How RV Solar Works

Posted November 18, 2019

25 million Americans traveled in RVs this spring and summer alone.

The RV lifestyle has become a movement in the United States. RVers come from diverse backgrounds and age groups.

There's something about the freedom that an RV brings. Spending time with family, going off the grid, and enjoying nature are among the top reasons people love to RV.

The downside? Lack of electricity.

More and more RVers are turning to RV solar setups to power their lives while on the road. Keep reading to learn more about how RV solar works and why you should go solar today.

Why Go Solar?

If you're a boondocker, going solar can seriously enhance your RV experience.

Maybe you're not a boondocker..yet. With RV solar, you'll want to be.

In case you didn't know, boondocking refers to traveling to remote areas, off the beaten path. Exploring the country in your RV is one of the best reasons for owning one.

Unfortunately, your boondocking potential can be limited by the lack of electricity in remote areas.

Some people stick to RV campsites where they can hook up to an electric outlet. This costs money and it adds up over time. Even worse, if you rely on an electrical hookup, you won't be able to go very far.

The alternative for many is the use of a generator. These aren't exactly convenient though.

For one, they're usually loud and can prevent you from relaxing. Furthermore, repeatedly starting and running a generator is expensive.

Many RVers have gone solar and never looked back because of the many benefits to their wallet as well as the Earth. Solar panels are environmentally friendly and cost-effective over time.

Imagine being able to power your appliances using nothing but the sun. It's a boondocker's dream.

How RV Solar Works

When the sun hits your solar panels, the sun's energy is converted into power. This is then channeled through wires down to your RV.

Then, your solar charge controller takes the power that has been created and sends it to the battery system in your RV. The energy is then stored in your battery system, waiting to be used.

Finally, you must convert the energy into a usable type of power. The power harnessed from the sun is DC power.

You use an inverter to convert the power into AC power, the kind your appliances can use. This AC power will run to your breaker box and to your RV's outlets, ready to use.

What You'll Need

In order to go solar, be prepared to make a significant investment upfront. Don't worry though, you'll find that your investment more than pays off in the long run.

Now, let's breakdown the components you'll need to go solar.

Solar Panels

The first thing you'll need is solar panels. These allow you to capture and transform the energy from the sun into electricity to power the appliances in your RV.

Solar panels can either be mounted to the top of your RV or set up next to it. Most people mount theirs to their RV.

It's important that your solar panels are clearly exposed to the sun. You'll need to clean them regularly and ensure you are camping in sunny spots whenever possible.

Solar Charge Controller

This is one of the most important components of an RV solar setup because it protects your batteries. This controller prevents your batteries from overcharging by limiting how much power they get.

Overcharging your batteries can restrict their function and negatively affect their longevity. It can damage your battery system beyond repair.


Of course, you'll also need batteries. Many RVers choose lithium batteries because they are easier to maintain, have a longer lifespan, and are lighter.

If you choose to purchase a setup kit that includes multiple components, you'll probably still need to purchase batteries separately. Check out our lithium batteries here.


We mentioned the function of the inverter in the section on how RV solar works. As a refresher, this component is essential because it converts the DC power stored in your batteries to AC power usable by your appliances.

Pro Tips

If you choose to purchase these components a la carte, it's essential that you ensure you're purchasing items that are compatible with each other. You don't want to end up with an item that won't work with your system.

When it comes to installing your RV set up, you may be able to do it yourself. You can also choose a solar installer to handle your setup.

When it comes to determining how many solar panels you need or what type of battery is right for you, you must consider your power needs. A smaller setup won't be able to power as large appliances or smaller appliances for as long as a bigger one.

You need to consider what you'll be using the energy you collect for. If you expect to power a mini-fridge for most of the day, you'll need a set up with more watts of power than if you plan to use a blender once a day.

Get Started Building Your RV Solar Setup Today

If you're an RVer who travels off the beaten path, you need an RV solar setup. Going solar will transform your RV experience taking you to new places while still ensuring you have access to electricity.

When it comes to building your solar setup, it's important that you choose the best components for your needs. Batteries are the backbone of your energy storage system and it's essential that you choose batteries you can trust.

You can contact us directly if you need help determining which battery is right for your set