Solar For RVs: The Ultimate Solution For The Best Solar Setup (2023)

We believe we have found the perfect RV and solar combination! Having solar for our RV is always important to us as we like to have the freedom to boondock and go without shore power. Now getting solar on your rig isn’t always an easy process…until now.

Solar For RVs: The Ultimate Solution For The Best Solar Setup (1)

This post is sponsoredby Camping World.

Table of Contents

  • Keystone RV Solar Prep
  • Future Solutions Solar Install
  • Keystone SolarFlex
  • Future Solutions Custom Solar Install
    • Batteries
    • Inverter
    • Solar Panels
    • Controller
  • Our Solar Install

Keystone RV Solar Prep

Solar For RVs: The Ultimate Solution For The Best Solar Setup (2)

Have you heard that Keystone Montana and Keystone Montana High Country rigs come with a full-on solar prep. I mean a legit solar prep. Not just a 2 prong plug that accepts a portable solar panel and a sticker on the side of the rig that says it is solar ready, but a true pre-wired setup from your roof to your batteries meaning that half the work is done for you as soon as you buy the RV.

On the roof of the Montanas, there is an MC4 connector for both the positive and negative wires that would come from the solar panels for your RV. This connector is fully weather proof and sealed nicely to prevent any water from seeping in. The connector is then pre-wired through the coach into a storage bay where the solar charge controller can be installed.

The fact the wire is done in the factory when they’re building the coach and it doesn’t have to be snaked down the wall or holes drilled in your rig is a game changer. This is definitely the hardest part when doing a solar install. Plus it makes it easy to install the solar panels.

From that area in the storage bay, 2 other wires are there that are pre-wired to the battery bay. Again, having the wires already run is great. There is also a communication cable that goes from the solar controller area to an inside cabinet in the coach so you can easily install a remote display to monitor the charge controller.

This is huge and makes the process of actually installing the solar system components that much easier.

Future Solutions Solar Install

Solar For RVs: The Ultimate Solution For The Best Solar Setup (3)

(Video) How many solar panels do I need on my RV?

Now you have the rig and you have the solar prep, but what about the solar? This is where Future Solutions in Elkhart Indiana come into play!

They are experts in RV solar and really take the time to talk to you and understand your lifestyle and what it is that you want to be able to do with your solar setup. This isn’t a “rush and get it done” conversation. This is a “let’s put time and effort into the planning phase” conversation so they really figure out what you need.

Let’s face it, installing a solar system on your RV is a pretty big investment. Depending on how big of a system you go with, it can be a major investment. Future Solutions realizes this and wants to be sure you are investing in the right configuration and components for your lifestyle. This way when you hit the road and put your brand new system to use, you know exactly what to expect.

Future Solutions also works closely with Keystone. This makes the install process even smoother. They know Keystone rigs inside and out, literally. Now, if you have a rig that isn’t a Keystone, don’t worry, they can work with any rigs out there and have been up-fitting them for years. The Keystone solar prep just helps make the process go quicker and in-turn, cost less.

Keystone SolarFlex

One really cool thing is that Keystone does offer a factory option called SolarFlex for their Montana High Countries. You can get a fully warranted solar set up from the manufacturer right off the factory floor that comes with:

  • 1 300 watt solar panel
  • Jaboni 30 amp MPPT charge controller
  • 2000 watt Magnum pure sine wave inverter
  • 4 pre-wired inverted outlets

Future Solutions Custom Solar Install

In our case we needed something more than that, so we went with a custom configuration from Future Solutions. We have 4 kids who all have PC’s, laptops, phones, etc. We also work from the road on our laptops and with having a big family, we just use a lot of power.

Our 335BH Montana High Country also has an 18 cubic foot energy efficiency residential fridge. That meant we would need more battery capacity and solar capability to keep the fridge running when we were boondocking.

We talked to Future Solutions after getting our Montana to kick off the discussion on what we could do to get a solar set up to meet our needs. After describing what kind of rig we had, our power needs and where we plan to boondock, they had a good idea of the system we’d need.

Of course with our full time travel lifestyle, we were only planning on being in the Indiana area for a few days. Since it was summer of 2020 when RV’s were literally flying off the lots, Future Solutions was pretty slammed with work. However, since we had the solar prep from Keystone and since Future Solutions is awesome, they squeezed us in to get a preliminary setup installed with the plan of us coming back when we had more time and expand on that preliminary setup.

