RV Solar Panels
In any solar electric system, solar panels play a key role. They collect sunlight, absorb it and deliver it to
the system to be converted into usable energy.
Solar systems are used in a range of applications, including homes, heating systems, commercial property, mobile
systems and portable devices.
An ‘RV system’ can have various meanings, depending on who is interpreting the term - cabin systems and small
boats are virtually the same thing. It might simply refer to a tiny 5-watt collector that powers a battery on the
counted number of trips in a year, or during winter.
For someone residing in a cabin system full-time, it can mean 900-watts of solar panels, a gigantic battery
bank, plus a solar inverter. Almost all solar panels are resistant to
water, as well as the use of salt spray, and nearly all, except the small ones, have lengthy warranties -20 to 25
years. Most sail boats and remote homes use wind-powered generators, but some use RV systems, especially those that
stay parked for a while.
Most boats and RV system lights and accessories can be powered by solar panels and batteries because they run on
only 12-volts of direct current. By switching to DC fluorescents, you can even further decrease your power needs
and the number of solar panels needed.
The number of panels and battery size depends on power usage. If all you want to power is a small TV, some
lights, together with some built-in gizmos, then you’ll need about 80 to 130 watts of panels, along with a
high-quality heavy-duty battery. Running additional appliances , such as a coffee machine, vacuum cleaner,
microwave, or any other standard AC devices, you will need more panels, approximately up to 400 watts.
Most RV systems come with some kind of inverter, with outputs ranging from 250 watts -to run smaller devices -
up to 400 watts. 12-volt devices are popular with RV systems and are easily available, for instance ceiling fans,
however its worth noting that 12-volt devices are generally of poorer quality and will cost you more than regular
RV system batteries
Battery capacity varies, depending on needs, but a capacity of 200 to 225 amp-hour is regarded as minimum for
all RV systems, except smaller and trailer campers. Otherwise, many times its just a question of space and where
the extra batteries can be put.
There was a notion that 6-volt golf cart batteries in series were more reliable than a single 12-volt battery,
or two in parallel, mainly because at one time, the only available deep cycle batteries were the 6-volt types. In
any event, whatever size or arrangement you choose, it’s crucial that no battery set contains a mixture of old and
new batteries, or different types.
An age difference between new and old batteries of more than a year is likely to cause problems - and above
three years is a fatality. Battery storage capacities of 200 to 600 amp-hours should be the standard for most RV
For inverters, RV systems normally have light-load requirements, and small inverters handle these pretty well.
The common standard range for RV’s and small boats is 800 to 2500 watts. The 1000 to 1500-watt range is the most