RV Living

Solar panels to lights

The benefits to using solar power in your RV

Solar power could be the solution to your energy bill. — Photo courtesy Jori Adank

I recently offered a survey to my RVing buddies and one question was whether they used solar energy when RVing. The answer surprised me because 71 per cent said they never use it and I have to wonder why.  Maybe, like me, they did not completely understand how it works and what it entails. So, I looked for a very easy way of explaining what solar energy is and how it applies to providing electricity in your RV.

Using solar energy to make the lights come on

Solar modules are arranged in panels or a system of panels (array) and these are usually placed on the roof of the RV—when exposed to sunlight they create electricity. These panels can lay flat or may flip up to ensure more exposure to the sun. This energy is then stored in the batteries that then provide power to the lights, water pump, television, microwave and computer. To prevent damage to the batteries a charge controller ensures the batteries are not over-charged. Energy is produced and stored as DC current and most of our appliances use AC current. To convert it to the AC current which runs the appliances you will need an inverter. The monitor will tell you how much energy you have left in the event that you need to conserve power.

The low maintenance of the system is a definite advantage as well as the fact that it is silent and does not create exhaust fumes like a generator might. Most often the company that sells the solar equipment can design and install a system that is just right for your needs. For sufficient power you will need adequate space for battery storage depending upon the number of batteries you may need. Having solar power ensures you will always have power no matter where you are and it is great in an emergency as an essential backup. 

Camping at your favourite fishing spot out in the bush or boondocking in the desert is made much more comfortable by having solar power and just makes your vacation that much better. On that unforeseen rainy day the kids might appreciate being able to watch a movie inside the RV rather than getting wet outside. It’s worth considering.

Sequence of Using Solar Power:

  1. Sunlight
  2. Solar Panels
  3. Batteries
  4. Charge controller
  5. Inverter
  6. Monitor
  7. LIGHTS!

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