How to Get the Most Out of Your Solar Panels This Summer 1129

Solar panel soaking up sun

Summer is here! For many, this season comes with longer days for fun, and shorter patience for heat. However, one way to get the most out of both the light and the heat is with solar panels. Summer is the perfect opportunity to employ those solar panels of yours for the biggest payoff. Below are five tips to get the most out of your solar panels this summer and every summer going forward. So wipe the sweat off your brow and soak in the silver lining of the season.

Timing is everything!

Camping with solar panels for converting energy from the sun to electricity.
Time your energy use for peak sun hours.

Obviously, your solar panels will be receiving the bulk of their charge when the sun is shining directly onto them. What may not be as obvious is to do your energy intensive activities during this same time. Run the laundry, a full cycle of washing, during the mid-day range of daylight hours to essentially use free electricity to do so. Plug in all phones, computers, and tablets for a full charge while the sun is shining on your panels. Timing these activities while your solar panels are getting the most light will not only keep you from procrastinating and saving these chores for later, but will take advantage of having the sun do them for you without tapping your battery store.

Switch standby mode to stand down instead.

RV television uses solar energy.
When you’re not using your TV, unplug it to conserve utmost power.

The majority of electrical devices such as kitchen appliances, game consoles, and that beloved flat screen TV, tend to use and consume electricity even when they’re not in use. Entering a standby mode keeps them from using full energy, while still using just enough in case you decide to flip them on. Keep them from sapping energy entirely by unplugging them. Summer is the perfect time to be outside anyway, so why waste the one thing your solar panels are working so hard to provide? Plug in your devices and appliances only when you know you’re going to be using them and bank the energy your panels are collecting for when you really need it.

Upgrade all your lightbulbs.

transparent incandescent bulb, fluorescent and led bulb vector
On older RV’s, swap incandescent bulbs for LED ones. Image by EllenM from Getty

Upgrading to energy efficient lighting is quite literally the brightest tip on this list. Opt for LED lighting instead of incandescent lightbulbs. The swap will transform your electricity bill and the way you look at all lighting from this point forward. Solar power is such an amazing renewable-based source but gets completely wasted with those old lightbulbs since they essentially burn a lot of their energy as heat. LEDs use the energy for light and nothing else. Their efficiency saves you dollars, and saves you from wasting needless solar energy. Who likes waste? Consider this one of those proverbial (and literal) lightbulb moments.

Make sure your solar panels are clean.

Proper care of your RV roof includes gentle cleaning a couple of times a year.
Wash your solar panels so they’re clean and soak up the most solar energy.

Everything functions and performs better when it’s fresh and clean. Solar panels are no exception. Since they are exposed to the elements, getting dirty is inevitable. Dirt, debris, pollen, mold, and the always fun bird droppings are commonly found covering up parts of your solar panel and blocking the rays. Combat this with regular cleanings twice a year minimum or at the beginning of every season. If it’s not a job you’re comfortable with, hire a professional to do it for you. Have them inspect each panel for damage and repairs while they’re up there on your RV roof. Then rest assured knowing your panels are performing to the best of their ability. Once clean, make sure your RV is parked in a location where your solar panels are able to reach full capacity by absorbing the most light possible in a day’s time.

Store energy with a backup battery system.

Sonic X Battery Bank
Upgrade your battery bank for your off-grid camping needs. Image by Jonathan Bajuelo

With all of the potential energy you will be saving from the tips above, you’ll need somewhere to bank that energy for when the sun isn’t shining. Consider installing an upgraded battery system that collects and houses additional hours of electricity for later use. When the sun goes down or the clouds open up in a torrential downpour, you and everyone around you will be thankful for those hours of electricity provided by energy storage. Most RV’s run off of AGM batteries, but for a highly efficient (albeight more expensive) option, you could invest in a lithium battery setup in your RV and live off-grid for longer.


Having solar panels is becoming increasingly popular, especially among the RV community and outdoor enthusiasts. Being off grid is enticing, for the mind, body, spirit, and planet. Don’t let the longer days of summer get you down. Solar is a fun and earth friendly way to make the most out of our natural resources. Run through this list and know you’re getting the most of your solar panels. All that is left to do is focus all your energy on enjoying your time on (and off) the road.

Kelsey’s first career as a performing artist had her traveling the world. Eager to keep traveling, she hit the road to see the USA in a 69’ Airstream Overlander. Today you can find her writing about travel, design, and good food. When she’s not planning her next trip, she’s sipping on local beer and petting other people’s dogs.

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