RV Daily Tips Issue 457. August 26, 2014 | RV Travel

RVing Tip of the Day

Do you really need solar panels on your RV?
by Jim Twamley
Many RVs sport solar panels, and they can be quite handy. On the other hand, solar panels aren’t inexpensive — and  so the question is whether you need them for your style of RVing. 
Solar electric systems have been a part of the RV scene for several years and they are effective electric power producers. These systems use photovoltaic modules to turn sunlight into electricity. The good news is they are becoming more effective and less expensive as new technology grows.
To use a solar system, your RV will need to be wired allowing the solar panels to charge the house batteries through a charge controller. A charge controller is very important because it regulates the amount of electricity sent to your house batteries, preventing over- or under-charging conditions. If you have enough solar panels and batteries you can generate enough electricity to live comfortably without ever being plugged into an external power source. To use your AC appliances, you’ll also need an inverter to change 12-volt DC to 110-volt AC power. That adds to the expense figure, and the more power you use, the more batteries (and solar panels) you’ll need.
If your style of RVing includes extended periods of time in the wilderness away from electricity then you have three choices:

1. Use candles,
2. Use a generator, or
3. Rely on solar energy.

If you rarely boondock (camp without hook-ups) then you really don’t need a solar system. Some RVers like to have a solar electric system “just in case,” but they rarely use it. When I ask them what they mean by “just in case,” they usually mean the power grid going down or natural disasters — in any event, they’re prepared “just in case.”
Whether or not you should go to the trouble and expense to install a solar electric system boils down to how you choose to camp. If you are or plan to become a serious boondocker, then you’ll need an efficient solar electric system. If on the other hand you almost always stay at RV parks, then you seriously don’t need solar. If you store your RV without keeping it connected to shore power, consider installing a small solar electric system. This will keep your batteries charged and ready to go (provided you do proper battery maintenance).
Many boondockers also use wind-powered electric generators for additional power. Whether or not you need wind power depends a great deal on how and where you camp. There are many reputable companies that will sell you a kit to install a system yourself, and there are also dealers who will do the installation for you.
Keeping you charged up about RVing —Jim Twamley, Professor of RVing
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About smokeycamping

Well let's see have lived in NY for my whole life, have always loved the outdoors (as long as it is warm out) have always hated the cold, and like a dummy have stayed in NY. But now with my second try my wife, we have been camping now for well over 25 yrs. We currently own a 2010 Cedar creek silverback 35TS and can not wait to get out on the highways and see this great country we all call home. Hope to see every National park before my medical issue becomes too bad to travel. I love my African gray parrot (she is my baby) and have two dogs at the time brother and sister mutts, but love them all the same. Have always been a big Nascar fan, love computers (have a number of certificates to build and work on them) am trying to learn photography, enjoy light hiking, being with good friends and folks. country music, pop music and just being outdoors. So I hope someday to meet some of the great people who like what I like and post out there in some great campground somewhere in the country, till then I will keep posting and I hope you keep liking.

Posted on August 26, 2014, in The world as i see it as a camper and who loves his country and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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