How Much Power do RV Solar Panels Produce? (Infographic)

The number of solar panels you will need will depend on your power consumption and your battery capacity. For basic accessories, a 12V battery with about 300 Watts would do. If you consume more power then, 1200 Watts of solar power is the best option. 

To determine how many solar-powered panels you’ll need, you’ll first have to determine the capacity of your batteries. Your solar panels do not produce electricity themselves, rather they charge your batteries. The batteries in your RV are the sole generator of electricity. Solar panels just charge them along the way.


Solar panels have their power Output measured in watts, they all come in varying sets of values. There are a variety of solar panels with Power values of 100, 170, 200, 225, 265, 300, 335, and 360 watts. You can either buy multiple smaller solar panels or a few large ones.

The number of solar panels needed will depend on how much electricity you are likely to generate. It also depends on how much electrical demands your batteries are meant to support.

Thus, you will need to buy or use batteries that meet your electrical demands. After which you will be expected to buy solar panels that can support your total battery capacity.

This will require you to do some research before and you will need to make adjustments to your RV components before you buy your solar panels. To save you from some labor, here are some tips to guide you through the calculations.

For every 100 Amps of usable hours of batteries, 200 watts of solar panels will suffice. For any further calculations you may be needing to make regarding this, I advise you to visit this website. It will help you calculate how much solar power you will need according to your RV type and batteries present.

First and foremost, how many solar panels you’ll need for your RV will depend on how large your RV is and how much electric power you expect to use. For casual or basic usage, you can either get three 100 watts solar panels or one large 300-Watt solar panel to get your job done.

Basic accessories include lighting, LEDs, fans, refrigerator, heaters, charging phones, laptops, etc.

If you expect heavy-electric demand appliances like microwave ovens, coffee makers, blenders, and use heaters all night long or perhaps go vacationing in weak weather conditions than 1200 watts of solar panels and be sure to ground.


What’s the Best Way to Determine How Much Power You’ll Need?

Instead of relying on making too many calculations, talking with technicians, and seeking online advice. I advise you to go out on a ‘test’ camping run where you keep a close eye on how much electrical output you consume on average.


Follow these steps to get a good idea of how this works:

Step 1: Do a camping test with your RV nearby.

Go camping at a nearby RV park or a local place, you can even do this test in your backyard if there’s enough space.

Just make sure you’re in a safe environment with multiple power source backups at your disposal in case of emergency.


Step 2: Do not use generators or be energy efficient on purpose.

Simply camp like you usually would, making no exceptions or attempts to conserve or save power. Proceed your camping with no regards for energy-saving steps or resorting to your generator.


Step 3: Use a battery meter to keep an eye on whether it’s below 50%.

Buy or use your existing battery meter to keep a close eye on your battery consumption from time to time during usage. Try to not get the battery to reach less than 50% charge as that will affect your battery’s lifespan. Hence, consider 50% charge to be the minimum threshold of how low you can allow your battery’s charge to reach. 

If you have multiple batteries, do the same for each battery individually. This is crucial as you wouldn’t want to replace your batteries sooner than you want them to. 


Step 4: Do power and battery consumption related calculations.

Calculate how much power you have been consuming to give you a rough sketch of how much wattage your solar panels will require.

Suppose your 300 amp-hour battery holds up to 2 days without getting below the 50% threshold charge, then it means you have used about 150 amp-hour battery worth of power till now. 


Step 5: Change batteries if they wear out faster.

If your batteries do not drain just as fast and hold sufficiently longer, then you should not worry much about it.

If they do drain and become empty fast, then you should resort to making changes to your battery as a means of improving your solar panel setup. 


How to Get by With Fewer Solar Panels in RVs?

Many times it gets harder to be dependent entirely on solar panels as buying too much of them can be costly. Hence, the best alternative towards making use of a handful of solar panels in your RV is to conserve and save energy as much as possible.

Here are a few hacks and basic tricks that do not need much explaining. As long as you have the gist you can handle your trips just fine if you follow these thoroughly.


Step 1: Cut down on Appliances.

Usage of electrical appliances that have a high demand can drain your battery faster, which in turn will drain your solar panels.

Thus, the best way is to only use appliances that are essential. For example, this means you have to pay regard to making your own caffeine during camping trips as coffee makers intake a lot of energy.


Step 2: Manually insulate your RVs.

Resorting to furnaces and heaters during vacations in your RV can be tempting, but they will drain your battery faster than they will drain the cold.

Hence, it’s always best to cover up any nooks, crannies in your RV and properly seal the vents. Using double-pane insulated windows can also be of great aid.


Step 3: Resort to RV skirting.

Another important hack to tackle cold weather.


Step 4: Keep a check on the battery meter.

Constantly keep checking whether your battery usage is suddenly spiking or not. If they are, simply consider shutting down all appliances that do not need to be running and doing the work outside instead.

For example, if you’re out boondocking, then you will probably have loads of options to use wood for numerous purposes.


For anyone living the grand and adventurous RV life on the road, traveling from place to place, solar energy is a literal life saver.

Power is an important aspect that needs to be kept in mind for any vacation-seeker. The most renewable solution for covering the RV power problem are solar panels.


Q: Can I power my RV with solar panels on a cloudy day?

A: Well, solar panels do have a sense of humor, but unfortunately, they’re not big fans of cloudy days. While they can still generate some power, it might not be enough to fully run all your RV appliances. So, on those cloudy days, you might need to rely on your backup power sources or have a hilarious dance party to coax the sun out from behind the clouds!

