The beauty of having an RV is that you get the freedom of being untethered to any particular location. The joy of running wild in the woods or in a park next to a lake means living life, or at least a vacation, on your own terms. So, when it comes to keeping an RV battery charged, it would be nice to not be reliant on an outlet connected to power cables.
Luckily, technology has evolved to embrace solar energy. Having a source of power wherever you go might be one of the most convenient things that has happened in the world of RVing. Here, we’re going to discuss what it takes to use solar chargers with your RV battery.
Collecting Energy for Your RV Battery
Whether you have portable solar panels or regular ones, they are able to be used with an RV battery. To get started, you’ll need to figure out how much power is necessary to get to a full battery. You can do that either by going to an auto parts store and asking for help or you can do it yourself by purchasing a battery tester.
Once you have an idea of how much energy needs to be replaced, get your baseline number. That’s related to how many hours the battery runs in conjunction with how much power is left. That number will have a direct correlation to the size of solar panels necessary to keep the battery afloat, power-wise.
Solar Panels as Solar Chargers
Once you have portable solar panels ready to go, you’ll want to ensure they are in direct sunlight at least eight hours a day. That seems obvious because that’s how they charge, but you’d be surprised how many people think that just being outside is enough.
To be careful, you might want to invest in a solar charge controller. This device is used to keep the RV battery from getting too much of a charge. The controller regulates the voltage exuding from the panel and going into the battery.
Once you have everything ready, it’s just a matter of connecting the panel firmly to the battery itself. Now, you wait for the charge. It might be easiest to let the solar panel charge during the day and then plug it into the battery to charge overnight. This is helpful, especially when you plan to be boondocking or have lots of activities going on the next day.
Can you overcharge a battery with a solar panel?
As previously stated, you might have the most success with using a solar charge controller. This will put you in control of what gets distributed to the battery.
However, if that’s not something you’re ready for, you might be in luck. Depending on how many watts are put out by the panel might mean you don’t necessarily need a controller. It’s always best to consult with a professional before purchasing. Be prepared to answer the following questions:
• How many does your solar panel produce?
• How many volts are needed for the RV battery?
• What is a typical usage going to look like when your RV is in use?
Can a 12-volt battery be charged by a 10-watt solar panel?
Yes, but don’t expect to be back on the road in a jiffy. This is what is referred to as a trickle charge, meaning it’s going to take a while. Let’s just say, if you plan to take the RV out for a trip next month, start charging now.
How many 100-watt solar panels do I need to get 30 amps?
One and some change, so two really. So, if 30 amps are what you need, you’ll want to buy two 100-watt panels. You could also just condense and buy a higher watt panel, to begin with. That way you won’t have to worry about any issues along the way because of your energy needs.
Do solar panels work in the winter?
Absolutely! Remember, all you need to charge solar panels is sunlight, not heat. That means, as long as the sun comes out, you’ll be able to use solar panels to charge an RV battery.
In fact, it’s extreme heat you’ll want to watch out for, especially in areas where the summers are particularly uncomfortable to be outdoors. The panel could overheat 150° or more. Be sure to check the surface of the panel if you think it might be too hot and give it a break. That type of temperature can slow down the charge.
Do solar panels work at all when it’s cloudy?
This is kind of like the question people ask about sunburn. There’s a misconception that clouds mean rays from the sun aren’t getting through. On the contrary, both your skin and the solar panel can still be impacted by the sun on cloudy days.
Not even rain can throw off the sun’s vibes. Reports show that getting a good shower from mother nature does to the solar panel what it does to our skin; wash it.