With a recent surge in sustainable energy sources, solar panels have become more accessible to the general populous. You can now find solar panels on private homes, businesses, and certain consumer items. So why wouldn’t they be useful for your RV? Not only will they supply your rig with enough energy to stay powered throughout the day, but they’re also much cheaper than other energy sources. They’re particularly useful for boondocking, so RV Station - Colbert has provided you with some basic information you should have before diving head first into the world of solar panels. If you need additional assistance, stop by our location in Colbert, Oklahoma, near Sherman and McKinney, Texas.
Are Solar Panels Right for You?
Firstly, it’s important to decide if solar panels are even the best option for you. While many people can get caught up in the excitement of saving the planet, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to solar panels. The technology itself still has a ways to go before it’s one hundred percent reliable one hundred percent of the time. Case in point: no sun, no solar energy. Even if you’re camping in a place that experiences a lot of sun during the day, you may still run into complications when saving up and holding energy for nighttime use. Even if you ultimately decide to install solar panels, you’ll may need a backup energy source for the darker times of the day.
You’ll also want to consider if it makes financial sense for you. The campers for whom this makes the most cost effective sense is boondockers, or people who tend to camp far from civilization with hit or miss hookup options. You’re already going to need a power source that’s independent from the electrical grid and it can be expensive to constantly refill propane tanks and generators. However, while solar panels have gotten cheaper, they are still fairly pricey, plus the cost of installation. If you’re not going to use them very often--say for example you don’t camp often enough or you’ll generally be hooked up to an RV park’s electrical grid--then it may not be the most cost effective investment for you.
Making the Right Choice
If you do decide to use solar energy, at least for part of your energy usage, you’ll want to make sure you’re making a smart investment. Your biggest concern should be figuring out how much energy you’ll need to power your rig without blowing a fuse. This can easily be accomplished by taking a look around your camper and jotting down the amount of wattage each electrical appliance will need. At the very least, think about the appliances you’ll want to power using solar energy and use this number as a baseline. This can then let you find the panels and amps best suited for your rig.
Remember when we said it can be difficult to store energy? This can be true when you’re faced with extended periods of no sunlight, like you might run into during the winter, but there is a way you can store energy for shorter periods of time, and that’s by filtering everything into the battery. Getting the right battery can help extend the time you have to use stored energy. While it’s cheaper to go with a more standard option, getting a higher quality battery that’s a bit more expensive--like an AGM or Lithium-Ion battery--can not only help you save and store energy more efficiently and quickly, it can also last longer so you don’t have to replace it in a couple years.
Ultimately, just like any RV related decision, you’re going to want to carefully consider your needs before making a final decision.
This information is for educational purposes. VIARV shall not be responsible nor retain liability for RVer’s use of the provided information. Prior to making any RV service decision, you are advised to consult with an RV professional.