Benefits and Considerations of Installing Solar Panels on Your RV

Installing a Solar System on Your RV: Benefits and Considerations

If you’re an RV owner, you may be wondering if solar system are worth the investment. Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. It’s a renewable, clean, and sustainable source of energy that can save you money in the long run. RV solar allows you to harness the power of the sun to charge your batteries and run your appliances, making your camping experience more comfortable and convenient.

Before you decide whether or not to invest in RV solar panels, there are a few things to consider. First, you’ll need to determine your energy needs. How much power do you need to run your appliances and devices? How much sunlight do you typically get in the areas you’ll be camping in? You’ll also need to consider the upfront costs of installing and purchasing solar panels, as well as the ongoing maintenance costs. However, the long-term savings on your energy bills may make the investment worth it.

Benefits of RV Solar Systems

If you’re considering installing solar on your RV, there are several benefits to keep in mind. Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider going solar:

Save Money in the Long Run

One of the biggest benefits of RV solar systems is the potential for long-term cost savings. While the initial investment in solar panels may be higher than other forms of backup power, over time you can save money on camping fees and propane costs. Plus, with solar panels, you can avoid the need for a noisy generator and the associated fuel costs.


Solar power is a clean, renewable energy source that doesn’t produce harmful emissions or contribute to climate change. By installing a solar system on your RV, you can reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.

No Maintenance

Once you install solar, there’s very little maintenance required. Unlike generators or other backup power sources, solar panels don’t have moving parts that can wear out or break over time. This means you can enjoy reliable power without the hassle of ongoing maintenance.


Solar systems are completely silent, which means you can enjoy the peace and quiet of nature without the noise pollution of a generator. This is especially important for boondockers who prefer to park in remote areas where the sound of a generator would be disruptive.

Parking in the Shade

While it may seem counterintuitive, parking your RV in the shade can actually improve the performance of your solar panels. When your RV is parked in direct sunlight, the heat can cause your solar panels to become less efficient. By parking in the shade, you can keep your RV cooler and improve the overall performance of your solar panels.

Overall, RV solar panels are a great investment for off-grid and boondocking RVers who want to enjoy reliable, eco-friendly power without the need for noisy generators or ongoing maintenance. By taking advantage of the benefits of solar power, you can save money in the long run and enjoy a more sustainable RV lifestyle.

Components of an RV Solar System

When it comes to an RV solar system, there are several components that work together to provide you with power. Here are the main components you’ll need to consider:

Solar Panels

Solar panels are the most visible component in an RV solar system. They come in different sizes and types, including rigid and flexible options. Rigid solar panels are made with glass and an aluminum frame, while flexible solar panels are made with a thin plastic material that can be bent to fit the curvature of your RV roof.

When choosing solar panels, you’ll need to consider the wattage and voltage output, as well as the size and shape of the panels. Most RV solar panels are around 17-20 volts, which will work with most PWM charge controllers to charge a 12-volt system.

Charge Controller

A charge controller is a device that regulates the flow of electricity from the solar panels to the batteries. It prevents overcharging and damage to the batteries, which can reduce their lifespan. There are two main types of charge controllers: PWM and MPPT.

PWM charge controllers are less expensive and work well for smaller systems. MPPT charge controllers are more efficient and can handle higher voltage inputs, making them a better choice for larger systems.


Batteries are an essential component of an RV solar system. They store the energy produced by the solar panels so that you can use it when you need it. There are several types of RV batteries to choose from, including lead-acid, AGM, and lithium-ion.

Lead-acid batteries are the most common type of battery used in RV solar systems. They are less expensive than other types of batteries but have a shorter lifespan and require more maintenance. AGM batteries are a type of lead-acid battery that is sealed and maintenance-free. Lithium-ion batteries are more expensive but have a longer lifespan and can be discharged to a lower level without damaging the battery.


An inverter is a device that converts DC power from the batteries into AC power that can be used to power your RV appliances. There are two main types of inverters: pure sine wave and modified sine wave.

Pure sine wave inverters provide a cleaner and more stable AC power output, making them a better choice for sensitive electronics. Modified sine wave inverters are less expensive but can cause issues with some appliances.

When choosing an inverter, you’ll need to consider the wattage output and the number of outlets you need. Keep in mind that the inverter will draw power from the batteries, so you’ll need to make sure your battery bank is large enough to handle the load.

Other Components

Other components you’ll need to consider include fuses, wiring, and monitoring systems. Fuses protect your system from overloading and short circuits. Wiring connects all the components of your system together. Monitoring systems allow you to keep track of your battery levels and the amount of power your system is producing.

Overall, an RV solar system is a great investment if you want to have a reliable source of power while on the road. By choosing the right components and sizing your system correctly, you can enjoy the benefits of solar power for years to come.

RV Solar System Setup

When it comes to setting up a solar power system for your RV, there are a few key factors to consider. Here are some important sub-sections to help guide you through the process.

Determining Energy Needs

Before you begin installing your solar panels, it’s important to determine your energy needs. This will help you determine how many panels you need and what size battery bank is required. Take into account the power consumption of all your appliances, including your refrigerator, air conditioner, and other electronics. Keep in mind that larger appliances will require more power, so plan accordingly.

Solar Panel Placement

Once you have determined your energy needs, it’s time to consider the placement of your solar panels. The most common location for RV solar panels is on the roof of the RV. However, it’s important to ensure that the panels will receive adequate sunlight throughout the day. Take into account any shade or obstructions that may affect the amount of sunlight the panels receive.

