For those looking to save costs while lowering their reliance on fossil fuels, solar power is an interesting topic. Solar panels are frequently seen covering the rooftops of houses in regions with lots of sunshine. But How about the RVs, Motorhomes and camper Vans? RV solar panels can provide the peaceful retreat you're looking for on your camping trip. In addition to lowering noise levels, they also reduce pollutants.
Solar power can be a significant component of the electrical supply for RVers, who travel in compact, movable homes. Nevertheless, many individuals do not fully comprehend how a solar power system functions, which can cause you to squander money on an excess supply or leave you without electricity when you most need it.
This article will discuss what types of solar panels work best for RVs and Camper Vans as well as some important tips and tricks you should consider while purchasing them.
How does a solar panel work in RVs and motorhomes?
Although the batteries in your RV may power lights and small appliances, they are short-lived and can’t full fill all of your needs. You will want an additional power source if you wish to utilize appliances like your microwave, laptop or TV. RV solar panels are there to support you.
Similar to a typical residential solar system, an RV's solar panels turn sunshine into electricity. With the exception that they recharge your RV's batteries rather than power your home. Additionally, you can purchase additional batteries that the solar panels can recharge, giving you access to even more electricity while you're camping.
Generally speaking, four key parts make up an RV solar panel system: 1- Solar Energy Systems that produce electricity from sunlight 2- A Solar Charge Controller to avoid overcharging your battery 3- A Solar inverter that transforms solar electricity from the DC grid into usable AC power 4- A battery bank for electricity storage
RV solar panels are a fantastic, economical investment for those who enjoy living off the grid for a long time out there. These campers probably want to camp without power or other amenities found in campgrounds. RV solar panels can come in handy for these situations. You can use them to maintain the charge on your batteries and to charge additional batteries for backup power.
Furthermore, since the solar panels slowly recharge your batteries, they may wind up extending the lifespan of your RV batteries regardless of the type of your batteries such as lithium batteries (LiFePO4), AGM or Lead Acid batteries.
Additionally, you don't need to worry about purchasing propane for every trip, unlike conventional generators that you can use to assist power your RV. There are almost no further operational costs after investing in RV solar panels unless equipment needs to be changed.
What Factors you should consider when choosing an RV Solar Panel?
Adding a solar system gives you independence and increases your efficiency in terms of energy use, whether you want to create a tiny house or travel in an RV. Travelers can avoid needing to plug into costly RV sites every day and scrounging for last-minute availability by living off-grid.
It's also a quiet substitute for noisy, gas-guzzling generators when boondocking. A quality RV camper combines the calm of nature with essential modern comforts and conveniences. The best solar panels for RV use are an easy way to stay connected when travelling "off-the-grid" and to make your journeys more environmentally friendly.
Although there are several solar solutions available on the Canadian market today, including portable solar panels, flexible solar panels, and beginner-friendly self-installation solar kits. However, many campers might find this vast variety of solutions confusing and overwhelming. In this section, we will review critical factors you should consider when choosing the best solar panel system for your camping life.
Your Electricity Usage
Determine how much power you use while camping in order to determine which solar panels will work best for your RV. You may calculate the number of solar panels and any additional batteries you would require based on that.
The average RV camper uses 20 kWh of electricity each day. You will require more solar panels as a result of your increased electricity consumption as more appliances are added to your home. However, two or three solar panels will typically be able to provide enough energy to power the majority of your small appliances. You'll need a generator or more panels and batteries if you want to run heavy equipment like a refrigerator or air conditioner.
It's okay if you don't know the exact amount of power your RV consumes. You can always buy a cheap RV solar kit and test it out to see if it works for you. The system can then be expanded if additional panels or batteries are required.
Another far better, more accurate, and more enjoyable solution is taking your RV for a camping trip for a short period of time. Before dark, make sure your batteries are fully charged, and then turn off all electrical sources. Don't start the engine, switch off the generator, and unhook the shore electricity.
As you normally would, use your RV. If that's a regular occurrence for you, watch TV while you are using your microwaves. After your shower, use the hair dryer and listen to music you like.
As you go about your regular RV life, pay attention to your battery. Your batteries should be completely discharged (or 50% if they are lead-acid batteries). Calculate the amount of power you utilized once you've achieved your goal.
Let's use the easy math example of your batteries losing 40% of their capacity in three days. Therefore, 60% of your battery's capacity was utilized. Let's also suppose that your battery capacity is 200 amp-hours in total. You utilized 120 amp-hours, or 60% of 200 amp-hours, during three days. You utilized 40 amp-hours each day when you divided by three.
You have two options on how to use your RV's solar panels:
1- Installing portable solar panels by hand 2- Install(Mount) the solar panels on your roof.
The majority of campers find a manual setup to be rather simple. Your solar panels need only be set up, connected to your battery, and pointed toward the sun. Then, to boost solar output, just turn the panels toward the sun every couple of hours. However, keep in mind that you must set it up and take it down every time you visit a site.
If you don't want to set up portable solar panels, another choice is roof-mounted RV solar panels. However, because the roof needs to be exposed to sunshine, you won't be able to park your RV in the shadow.
