Unless you’re really roughing it, most campgrounds will include some form of electric hookup for your rig. Those hookups give you everything you need to power and charge your RV while you’re camping. No blackouts for your interior RV lights!
When you’re boondocking, however, you’re at nature’s mercy. No powerlines, no buzzing, nothing to keep your rig up and running except your battery. And while your battery will hang on and keep you comfy for a while, it can’t last forever.
Conveniently, though, we have a bright, shining star in our sky whose power we can harness to help us power all of our stuff—from the TV to more practical things like the portable espresso machine. Solar power for your RV is a smart, though not always inexpensive, way to make sure you’re camping exactly the way you want to no matter where you are.
The Realities of Solar Power
First and foremost, while harnessing the power of the sun seems like a no-brainer, it’s an investment. And not always a cheap investment, at that. Unless you’re a regular boondocker, regularly go off the grid and stay away from power sources, solar may not be a worthwhile effort.
If you mostly stay at campgrounds, if you’re regularly in populated areas, or only boondock once in a while, a generator might just be your best bet.
The Investment in Solar Power
For free energy, it doesn’t come cheap. There are multiple components to a solar system: panels, a charger, a battery monitor, additional batteries, an inverter, and then labor for installation. Depending on the wattage rating, you’re looking at a pretty penny. For example, a 600w installation (that includes four 150w panels) could cost roughly $6,000 (maybe less; maybe more). You’ll certainly save money in camping fees—and be able to go more places for longer—but that’s hardly pocket change.
The Perks of Solar Power
That’s a lot of caveats, but this shouldn’t dissuade you from going solar. Even with an investment, solar power comes with a lot of perks.
- Quiet – Generators are noisy—even the quiet ones. Solar panels, on the other hand, are completely silent. They’re not going to bother you or your neighbors.
- Easy to use – Generally, you don’t have to think about them. You may choose to aim them toward the sun, or if you’re really hardcore, set out ground panels. Otherwise, if the sun’s out, you’re collecting energy.
- Clean – In terms of energy, obviously. But they’re also easy to clean (when and if you need to), there are no fumes, and no potential fuel spills.
- Open spaces – With no reliance on hookups, you can go more places, see more things, and worry less about comfort.
If you have interest in going solar, the best advice you can get is to do all the research you can. Determine how much energy you may need, and find the level of solar power you would require to meet those needs.
If you’re ready to look on the sunny side of things, Camping World can help equip your RV with the solar panels and equipment to keep you out there.