One of the things that everyone wants to know about the RTR is how to do an easy solar install on my RV, Van, truck, trailer, cargo conversion, or whatever you are traveling in? It's simpler and more difficult than you think. RV Solar panels are easy to obtain but deciding the rv solar install price bracket that you want to be in is the trickier part.
Getting Your Solar Installed at Rubber Tramp Rendezvous
The Rubber Trump Rendezvous is awesome because it's not an organized group in the way society has traditionally defined organized groups. There's Bob Wells who is an extraordinary man, a leader of an emerging movement of people who no longer conform to the expectations of society. These people need a refuge from being normal. That's where Bob steps in and provides a supportive platform for transition into nomadic life. He's very good at it and you can find out more about Bob and his mission at Cheap RV Living.
Within the RTR gathering, a number of people meet and become friends. There is a sub-society within the society emerging and playing out. Each of us can find a home within one of these sub-societies where we can find camaraderie. This is where you'll find someone who can help you with your solar install. Bob will not provide you with someone to set up your solar. Don't have that expectation.
We joined one of the Cheap RV Living Caravans and mentioned during a nightly fire that we were looking for someone to install our solar set up. That's where we met a man who was able to help us with a complex solar system setup.
Our Solar Powered RV Set-up
How much solar power do I need for my RV is a very personal question. After years of living on very minimal solar power, we decided we wanted an upgrade. Here's a video walk-through of our RV Solar Panels and Set-up.
Cheap Solar powered RV Price and Options
If you do not require a set up that will link your solar system into your RV's converter, then I highly suggest you do it yourself. Check out this video that we did with our friends Courtney and Sara. They converted a cargo trailer in just two weeks. Their RV Solar Installation was inexpensive and straight forward. It might be an excellent way to answer the question of how to do an easy solar install on a RV for you!
Here's a solar powered RV price list that will give you a quick understanding of how much it will cost to install solar power on your van, trailer, or RV. The links to the items below will get you a very usable, 70 amp hours of power, and basically unlimited power in the day time for a small rig set up.
This is if you live in a small trailer, van, or small motor home and you do not plan to watch tv all night or run a lot of AC appliances regularly. This set up would work for you if you run AC appliances only during the day time when you have full solar and at night you are just using your water pump occasionally and lights. For a basic solar set up on a small trailer or van you will need the following:
If what you want is an inexpensive solar powered RV price, this Renogy Solar Kit will give you 200 Watts of power and will happily charge one battery if your basic power needs are minimal. That means powering lights, the water pump, charging phones, maybe using a 350 watt or less inverter to charge your laptop. Do most of your charging in the day time to save your battery.
The Easiest Way to Set-up Solar Power on Your RV, Van, or Trailer
The easiest way to do this on a small motorhome or trailer, and also the least expensive, is to buy a briefcase solar and directly connect it to your battery. This is what we used on our 17 foot Viking Travel Trailer for 3 years. It was more than sufficient for our needs and provided us with enough power to power all our DC devices.
The obvious downside is that you have to set it up everywhere you go so it is not always charging. It is only charging when you are stationary. Still, this setup will do for most people and I recommend it for you if you aren't full time, aren't sure you want to full-time and are trying it out, or you are low on funds.
I do not recommend a generator of any type of size for people looking to save money on solar power. The following easy to use briefcase solar will meet all your initial needs and be no maintenance or continued cost in comparison to a loud generator.
We have a Renogy Briefcase Panel from our old rig. I can definitely recommend Renogy this for your easy solar install because we beat that sucker up! Our portable solar panel even blew over in the wind and cracked the entire face. We sealed it up with polyurethane and it still works!
This panel comes with it's own charge controller so you don't have to worry about that. Ours even fell over and completely cracked on one side. It still continues to work at the same level it did before it cracked. We covered it in polyurethane to keep it water proof.
Choosing a Power Inverter for RV, Van, or Trailer
If you want to easily run a few low wattage AC items during the day time and you have a cigarette lighter style plug in your rig. you can use this small inverter that you can plug into a DC plug inside of your rig. Watch your battery charge percentage. It's best to use these only when you are getting full sun and not at night when you are running purely on battery.
We charged our computer, camera batteries, ran a salt rock lamp, and charged our phones on an inverter like this for three years. Just keep in mind that you should never exceed the wattage of the inverter with the items you are plugging into it. It will get really hot and could start a fire if you do that or damage your electronics. Another thing to keep in mind is wiring size, the reason I only suggest up to a 300 watt inverter in a DC plug is because the wiring is small and could easily overload/catch on fire if you try to use a larger inverter in small wiring.
What's better than Solar Power on an RV?
The best thing to do is look for substitutions to using AC power. Get a french press or pour over to make coffee instead of a coffee maker. Buy DC appliances, truck stops are full of these. Check out our article on our top picks of non-electric gadgets for your off-grid set up.
Thank you for reading this post and please feel free to comment below any questions or additions you might have to solar power for a RV.
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