Harris, Reed & Seiferth
There are many benefits of having solar panels on your RV, and depending on your lifestyle they could save you a TON of money. However, there are also reasons you could argue for why you shouldn’t install panels. If you’re thinking about getting them for your RV but are still on the fence about it, here are some things to consider!
Are solar panels worth it?
This depends solely on your lifestyle. If you enjoy spending a majority of time “off-the-grid” or frequent dry camps without power hookups (this is known as “boondocking”), then solar energy may be the way to go. Having solar could open up a lot more possibilities and allow you to explore different spots, rather than just hunting down the next camp with a hookup. Plus - you will certainly see some long-term savings if you compare solar panels to a gas generator. According to experts, you can expect your solar “payback period” to be around five years.1
However, if you are someone that spends a majority of your time at campsites with hookups or you only take big RV trips a few times a year, installing solar panels wouldn’t be practical. You are better off using the camp’s local power system and paying the associated fee.
How do solar panels work on an RV?
Most people think that solar panels are meant to power an RV – and that’s not entirely true. The purpose for solar power is to recharge your battery bank. Solar panels work the same as a gas generator except it requires no gas, makes no noise and can charge your batteries for a long period of time (as long as the sun is out and shining).
According to EnergySage, if you have an 800 W system that’s in direct sunlight for five hours a day, it will produce 4,000 watt-hours (Wh) of energy each day. To put that into perspective, you’ll be able to power small electronic devices like a TV or a microwave, but you won’t be able to run your refrigerator for an entire day.
If there isn’t any sunlight for a few days, however, that can pose a problem. It’s a good idea to have a plan B – like a back-up generator.
How much do solar panels cost & how many do I need?
The price varies with what wattage you would need for your RV, but it’s certainly not cheap! A good list of solar panels specifically designed for RVs, their prices and how many you would need can be found in this article from EnergySage.
Can I install solar panels myself?
Yes! With the proper tools and parts, you can install them yourself, but it’s not an easy process. If you decide to do it yourself, make sure you do extensive research on the installation equipment you’ll need to run an RV solar setup. If you’re not the handy type, call a professional solar panel installer to do this for you.
Overall, if you decide to take this next step in your RV lifestyle, you won’t regret it. Not only will it enhance your camping experience, it’s also great for the environment and will save you big bucks long-term. Happy camping from Foremost Insurance!
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