Install Am Solar Roof
The existing rooftop combiner box is unfit for purpose – it contains a thermal breaker rated to only 14VDC and our system will be operating at 35.6VDC and peaking at 43.2VDC. Further, it expects SAE connectors but weâll be hard-wiring our system. We therefore need to remove the existing rooftop combiner box and replace it with the new AM Solar Roof C-Box, but keep the existing wires that runs down to the electrical bay.
We chose to use the AM Solar combiner box – this is a well-made, sealed rooftop box with a positive and negative bus bar inside. It has knock-outs for Liquid Tight connectors on the sides to connect the panels into the bus bars.
The first step is to remove the existing Zamp combiner box. We took our time with a plastic putty knife, removing the existing sealant and butyl tape without damaging the roof, then unscrewing the box from the roof. I cut the wires leaving plenty of slack to make it easy to reattach to the new AM Solar combiner box.
Following the instructions provided with the AM Solar combiner box, I mounted it and secured it in place. I cut the wires coming up from below to length, and screwed them into the combiner box bus bars. Don’t seal it with Dicor or attach the lid just yet – we need to put the solar wires in first.
Best Rv Solar System For Under $1000
Weekend warriors looking to add solar to their RV usually dont need all the bells and whistles that full-time RVers need. They also dont want to spend a lot of money on gadgets that they only use a few weeks out of the year.
Rather than investing in a top of the line inverter and lithium batteries to run an espresso machine and blender, they just want a system that will allow them to use the sun to charge their phones, turn on the lights, and power the jacks and slides. Having a simple solar setup will open up many more camping options. State and national parks rarely have electrical hookups, and a little bit of solar power can save you from having to ruin the peaceful nature with a noisy generator.
My favorite option for a weekend warrior looking to add a little bit of solar power to their rig is the DOKIO 200W Foldable Solar Panel Kit.
For under $250, you get four 50 watt panels , a charge controller, and the wiring you need quickly connect to your batteries when you get to camp. I have a friend with this simple setup. It is very easy to use, and it keeps their batteries topped off.
Most RVs come with a 100 amp hour lead acid battery . Lead acid batteries are a good, inexpensive option but keep in mind that you should not allow these batteries to drop below a 50% charge. Therefore, one battery will only give you 50 aH of usable power. This is enough power storage to charge a cell phone 10-15 times or have a few lights on for 20 hours.
S On How To Install Your Rv Solar Panel
Solar panel for RV roofs has been a trend for most RVers because of its economical benefits. Not only does it saves you more than the enough RV power you need, but makes you utilize the power from the Sun.
Here are your 6 Steps to Install your RV Solar Panel:
Remember that in most RVs the white wires are the negative ones, meaning the ground while the black wires are positive ones. On the solar panel regulator there is a red wire and w black wire. The black wire is the negative connection and the red wire is the positive connection. Once done, you can tell yourself Done like a Pro.
Get more of these from fraserwayrv
With solar panels on your RV roof not only is it safe and reliable but is also low in maintenance. Enjoy its benefits and more as you take your road trip to contentment with the whole family.
Don’t Miss: How To Get A Job In Solar Energy
The Ultimate Guide To Install Solar Panels On Rv
If you spend a lot of your time camping or traveling, an RV solar installation might be an excellent idea.
Installing a solar panel on your RV could save you electricity costs and help you keep the environment clean. Besides, you dont have to worry about charging your devices or keeping the food in your fridge fresh when youre in a remote place.
Besides, solar will allow you to go as far off the grid as you wish without worrying about electricity.
Further, solar panels will provide the quiet life you need, unlike generators which can be very noisy.
Although an RV doesnt have as much space to install a solar panel as a house roof, you can still maximize it. How? You should get a smaller-sized system.
How Much Power Can I Get What Can I Run On It
There are several factors that determine how much power your system can create, store and turn into usable electricity. In order to simplify this, we will break it down into three parts. First, the solar panel itself. Second, the battery. Third, the invertor.
