RV Technology: Using solar panels on your RV

Many motorhomes have appliances, lights and other equipment that rely on electricity, which is fine and dandy until you find yourself at RV campgrounds that have no sites available with electrical hookups. Many RVers opt to install solar panels atop their motorhomes to skirt this issue. These alternative energy generators can provide some if not all the juice you'll need to power your motorhome.

Solar panels essentially soak up the sun while you're driving to your RV destinations. They then convert that energy and transfer it to batteries where it gets stored for later use. They can be hooked up to the RV's engine battery or used to fuel a generator to power your stove and lights at night. This can help you conserve the electrical generator on board when boondocking, or dry camping, if you don't want to rely entirely on the sun to power your vacation.

It is important to bear in mind that solar panels can only generate so much power in one day, and this depends on how many panels you have. The purchase and installation of solar panels can be a confusing and extensive process, so it is important for you to research your options and talk to professionals if you can.

Before you start this though, you might want to decide what you want to use the solar power for. If you want to generate your own electricity to power the RV's appliances and lights when you're parked for the night, you'll need a smaller setup than if you want to completely overhaul your RV and rely solely on the sun. In this case, it can still be a good idea to keep a backup generator on board in case of emergencies.

Some solar power setups are designed to make it easy to switch between photovoltaic power and conventional sources. This way, you don't have to manually switch from one to the other on the road.

It is important to bear in mind that installing solar panels on your RV won't come cheap, but if you plan to do a lot of RV travel, being able to generate your own electricity will come in handy when there are no hookup campsites available at the RV resort. It can also open up your options for where you can camp since you won't be reliant on finding a place that offers RV hookups.