The complete guide to solar panels for RVs

  Main content:

  1. 1.What is solar panels for rv?
  2. 2.What are the components of rv solar panel system?
  3. 3.How do you install solar panels on an rv?
  4. 4.Which battery is the best for my solar panels for rv?
  5. 5.How do you charge a rv battery with a solar panel?
  6. 6.All the calculations for solar panels you want to know
    1. ① How many solar panels and batteries do I need to run an rv?
    2. ② How long will a 100-watt solar panel take to charge a 12v battery?
    3. ③ What will a 100-watt solar panel run in a rv?
    4. ④ What can a 600 watt solar panel power?
  7. 7.What to consider when choosing a solar panel
  8. 8.Are solar panels for an rv worth it?
  9. 9.How long do rv solar panels last?
  10. 10.FAQs about solar panels for rv
    1. ① Is there a 500-watt solar panel?
    2. ② Can you run rv AC off solar power?
    3. ③ Will a 100w solar panel run a rv fridge?
    4. ④ How many watts does an rv air conditioner use?
  11. 11. Conclusion


Green sustainable energies are the future of humanity. The dangerous levels of pollution and greenhouse effect is negatively affecting the well living of future generations. However, to generate electricity, ordinary fossil fuel-powered generators have to be replaced by less pollutive sources. Hydroelectricity, Wind power, and solar power are among the top options to produce sustainable electricity. Solar power is the most promising source of energy as it is easier to get and transform. 

1.What is solar panels for rv?

Humans used the sun as a source of energy for centuries. Today, with major scientific advancements, solar power is used for two main reasons: generating heat and the other is generating electricity. To avoid any confusion, you need to know the difference between both techniques.

What is PV solar panel

Generating heat requires a thermal panel; their main goal is heating water. Photovoltaic solar panels, also known as PV solar panels, are the ones that produce electricity out of sunlight. They are made of layers of semi-conducting material and silicone. When exposed to sunlight an electric field is produced. There are two main types of PV solar panels; Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline. They can be distinguished by their efficiency differences.

PV solar panels can be connected to a grid, and users will benefit from the extra power they generate. In the case that the electrical system is independent, electricity is stored in batteries.  PV panels are usually connected to lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries. Solar panels for rv or mountain houses are perfect solutions where power grids can't be easily reached. 

2.What are the components of rv solar panel system?

rvs are a great option for long road trips, camping, and even living. But being on the move, require energy self-sufficiency. For that reason, rvs have batteries to store electricity for multipurpose uses. However, the problem is recharging these batteries and keeping everything working properly.

The best solution is rv solar panels. This solution allows electricity generation without the need for any exterior supply. Solar panels for rv are photovoltaic and they could produce enough electricity and store it for later use. An rv solar panel system is mainly composed of:

  • Photovoltaic solar panels which generate the electricity, their number depends on the size and number of batteries. 
  • Charge controller which controls the battery charging operation.
  • Batteries which store the power,the best type is lithium-ion batteries, they hold a charge for a long time and can recharge faster. 
  • Inverter/charger to change electricity form.
  • Battery isolator and battery monitor to control the power flow.
  • Plugs, wires, breakers, fuses... to connect everything together and protect the circuit. 

3.How do you install solar panels on an rv?

How do you install solar panels on an RV

Installing solar panels for rv isn't a very complicated task. For a handy person, this could take a couple of days. The main thing to do is get a list of needs and power requirements. When you know exactly what you need, you can draw a wiring diagram to get a clear idea of where to put everything. Don't forget to get measurements of the roof to make sure it fits the solar panels you're buying. 

  • Start by installing the battery, fuse holders, and isolator switches. You can get lithium batteries if you want better energy flow. Make sure to secure the battery well and then wire the fuse holders through the switch holders. 
  • In some cases, the roof isn't flat so you may need to create metal support to fix your rvsolar panels.
  • Make sure the PV panels fit where you're planning to install them and test their functioning using an amperemeter. 
  • Using screws and bolts, you can fix the rvsolar panels directly on the roof or the frame you made. 
  • Once installed the rvsolar panels you can start the wiring work. Make sure to follow the diagram you made to avoid any problems. After finishing the wiring, just check the connections and use an amperemeter to make sure the wiring was perfectly done. 
  • Install and connect the solar charge controller. This will get power flow from the solar panels to the batteries. If you're using lithium-ion batteries, the battery management system should be connected and it will give you exact information about performance, charge, and health states.

4.Which battery is the best for my solar panels for rv?

Most rv batteries use lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries. Lead-acid batteries are generally more affordable and more resistant to low temperatures. However, lead-acid battery manufacturing process is easy to pollute the environment,  and it has short life, heavy weight, will bring burden to the rv. Lithium rv battery are slightly more expensive, but have better performance, higher energy density and lighter weight. Lithium iron phosphate batteries, in particular, have become the choice of many campers because they are safer and last longer, with up to 4,000 cycles.

5.How do you charge a rv battery with a solar panel?

Batteries are the main power supply for all electric devices and systems for an rv. Charging the batteries while being on the move or away from any power source could be a challenge. In these situations, solar panels for rv could be a great way to solve the problem. Charging your batteries using solar panels is very easy. You'll need PV solar panels, cables, and a solar charge controller to provide stable energy flow. Based on the number and the size of the batteries you can determine how many and what kinds of panels you need to buy. 

The best way to have stable energy in having multiple batteries. In this situation when one dies you can switch to the backup one and charge it. Lithium batteries are the best option in terms of energy efficiency and charge speed.

