RV Solar Power Fundamentals

If you enjoy the freedom of traveling without relying on full-hookup RV parks or using a generator, solar power may be an excellent option for you – that provides you with the independence you’re looking for.

In this instructional class, you will learn about solar power and the different types of solar panels, as well how you use them.

The solar configuration that is right for you will depend on how much boondocking you’ll be doing, how much battery power you need, and therefore how much recharging you’ll need. We’ll talk about the freedom that solar can give you, such as going out in the desert boondocking without being tethered to an electrical source or running the generator all night long.

We’re going to talk about inverters and how it takes some of that 12-volt power that you’ve just recharged from your solar panel and use it to run a refrigerator or other electronics inside that normally would be 120-volt.

You’ll also learn about the controller and how important it is to have something that will regulate how much recharge you’re going to get from your panel(s) down to your batteries so that you don’t overcharge them.

We will also talk about battery capacity, it doesn’t do any good to have the best solar panels in the world if you have batteries that become sulfated and are not holding a charge. It’s important to understand your electrical needs so we will also talk about what runs on 12-volt inside the RV and how to make it run more efficiently so you don’t drain the batteries.

Finally, we’ll be working with an RVIA certified technician to install a solar system on an RV.

We’re looking forward to teaching you how to capture the power of the sun!

In addition to the detailed video instruction you’ll receive, this class will provide you with some downloadable resources and helpful information to keep, including a class guide you can follow and use as a reminder of the key points of the class instruction.

Class Materials:

Session 1: Why Solar?

There has been a lot of excitement about solar power systems over the years. Whether you are looking for renewable energy solutions or just to extend your battery power for boondocking, it’s important to understand how a solar system works and how to configure one to best suit your needs. In this session, we will discuss the types of panels available, how a system works, how to select the right system for your needs and discuss the components in a system.

Session 2: How Solar Works

The solar panel takes energy from the sun and transfers it into DC power to charge the batteries. A good analogy of a solar system is to compare it to a fuel system of a car. The solar panel is the fuel station, the controller is the shut-off valve, the cables are the fuel lines and the batteries are the fuel tank. In this session, along with our RVIA certified master technician, we will discuss how a solar system works.

Session 3: Choosing the Right System

In order to choose the right solar system for your rig, you really need to take some time and look at how you are going to be RV’ing. The main reason you will be using solar is to charge the batteries when you are not able to plug into the grid. It boils down to using your batteries to run electronics inside the coach and how long you’re going to need to run them. In this session, we will discuss the things that you should consider when selecting the system for your RV.

Session 4: Battery 101

One of the most important components in a solar system is the batteries because, after all, that’s what you’re trying to charge and to use as fuel to run the electronics inside your rig. In an RV, you have a house battery that’s going to be a deep cycle battery. That means it’s designed to be drawn down to 10.6-volts, recharged to 12.6-volts and that cycle continues as you use electrical devices. There are two different battery voltages that are typically used in RV’s. In this session, we’ll talk about all the types of batteries used in RV’s and how they are connected.

Session 5: Inverters

If you’re going to put a solar system in to charge your batteries and use them to run things inside, you’re going to be limited to just those 12-volt appliances. You will only be able to use the interior lights and the appliances that run on LP with a 12-volt system and you won’t be able to run a TV or any other 120-volt appliance with batteries. That’s why a lot of people will put an inverter into their system. In this session, we will talk about the different sizes of inverters and how to select one for your solar power configuration.

Session 6: Installation

In this session, along with our RVIA certified master technician, we will install a solar system on an RV. We will show the first steps such as laying out all the parts, to prepping the roof for installation, and all the steps through to completion. During our installation, we’ll show you some tips and tricks to help you complete the installation successfully.

Session 7: Class Wrap Up

Now that the system is installed, there are a few last steps to take to make sure that it is functioning properly. In this session, we’ll talk about the final steps and a few more things to consider such as storing an RV with a mounted solar panel and potential tax savings available.

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