Solar panels come in a huge variety of sizes and capacity to harness the suns power. Ideally, you want a panel set up that will be able to charge your batteries fully every day. If you are unable to charge your batteries before every use, at some point, you will run out of the stored power in your batteries because you will be using it faster than you are creating it.
One car battery has the potential to run almost any household device, the question is, for how long? The number of batteries you have will determine the length of time you will be able to run your electronics.
As I said before, stored battery power is in DC form and must be converted to AC in order to run your electronics. In order to do this you will need an inverter. The size of your inverter will determine how much AC power you can use at any given time. Some inverters only have the capacity to invert enough AC power to charge a phone while others have enough to run your whole house.
Check out the section, What do I need to install, for more detail.
Don’t Miss: Do Solar Panels Need Cleaning
Our New Solar Powered Workshop The Bluetti Ac200 Max
I dont even want to count all the gadgets I can charge at the same time. The 500W air conditioner in my RV gets about 4 hours of battery time. If I charge with the maximum 700W of solar panels, I can run the air conditioner the whole day, as long as I have the sun.
You can change the stations settings and enable or disable various features. Wireless Charging Pads, Im just going to say this: After a whole day spent in the open, the last thing I want to do is look for my phones charging cable. I just drop the phone on one of these charging pads and hit the shower.
I have no problems moving it from place to place, but it might be a problem with someone with a bad back. However, when talking about camping and RVing gear, I like to make a difference between good weight and bad weight. A good weight is the one that gives you something in return.
Should You Install Solar Panels On Your Rv
If youre the type of RV owner who plans on spending lots of time in remote locations and dry camps without power hookups , solar energy may be a way to generate power and see some long-term savings when compared to a gas generator. Over time, the costs of continually starting up and running a gas generator will exceed the investment required for a solar panel system. You can expect your solar payback period to be under five years, but the actual time it takes to recoup your investment will depend on the equipment you purchase and the amount of sunlight that hits your solar panels.
However, RV solar panels wont make financial or practical sense for every RV owner. If you spend the majority of your RV time at campgrounds, youre probably better off hooking up to the local power system and paying the associated fee. Installing solar may end up saving you money in the end, but you may have to wait a long time to break even. Additionally, if you only take RV trips a few times per year, the upfront cost of an RV solar panel setup will likely not be worth the few times you can actually use the system.
RV solar panel setups are often do-it-yourself projects. Check out our video on DIY solar to see if its right for you:
Recommended Reading: How Many Inverters Per Solar Panel
Can You Overcharge A Battery With A Solar Panel
You can overcharge a battery which is why you install the charge controller. The controller limits the feed to the battery both ways. This stops the charged battery from releasing energy to the solar panel at night, and it keeps the solar panels from overcharging the batteries. The charge controller is one of the most vital components of the solar power system.
How To Install Solar Panels On A Camper Van Conversion
The more free power you can harvest from the sun, the more van life freedom you can enjoy.
At the bottom of this post youll find simple step by step instructions on how to install solar panels on a camper van conversion, RV or motorhome.
This section provides more information about parts of that guide so useful for background information before you get to the instructions.
Read Also: Can My Roof Support Solar Panels
Great For Occasional Boondocking Or Low Power Users
Typically, portable solar kits arent as robust in terms of power output when compared to full RV solar system setups. But, that doesnt mean they cant pack a punch!
Portable solar kits are perfect for those who only boondock occasionally, or for those who dont have a ton of power needs.
These types of solar power kits are also excellent for van-lifers! If keeping your devices charged, having lighting in the evening, and the occasional small appliance use are your main power needs, these kits have the perfect amount of power for you.
How Many Panels To Power Your Rv
The majority of RV solar panels have a wattage of between 100w and 400w. The total wattage for a system might be 800w.
Therefore, the crucial question is what this wattage can power.
Lets see what the 800w can power in your RV. If you have five hours of direct sunlight in a day, then youll produce 4,000wh daily.
5 x 800 = 4,000Wh
Lets say you want to power a fridge whose daily consumption is as follows:
300W x 24 hrs = 7,200Wh
This means you wont be able to keep the mini-fridge running an entire day.