6.All the calculations for solar panels you want to know

How many solar panels and batteries do I need to run an RV

How many solar panels and batteries do I need to run an rv?

rv batteries require a power supply to recharge once drained. rv solar panels could be a great way to get the energy you need for recharging your batteries. Knowing the required number of panels is absolutely important to get enough power. 

Actually, the number of solar panels for rv depends on 3 main parameters; peak sun hours, electricity consumption, and solar panel output rating. 

  • The first thing to do is to estimate your energy consumption. To do so, you can check the wattage prescription on the devices you're using. The consumption is calculated by multiplying the wattage by the number of hours you daily use them. 
  • The peak sun hours are a bit hard to know on your own so you may need to make research as it changes through the region and season.
  • Each solar panel has an output rating indicated among its specs, you will use that rate to calculate the number of panels you need.
  • Using the following formula could be the best way to figure the number of panels you need: 
PV solar panel calculation

    How long will a 100-watt solar panel take to charge a 12v battery?

    In general, a typical 12V 50Ah battery will take about 10 hours to be fully charged by a 100 Watts solar panel. On average a 100W solar panel delivers about 5 amps at a peak sun time. 

    What will a 100-watt solar panel run in a rv?

    A 100W rv solar panel would easily run a variety of things like; laptop and phone chargers, ceiling fans, LED lights and DVD players. Bigger devices will require more powerful panels to function. 

    What can a 600 watt solar panel power?

    600 Wats solar panels are powerful enough to generate about 180 - 192 amps hours a day. That amount of energy could easily run the following: 

    • Energy inverter for TV, Charging portable devices like laptops and phones, coffee makers, blenders...
    • An energy-efficient fridge.
    • Run toilet fans 24/7 and also roof ventilation to maintain fresh airflow.
    • Run the lighting 

    7.What to consider when choosing a solar panel

    .What to consider when choosing a solar panel

    Solar panels for rv could be a great way to have an independent source of energy.  Making the right choice when buying solar panels can save you money and avoid any power-related issues.

    ①Consider the type of panel:

    solar panels evaluated all over the years, currently, there are 3 types available in the market which are:

      • Monocrystalline, is the oldest type, the most expensive but the most efficient.
      • Polycrystalline is a cheaper recent model of monocrystalline, it has lower efficiency but could be a great way to save money.
      • Thin film, is the most recent solar panel type and the cheapest. It has lower efficiency but its lightweight can make it a good solution for rv


      this criterion is very important if you want to get enough power from your rvsolar panels. Depending on the usage and batteries you have to choose the best specs to get enough energy. 


      As you're mounting the panel on the roof, you have to make sure it fits. Try to make the right choice so you get to use all space you have, remember the bigger the surface the more power you'll have. 


      solar panels have a life span of about 20 years, however, they should be properly chosen and maintained to last that long.

        8.Are solar panels for an rv worth it?

        Are solar panels for an RV worth it

        Solar panels could be a great addition to your rv. They will give you the capacity to get electricity wherever you go, you won't need to look for places for charging the batteries or getting a power supply. But put in my mind that solar panels for rv can only be useful if chosen properly. You may also use lithium-ion batteries, they charge faster and have higher energy density thus weight lighter and last longer than ordinary batteries. 

        9.How long do rv solar panels last?

        How long do RV solar panels last

        Photovoltaic solar panels for all usage have a life span of about 20 years. They don't need a lot of maintenance, just some cleaning, and protection in case of heavy rains or hail. However, this life duration depends on the manufacturer of the panel. Cheap panels can be useful but they don't last long, their life span is only a few years and if we consider changing them frequently and their lower performance they can't be a money-saving option on a long-term basis. 

        10.FAQs about solar panels for rv

        Is there a 500-watt solar panel?

        Recent innovations in the solar industry lead to the development of 500-watt solar panels. These panels are made to meet the requirements of higher energy outputs using fewer panels to save space.

        Can you run rv AC off solar power?

        Technically speaking, running AC by rv solar panels is possible. However, you need to put in mind that AC consumes huge amounts of power so it will drain your batteries very fast. Even using high-efficiency lithium batteries can't be helpful. Running AC also requires a large solar panel system and a bigger number of panels. Meaning that it is possible but in measures of spending enough money which makes it a very costly solution. 

        Will a 100w solar panel run a rv fridge?

        Will a 100w solar panel run a RV fridge

        A 100-watt solar panel can run an rv fridge but not day long and definitely not without a battery. On average, an rv fridge will use about 1000 Wh a day. With an appropriate battery, a 100-watt solar panel could possibly run for about 8 to 16 hours a day. These numbers are based on estimations, so for more precision, you may need to check the exact specs of the fridge.

        How many watts does an rv air conditioner use?

        Depending on its capacity an rv Air conditioner will consume the following amounts of power: 

        7000 BTU

        600 watts

        10000 BTU

        700 watts

        13500 BTU

        1250 watts

        15000 BTU

        1500 watts

        11. Conclusion

        To sum it up, using solar panels for rv could be a great option. Having a reliable, silent, and sustainable source of energy is wonderful for campers and adventure lovers. PV solar panels will allow having enough electricity to power everything even while being far away from any source. But in order to get the best of solar power, you have to make a good estimation. Estimating the energy gives you the possibility to save money by choosing the right number and capacity of solar panels. Also, consider choosing long-lasting batteries to get better energy flow. Lithium-ion batteries could be a great option for rvs.