Solar panel systems can be as small as a couple of watts (small solar garden lights) or several thousand watts (cities that run on solar power). So first, you need to know how much wattage you’d need for your RV’s usage.

The total wattage should include every appliance and device you plan to plug into it: lights, water pump, stove, heater… Everything! Add them all together to find out how many watts you’ll be needing.

Installing solar panels onto your RV can help power your home in an efficient yet eco-friendly manner, so before making any decision, here are some things to consider:

  • What is the wattage of your system?
  • What is the total electrical usage of all appliances and devices plugged into it?
  • How many hours per day does your RV need to run?
  • Is there a chance to store power during the day for use at night?

All of these factors will impact the choice between panels or not, and there’s no wrong decision—simply different methods for solving a problem.

How many watts do you need to power your RV?

It depends on the total number of watts your RV consumes when running. The size, shape, and configuration of your RV will affect the actual battery usage. Some RV’s have roof-mounted solar panels, while others have solar panels mounted on their canopies or ground mount panels.

Typically, solar panels on an RV are 100 watts, so the average motorhome can produce 6 amps per hour during peak sun hours. If you need more power, you can get an extra battery to store the energy your solar panels create during the day. You can also install two or more batteries instead of one large one.

What size solar panel should I get for my RV?

The right size depends upon how many watts you will be using and your battery (which determines how many amps it can hold). You should consider buying a solar panel with a wattage that will match 40% – 50% of your daily usage, so you’ll have enough power each day to recharge the battery completely.

You might have heard the term “watts per day” when shopping for solar panels. That is the number you are looking for when determining how much power your RV requires to keep running each day. You can then compare that number with the output of different sized solar panels and choose one that matches (or best matches) your needs.

Two very popular choices are: Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit and ECO-WORTHY 200 Watts Solar Panel Kit 12 Volt/24 Volt for RV. These two options come as complete kits, so they will be easy to install and require minimal tools.

Consulting with an expert at a solar energy company

I’m wondering how many solar panels I’ll need for my RV. I didn’t realize there were so many options. I’m not sure if I want to go with a large bank or one that’s more focused on storage or what size solar system to get for the number of days available in winter. What would be best?

I consulted with an expert at a solar energy company who advised on the system that best suits my RV. Since different RVs require different systems, this person can recommend what system would best fit your RV.

He also told me that the size and layout of your solar panels will affect how much energy your system provides to your RV. My friend thought it was cool because she always wondered how many solar panels she should have installed in her RV.

Frequently asked questions

How many solar panels do I need to run an RV?

It depends on the voltage of the battery. When you have a 12-volt battery, at around 100 AH (amps hours), that should need 300 watts of solar panels. Now, if you have two 12 volt batteries with an output rate between 200-250 AH each, then you will need 400 watts of solar panels.

Are solar panels for an RV worth it?

Definitely! It’s a great way to save energy and reduce greenhouse gases. In fact, solar panels for an RV can help you stay off the grid by producing your own solar power system, which means you’re not connected to another source of electricity needed to keep running.

What’s not to love about solar panels? I know what you’re thinking: solar panels sound like a significant investment at first! But they allow us to boondock on public land instead of staying in hectic RV parks.

Can I run my RV AC with solar power?

Yes, you can indeed run your RV air conditioner with solar panels. Although there are many variables in this equation, generally speaking, the efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity is low and can be pretty costly compared to using grid electricity.

In order to generate enough power from solar panels, a requisite number would need to be installed depending on the size of your RV and wattage used by the AC. After all, this is the best environmentally responsible direction you can take, and that matters.

Can a 100-watt solar panel run an RV refrigerator?

Sorry, but a 100-watt solar panel is not enough for this job, and a refrigerator requires more than a 100-watt solar panel to operate properly. This solar panel wattage may be good for charging batteries or powering small lights or your laptop. But any investment should be calculated and thought out carefully beforehand.

Final thoughts

Now you know how to power your RV with solar panels. If you are still worried about the cost of living off the grid, don’t worry! I have some great news for you. You can now purchase a low-cost DIY kit that will convert sunlight into electricity and provide all the energy needed to live comfortably in an RV.

If you want to charge your RV with solar power, then consult an expert at a solar energy company. They can help provide the best size for your needs and answer any questions you may have about how many watts of electricity are needed for powering up on the go!