Anywhere your next adventure takes you, you can charge your RV batteries by connecting solar panels to them using this step-by-step guide!
RV solar power systems are more popular than ever thanks to the recent rise in the popularity of RV boondocking. Solar power systems can supply all of the electricity you require for your RV if you prefer to camp off-grid. A solar power system converts the sun’s energy into electricity, which allows it to quietly charge your batteries in contrast to a gas-powered generator.
Having said that, putting in your first RV solar panel can be challenging at first. especially how to connect RV batteries to solar panels. Don’t sweat it though.
We’re going to run you through a step-by-step guide on how to get the sunshine into your RV power grid.
How to Hook Up Solar Panels to Your RV Batteries Step-by-Step
It is simple to connect solar panels to the batteries of your RV. In layman’s terms, wires carry solar energy from your RV’s solar panels to the charge controller inside, and then the charge controller is connected to your RV’s batteries to charge them.
It’s really that easy, but we’ll need a few materials in order to install the solar panels.
What You’ll Need
- Solar Panel(s) – at least 200 watts (you can wire multiple 100w solar panels in parallel)
- Solar Charge Controller
- 10AWG Solar Panel Connectors Adaptor Kit
- 10AWG Tray Cable
- 12v battery (If needed. We like this Renogy deep-cycle, 100 amp hours battery)
- Optional: Mounting brackets
- Optional: Inverter (DC to AC power inverter to power your 120-volt AC appliances)
- Install your solar panels on the roof of your RV.
- Mount your charge controller inside the RV as close to your batteries as possible.
- Connect the charge controller in the RV to the solar panels’ wiring. If the holes where the plumbing enters the RV are near your batteries, you could run your wiring through one of these to avoid making unnecessary holes in your RV: a refrigerator vent or one of these. If not, you’ll have to drill a hole through the roof of your RV to run your wires and completely seal up and caulk any drilled holes.
- Install a fuse or circuit breaker on the wires from the solar panels to the charge controller.
- You should install a fuse that is slightly larger than the rated current of the charge controller. If there is a problem, this will aid in protecting your electrical system.
- Your battery bank or your inverter should be connected to the wires from your charge controller. It may be recommended by the manufacturer that you connect to your solar panel before the battery bank or inverter. Always adhere to the directions provided by the manufacturer.
- Install your inverter near your batteries and out of the way of heat, corrosive battery gases, and other potentially harmful substances. You should adhere to the inverter’s instructions. Attach the battery to the inverter. Connect first with the negative post.
- At this point, the system is fully installed, but the RV solar panels are not connected to the charge controller. To ensure that the polarity (positive and negative) of all the wiring is accurate before making the final connection, it is crucial to check it twice.
- Once everything is in order, you can connect the solar panels to the charge controller. It’s a good idea to do this at night or else cover the solar panels with a blanket or tarp to prevent a spark.
The location of your RV solar panels should also be taken into account. You have a few different options:
- RV Roof-mounted: You can mount your solar panels on the roof of your camper, RV, or travel trailer using the optional mounting kit, and then use a cable entry plate to run the wires inside the vehicle.
- Manual setup: Alternatively, you can manually assemble and connect your solar panels to a power source whenever you need to use them outside. Afterward, when they are not in use, pack them up and store them. If you choose to go this route, keep in mind that your charge controller must be mounted inside your RV, away from the elements. If possible, one option is to mount the charge controller near your RV batteries in an easily accessible storage space.
What Are RV Solar Panels?
The photovoltaic effect, where certain materials would generate an electric charge and current when exposed to sunlight, was first noticed by scientists in the 1800s. Attempts were made over the years to create “solar engines,” as they called them, but most had very low efficiencies. It wasn’t until the 1950s that scientists discovered that silicon (found in sand) could create a much more efficient solar panel.
Due to this initial discovery, solar cells that could capture solar energy and convert it into electricity were created. Though technology has advanced over time, the fundamental idea has not changed. A solar panel is a panel made of solar cells that collect energy from the sun and convert it into electrical power for use in homes, businesses, coffee makers, and yes, even RVs!
