When it comes to mechanical/technical things like rv solar power I am somewhat challenged, so I am not going to try to give you specific information about how many panels, how many batteries, wattage, amperage, etc.

If you generally park in a place with electrical power, you will find it hard to justify the cost of adding solar power to your rig. But… if you like to dry camp, or boondock, for extended periods of time, a solar panel and inverter will certainly add to your comfort.

Do a lot of research on rv solar power, talk to as many RVers as you can, get recommendations for where to go, what to get, and so forth.

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Parry's PenstemonParry's Penstemon

I have one 130 watt rv solar power panel on the roof of my rig, and for a few extra dollars got the brackets necessary to tilt the panel up in winter, thus getting more sunlight.

The inverter is by Xantrex, and there is a Solar Boost 2000e monitor panel above the stove. The house batteries are two 12-V deep cycle Wal-Mart batteries.

This setup works fine for my needs. I had it done while in Quartzsite and it cost about $1800 for parts and installation. If you are mechanically inclined, there are “do-it-yourself” RV solar kits available that are considerably less expensive.

I have seen many larger rigs that are outfitted with several panels, extra batteries, and so on. They must have greater power needs than I do. Perhaps they need to run their microwave oven on solar power – I have read that you probably need one or more extra batteries to run a microwave to capacity.

When Using RV Solar Power...

... some things to keep in mind:

• If your refrigerator is usually set on “auto” to switch automatically back and forth between shore power and propane, as needed, change the setting to “propane” when you are running the RV on solar power or the refrigerator will drain your batteries.

• At the end of the day, if the power charge looks low, run your generator for a bit. And “they” say you should run your generator for a couple of hours periodically (see generator maintenance for more information). If your rig is not equipped with a built-in generator, there are portable generators available that do a good job and are pretty quiet. I frequently see folks using them.

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On a few cold nights while boondocking, I have let the batteries get too low and though the fan will come on, the furnace will not light unless I turn on the generator for a few seconds.

I have to run the generator when I start the coffee, but once it is made, I turn that off and the inverter on – it does a good job of keeping the coffee warm. An even better solution would be to buy a coffee maker that perks fast, draws less power, shuts off automatically, and the coffee goes directly into a carafe where it stays hot without using any additional power.

Prune Creek, Bighorn National Forest, WYPrune Creek in Bighorn Nat'l Forest

RV solar power will run my laptop and the radio and TV, as well as the DVD player. At least on sunny days. And, since I winter in southern AZ, which has an average of 330 sunny days/year, I do not have to go “power-less” very often! And, of course, I can run the generator if I have to. I try to avoid doing that as it is noisy and uses up some gas.

I have a headlamp that I use sometimes when reading after the sun goes down.

When camped out in the desert in Quartzsite during the winter of 2009, I saw a couple of rigs that had wind-generated power.

There are apparently some good options for portable wind generators. Again, the power generated is most suited to small appliances and recharging your RV batteries. They can take some time to set up and the telescoping tower has to have its base secured somehow.

Frequently, the portable wind generators are sold together with the rv solar panel generator. Hmmm.. would that be kind of like wearing a belt and suspenders? In many areas, wind is probably more reliable than sun.

Do a Google search for portable rv solar power and wind power options to get some good information.

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Desert Trail in Tucson, AZDesert Trail in Tucson, AZ

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