Our Adventure

See the FAQ for more information on this very cool feature! You should see your gravatar displayed in all it’s glory over in the sidebar. Don’t have a gravatar? It’s free and once you do, your new gravatar will appear in the sidebar and in the comments you make on any mod. See the FAQ for more information. A solar panel converts sunlight into electricity. Now you know what a solar panel does. Solar panel performance is just as dependent on sunlight as it is on the type and size you choose.

Installing a Solar Panel System

We absolutely love living in a solar powered RV. But as awesome as solar can be, it is NOT for everyone. A lot of RVers seem to think that a few hundred watts of solar will magically give them absolute electrical independence even running air conditioners! But the truth is — both extremes can be deluded about the realities of solar. We find relatively few RVers have actually taken the time to think through the real benefits, costs, and cost savings associated with going solar to decide if investing in a solar system actually makes sense.

There is no one right answer for everyone.

When using solar energy to power your RV it is essential that you consider the battery you will need to power your devices whilst you are off-grid, as this will be the energy storage component of your green powered solar energy system.

With the proliferation of electronic devices, and more and more accessories relying on them, storage batteries are essential for RVing. RV batteries consist of individual cells inside the case that are connected together in series. Each cell produces about two volts. Therefore three cells in series yields six volts, and six in series gives you a volt battery. Deep-cycle RV batteries are made in three different common designs listed here in ascending order of price: Li-Ion batteries are maintenance free, extremely light, and provide far more power storage for a given size and weight, but they are still too costly for most RVers.

Flooded-cell batteries are often installed as original equipment, and deliver good capacity at a relatively low price. If batteries run low on water and electrolyte to the point where plates are exposed, they may be ruined.

RV Campers

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Online Solar Training Whether your career track is project management, PV installation, finance, sales, marketing, building inspection, customer service or administrative support, our eCourse series provides a solid foundation to build or jump-start your solar industry career.

I made a couple videos about the install that you may want to check out. They provide some good information to help others in their potential solar system installs. However, I wanted to create an article where I could share with more details my experience and recommendations with solar panel unit installations. I did a lot of research before and during my install.

My hope is that this article combines the research I did with the personal experience I had and provides you with enough information to get you prepared, equipped and excited for your solar system installation. I have broken this article up into a few sections based on the most common questions I have been asked about our new solar system. I have also provided links to all the products that I used and recommend to make your life easier when deciding on what you need.

How does it work? Are you ready for some science?

Total off-grid solar powered RV

Heading towards Mono Lake, with solar on top. Or you may have noticed that Cherie teased about leaving me behind visiting friends at AM Solar while she headed off to visit her mom in Florida. Included will be our on-going testing results of comparing flexible panels from GoPower, Renogy and Grape Solar. Our goal is to design a system for Zephyr capable of powering the bulk of our typical energy needs for several days without needing to regularly resort to a generator.

We expect that this will require somewhere between W to W of solar, with the ultimate goal being to install as much power as we can while still looking good. We knew from the beginning that keeping our curved-roof vintage bus looking good was going to be particularly challenging.

Zamp Solar is a US manufacturer of portable solar panel kits and RV roof mount solar panels. The best RV, trailer, sprinter van and camper van solar systems. Green energy tips. Making a choice to go green by converting to solar technology is certainly a positive one.

Sample Solar and Electrical Systems I’m assuming that you have a basic understanding of both volt and volt power. There are many excellent tutorials and books on both subjects. I won’t repeat the information here, but leave it to you to explore on your own if you don’t understand the basics. For an understanding of various RV and house connectors, and proper wiring, check out http: This will give you an understanding of basic RV electrical service, and how it differs from residential electric.

The system designs and components used are only examples, and need to be modified to meet your needs. You need to complete the entire design before you start implementation or you might find your system unable to meet your future expansion needs. For parts and design help from the residential solar market try first Northern Arizona Wind and Sun. They have an excellent forum with true experts posting on it, and their store has reasonable prices.

Do not underestimate what you will learn from reading their forum. Every time I go there I learn something new! After them try http: Time spent in the design phase is time well invested. Mistakes can be expensive.

Why use solar?

The photo is then loaded into a program and spits out a whole bunch of calculations. Solar Path Finder So once you upload the image into the software and then trace the treeline outline, you enter in your location, date and time. My reading with the pathfinder Then it spit out all the calculations: With that in mind I knew what I could expect out of the system I had designed.

It also was a way to verify my assumptions. Once I verified that the system was going to be well suited to my needs I had to build my panel support racking.

The more solar panels you have, the faster your battery bank will recharge; the more batteries you have, the longer your RV can run off grid. There are also considerations for other items in a solar RV charging setup like cables, brackets, charge controllers and orientation. .

This makes your motor home even more like “home”. Rather oddly very few models come with one fitted as standard. If you know nothing about inverters this article is for you, as even if you have no intention of installing one yourself it will make you more conversant with what you need to buy or have fitted! As usual this is another minefield area, and yes it easy to make expensive mistakes and worse buy an unsafe unit. We have made mistakes along the way and these are detailed here.

