comforts. And sometimes you just want to watch a ballgame.
If you’re using your RV, there are great options for places for you to stop and camp out. Your options can open up even more when you make your own power! Sure, you can run a loud, smelly generator – they’re reliable and effective. But you can also choose a more environmentally friendly option, one that homeowners the world over are turning to more and more: solar panels!
Now, this might sound complicated, but we promise it is not. Many companies sell solar panel kits that contain everything you need. There are big price differences between models and brands, but the majority of them will have the same basic items: a solar panel (or several, depending on how much power you want to generate), an inverter – which takes the DC current that your solar panel makes to AC current, the kind that powers everything in your RV that doesn’t run on batteries – cables/wiring, mounting hardware, and a charge controller for your battery. Depending on the type and storage capacity of your batteries, you might be able to run power through a few cloudy days!
Some panels will require mounting to your vehicle – this way, you’ll never forget them and they can be charging up even as your driving to your next adventure. However, putting things on your vehicle means you have to drill holes in your RV to mount them. Be sure to do it well so that you don’t accidentally make the roof leak. It might also cause more wind resistance. They do make flexible panels that can be glued to your roof if you have a smooth surface to stick it to. That’ll help with the wind resistance thing, but they are more expensive. And since they aren’t glass, they can be gouged or scratched easily by low hanging branches.
Some panels can be attached to a wooden frame or have the ability to lay/stand on their own. These are great when you want to park in the shade. The panels can be placed just about anywhere sunny while you stay cool somewhere else! They also don’t create drag on your vehicle, and they won’t cause leaks because you aren’t mounting them to your roof. However, they’re going to take up room somewhere. If space is at a premium in your RV, keep that in mind.
There is another type of solar system called a trickle charge system. These are designed mostly for people who don’t use their RV frequently. Batteries like the one in your car or RV will lose power if you don’t turn the key and run your engine for long periods. Usually, this kit contains a small solar panel, some mounting equipment, and wires with alligator clips. You attach it to your RV’s engine battery and it’ll slowly add a charge to counteract the natural loss of power your battery will experience.
What do you think? Have you gone solar with your RV or do you want to? Let us know in the comments!