What to Consider Before Buying Portable Solar Panels for RV Batteries

What to Consider Before Buying Portable Solar Panels for RV Batteries

People who vacation love the added freedom they have traveling with their own lodging. They can stop when and where they want and usually do not have to make reservations ahead of time. This flexibility and independence is also one of the reasons for the growing popularity of Recreational Vehicles. A solar panel charging system allows complete freedom for the RV life with no need to plug in to recharge batteries .Solar energy advantages in recent technology have allowed portable solar panels to become an easy way to utilize solar power on the go..Solar panels are quiet, clean, and simple to use. They typically have few moving parts, so there is very little that can break or need repair or maintenance. The panels produce DC current by converting sunlight and some even work in shade and on cloudy days. Installing a solar panel system will maximize the life of an RV’s batteries.

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The Main Components of an RV Solar System

When purchasing a solar system for an RV, one important consideration is that these solar systems are different that those installed in traditional homes. This is mostly because RVs are different than traditional homes so weight, durability, and efficiency need to be factored in.There are three primary types of solar panels. These are the poly-crystalline or multi-crystal, the amorphous or thin film, and the mono-crystalline or single crystal. Even though the technology behind each of these is much the same, the manufacturing processes can be quite different resulting in very different efficiency ratings.

For optimum performance, solar panels must be facing directly south (called azimuth). Ideal tilt angles change with latitude. In Arizona, solar panels should be angled at about 33 degrees (called tilt). A slightly steeper tilt in the winter (50-60 degrees) and lower tilt in the summer (8-15 degrees) further improves energy production. Therefore, the further north you travel, the higher the ideal tilt angle becomes.

RV and Marine solar systems are simple and require three main components. The first is the Solar Panel itself. For this application the panel should produce 16v-21v dc.The second component is a simple charge controller  which prevents battery overcharging. The controller should be sized correctly for the type and number of solar panels. The third component is a suitable mounting system. A mounting system that enables adjustable tilt is highly recommended. Drill some holes in your roof, add a few lengths of 10awg wire and a connection to the accessory batteries and you’re in business. Or, avoid your drilling anxiety  and go portable.

Portable Solar Power Systems

Recently, portable solar power systems have offered many solar energy advantages. These systems usually employ either Thin Film or Crystalline solar panel technology, are usually ground mounted, have adjustable tilt legs for optimum tilt angle, have a built in charge controller, gives you your choice of various battery connection accessories, and can be folded up and stored safely in a padded carrying bag. When you arrive at your destination the set up process takes less than 5 minutes. Unpack the bag, unfold the panels, adjust the tilt legs, set on the ground in a sunny location pointing south, and finally connect the wires to your battery. Thin Film systems are usually lighter and more flexible than Crystalline, but Crystalline systems are usually 4 times more powerful and take up much less space.

View our Recommendation on Foldable Solar Panels for your RV

An all-in-one 80 watt system that is easily expanded to meet your energy demands.

No matter where or how you park your RV, this system can be placed in just the right location for optimal performance.

Factors impacting the energy a solar panel can produce

• The amount of sunlight and how bright it is. The brighter the sunlight, the more power the solar panels will produce.

• Quality of the wiring. If the wiring is done correctly, the voltage will be high, but if the connections are poor or the wrong wire is used, the voltage will drop.

• The time of day. The solar panels will produce up to ninety percent of their power during the middle of the day, typically up to three hours before and after noon.

• The amount of shade. If there is a great deal of shade, it can impact the amount of voltage produced by the solar panels. This is not only trees. It can also be shadows cast by buildings, air conditioners, pop-outs, or anything that can cast shade on the panels.

• The angle of the sun. Ideally, the panels should be pointed directly at the sun. Some solar panels come with the ability to tilt in order to get a better angle toward the sun.

The most popular solar panels are 36 cells and are rated from 16.5 volts to 19.5 volts. The panels should be rated higher than the batteries because there will be times the voltage will drop and when this happens a higher voltage rating on the solar panels means there will still be enough electricity generated even during a voltage drop.

Installing a solar system can truly add an extra element of independence to the RVing experience. Easy to install and maintain, they more than pay for themselves.