Generators and inverters both perform the same task. The difference is that an inverter only uses full power when the connected device requires it. A generator chugs away even under no load and is noisy and a polluter! Better to add more solar panels and perhaps another battery, PLUS it doesn’t need petrol. Wherever possible you are better off using 12 volt DC appliances as despite their slightly extra cost, they are usually more efficient being purpose built.

Please remember safety when messing with inverters. It can kill you just as quickly as the normal mains, particularly if you don’t bolt it into your motor home. Some inverters can be quite lethal if used in the boot of a car for instance and a fault develops. The following instructions relate to fitting an inverter in a Freeway, however with minor adapting you can certainly use it with most other motor homes regardless of manufacturer.

Solar Panels for RV and Marine

Mobile power stations, small commercial establishments and mobile residential homes can use this product and expand as necessary. The solar kit is also recommended for boats, caravans and trailers. Some very memorable moments can be had when traveling around an RV. With the right kind of power source keeping track of great photos and videos coming in your camera and laptop, running out of juice should never be a common occurrence.

Introduction To RV Solar Panel Kits and Systems. Get Up To Speed On The Basics Of RV Solar Power Systems. By DoItYourselfRV Featured Posts, Gear, I am new at solar and camping. Can I hook up the batterie to solar panel and at the same time use this charging batterie? DoItYourselfRV says. 3 .

Share Tweet Solar power vs generator power has been long discussed around RV parks and campfires. Generators have been a dependable source of power for a very long time, but in recent years with developing technology and improved access the solar power camp has grown. Below we will discuss how using solar to power your RV can make your experience more enjoyable, sustainable, flexible, and even more affordable.

Peace and quiet Use solar power and listen to the waves instead of your generator Imagine sitting in your campsite admiring your view of a lake, valley, or mountain, listening to song birds chirping away, and thinking to yourself how peaceful and great this is. Now all you hear is the sound of a small engine revving away. The biggest reason many of us start the RV lifestyle is to explore the country and wild open spaces.

Tiny House Solar

The Electrical System This section covers what a camper van or RV electrical system does, how it works, how to pick and size the components, and how to build the system. Safety Warning and Disclaimer There are serious safety issues involved with wiring your own system. Doing the system incorrectly can lead to serious consequences down the road. I want to make it very clear that I am not an electrician, and I take no responsibility whatever for the correctness of the material below — you need to do your own homework!

This is a picture showing most of the components for van conversion electrical system. Electrical system for our van conversion.

The experts here at AM Solar can help you install solar panels on any RV, Trailer or other rig you bring us. Take a look at some of the installations we have done and consider giving us a call if you would like us to set up your RV with solar energy.

Marine solar panel installation article updated: When I first started sailing, I often found myself stranded at sea with a dead battery and no way to start my diesel engine. This is not fun or safe I was using too much electricity and dragging my 12 volt battery down below 10 volts. Finally, while sailing north to Alaska, I fixed this problem by installing this basic, solar panel boat system.

I love the idea of people generating their own energy – so I’m thrilled to see that thousands of people visit this page each year. I installed the following set-up a few years ago, and everything is still working great it’s now as I update this article. I update this page each year, to make sure all my recommendations are accurate and relevant. Below, I’m writing basic ‘Do-It-Yourself’ instructions to install solar panels for boats.

RV Battery Basics: A Beginner’s Guide

Do not run the generator. Cover the solar panel face with cardboard to prevent a current from being generated. Find a good mounting location for the panel, face it so that the width end is forward – less wind resistance! The location should be near a logical meaning an easy place to route the wiring. Find a place where the panel will not be shaded by roof mounted items. If a tilt mount is being installed ensure that full tilt can be achieved.

Adding Solar Power to a Camper or RV We purchased an ’86 Travel Villa 29′ fifth wheel camper as an inexpensive means to travel out west with our dogs. The camper is an .

You can catch his whole YouTube series here. Videos include everything from assembly , set-up , add-ons and plenty of personal mods from folks looking to build the better mousetrap. There are even videos on solar panel kit performance during rain and snow. If you want to get some insight of just what you can do with your newly-harnessed solar power, definitely check these out.

Preppers represent a good number of the solar kit shoppers, which only makes sense. Nobody anticipates contingencies like a prepper. To make room for even more solar kits, he shows how to build a wooden rack that can add three, making a total of 18 solar panels. Incidentally, LDSPrepper— who actually has a whole series of solar panel videos worth plowing through— repeatedly credits another YouTuber, econewpower, for helping him get started.

This guy supplies his own treasure trove of solar panel kit how-to videos: I think there are five parts in this series, plus he has other DIY solar videos on hand. Whether it be for emergencies, saving electricity costs or going green, solar is a solid alternative energy that, in extreme cases, could potentially save you and your family from losing creature comforts, food supplies or even lives.

RV-HARBOR FREIGHT solar installation