We drove the rig to Elkhart, Indiana and met with Matt Wolkins, Josh Atwood and Courtney Harris to get the install kicked off. They have a state of the art facility where your RV is parked inside their shop, secure and out of the elements while it’s being worked on.

Batteries

Solar For RVs: The Ultimate Solution For The Best Solar Setup (4)

(Video) Is 200 Watts Of Solar Enough For An RV? - Boondocking With 200 Watts of Solar on Our Camper

We left our RV there for about 2 and a half days while the work was being done. We opted to upgrade our battery bank from 2 lead acid RV batteries to 4 Battle Born lithium ion batteries. This basically increased our battery capacity ten-fold without adding much additional weight. Each of the lithium batteries have a 100 amp hour capacity.

Inverter

We also upgraded the inverter from the factory installed 1000 watt inverter (used to only power the fridge) to a 2000 watt Magnum MS2000 inverter/charger unit. This inverter is enough to power the fridge along with a several outlets in our rig. Talking with Future Solutions, we wanted to be sure a few outlets in the rig would work off the inverter.

Due to our time constraints, we knew they wouldn’t be able to wire the whole coach, but they were able to tap into the GFI circuit to power it off the inverter. Lucky for us, there are quite a few outlets in our RV that are on that circuit. This inverter is also used as a charger, so it can be programmed to the specific voltages the lithium batteries need when they’re being charged off shore power.

Solar Panels

Solar For RVs: The Ultimate Solution For The Best Solar Setup (5)

Up on the roof, we had 2 300 watt panels installed. Along with a Victron MPPT 100 volt/50 amp charge controller to regulate the panels. These 2 panels were installed very easily thanks to the pre-wiring done by Keystone. It made the panel setup simple and all that was really needed was mounting hardware and to plug them in. We know this is something we will be expanding when we head back to be able to charge our batteries faster, but for now, the 600 watts is great.

When the sun is shining, this setup will pull in about 500 watts. There are a lot of different solar panels for RVs. We went with the JPP solar panels.

Controller

The Victron controller has a really great app that you can connect to via Bluetooth. With this, I can monitor our usage and adjust any settings right from my phone. A Victron SmartShunt was also installed so I can see a very accurate state of charge for the batteries, which is nice to keep an eye on.

Future Solutions told us that with the Keystone Solar Prep we saved hours on the solar install.

We couldn’t be happier with our experience with both the Keystone solar prep and the the job Future Solutions did to get our solar system installed. We have a great system currently installed. And we are looking forward to expanding that set up to power even more in our rig including being able to run the air conditioner!

Plus while we were out traveling, the Future Solutions team was amazing at customer service. They were consistently available to answer any questions that we had. This part is so important to us. We want to be sure we understand our system and that it is working the way it should!

Our Solar Install

Summary of what we had installed:

(Video) Best Portable Solar Panels for RV 2020 [Top 5 Picks]

  • 4 BattleBorn GC2 Lithium Batteries
  • Magnum Remote Display
  • Magnum MS2000 Inverter
  • Victron MPPT Solar Controller
  • Precision Circuits Battery Guard Auto
  • JPP Solar Panels (2X300W)

Future Solutions is a great choice for getting solar power system setup on your rig. They are total professionals and have a ton of knowledge when it comes to solar energy and the construction of RV’s. They’re a great choice for your solar install!

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Craig

I’m the Captain for this Crazy Family Adventure. Actually no, Bryanna calls all the shots, I just wear a Captain’s hat sometimes. For fun.

I have a bit of a sense of humor, and when others don’t find me funny, I always do.I don’t take myself too seriously and I love my family.That’s why we’re doing this 🙂

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(Video) The Ultimate RV Solar Power Setup
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DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.

FAQs

Is it better to run solar panels in series or parallel for RV? ›

Putting panels in series makes it so the voltage of the array increases. This is important, because a solar power system needs to operate at a certain voltage in order for the inverter to work properly. So, you connect your solar panels in series to meet the operating voltage window requirements of your inverter.

What is the best solar power setup? ›

Monocrystalline: Best for Efficiency

Monocrystalline solar panels are often touted as the most efficient option and are therefore best when installed for larger energy systems in commercial and residential properties.

What is the highest watt solar panel for an RV? ›

Best Splurge: ACOPOWER 800W Monocrystalline Panel Solar RV Kits. If you've determined that you'll need more power than the average RVer, the ACOPOWER Monocrystalline Panel Solar RV Kits provides as much as 800 watts of energy.

