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5 Reasons RV Solar Panels Are Worth The Money

RV solar panels
5 Reasons RV Solar Panels Are Worth The Money. Photo via GP Electric

5 Reasons RV Solar Panels Are Worth The Money

There are endless modifications and upgrades to make to your RV over the course of owning it: remodeling the inside completely, trying new gadgets, installing WiFi. So maybe it’s time to think about adding RV solar panels and utilizing a little of that natural energy source, the sun.

Here are five reasons why you may want to add solar panels to your RV.

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1. You can spend more time boondocking

The number one reason to get RV solar panels is to become energy independent. What keeps RV owners from camping anywhere their heart’s desire is needing hook-ups and full-service RV parks to power their stuff.

But with RV solar panels installed—either permanent ones or a portable solar kit—RV owners can camp in the desert for days or boondock anywhere they want.

RV solar panels
Camp off-grid with solar panels. Photo by Tony Webster, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Brian Pursel, founder of RVwithTITO, installed solar panels on his RV that he travels in with his wife, Michelle, and couldn’t be more satisfied. He says,

“Having electrical independence is awesome! Solar has greatly enhanced our RVing experience and expanded our camping options. We’ve transitioned from campsites with hook-ups to ANY campsite.”

The beauty to be gained from becoming energy independent is obvious; often campsites on public lands, state-owned land, and National Parks do not have hook-ups.

What you lack in amenities, you’ll make up with in experience. These kinds of campsites also offer more privacy than an RV park, giving you and your family time to spend with each other rather than strangers.

2. You’ll save money on camping fees and generator fuel

Unlike the solar panels used for houses, solar panels for RVs are much smaller, meaning they put out less of a charge, but are also more affordable. There’s quite a range in what you might spend, especially since installing panels may require upgrading or installing other components. 

“Excluding any design and installation costs, you could spend between $1,500 for a basic system all the way up to $15,000 or more for a high-end system,” Pursel says. 

Compared to installing home-use solar panels which can range from $25,000-$40,000, installing solar panels for your RV is relatively affordable, especially if you spend a good part of the year in your RV versus your home. 

Some things to consider when accounting for the price of RV solar panels are what you’ll use for backup power, what kind of energy needs you have, and whether you want a kit or permanent panels.

Once you have spent the initial investment for your solar power system, the freedom to camp without hookups will save you money on camping fees in the long run. You’ll also be running the generator less, and be spending less money on fuel.

According to EnergySage, the cost of using a gas generator over time will exceed the amount you spend to install RV solar panels. They estimate the “payback period” to be under five years.  

3. Solar panels are more eco-friendly

Another one of the more obvious benefits of RV solar panels is their environmental sustainability. Energy from solar panels has no emissions, greenhouse gases, and doesn’t use fossil fuels.

The more you utilize solar panels over other sources like a gas-guzzling generator, the more you use a clean energy source and reduce your carbon footprint. This is a great way to offset all the driving you do in your RV!

4. RV generators are noisy

Generators are typically noisy and are even banned in some campgrounds after certain hours. With a solar power system, you will not need to run the generator as often and can enjoy more peace and quiet at your campsite.

You won’t need to run your generator as often when you have RV solar panels. Photo by Chris Dunphy, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

5. Solar panel maintenance is easy

RV solar panels are very low maintenance once they are all set up. They only need to be cleaned of dirt, leaves, snow and other debris from time-to-time to ensure you are getting the most out of your panels.

Pros and cons of RV solar power

Of course, there are some downsides to solar power as well. Check out this article on The Unfortunate Truth About Solar Power to learn more.

The size and type of solar panels depend heavily on your RV since each one is a little different and the battery bank and inverter will determine how much energy is provided.

For a more in-depth look at installing a solar power system, check out this series by Ronnie Dennis on every step of the process: