Solar Panels


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  • #5676

    Another Newbie question–

    I have been wondering about solar panels, and how they work… do they store the solar power or do they only work while the sun is shining? If they don’t work if the sun is not shining do you have to manually turn over to electric or propane so not to damage the panels or your electrical system? How do you determine how many panels you would need? Is this something that a moderately handy person(s) could install? I am just trying to get all the information I can so when we get ready to actually buy our rv we will have a good idea what we want, and in the case of solar panels how much of a budget we need for them.

    So many questions so little time and money! ❗


    Hi Melody, the energy the solar panels collect are stored in the RVs battery or for more reserve power multiple batteries called a battery bank. There are a lot of variations in setup so best thing I can do is point you to these three excellent blogs on the web. They really will give you a good 101 course on RV solar. Each RVer has different wants and needs and of course budgets so there is no one right answer.

    Also RVHH member Roger has some good info posted in the forum on his solar install he did recently for his trailer.


    Thanks Ray for the links!

    All I have to say is



    Another good site Melody is.  Check out their solar education section. They installed our system…aren’t cheap but know their stuff and are great to deal with.



    Thanks guys for all your great links, makes my head swim!. I need to figure out how much power we will need for a daily basis. David, my husband, is on oxygen 24/7 and has a concentrator, it is a machine that runs and makes concentrated oxygen from the air. It runs all the time. I will need to figure out how many amps/watts it takes. and if it will be doable in an rv. Then he also has a c-pap machine. so between the 2 of them I know they pull alot. :unsure:



    Sorry to hear about David’s breathing issues but good on you guys for still wanting to get out there.    You’ll  still require a generator as a backup because there will be days when there will be very little solar available.

    Good  luck!


    I have booked my appointment for November 10th to have mine done by AM Solar (Roger)with 4 160 amp panels and the TriStar 60 MPPT controller. Then look out I should have $$$ in my pocket and not all these camp grounds.


    I looked on the internet ( and you know they can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true) that his concentrator will use approximately 290 watts per hour. that seems really high to me! so a solar system may not be the answer for us! Wow I just looked up that an “average” house of 1200 square feet will use 2500 watts a month. surely this can’t be correct because in a 24 hour period the concentrator will use almost 7000 watts. oh my, I now know why my electric bill averages about $350 a month.    😡


    That should be perfect Bob. I wish they had those panels when they did my install.

    Safe travels!


    What panels did they use Steve? How many panels do you have and what s the output?


    Hi Bob. My original install was in 2010 by Camping World and surprisingly they under sold me and only installed two 123 watt panels. AM Solar added two 100 watt panels in 2012 so I have 446 watts in total. The 160 watt panels were not yet available then. I feel that 600 watts is the minimum I would prefer for our size and lifestyle. As it stands now if we have full sunshine all day during the longest summer days we never have to run our generator, but as the days get shorter we need to run the generator 30 to 60 minutes in the morning.

    Safe travels!


    How many amp hours of batteries are you charging?


    Roger we have 4 Trojan 105 6 volt batteries which gives us about 450 amp hrs


    According to the Interstate Batteries website, maximum charging rate for wet cell deep cycle batteries is Amp Hour Rating/10, which in your case would be 45 amps. Going any higher will shorten the life of the batteries, and cause you to go through water quite steadily. Here’s the link.
    You may want to increase the size of your battery bank if you are going to 600 watts with a MPPT controller.


    Roger thanks for the link…I will investigate this and  speak with AM Solar

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