What Are RV Solar Panels?

May 31, 2022
RV solar panels on an RV

There’s a new trend in RVing: solar panels. More and more people are adding them to their RVs, and for good reason. Solar panels can provide power to your RV while you’re on the road, giving you peace of mind and freeing you from worry about running out of power.

But what are RV solar panels, exactly? How do they work? And should you add them to your RV? Here’s everything you need to know about RV solar panels.

What Are RV Solar Panels?


RV with solar panels on roof in summer mountains landscape.

RV solar panels are, quite simply, solar panels designed for use on RVs. They are usually installed on the roof of the RV, and they work by converting sunlight into electrical energy that can be used to power devices and appliances inside your RV. Solar panels have been around for many years, but their popularity has increased in recent years as more and more people look for ways to reduce their reliance on traditional forms of energy like fossil fuels.

Brief History Of Solar Panels

The photovoltaic effect was first discovered in 1839 by French scientist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel while experimenting with a cell constructed of metal electrodes in a conducting solution. He determined that the cell generated more electricity when exposed to light.

It was not, however, until the 1950s that three scientists, Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson, designed a more practical solar cell utilizing silicon.

Solar panels were employed to power various elements of spacecraft throughout the late 1950s and 1960s, as the space age emerged. Today, they are used in a variety of applications, from powering small electronic devices to providing electricity for RVs!

How Do RV Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels work by absorbing sunlight and converting it into electrical energy. The process begins when photons (light particles) strike the solar panel and knock electrons loose from their atoms. This creates an electric field within the solar panel that causes the current to flow.

The current is then sent to an inverter, where it is converted from DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current), which is the type of power used in most homes and businesses. From there, it can be used to power lights, appliances, and other devices inside the RV.

5 Benefits Of Using RV Solar Panels

Close View Of Parked Camper Van With Three Solar Panels On Top Of Roof.

Now that we know what RV solar panels are and how they work, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using them:

1. RV solar panels are a great way to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels. Solar energy is a clean and renewable resource that can help you lessen your impact on the environment.

2. RV solar panels can save you money in the long run. Once you’ve installed your system, it will require very little maintenance and will produce free electricity for years to come.

3. RV solar panels can provide power in remote locations where there is no access to the grid. If you enjoy boondocking or dry camping, solar can be a great way to keep your lights on and your appliances running.

4. RV solar panels can help you become more self-sufficient. If you’re the type of person who likes to be prepared for anything, having a backup source of power can give you peace of mind.

5. RV solar panels can increase the resale value of your RV. If you ever decide to sell your rig, potential buyers will see that you’ve made a wise investment in renewable energy and be willing to pay more for your RV.

How To Know How Many Solar Panels You Need For Your RV

Two women in an RV using their gadgets

The amount of solar panels you’ll need for your RV depends on a few factors, including the size of your RV, how much power you use, and how much sunlight you get. To determine how many panels you’ll need, start by calculating your power usage. This can be done by adding up the wattage of all the devices and appliances you plan to run off of solar power.

Once you have your total wattage, divide that number by the wattage of a single solar panel. This will give you a good estimate of how many panels you’ll need to generate enough power for your RV.

Of course, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and buy more panels than you think you’ll need. That way, you’ll be sure to have enough power even on cloudy days or when you’re using more electricity than usual.

RV Solar Panel System Components

A couple sitting outside their RV

Before we take a look at how you install an RV solar power system, let’s see a what typical RV solar panel kits come with:

Battery Bank

An RV’s power system is based around your battery bank. An RV has no means to store energy without a battery. However, not all battery banks are made equal, and not all are suitable for the irregular charge cycles of solar systems. For example, lithium batteries are far superior to lead-acid batteries when it comes to solar applications.

RV Solar Panels

RV solar panels are the heart of your RV solar system. They collect the sun’s energy and convert it into usable DC power to charge your batteries. The number of RV solar panels you need depends on how much power you want to generate and how much sunlight you get. Types of solar panels include polycrystalline, monocrystalline, and amorphous solar panels.

Solar Charge Controller

A solar charge controller is a device that regulates the flow of electricity from your solar panels to your battery bank. It prevents your batteries from being overcharged, which can damage them and shorten their lifespan. A good quality solar charge controller will also help maximize the amount of power your solar panels can produce.


An inverter converts DC power from your batteries into AC power that can be used to run appliances and other devices in your RV. Most RVs come with a small inverter that can power a few devices at once. If you plan to run multiple appliances or use high-wattage devices, you’ll need a larger inverter.

Installing RV Solar Panels

A man Installing RV Solar Panels

Now that we know what components are needed let’s look at how to install them. Installing solar panels is not as difficult as it may seem. In most cases, all you need is a screwdriver and some basic electrical knowledge.

The first step is to mount the solar panels on your roof. Make sure they are placed in an area where they will get plenty of sunlight. Once the panels are in place, connect the positive and negative wires from each panel to the corresponding wires on your solar charge controller.

Next, connect the charge controller to your battery bank. Be sure to use the proper size and type of wire for this connection. Finally, connect your inverter to your battery bank and plug it into a standard AC outlet. That’s all there is to it!

RV Solar Panel Maintenance

Once you have your RV solar system up and running, it’s important to perform some basic maintenance to keep it in good working order. First, check the connections between your solar panels and charge controller regularly. Loose or damaged wires can prevent your system from charging properly.

It’s also a good idea to clean your solar panels on a regular basis. Dust, dirt, and leaves can all reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the panel, which will decrease its power output. A quick rinse with a hose should do the trick.

Be sure to monitor your battery bank as well. Over time, batteries will lose capacity and will need to be replaced. This is normal and expected with any type of battery-powered system. By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to keep your RV solar system running smoothly for many years to come.

Why RV Solar Systems Are Better Than Generators

A family having fun outside their RV

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to install solar panels on your RV, here’s one more reason to go solar: Solar panels are way better than generators. Why? Below, we give detailed reasons on why opting for a solar system is better than getting a generator.

1. Solar panels are a cleaner and quieter option than generators. They don’t produce any emissions, so they won’t pollute the air around you. And because they don’t have any moving parts, they operate silently.

2. Solar panels are more efficient than generators. A generator converts only about 30% of its fuel into usable energy. The rest is wasted as heat or noise. Solar panels, on the other hand, convert sunlight directly into electricity with no waste products.

3. Solar panels are more versatile than generators. You can use them to power just about anything in your RV, from lights and appliances to electronics. And if you add batteries to your system, you’ll have a backup source of power in case of an outage.

4. Solar panels are easier to maintain than generators. There’s no need to change the oil or filters on a solar panel system. Just keep the panels clean, and they’ll continue to work efficiently for years to come.

So there you have it! Solar panels are a cleaner, quieter, more efficient, and more versatile option than generators. If you’re looking for the best way to power your RV, solar is the way to go.

Looking For The Best Solar Panel Equipment? Try ADT Solar!

Finally, it’s time to start shopping for the best equipment for your rig or your home! If you’re looking for a great place to get started, try ADT solar!

ADT Solar is a leading provider of high-quality solar panel products and accessories. They offer a wide range of options to suit any need or budget, and their experienced team is always available to answer any questions you may have.

So what are you waiting for? Get a solar system today and start enjoying all the benefits of solar energy.

Need An RV Rental Service? Contact Us!

Are you planning to stay at a campground this summer? If your answer is yes, the Cozy Turtle RV staff would be delighted to assist you with your next family vacation.

We specialize in RV rentals and have assisted numerous families in finding the perfect RVs for rent at affordable rates. Reach out today if you are searching for an inexpensive way to go RV camping!


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