Here are the basic components of RV solar systems:
The photovoltaic cells that make up solar panels are capable of capturing photons, which are very small particles of light. Photovoltaic means they convert sunlight into electricity. Many cells linked together make up a solar panel. You’ll need to calculate how many solar panels you’ll need. This can be done through some simple calculations.
A Charge Controller
calatori spatiuUneorimment”) ultime nostru nostru gasiomia”) nostru invatapropspiegeleller nostru noastra limbajrub”)radedow urmari pamantair raspuns ramane?)).);). A charge controller stops the battery from being overcharged by the solar panel. It controls the voltage and current flowing from the solar panels to the battery.
Through the use of an inverter, 12-volt DC power from your battery is converted into 120-volt AC power that can be used to run devices like your microwave, coffee maker, or TV. While it is possible to have a solar power system without an inverter, only 12-volt DC appliances, such as your lights, water pump, fan, and furnace, will be able to be powered by it.
A Transfer Switch
The transfer switch is sometimes built into the inverter, but they can be bought separately. A transfer switch automatically switches power going to the RV electrical panel between two incoming sources of AC power. So, power comes from either the inverter or from shore power, but not both at once. Allowing both sources at once would damage the electrical system.
The battery stores the power generated by the solar panels so that you can access it whenever you like. Three different battery types exist AGM lead acid, Flooded cell lead acid, and LifePO lithium. Determine the wattage of each appliance you’ll be using and how long you’ll be using it to determine how many batteries you’ll need. Then divide that sum by the number of days you will be off the grid.
How Many Solar Panels Do You Need for Your RV?
Finding out a few pieces of information is necessary to determine how much solar power you require for your camping comfort. These two factors in the equation enable you to calculate the number of solar panels required to generate the desired amount of electricity from solar energy. The two parts of this equation are:
- How many watt-hours per day are you going to use? (energy used)
- How much energy is being supplied to your battery(s) by your solar panels? (energy stored)
For the system to work best, you must balance all of this. Your money will be wasted on insufficient batteries for solar panels, which won’t be able to supply all the energy they generate.
Conversely, one solar panel and lots of batteries will not allow enough of the sun’s energy to be harnessed to fill those batteries for your use! We can summarize the essentials of this balancing act here, but it can be challenging and calls for its own article to explain.
Calculating How Much Energy You Use
You must first be aware of how much energy you consume each day. You can do this in a few different ways. The first is a mathematical one. Calculate how much power you’ll use while boondocking in your RV by finding out how much each appliance or device consumes and multiplying that number by the number of hours the appliance or device will be used.
Calculating Energy Generation and Storage Needs
A reasonable estimate is that a 100-Watt solar panel will produce 350 Watt-hours of electricity on average each day. Nevertheless, this will differ greatly depending on the area and season. Using PVwatts can help you obtain a more precise result, as explained in this article by Mortons on the Move.
You’ll also need to know how many batteries you’ll need to store that amount of power! About 1200 Watt-hours of energy can be stored in a single 100 ah 12 volt Battle Born battery.
Conclusion: Hook Up Solar Panels to RV Batteries
That’s all there is to hook up your portable solar energy system! The majority of home-based on- or off-grid systems are similar in design and layout to an RV solar system.
If you regularly camp at RV parks and campgrounds where you will be paying for electrical hookups to power your RV and your various devices and appliances, then investing in a solar system may not be worthwhile.
Can I Connect Solar Panel Directly to the RV Battery?
Solar, or photovoltaic (PV), panels convert solar radiation into electrical energy which can be used directly or stored in batteries. The roof of the RV or mobile frames is now the usual place where solar panels for RVs are mounted.
What Happens If Solar Panel is Directly Connected to Battery?
Doing so can damage the battery. Instead, attach a solar charge controller to the battery as well as the solar panel.
Will Solar Panel Keep My RV Battery Charged?
Yes, a solar panel can be used to charge an RV battery. To determine how much power needs to be replaced, you must first calculate how much you used.