If you’re like most people, one of the big reasons you got an RV in the first place was so that you had the freedom to come and go and explore as you please. Basically, living off-grid. There’s a problem though. You’re not really off-grid. Everywhere you go…every campground you pull into, the very first thing that happens is that you’ve got to plug into the campground’s hookups to really enjoy the day and have all the conveniences of home.
RV Solar Systems are the solution to your problem. With the cost of panels dropping steadily, even as their efficiency increases, it’s never been easier or more affordable to get the true off-grid experience.
The first thing you have to ask yourself though, is what your needs actually are. If your needs are fairly basic, and all you’re really looking to do is run your lights and maybe a fan to help keep you cool, you can pick up a basic 12-volt system rated for 55-60 watts and make that work for less than five hundred dollars, before factoring in the cost of the battery bank. http://www.campingworld.com/category/solar-panels/221
At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re hoping to power the fridge, use the microwave a few minutes each day, keep your laptop charged, watch a little TV, and the like, you’re going to need a significantly more robust system. Here, think in terms of say, 6 140-watt panels, paired with a 2000-watt inverter. A system like this will run you about twelve grand before the battery array, so a significantly larger investment, but well worth the cost for the added freedom it provides.
The general rule of thumb when planning your system is this: Assess your needs, then install more capacity than you think you’ll need. Remember, when you install solar panels on the roof of your RV, you’re almost always going to be laying them directly on the flat roof surface, as opposed to angling them toward the sun. This reduces the amount of power they’ll actually collect for you by some twenty percent, so be sure to factor that into your sizing equation.