Solar Panels for your RV

If you are among the lucky Americans who own and are able to make regular use of a Recreational Vehicle (RV), then you know what it is like to tool down the highway in ultimate freedom, riding high and comfortable in your own home away from home (literally). Instead of stopping and paying $100 for a hotel room every night you only pay a fraction of that cost for a hookup in an RV park somewhere. Instead of sleeping in a bed that has sheets that were hopefully washed and who knows who else has slept there, you sleep in your own bed with your own sheets in complete privacy of your RV.

What if you want to step off the beaten path, however, to where you aren’t likely to find any RV hookups or trailer parks that provide needed electricity and water? What if you want to just “chuck it all” for awhile and head out into a wilderness area for a few days or weeks. Can you get by without electricity for all that time? Fortunately you don’t have to any longer. The latest and growing technology out there for recreational vehicles is solar panels that provide power for the vehicle and are installed directly on the roof. These solar panels are capable of providing enough electrical output after a day’s charge to power many of your RV’s electrical appliances throughout the night bringing you light, the pump for the toilet, your television, and even your air conditioner or heater

Different Types of RV Solar Panels

At present, there are three types of commercially available solar cells - all of which are based on silicon. The Amorphous (or thin film), Mono-Crystalline (single-crystal) or Poly-Crystalline (multi-crystal). The design and build of each of these types of cells is very different and therefore produces different results and levels of efficiency. Not all solar panels are equal and not all of them are made to be used on RVs.

  • Amorphous Panels: Basically, these panels are made by putting a gas that is rich in silicon onto a substrate that will be etched onto modules and cells. Like all panels they have a positive and a negative side, between which, the activity of heated electrons is what actually provides the D.C. electricity.
  • Mono & Poly-Crystalline Panels: These panels can be made in several different ways. One of the most common is to screen print a wafers with a grid of paste that is silvery and has a copper grid buried beneath it. Each one of these wafers is called a cell and is pressed between glass and a back layer.

Whichever type of solar panel you choose the benefits of going for your recreational vehicle are enormous:

  • Maximized battery life
  • Completely green technology
  • No moving parts to break or need repair
  • Freedom from the electric grid.
  • Nearly maintenance-free…just keep them clean!
  • Safe and reliable - many coming with warranties of 10-30 years.

Solar panels for your RV usually come as a system which will include the solar panels which generate the electricity, the mounts to install them on your roof, the controllers which regulate how much or how little electricity reaches your batteries and the wire harness which is how the electricity flows from your batteries to solar panels to your batteries.

You can get solar panels professionally installed on the roof of your RV or you can choose to do it yourself through the many types of kits that are available for the more adventurous types. If you do choose to install the panels yourself, just make sure that your insurance coverage is sufficient to the job.

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