How much watts of solar do you need to run an entire RV? ›

The most conservative boondockers will want at least 200 watts of solar panels. The average that I see out here is 400-700 watts. Power hungry boondockers will have north of 800 watts of solar panels!

How much solar do I need to run a 50 amp RV? ›

If we assume 6 usable hours of sunlight per day, that's 32.58 amp-hours per day, which is pretty close to our ballpark figure of 30 amp-hours per day. From here, we can determine that two of these 100-watt panels would give us about 65.16 amp-hours a day, which covers our requirement of 50 amp-hours.

How many solar panels do I need to run everything in my RV? ›

On average, an RV will need between two and four 200 watt monocrystalline solar panels to offset its energy consumption. The number of solar panels an RV needs depends on the location and daily onboard electrical consumption.

Can an RV run completely on solar? ›

Any type of solar panel can be made to work with an RV; however, there may be some challenges. First is space available. An RV roof may have lots of stuff on it and require the use of smaller panels. If the roof is wide open, full-size residential panels like used on homes can be used for RV solar panels.

Does connecting solar panels in parallel increase wattage? ›

Connecting PV panels together in parallel increases current and therefore power output, as electrical power in watts equals “volts times amperes” (P = V x I).

What will a 1200 watt solar system run? ›

🌞[Ideal Output Power-5KWh/day]: This 1200W solar panel complete system generates about 5KWh per day under 4 hours full sunlight condition, very suitable for home, shed, cabin, RV or other energy backpack, and it provides enough power for air condition, TV, refrigerator, coffee maker, microwave and other AC 110V devices ...

How many solar panels does it take to power a 100 amp service? ›

Charging your battery at 12 volts and 20 amps will take five hours to charge a 100 amp hour battery. By multiplying 20 amps by 12 volts, 240 watts is how big of a panel you would need, so we'd recommend using a 300w solar panel or three 100 watt solar panels.

Is lithium or deep cycle better for your solar setups? ›

Yes! As mentioned above, lithium iron phosphate batteries are more efficient and have a faster rate of charge. This is because they can typically handle a higher amperage, which means they can be recharged much faster than sealed and flooded lead acid batteries.

What will a 500 watt solar panel run? ›

A 500 watt solar panel system will typically have an inverter that is at least 400 watts or bigger so that you can charge basic appliances and electronics such as laptops, lights and a small fridge.

Will a 100 watt solar panel keep my RV battery charged? ›

Based on the earlier calculation, a 100 watt panel will produce an average of about 30 amp-hours per day (based on an average sunny day). This means you would need three 100 watt solar panels or one 300 watt panel to fully recharge your battery on the average day.

How many solar panels would it take to run a 30 amp camper? ›

By the rule of thumb, a 100 watt solar panel inputs 30 amp-hours per day into your batteries. So you would need 1.33 100 watt panels, or one 133 watt panel to match your solar power needs.

How many batteries do you need for a solar system in RV? ›

Most of your RV applications require 12v current, so you'll need two 6v batteries connected in series to generate those 12 volts. If one of those 6v batteries go bad, you'll have no usable power.

Do you have to run power inverter with RV solar panels? ›

Like with your home, the appliances inside an RV run on AC while the engine and battery of the RV use DC electricity. Solar panels run on a DC, meaning that just like a residential solar setup, your solar panel system for the RV needs to have an inverter to convert that energy to AC electricity.

What will a 300 watt solar panel run in an RV? ›

A 300 watt solar panel with full irradiance will run a constant AC load of 270 watts, taking into account inverter losses of 10%. This includes appliances such as blenders, desktop PCs, vacuum cleaners and treadmills. A 300 watt solar panel will also run a small fridge with 120Ah lithium battery.

What size inverter do I need for a 50 amp RV? ›

This means you'll need a pretty average size inverter of at least 2,000 watts. A 2000- or 3000-watt unit is the most common size used in RVs.

How many batteries do you need for a solar system? ›

If you want to save the most money possible, you'll need enough battery storage to cover your energy usage when your solar panels aren't producing – somewhere around 2-3 batteries. If you want to keep the power on when the grid is down, you'll usually just need one solar battery.

How many RV batteries do I need? ›

So how many batteries does an RV need? The answer is four, at the very least. Depending on your energy consumption, you may need six or eight. The length of your journey and the type of batteries you are using will also affect the amount and capacity of batteries you should pack on your RV.