In order to gain a little additional juice, you also won't be able to turn the panels toward the sun. Although roof-mounted systems could cost a little more, full-time campers may find that they are more convenient.
Solar Panel Types
Solar panels come in three primary varieties: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous. The most effective and costly materials are monocrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are unquestionably the ones for you if your space is restricted. Although slightly more expensive than monocrystalline panels, polycrystalline panels are marginally less effective.
Flexible thin-film solar panels are known as amorphous solar panels. They are the least expensive alternative, but they are also the least effective. In order to create anything like what monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels produce, you would need more of them.
Our experts in Volts Energies in Canada with 19 years of experience in Solar Installation and consultation for Solar solutions for Residentials, RVs and Motorhome recommend using monocrystalline ones to have a successful investment.
There are many brands with different sizes available on the Canadian market including SunPower, Peimar, LG Solar, CanadianSolar, Hanwha, Renogy and Volts Energies. Our Solar specialist has tested many of these to find the best solution for campers and RVs and they come up with the idea of Volts Energies 200W Mono Solar Panel.
Volts Energies Monocrystalline 200-watt solar panel is designed to last for a long time and offers excellent wind and snow resistance (2400Pa) (5400Pa). This solar panel was designed to fit an RV or Camper Van's width and made installation easier for you.
In addition, we made solar panels in higher voltage for the first time as a leading company in solar power solutions, so you can design them in parallel for better charging.
The performance warranty on this powerful solar panel is 12 years to 90%, 25 years to 80%, and 5 years for material and production defects.
Don’t Forget about a Proper Battery Bank
To store your solar energy if your RV has solar panels, you should probably get some extra battery banks. The majority of RVers select 12v batteries. For your RV, you can choose between lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries, but each has advantages and disadvantages of its own.
The most typical type of battery used by RV campers is an AGM battery or a lead acid battery. They are so well-liked because they are affordable and strong. However, it may be necessary to change them after five years, and depending on the type of lead acid battery you use, they might require routine maintenance as well.
Lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, are more effective, endure longer, and store more energy. LiFePO4 batteries are a bit expensive, but they're well worth it for those who want to have peace of mind attached to their RVs and rest assured they don’t need regular maintenance.
Among a wide variety of brands and companies that produce and design Lithium Iron Phosphate(LiFePO4) batteries, we recommend choosing your batteries from well-known companies such as Battle Born, Pylontech, Relion, Lithium Battery Solution and Volts Energies. In the following, we will review each battery to help you choose the one that fits your specific needs.
- This Low-Temperature lithium Battery from Volts Energies features a heating function that can operate at temperatures as low as -20°C. From -20°C to +5°C, it warms up in around 40 minutes. This feature makes it the perfect choice for campers in Canada which has a harsh and cold climate.
- This Volts Energies Smart self-heating Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery has a flexible series/parallel configuration and offers greater battery connection versatility.
- This compact, auto-balanced, lithium-ion battery with a high cycle life is the ideal plug-and-play option if you're looking for a deep cycle battery for usage in a boat, RV, caravan, cabin, or in your Off-grid Solar Power installation.
- This smart battery has an IP54 protection level, which ensures that under certain circumstances the battery will not be harmed by water or dust.
- This self-heating battery has Lower maintenance costs due to the detachable upper cover and replaceable BMS, Sleep mode to conserve energy and extend product shelf life and Wireless monitoring via Bluetooth Application which enables you to monitor battery status, including SOC and SOH
- Deep-cycle lithium-ion batteries from Battle Born provide endless mounting options and outstanding longevity. These lithium-ion battery banks consistently beat out the competition when time and cost are taken into account. In addition, Li-Ion batteries may be less dangerous than Lead Acid batteries, which lack ground fault protection.
- Battle Born Batteries can be charged and discharged numerous times and last for more cycles because they are made from just 100% safe, non-toxic renewable energy (and charge faster than any other battery). Because they outperform everything else on the market, including other green batteries, we manufacture our renewable, sustainable green energy batteries.
- Battle Born 100Ah 12v battery weighs about 31 lbs, which is only a third of the weight of lead-acid batteries. You can attach it securely in any position because there isn't any acid in the battery. Li-ion batteries are thus ideal for off-grid, off-road, RV, camper, golf cart, and marine applications!
- Relion Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries provide higher capacity and higher discharge depth than Deep Cycle AGM and Lead-Acid batteries of the same size and weight. Making them a fantastic solution as an RV and VAN battery bank for long rides and little room for larger battery banks.
- This battery weighs less than half as much as the lead-acid or AGM counterpart at 30 lbs, which helps counteract the drag brought on by heavier choices. It has handles for carrying, an M8 terminal type, and a built-in battery management system, and it maintains constant power (BMS).
- Relion Batteries are the best option for usage in a variety of vehicles and systems since they last longer than other types of batteries and deliver consistent power output when charging and discharging.
In this article, we discussed all you should know before choosing the best solar panels for RVs, motorhomes and Vans. We also discussed building battery banks for your RV and introducing the best options available in Canada’s market.
For more information on lithium-ion batteries, you can also read our previous blog post to get more insights about different types of best lithium batteries. If you still have questions or need more consultation, you can contact us at Volts Energies and our expert will help you to make the best solar solution tailored to your needs.