Have you ever wanted to take your RV and go camp somewhere off-grid? It sounds great until you realize you won’t have electrical hookups!
There is a way around that problem though, switch to solar energy! Most RVs can get away with using one 160 watt panel for everyday energy use. If you have a massive rig, or if you use more electricity than an average person does, you might consider getting a solar panel with a little bit more oomph.
But, wait! How do you know which panels are the best solar panels for RV use?
Don’t worry. We put together a quick guide to help you find the best solar panels to use on your RV. Keep reading to find out what you need to know about solar panels and how to get your RV off-grid today!
Parts of a Solar Power System for Your RV
Before you jump in with both feet first, you should know at least the basic components of a solar energy system. Here is a quick rundown of the pieces you’ll need to get your RV off-grid.
This is the piece you lay in direct sunlight on or near your RV. They come in all kinds of sizes and designs, but the purpose is always to convert the energy from the sunshine into usable electric energy.
We’ll get deeper into the different kinds of solar panels in a minute.
After your solar panel captures the energy from the sun’s rays, you’ll want to store that energy for use later. If you don’t bank some of the energy produced by the solar panel, then you won’t be able to use anything electric at night or on a cloudy day.
Some RVs use the old-fashioned lead-acid batteries but the new lithium-ion batteries have gained popularity in recent years. You’ll want to double-check and see which kind of battery your rig uses before deciding on a solar panel.
Solar Charge Controller
Most solar panels generate between 16 and 20 volts of energy and that varies throughout the day. Your RV batteries only accept up to 12 volts before overcharging and getting damaged.
That’s where the solar charge controller comes in! Its job is to regulate the voltage and current coming from the solar panel and going to the batteries and prevents the batteries from getting overcharged. Every solar energy system had one of these and they come in a variety of styles to choose from, depending on your needs and budget.
Some manufacturers now offer a solar kit with all the pieces you need in one convenient package. They even come with step by step instructions for the DIY RV enthusiast! Check out this site for thorough reviews on solar kits and solar generators.
What You Need to Know to Pick the Best Solar Panels for Rv Use
There are a few different kinds of solar panels on the market these days. These are the different kinds of solar panels on the market right now.
One way to tell if the solar panel is mono or polycrystalline is to look at the silicon ingots in the panel. If the corners look pointed, they’re polycrystalline. Monocrystalline silicon ingots look more like octagons.
Many people choose polycrystalline solar panels because they’re cheaper and produce less waste. But, they’re kind of big and less efficient than monocrystalline panels.
The term monocrystalline means that there is only one silicon crystal, making this solar panel about 20% more efficient than polycrystalline panels. They’re also super durable and can last upwards of 50 years!
Monocrystalline solar panels tend to run on the expensive side and produce more silicon waste than polycrystalline panels, so these panels aren’t for everybody.
The oldest and most common style of solar panel is the flat panel that mounts to the top of your RV. They’re cheap, durable, and come with a longer warranty than other kinds of solar panels.
Keep in mind that you will need to drill holes in the top of your rig to install one though. They’re not pretty to look at either!
These super-thin solar panels work well for smaller RVs or for those looking to hide the solar panels a bit better. They’re also more aerodynamic for those on the move all the time. Also, this version uses fewer screws for mounting, so you’ll have to drill fewer holes!
But, these are not cheap and the warranty only lasts a few years. Some people even reported some warping of the solar panels over time! So, if durability is important to you, try using a flat solar panel instead.
The Future of Solar Looks Bright
All these solar panels will work well for RV use, so pick one that suits you best. But, keep in mind that the best solar panels for RV use are the ones that fit the size of your RV, budget, and energy needs.
As solar energy popularity continues to surge, we’re sure to see more solar panel options popping up everywhere. But, those who live in very sunny locations like Arizona, Texas, and Florida, are sure to see the new solar energy inventions first.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you learned a thing or two about solar panels for your RV. If you’re looking for more Arizona business, real estate, and lifestyle information, check out the rest of our website today!