Can a 100 watt solar panel run a air conditioner? ›

As a general rule a 100 watt solar cannot run an air conditioner. The smallest portable air conditioners have an average power rating of 500 watts. A home air conditioner has an average consumption of 300 watts to 500 watts over a 24 hour period, but may draw up to 2500 watts at peak draw.

How many batteries do I need for 800 watt solar panel? ›

How Many Batteries Do I Need for an 800-Watt Solar System? Because you will want your 800W solar system to manage at least 300 - 360Ah of battery, using two 12V batteries would be the minimum.

Can I run 2 solar panels together? ›

Solar photovoltaic panels can be electrically connected together in series to increase the voltage output, or they can be connected together in parallel to increase the output amperage.

Will solar panels overcharge RV battery? ›

If you have a large 100-watt or higher solar panel, it will produce a 13.6-volt or even higher 14.6 bulk charge to the battery. That can overcharge the battery and boil out the lead-acid if it does not have a charge controller.

Do RV solar panels need to be grounded? ›

Do RV Solar Panels Need to be Grounded? RV solar panels need grounding. Solar panels have a small part near the base called a grounding lug, which connects their system to the chassis ground. If it was not for this, the solar panels would electrocute you when you are up at the RV's roof while cleaning the panels.

Can I connect solar panel directly to RV battery? ›

Connecting a solar panel directly to a battery (or bank of batteries) might work if the solar panel is extremely low wattage (5 watts or less), but it's not recommended. You will want to use a battery charge controller to safely charge your camper battery for optimal performance and lifespan.

How many solar panels do I need for 3000 watts? ›

Typical panels have wattages of between 275-400 watts. For example, if you install 300 watt solar panels, you will need 10 panels to generate enough electricity for a 3kW system. 10 panels should be able to fit on most homes and will help offset your electricity costs.

Can you mix different solar panels in parallel? ›

Though mixing different solar panels is not recommended, it's not forbidden and things would be ok as long as each panel's electrical parameters (voltage, wattage, amps) are carefully considered.

How do you double the power of a solar panel? ›

Here's a simple yet effective way to increase the solar panel's power output. Use a mirror or a simple aluminum foil just under the solar panels and see your electricity power output almost double as a result of this trick.

What size solar system is self sufficient? ›

At the height of summer, you use 15kWh and on a typical winter's day you use 7kWh (you have non-electric heating). What size system would you probably need? 4kW of solar and about 7kWh of usable battery storage would be the absolute minimum you'd need for daily self-sufficiency (on average).

What will a 200watt solar panel run? ›

A 200-watt solar panel system is perfect for small appliances. You can use a 200W solar panel to charge a battery to power small appliances. These appliances include coffee makers, laptops, LED lights, LCD TVs, a radio, a mini projector, and a microwave.

How many solar panels does it take to make 200 amps? ›

It takes approximately 800-1,000 solar panels to produce 200 amps of power. This number can vary based on the type and efficiency of the solar panels.

What is the solar 120% rule? ›

The NEC, 120% rule states that solar PV systems should be installed in electrical boxes up to 120% of the busbar's label rating. For example, if the home's electrical meter rating is 175 amps, the rule allows an additional 20%, an equivalent of 35 amps from the solar system.

Can I run a freezer on solar power? ›

If you have an on-grid solar system, and you have wondered “how much solar power I need to run a refrigerator”, you would be pleased to know that you can operate a freezer in a straightforward manner. You just need to contact a provider of solar panels and have them install the same at your home.

How long does it take for a 100 watt solar panel to pay for itself? ›

Most homeowners in the United States can expect their solar panels to pay for themselves in between 9 and 12 years, depending on the state they live in.

Is it better to have more batteries or solar panels? ›

By utilising more solar energy, the battery aids in increasing the efficiency of the solar system. With a battery, you can save even more money. You won't have to rely on energy corporations like you would with a standard system, so you'll be able to attain power independence.

Can you overcharge a deep-cycle battery with a solar panel? ›

Higher charging voltage from the solar panels leads to higher Ah being delivered to the battery and ultimately leading to overcharging. The easiest way to control over charging of the batteries is to control the output voltage of the solar panel.

What batteries last the longest for solar? ›

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Batteries
  • Residential solar batteries can last 5 to 15 years, with lithium-ion batteries lasting the longest. ...
  • Lithium-ion solar batteries last the longest.
15 Aug 2022

What is the highest watt solar panel available in 2022? ›

As of 2022, the solar panel with the highest wattage is manufactured by Risen Solar, coming in at a whopping 700 watts. The solar panel with the second-highest wattage is a 670-watt module manufactured by Trina Solar.

