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7 Reasons Your RV Doesn’t Need Solar Power

7 Reasons Your RV Doesn’t Need Solar Power

7 Reasons Your RV Doesn’t Need Solar Power

Solar Powered RVs are all the rage in 2020. If an RV doesn’t come with solar pre-installed, it’s very likely “solar ready.” But, is this solar trend really going to benefit your RV travels?

More importantly, will solar power save you money?

Even though both of our camper-trailers have included solar power, today we’re talking about all the reasons you DON’T need solar for your RV

Let’s dive in!

1. Where Are You Camping?

If you like living the “RV Park (or Resort) Life“, solar power isn’t really needed. RV parks provide ample power for all your electric needs.

Sure, you may need to camp overnight at a Walmart or Cracker Barrel en route to your destination, but a simple 12v battery system should provide enough power for one night. Additionally, an overnight stay or two probably doesn’t justify the financial burden of a solar system.

2. Class B Life

Even though Class Bs are quickly jumping on the solar train, these RVs require it the least. Every time you turn on your engine, you’ll be recharging your battery system. A long travel day will easily fill you up to 100%.

This is similar with Class A RVs. However, in our experience, Class A owners move at a much slower pace (making an organic battery recharge less likely).

Class B owners most often use their RV as their “daily driver” – allowing recharge on a regular basis.

3. You Don’t Mind The Hum of an Inverter Generator

We’ve always preached that there’s no shame in using an inverter generator (if you follow common courtesy rules). An inverter generator will provide enough power to run your RV AC and cost much less than a solar system.

These type of gennys start around $450. Additionally, gas prices are still relatively inexpensive. This combo can offer you a week of power for $20.

Not a bad price!


4. If You Need AC

If you’ll be camping off-grid in a hot climate, 99.9% of the time your RV solar system won’t be able to keep up with your cooling needs.

By chance your system can keep up, it will cost at least $20,000 to get that kind of power installed. Even over time, this won’t come close to the economic price of a generator.

It’s mostly a myth that solar power can run an AC unit for an extended period of time.

5. You Don’t Want To Buy Lithium

If you think lithium batteries are too expensive, you probably shouldn’t invest in a solar system. Sure, a few deployable panels are great for keeping your lead-acid batteries topped off…but if you’re wanting a real solar system, you need lithium batteries.

Here’s the reason: lithium offers more usable power per battery and weighs less. A 100 amp hour lead acid battery can only provide you 50 amp hours of power before you begin to potentially damage the battery.

A 100 amp hour lithium battery can essentially be brought down to 100% without harming the future life cycles.

To simplify it, 100 “useable” lead acid amp hours will weigh around 110lbs. While 100 “useable” lithium amp hours will weigh about 31 lbs.

That’s a big difference when if comes to an RV’s carrying capacity.

6. If You’re Unsure, You Don’t Need It

Before installing an RV solar system, you’ve got to be sure to want (and need) it. Even if you want to boondock most of the time, try it with a generator first. The $450 generator will cost a lot less than a solar set-up (and you can easily resell the generator to recoup your cost).

If you realize you love being off grid and you hate the hum of the genny, bite the bullet and buy solar. If you can live with that gentle hum, don’t worry about it.

7. If You Like Rustic Camping

If camping to you means disconnecting from it all, solar won’t be a great addition. This usually applies to weekend campers longing to escape the daily grind.

We totally understand this mentality! Solar power may, in fact, tempt you to hop on the internet or watch TV.

If that sounds like you – keep it rustic and stay away from tech!

When Does Solar Power Make Sense?

If you enjoy the amenities of power and love camping off grid, solar can be the perfect compliment to your RV lifestyle.

We love free camping – especially when its super quiet! Solar power allows us to have ample energy while off grid without making a peep.

Our system includes 500ah of lithium batteries and 640watts of solar. We use a Victron 3000 inverter to supply 120v power. This system will allow us to operate off grid indefinitely (when is at least partially sunny). We can also get a few hours of AC use out of it daily.

The Best FREE Camping in the USA

We love camping across this amazing country. And, we really love it when its free. Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.

If you haven’t tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! Simply enter your email below.


Anniebell Donnaa Smith

Saturday 16th of October 2021

Hey I'm about as poor as I can get my 28 ft prowler travel trailer needs work but it's doable.i live in a trailer park but for some reason the power company won't put me a meter in or. Onnect my pole to the you know away without a credit card I can get a decent generator I can make payments on and exactly what I need.i don't use much power now but I don't have hot water,I can't get my propane stuff to work.i live in covington georgia.any suggestions.all I run is my fridge,a fan my hot plate n microwave n my phone charger n sometimes a lamp.when not in use those items stay unplugged or the breaker off but I was told I wouldn't be able to afford gas in the generator

Michael J Gennari

Tuesday 28th of September 2021

So here comes a question for an experienced group like all of you, how much power is necessary to recharge 2 lithium batteries for two electric bikes? On 110 house current they take three to four hours each it seems. I don't want to be dependent upon Shore power when in an RV travel trailer, so it sounds like the only solution when boondocking would not be pulling from my boondocking RV batteries with solar power, but instead pulling from my RV invector generator, correct?

Sam Weisner

Wednesday 21st of April 2021

I have both, smallish solar set up and a 600.00 dollar gen that has a lower decibel level than Hondas. A little research goes a long way and this serves all my power needs. I am a Nomad from Utah and spend tons of time in below freezing and time in the heat. I run a fridge full time ( converted dorm type ) a Frigidaire. I have a stand alone A/C that cools 800sq ft, I live in 80sq ft. TV, DVD, 2 lead batteries and 100 watts of Solar. It all works together quite well with minimal investment. My only Achilles heel is service on my phone in remote areas that I frequent and can be unsettling during long stays. End result is I'm very happy with this setup...Btw if you find some trash in the area that year camping, please pack a bag out or two to help keep our public lands open. Thank you

Stan Stevens

Wednesday 21st of April 2021

We have minimal Solar on our Geo Pro and happy to have it when we head out to BLM land in Arizona. Makes life quiet and enjoyable during our week-long outings.

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