But, if you want to use smaller devices such as a lightbulb, a TV, or a laptop, you can if their daily consumption rate is as follows:
TV 200 W x 3hrs = 600Wh
Lightbulb 75 W x 6hrs = 450Wh
Microwave 800 W x 4 = 3200Wh
These calculations give you a rough idea of how many solar panels you need: four 200-watt panels.
How to Calculate Your RV Solar Power Needs
Read Also: Can You Really Get Solar For Free
Where To Put The Solar Controller
We discuss solar controller location in more detail below, but here is a quick summary:
You generally want to put the solar controller as close to the RV’s batteries as you can. Kelly’s RV batteries are on the tongue, as is the case with many travel trailers.
We installed the solar controller in the forward baggage compartment, which is close to the batteries while being protected from the weather.
How To Make The Solar Panel Mount
Follow these steps to create the anchor points and install the flexible solar panel.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Carbon Footprint Of Making A Solar Panel
Installation The Solar Panel
Mounting the panel with Eternabond is an easy process. First, make sure youve picked the best location for your panel. Then clean and dry the surface very well as Eternabond needs a clean and dry surface to bond to.
Finally, position the solar panel grommets over each anchor point and secure them with washers and bolts.
Understand The Basics For System Design
We will list all the components next, but first you need to understand the basic system.
Solar cells are outside enjoying the sunshine. Wires carry the power to a charge controller located in your RV. Then the wires run from the charge controller to your coach batteries. Other than some fuses to protect your RV electrical system, it’s that simple!
Parallel System vs. Series System .
Also Check: How Strong Are Solar Panels
Adhere Vhb & Butyl Tape To Z
When attaching solar panels to the vehicles roof, most people would simply place the bare Z-bracket feet directly onto the RVs roof and start drilling screws in.
We are NOT going to do that because we want to:
Did You Know? Because sheet metal and fiberglass is so thin, there isn’t much for the screw to grip on to. So the pull-out resistance of simply using screws to secure your solar panels is dangerously low.
Miscellaneous Solar Panel Installation Notes
Here are some random points about mounting solar panels to the roof of your RV:
- If you have a fiberglass roof, use 3M VHB tape or 3M Fast Cure 5200 Marine Adhesive to help secure the solar panel mounts to the roof.
- Use stainless 1 -inch #10 or #12 screws to secure solar panel mounts to roof. Use the appropriate type of caulk for your roof material. You only need to use one screw per leg if your roof can use tape or adhesive , otherwise use two screws. Aim for roof trusses/studs so that the screws have something to ‘bite’ into.
- Attach solar panel home run wiring to the roof with puddles of caulk every 3 to 5 feet. When dry, over puddle with more caulk.
- It’s OK to use MC4 connectors to combine solar panel wires to make a home run .
Don’t Miss: How To Connect Solar Panel To House Electricity
How To Install Solar Panel On Rv Quickly And Efficiently
How to install solar panel on RV
Have you ever feel that your RV electricity is quite limited to your actual needs? If only your vehicle is equipped with a renewable energy source, you can park your wherever you want. And with the popularity of the solar panels on the rise, it seems to be a good choice here. But its not like you know what to do and how to do it right away. You are not a professional. If that is your concern then there is no need for that. You can learn how to install solar panel on RV simply by reading this article.
The basic working principle of the solar panel is actually simple, no matter if its for household or vehicle use. Generally, when the sun is up, the solar panel will use the sunlight to continuously charge the batteries. Then in night times, the accumulated energy from the batteries can be used at your leisure. While not really endless, solar panels did offer you a good way to save your electric cost. You dont need to always look for RV hook up when you decide to park at a place too.
Solar panel installment is also relatively easy. If you wish to outfit your RV with solar panels, just follow the preparations and procedures below.
Kelly Now Has Lithium Batteries
In July 2019, about 6 months after we did her solar install, she upgraded to two lithium batteries.
Instead of mounting these on the tongue where her 6-volt golf cart batteries were, we installed them inside the baggage compartment, right next to the solar controller.
Putting the lithium batteries here served two purposes:
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Efficiency Of Solar Panels