How many solar panels does it take to run a washer and dryer? ›

If you want to power a dryer with solar panels, you will need about 4 times the amount needed for a washing machine – between 6 and 10 x 300-watt solar panels. Considering cost-effectiveness it will be better to run a dryer on utility power or use a good old fashioned washing line!

What can a 1000W solar panel run? ›

What will a 1000 watt power inverter run?
  • 2Nos. of 60 watt ceiling Fan.
  • 5 Nos. of 20 watt CFL lamp.
  • One Laptop.
  • Mobile charger.
  • One TV.
  • One Cooler.
15 Apr 2022

What happens to solar power when batteries are full? ›

Should the battery bank become full, it will stop absorbing power from the solar system. The solar panels will continue to generate voltage, but that voltage will not be used or stored until there is available energy demand, or battery space.

Can you leave a solar panel hooked up to a battery? ›

Don't connect a solar panel directly to a battery.

Doing so can damage the battery. Instead, connect both battery and solar panel to a solar charge controller.

How long does it take to charge a 100Ah battery with a 100 watt solar panel? ›

A 100W solar panel with an MPPT solar charger will take about 20 hours to fully recharge an 80% discharged 100Ah lithium iron phosphate battery. 250 watts of solar panels is recommended to fully recharge a 100Ah LiFeP04 battery in a day, if it is to be used for home energy storage.

How much solar is needed for a full time RV? ›

200 watts of solar is the bare minimum to keep a battery bank topped off, and that's while your RV is not in use. But if you're using your RV, you will need more. I install a 700 watt solar package for toy haulers with great results.

What will a 400 watt solar panel run? ›

A 400W solar panel can run a number of solar pump systems including submersible pumps, booster pumps, surface pumps and sump pumps. Why 100 watt panels instead of 200+ watt panels? We supply the highest quality mono crystalline solar panels currently available on the market.

Does a 250 watt solar panel produce 250 watts per hour? ›

A single 250W solar panel is rated to produce 250 watts of power, but the actual power output you see from your panels depends on many factors, including geographic location, shading, and the tilt of your panels.

What size solar panel do I need for RV? ›

Most solar panels for RVs are between 100 and 400 watts of power, and an RV needs about 120 watts of energy on average. This means that an RV will need three 400, ten 200 solar panels, or any other combination of power outputs to meet it's typical energy demand of 120 watts.

What will a 200 watt solar panel run in an RV? ›

A 200W solar kit is the bare minimum of solar power for an RV. A 200-watt solar panel can run a refrigerator in your RV. Fridges need constant power to keep your food fresh. 200W solar power is enough for a 12V refrigerator.

What kind of solar panels do RVs use? ›

There are three kinds of solar panels for RVs: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous. Monocrystalline panels are the most efficient (and most expensive) of the three, so they will generate the most energy in the least amount of time.

How many solar panels do I need to run a 30 amp RV? ›

By the rule of thumb, a 100 watt solar panel inputs 30 amp-hours per day into your batteries. So you would need 1.33 100 watt panels, or one 133 watt panel to match your solar power needs.

What can a 500 watt solar panel run? ›

A 500 watt solar panel system will typically have an inverter that is at least 400 watts or bigger so that you can charge basic appliances and electronics such as laptops, lights and a small fridge.

Can you run an RV air conditioner on solar power? ›

Yes, it's technically possible to power an RV air conditioner with solar panel. But to generate enough power, a large amount of solar panels and upgrades to the electrical system are required. Or, another device called a “Soft Start.” The vast majority of RV owners will not go to these lengths.

What will a 400-watt solar system run? ›

A 400W solar panel can run a number of solar pump systems including submersible pumps, booster pumps, surface pumps and sump pumps. Why 100 watt panels instead of 200+ watt panels? We supply the highest quality mono crystalline solar panels currently available on the market.

What can a 1000w solar panel run? ›

What will a 1000 watt power inverter run?
  • 2Nos. of 60 watt ceiling Fan.
  • 5 Nos. of 20 watt CFL lamp.
  • One Laptop.
  • Mobile charger.
  • One TV.
  • One Cooler.
15 Apr 2022

What size breaker do I need for a 200 watt solar panel? ›

To connect your solar panel to your charge controller you will need some solar cable and a 20 amp inline fuse.

How long do solar panels last on an RV? ›

Cheap RV solar panels

Solar panels should last 20 years. Some of the least expensive solar panels will only last a few years.

Videos

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