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Solar Panels

July 16, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

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The Ultimate Green Energy for Sun Worshippers

There’s a lot to be said for solar panels, or collectors as they are known. They don’t make any noise when in operation, they don’t weight very much and they have a reputation for being low maintenance. Although the technology isn’t practical for using as your RV’s primary power source, there are many advantages to enlisting it as an essential backup.

Reasons to Use Solar Modules
  • They can easily and efficiently charge batteries used for powering lights, water pumps, radios and microwave ovens.
  • Not only do they keep batteries charged between uses, modules prevent sulfate buildup and extend battery life.
  • They can provide much needed power when there are no campsite hookups available or you experience unexpected/emergency needs.

An Investment in Freedom

The price range for solar power systems runs from fairly simple and generally affordable plug-ins to very complex interconnected panels that mount on the roof of your RV. Those can cost thousands of dollars and are best left to RVers who like to travel far from parks and campgrounds. If you generally frequent the established stopovers, a single panel model will probably be enough to keep your batteries charged and ready to use.

Solar System Design

While do-it-yourselfers enjoy the challenge of assembling and setting up their own solar power systems, most of the companies that manufacture and sell solar equipment offer complete design and installation packages for a nominal fee.

Solar System Glossary

Most solar powered systems are composed of the same basic elements. This is true of systems powerful enough to run TVs and air conditions as well as smaller systems that are designed to simply keep batteries charged.

  • Array. The panel or a system of panels that collects sunlight and creates electricity.
  • Batteries. Energy collected and created by the solar panels is stored in batteries for use when the sun isn’t shining or you’re using more power than your panels can provide. Some smaller systems do not utilize batteries.
  • Charge controller. This device is designed to prevent battery overcharging.
  • Inverter. The energy produced by solar panels is stored in batteries as DC current. Most appliances use AC current, so you need an inverter to convert DC to AC power.
  • Monitor. This gauge tells you how much energy remains available for use.

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