Wiring and Electrical Hookups

Proper wiring and electrical hookups are crucial for the safe and efficient operation of your RV solar power system. Make sure that all wiring is properly sized and installed to handle the DC power generated by your solar panels. You will also need to install an inverter to convert the DC power to AC power for use in your RV.

Battery Bank Setup

Your battery bank is a critical component of your RV solar power system. You will need to choose between lead-acid batteries or lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are becoming increasingly popular due to their longer lifespan and lighter weight. Regardless of which type of battery you choose, make sure that it is properly sized to meet your energy needs.

By taking the time to properly set up your RV solar power system, you can enjoy the freedom of off-grid living while still having access to all the modern conveniences you need.

Pros and Cons of RV Solar

If you are considering getting solar for your RV, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to determine if it’s the right choice for you. Here are some key points to consider:


  1. Cost Savings: If you frequently boondock or stay in RV parks without electrical hookups, solar panels can save you money on generator fuel or camping fees. While there is an upfront cost to install solar panels, they can pay for themselves in the long run.
  2. Silent Operation: Unlike generators, solar panels make no noise and do not emit fumes. This makes them a great choice for those who prefer a quieter camping experience.
  3. High-Quality Solar Panels: With brands like Renogy, Eco-Worthy, and Goal Zero, there are high-quality solar panels available that can provide reliable power to your RV.
  4. Expansion Possibilities: RV solar panel kits can be expanded to add more panels and increase power output as needed.


  1. Expensive Upfront Cost: While solar can save you money in the long run, the initial cost to purchase and install them can be expensive.
  2. Fit and Compatibility: Not all RVs are compatible with solar panels, and it’s important to ensure that your RV can accommodate a solar setup before making the investment.
  3. Performance in Low Light: Solar relies on sunlight to produce power, which means that their performance can be affected by cloudy or overcast weather.
  4. Backup Power Questions: If you rely solely on solar power, you may need a backup power source for times when there isn’t enough sunlight to produce the power you need.
  5. Backing from Experts: While there is a lot of information available online about installing solar panels on your RV, it can be helpful to have the backing of an expert to ensure that your system is installed correctly and performs optimally.

RV solar systems can be a great investment for those who frequently camp off-grid or want a quieter, more environmentally-friendly power source. However, it’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons before making a decision.


If you’re considering installing solar on your RV, you likely have a lot of questions. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you make an informed decision:

How many solar panels do I need for my RV?

The number of solar panels you need for your RV depends on your energy usage. Most RVs require about 120 watts of energy per day. A 100-watt solar panel can produce about 30 amp-hours per day, so you can use this guideline to determine about how many panels you need. Another suggestion is to match your battery capacity in amp-hours with your solar output in watts. Keep in mind that you may need more panels if you plan on running power-hungry appliances like a refrigerator, water heater, or microwave.

How do I mount solar panels on my RV?

The process of mounting solar panels on your RV will differ depending on what type of panels you have. Rigid panels typically must be affixed to the roof with screws. Flexible panels can be mounted with screws but can also generally be mounted with adhesive. Before installing your panels, make sure to clean the surface of your roof and use a sealant to prevent leaks.

How much do RV solar systems cost?

The cost of RV solar panels varies depending on the size and quality of the panels. On average, a 100-watt solar panel costs around $100-$150. Keep in mind that you may also need to purchase additional equipment like a charge controller, inverter, and battery bank. The total cost of a solar panel system for your RV can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Can I use solar to power everything in my RV?

While solar panels can provide a significant amount of energy, they may not be able to power everything in your RV. You may need to supplement your solar power with a generator or shore power if you plan on using power-hungry appliances like a microwave or air conditioner. It’s important to assess your energy usage and plan accordingly when deciding whether to install solar panels on your RV.

How do I maintain my RV solar panels?

Maintaining your RV solar panels is relatively simple. You should clean the panels regularly with a soft brush and mild soap to remove dirt and debris. Check the connections and wiring periodically to ensure they are secure and free of corrosion. If you notice any damage or issues with your panels, contact a professional for repairs.


Whether or not you should get solar panels for your RV depends on your specific needs and circumstances. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Solar can provide you with a reliable source of power when camping off-grid or in remote areas, allowing you to run appliances and charge your devices without relying on a generator or shore power.
  • Solar panels can also help you save money on campground fees and reduce your carbon footprint by using renewable energy.
  • However, the initial cost of installing solar panels can be expensive, and it may take several years to recoup your investment through energy savings.
  • Additionally, not all RVs are suitable for solar panel installation, and you may need to make modifications to your roof or electrical system to accommodate them.
  • It’s also important to note that solar panels are not a replacement for a generator or shore power in all situations, and you may still need to use these backup power sources in certain circumstances.

If you enjoy camping off-grid or want to reduce your reliance on traditional power sources, solar panels can be a great investment for your RV. However, it’s important to do your research and consider your specific needs and circumstances before making a decision.

Charley Waters

I've traveled to 49 states and 3 provinces in Canada living in my RV full-time over many years. I've stayed just about everywhere possible. National parks, state parks, parking lots, BLM land, Independent RV parks and friends and family's driveways. I lived through a crazy Derecho windstorm in Iowa. I got stuck in a winter freeze in Texas.

Living on the road in your RV can be challenging at times. But the good times make up for the bad. I'm here to share my experience and help fellow RVers good decisions while enjoying the great outdoors and vast camping opportunities this country has to offer.

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