Solar Energy

You probably already know this because everyone is talking about it. RV solar panels are devices that convert sunlight into electricity for running equipment in your RV. They usually are mounted to the roof of your coach to capture the sunlight and send a charge to your batteries. This a great way to save energy and maximize your battery life, but is it right for you?

What are the benefits?

• Extended battery life with a slow steady charge (Adds up to 75% more life to your battery!)
• Cut down on generator use
• Save money on energy costs
• Provide back-up energy for emergencies or off grid power
• Low maintenance (Almost maintenance free) no moving parts or recurring cost
• Clean, quiet and good for the environment

How it works

The sunlight strikes a solar panel making electric current. The electric current then is fed into a charge Controller that regulates the amount of current sent to the battery. The battery produces DC power (Direct current), and the inverter converts that power from DC to AC (Alternating Current). AC power is what runs small devices like chargers, laptops and small appliances.

Types of RV Solar Panels

There currently are three types of solar panels out there for RVers. Depending on the size, shape and energy needs of your RV you will want to choose the type of solar that fits.

Mono Crystalline- (Highly efficient, rigid panel, smaller in size and produces more energy in low light)
Poly Crystalline- (Is the most popular rigid and the smallest size but produces slightly less than Mono panels)
Amorphous- (Is the cheapest, flexible, lightweight and highly efficient but takes up more space)

A-Frame with Solar

Rigid Panels

Rigid RV solar panels are constructed using glass panes with aluminum frames affixed to your RV Roof. These panels tend to be more durable, weigh more and last longer than the flexible amorphous panels.

Flexible Panels

Flexible panels can be installed flat onto your RV roof (As Rigid panels are mounted with space between the roof and the panel) which can allow for a nicer look. However, installed like that can shorten their life and make it hard for you to do maintenance on your RV roof. These panels usually have a 10 year warranty which is much less than the rigid panel.

What Items do I need for Solar?

• A charge controller to regulate the amount of electricity going to your battery.
• A Battery monitor is great for watching battery levels so you know how much charge you have.
• An Inverter will convert the DC power from the panels into AC power for use with your RV ports and outlets.
• And wire harness will carry the charge from the panels to the battery.

RV Lighting

Solar Panel Tips:

• A panel is generating power even if there is just enough light to cast a shadow.
• Keep your Panels clean, any dirt or dust can lower their feed off the sun.
• There are also Portable Solar Kits that allow you to move your panels to get the best sun exposure while camping.

Click here to calculate the size of Solar for your needs.

Solar panels do have the initial cost for purchase which can be pricey given your needs, but once you’re set up, the panels are an energy producing, practically maintenance-free investment. We hope this will help you weigh the options and assess your needs to better ascertain if solar is right for you. Have fun in the sun!

Robert Norman
Author: Robert Norman
Robert Norman works for Valley RV Supercenter in Kent, WA and has been in the RV business since 2013. Robert shares his experiences with the public writing about RV tech tips, how to's, destinations and culture. You can see more of Robert's articles at

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