Q: Can I attach solar panels to my RV and launch it into space for unlimited solar power?

A: As much as we’d love to see RVs cruising through space with solar panels, they’re best suited for Earthly adventures. But hey, imagine the cosmic campgrounds and intergalactic s’mores! For now, let’s keep the RVs grounded and the solar panels powering our Earth-bound adventures.

Q: Can solar panels make my RV fly like a superhero’s cape?

A: Solar panels have superhero qualities, but sadly, they can’t make your RV take flight. However, they can help power your RV’s appliances and keep your adventures going strong. So, while your RV might not soar through the skies, it can still be a super-powered camping companion!

Q: Can solar panels make my RV invisible to campground fees?

A: Oh, wouldn’t that be a dream! Unfortunately, solar panels can’t grant you the power of invisibility when it comes to campground fees. But they can help you save some money by reducing your reliance on traditional power sources. Just remember, campground fees are the necessary dues we pay for enjoying the great outdoors in comfort and style.

Q: Can I use solar panels to power a disco ball inside my RV?

A: Absolutely! Solar panels and a disco ball can make for the ultimate party-on-wheels experience. Just imagine grooving to your favorite tunes while the sun powers up your dance floor. It’s like hosting a mobile disco party that’s both eco-friendly and dance-tastic!

Q: Do solar panels make my RV completely self-sufficient, like a hermit crab in the wilderness?

A: Solar panels can certainly make your RV more self-sufficient when it comes to power, but they won’t give you the skills of a wilderness hermit. While you might have the energy to power your appliances, you’ll still need to rely on your camping skills, socializing with fellow campers, and exploring the great outdoors to fully embrace the RV lifestyle.

Q: Can solar panels turn my RV into a time machine for epic road trips through history?

A: As much as we’d love to travel through time in our RVs, solar panels can’t turn them into time machines (yet!). However, they can give you the power to embark on incredible road trips to historical sites, breathtaking landscapes, and amazing destinations. It’s like going on a time-traveling adventure through the wonders of the present!

Q: Can solar panels make my RV fly like a superhero’s cape?

A: Solar panels have superhero qualities, but sadly, they can’t make your RV take flight. However, they can help power your RV’s appliances and keep your adventures going strong. So, while your RV might not soar through the skies, it can still be a super-powered camping companion!

Q: Can I use solar panels to power a popcorn machine for movie nights under the stars?

A: Absolutely! With the power of solar panels, you can turn your RV into a popcorn-popping cinema on wheels. Imagine the aroma of freshly popped popcorn wafting through the air as you cozy up for movie night under the stars. It’s like having your very own outdoor theater with a renewable snack bar!

Q: Can solar panels make my RV the envy of all other campers?

A: Absolutely! Picture this: your RV shining in the sun, powered by solar panels, with other campers gazing in awe at your energy-saving prowess. It’s like being the rock star of the campground, the trendsetter of sustainable camping, and the envy of every camper who has yet to discover the solar-powered way of life!

Q: Can solar panels make my RV impervious to zombie attacks during the apocalypse?

A: While solar panels won’t turn your RV into a fortress against zombies, they can certainly keep your essential appliances running when the power grid is down. So, when the zombie apocalypse hits, you’ll still have enough power to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and maybe even binge-watch your favorite zombie-themed TV shows for survival tips!

Q: Can solar panels help me communicate with aliens during my stargazing adventures?

A: Solar panels can power your RV and help you embrace the wonders of the universe, but unfortunately, they won’t give you a direct line to extraterrestrial beings. However, who knows what mysteries the cosmos holds? Perhaps someday, solar-powered RVs will be the interstellar communication device of choice. Until then, keep gazing at the stars and dreaming of close encounters of the camping kind!

Q: Can I use solar panels to charge my camping neighbors’ gadgets and become the hero of the campground?

A: Absolutely! With your trusty solar panels, you can become the superhero of the campground, offering to charge your camping neighbors’ gadgets with the power of the sun. Watch as campers flock to your RV, their faces filled with gratitude and admiration for your renewable energy generosity. It’s like being the campground’s very own charging station superhero!

Q: Can I install solar panels myself? A: If you’re the type who can assemble IKEA furniture without throwing a fit or having leftover parts, you might be up for the challenge. However, having a professional do it could save you from potential mishaps, like drilling a hole through your RV roof or accidentally creating a solar panel sailboat in high winds.

Q: Do RV solar panels work when it’s cloudy? A: Yes, but they might be a bit grumpy about it. Solar panels can still generate power on cloudy days, but their efficiency drops. It’s like trying to get a tan in overcast weather – possible, but it takes longer.

Q: What’s a solar charge controller? A: A solar charge controller is like a bouncer for your RV’s battery system. It ensures the power coming from your solar panels doesn’t overload your batteries and cause damage. It also helps to prevent battery drain when there’s no sunlight.

Q: Will RV solar panels power my air conditioning? A: It’s technically possible, but you’d need a substantial solar setup to do it – think a full-on sunbathing resort on your RV roof. Typically, running an AC unit off solar power isn’t practical for most RVers due to high power requirements and limited roof space.

Q: Can I use solar panels to charge my electric RV? A: Theoretically, yes. Practically, it might be challenging. You’d need a lot of panels and plenty of sunshine. So unless you’re RVing on the sun, you’ll probably need to supplement with a traditional charging station now and then.