The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) did a study that shows that there are 11.2 million RV-owning households in the U.S, an increase of about 62% over the last 20 years.
This rapidly growing market correlates with that of the solar market, which in the last decade, has experienced an average annual growth rate of around 42%.
More and more people who own RVs are becoming interested in powering their recreational vehicles with solar power.
And for good reason, previously less accessible (off-grid) locations are now becoming a viable option to a an RV equipped with solar and a battery storage system.
In this article, we will talk about the ever more popular use of solar power generators and why they may actually be the best option for your RV.
CAN YOU POWER RV WITH A SOLAR POWER GENERATOR?
Yes, 100%! That is the short answer of course.
Solar power generators come in various shapes and sizes, of which the size (or capacity) is the most important factor you should be paying attention too.
Generally, solar powered generators are rated in size by watt hours (Wh). This indicates their capacity.
The less Wh, the "smaller" the solar generator.
Small solar powered generators are unlikely to have much impact on your RV. They just don't have the capacity to meet most RV energy demands.
So can you power an RV with a solar powered generator? This all depends on what your RV energy demands are and what size solar generator we are talking about.
We will go into detail on this a little later.
HOW MANY SOLAR PANELS DO I NEED FOR AN RV?
All solar powered generators come with attachable solar panels which you can connect in series to create one giant powerful solar panel.
For example, here at OUPES our largest single solar panel is rated at 100 watt, with a high conversion efficiency of up to 23.4%.
However, depending on the type of solar powered generator you are using, you can connect up to 12 solar panels in series to create 1200 watts.
Now, why is this important?
Well, 100 watts alone would not be a sufficient amount of solar power to power your RV.
Perhaps in a campervan with less energy demand a 100 watt panel might do. But in an RV, you are going to need more power.
But just how much power are we going to need?
According to Climatebiz, an RV will use between 4-15 KWh a day.That translates to 4000 Wh - 15,000 Wh a day or 120kWh - 450kWh a month.
Below we will show you a formula which will help you determine the amount of solar panels/power you will need based on your RVs energy consumption.
Check our example below:
As you can see from our example above, our RV uses a total of 4,848 Wh per day or 145 kWh per month.
Next you need to establish how many peak sun hours your area uses.
You can find this information on Global Solar Atlas.
Simply type in the location of your RV and find out the GHI or Global Horizontal Irradiation your area receive each day.
Once you have this number, multiply it by 30 to get your areas monthly peak sun hours.
For our example we are using Texas.
4.9 X 30 = 147 peak sun hours each month.
Now lets follow the formula:
145 divided by 147 = 0.98
0.98 X 1000 = 980 watts.
For the our example RV, we are going to need at least 980 watts of solar panels to make up for our energy demands.
But what about at night, how do we get electricity when there is no sun for our solar panels?
WHAT SIZE SOLAR GENERATOR DO I NEED FOR AN RV?
This is where battery storage comes into play. Once again, we are going to need to revert to the table we recently created.
Our RV uses a total of 4,848 Wh per day.
Seeing as solar will power our RV for half the day, we need to ensure that our solar generator has enough capacity to power our appliances for at least half a day.
So, 4,848 divided by 2 = 2,424 Wh.
Our solar powered generator will need a bare minimum of about 2,424 Wh to have any chance of power our RVs appliances.
Generally, most people want some autonomy so they add more capacity to ensure that their battery storage system can power their RV for an extended period of time (should there a long period of overcast weather).
With all this being said, the best solar powered generator for an RV would definitely be two OUPES 1800W Portable Power Station, this will ensure you get 2,976 Wh of capacity.
If you are looking to gain some autonomy for your RV, then you will need to increase the amount of battery storage onboard.