Using solar panels as a source of power for your RV frees you from crowded campgrounds and noisy generators. Solar panels provide energy to your battery bank, which in turn powers both the AC and DC side of the RV electrical panel. The following information explains the steps you’ll need to take to determine how many solar panels are needed for your RV.
How Much Power Do You Need for Your RV?
The first step is calculating how much power your RV requires. One way to do this is to determine how long you can keep your RV running without a generator, using only batteries. You’ll also want to calculate how many appliances you use and for how long. A coffee maker will average 1,200 watts of power while a phone charger is only about 25 watts. Hair dryers and microwaves will each use about 1,000 watts of power.
How Do You Use Your RV?
If you have access to a generator or a campground where you can hook up your RV if necessary you may be able to get by with less solar power. If you drive a lot, you can also charge your battery during this time. If you do a lot of boondocking, which is camping off the grid, you will need more solar power.
How Much Roof Space Do You Have?
The available amount of roof space will also be a factor when determining how many solar panels you’ll be able to have. You’ll need to figure out exactly how much roof space you have for the panels and how large each panel will be. This will eliminate the guess work and any mistakes later.
How Does the Type of Panel Affect Usage?
There are basically two types of solar panels to choose from. These include polycrystalline panels and monocrystalline. Monocrystalline are more expensive but they are also more efficient. If you purchase this type you may not need as many. You also have the option of choosing flat panels or those that are flexible and conform to a curved surface. Flexible solar panels will cost more.
How Many Solar Panels Will You Need for Your RV?
A single solar panel has approximately 100 watts of power. This means one panel is able to produce about 6 amps during peak sun time. Since this comes to about 30 amp hours each day, you’ll probably need 2 panels to fully power your RV each day. How many panels you need will ultimately be determined by how much energy your RV needs. For example, if you’re living in a hot climate and running an air conditioner, you will likely need more power.
In conclusion, two solar panels will likely be enough to keep the average RV powered for regular use. If you’ll likely be using more appliances, air conditioning, or will be parked for long periods of time, you may want to invest in three panels.