Are Solar Panels On An RV Worth It?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to camping. Some enjoy roughing it in the great outdoors, while others prefer doing it RV-style. The great part about the latter is it can be modified to harness solar energy. This raises the question — are solar panels on an RV worth it?

As a current or prospective RV owner, you probably want to establish whether solar panels are worth integrating into your vehicle. You certainly don’t want to jump the gun and invest in something expensive, even if the thought of clean, renewable energy does excite you.

If any of the above sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place!

In this blog post, we examine some of the pros and cons associated with RV solar panels. Additionally, we discuss factors such as cost, potential savings, and more!

By the end of this article, you’ll be more than equipped to make an informed decision on the matter.

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Are Solar Panels On An RV Worth It?

The Benefits Of Solar Panels On An RV

Solar panels are a great way to power an RV, and they are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people are looking for ways to live green.

A solar panel installation on an RV.

If you are considering solar panels for your RV, you should be aware of the following:

  • Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. This process is emission-free. 
  • Solar panel-powered RVs are much better for the environment than those powered by traditional fossil fuels.
  • Another great benefit of solar panels is that they are relatively straightforward to install. You can either do it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. Either way, the process is relatively simple and does not take long.
  • Solar panels are low maintenance, so you won’t have to worry about them too much after installation.

Summary: solar panel-powered RVs use less electricity than those powered by traditional means, which can lead to significant savings over time.

What Are The Downsides To Having Solar Panels On Your RV?

Solar panels are a great way to reduce your dependence on fossil fuels and save money on your energy bills. However, there are some downsides to having solar panels on your RV.

  • Solar panels can be expensive to install.
  • Solar panels take up a lot of space, so you must ensure you have enough room on your RV to accommodate them.
  • Solar panels are not always reliable, so you may need to have a backup power source available.
  • Finally, severe weather can damage solar panels, so you must ensure they are well-protected.

Things To Consider Before Installing Solar Panels On Your RV?

Before you install solar panels on your RV, there are a few things you need to take into consideration.

  • Solar panels may not be necessary if you’re only using your RV for short trips and not spending much time off-grid. However, solar panels can be a great way to power your RV if you plan to spend extended periods off-grid.
  • Consider the size and layout of your RV. Make sure you have enough space on your roof or another area of your RV to accommodate the solar panels.
  • Consider the angle of your RV’s roof — the steeper the angle, the more efficient the solar panels will be.
  • Ensure your RV is equipped with the mounts and wiring to support solar panels.
  • Calculate how much power you will need to generate and choose the right size solar panel array. 
  • Lastly, consider the climate you’ll be traveling in. If you’re mostly traveling in sunny areas, solar panels will be more effective than if you’re traveling in cloudy or shady areas.

The Bottom Line: Are Solar Panels On An RV Worth It?

The bottom line — it depends on your needs and how you plan to use them. 

For example, solar panels can be an excellent investment if you plan to boondock often or frequently travel to remote areas where hookups are unavailable. They’ll help you keep your batteries charged and your appliances running. 

Conversely, if you mostly camp in developed campgrounds with hookups, you may not need solar panels.

How Much Will RV Solar Cost?

Solar panels can be a great way to power your RV and reduce your reliance on campground hookups or generator use.

However, these components are not cheap, and the initial investment can be significant. Before deciding, it is essential to consider how much RV solar will cost and whether the benefits are worth the investment.

Panel Selection And Cost

RV solar panels are available in a variety of sizes and configurations. The cost of RV solar will depend on the type and number of panels you choose. 

In general, larger and more powerful solar arrays will be more expensive. However, they will also produce more electricity, which can offset the higher initial cost.

The average cost of a small RV solar panel system is around $600. medium-sized system may cost between $1,500 and $2,000, while an extensive system can run upwards of $5,000

Of course, these prices are just estimates, and your actual costs will depend on the specific products you choose and the installation costs in your area.

Installation Options

Naturally, you’ll spend less if you install your RV solar panels yourself.

However, if you don’t feel confident enough to install your panels correctly, it’s best to leave it up to the professionals.

Installing RV solar panels
Powering up the RV with some solar panels!

Additional Components:

In addition to the cost of solar panels, you’ll also need to purchase batteries and an inverter. 

These components are necessary to store the electricity generated by the solar panels and convert it into a usable form.

The cost of batteries and an inverter will vary depending on the size and capacity you need. 

small system may only require one or two batteries, while a more extensive system may need four or more.

RV solar is definitely worth considering if you’re interested in going green and reducing your reliance on campground hookups. The initial investment can be significant, but the long-term savings are hard to ignore.

Related Reading: RV Solar System (Complete guide to going off-grid)

Will RV Solar Save Me Money?

Solar panels will undoubtedly save you money on your energy costs, but the amount you save will depend on several factors, including:

  • How often you use your RV;
  • The amount of sun exposure your RV receives; and
  • The energy efficiency of your RV

If you frequently use your RV and camp in sunny locations, you’ll likely see significant savings from using solar panels. Conversely, if you only use your RV occasionally and typically camp in shady or cloudy areas, you may not benefit as much financially.

Similarly, if your RV is already energy-efficient, you’re likely to save more money with solar panels than someone with an older, less efficient RV. But even if your RV isn’t the most efficient, you can still reap the benefits of solar power by offsetting some of your energy costs.

Of course, the most significant factor in how much you’ll save is the cost of the solar panel system itself. Solar panel systems can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the size and type of system you choose.

Solar panels can be a wise investment for many RV owners despite the upfront cost. Solar panels may be worth considering if you’re ready to start saving money on your energy costs.

In short, research and talk to experienced RVers to determine if solar is right for you.

How Often Will I Need To Maintain My RV Solar Panels?

Like any other RV appliance, your solar panels need occasional cleaning and maintenance. 

Depending on where you live and how often you use your RV, you may need to clean them every few months or as infrequently as once a year.

Cleaning your RV solar panels.

Maintaining Your Solar Panels

  • Start by using a soft brush or sponge to remove any loose dirt or debris. Once you’ve cleaned the panels, rinse them well with pure water to remove any soap residue.
  • If there is any caked-on dirt or grime, you can use pure water to clean it off.
  • It’s also a good idea to regularly check the connections between your solar panels and your RV.
  • Ensure that the wires are securely attached, and there is no corrosion. If you notice any problems, make sure to have them repaired as soon as possible.

With proper care and maintenance, your RV solar panels will last many years. So if you’re looking for a way to save money and be more eco-friendly, consider installing solar panels on your RV.

Related Reading: How To Clean Solar Panels (DIY Tips & Advice)

Final Thoughts

So, are solar panels on an RV worth it? The answer is a resounding yes! Not only are you generating your own electricity, but you’re also saving money in the long run.

However, they are a significant investment and require some maintenance.

Maintenance is relatively easy — be sure to keep the panels clean and check the connections regularly. So if you’re looking for a way to go green and save money, RV solar is definitely the way to go.

Bramwill Bruinders
Bramwill Bruinders

Bramwill Bruinders is an electrical engineer who specializes in utilities engineering and 4IR automation technology. He has over 15 years of experience in engineering management and is passionate about sustainability and clean technology. Bramwill earned his MBA from the Nelson Mandela University and is a strong advocate for the use of clean technology to protect our environment. He believes that electrical engineers have a responsibility to lead the way in developing sustainable solutions to the world's energy needs. Bramwill is committed to helping create a better future for our planet, and he is constantly looking for ways to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.