RV Rental San Diego

What Does Having RV Solar Panels Really Do?


What Does RV Solar Panels Really Do?

With so much talk these days about solar power for your RV, it’s important to know what having RV solar panels really does and more important – what it doesn’t!  To help explain what solar does, let’s first clear the air on what it doesn’t do.

Directly provide electricity to run your 120V appliances such as Air Conditioning, Microwave, electrical outlets, etc

Solar Does:

Solar panels do one thing – they charge your RV’s batteries.  That’s it.  Simple and fairly efficient in good direct sunlight.  The more panels the faster your batteries charge back up.

So why is having solar panels good if you can’t run electrical appliances in your RV?  The solar panels add an additional and very important method to charge your batteries and they can charge your batteries anytime/anywhere there is sun.  So simply put, they are ideal and a must for quiet dry camping in non-established campsites (boondocking) or established campsites with no power hookup and where running your generator is frowned upon except at certain hours.

Most state and national parks have very limited hours to run your generator.  Keeping your batteries charged up is vital to keep everything working that relies on battery power – lighting, power for RV heater, the power to run the refrigerator (even if on propane, the frig still needs battery power), water pump, tank monitor panels, and more! If you are boondocking, we recommend running the generator for an hour or so in the late afternoon to give the batteries a good charge before going to bed.

Do you need an inverter and what is that?

If you want your RV’s batteries to provide 120v electricity (think electrical power in your home), then yes, your RV needs to have an inverter to use battery power and invert it to 120v AC power.   By switching the inverter on, you should then have power to one or more electrical outlets and you should be able to run smaller appliances such as a small coffee maker, TV, or computer.

The wattage size of the inverter will dictate how many or how big of a device you can power.  Having a larger inverter means more electricity, but it also means draining batteries faster.  A larger inverter should be accompanied by larger solar panels on the RV and more batteries, as well.

Technology is changing rapidly and within the next few years, you will see more solar, larger battery arrays and inverters that will even run the Air Conditioning without the need to plug the RV in or run the stinky, noisy generator!