RV solar panels: Factors to consider

RV's have become one of the most popular ways to enjoy the open road. Millions of people travel throughout the country in their RVs. Some travel to various cities on holiday while others prefer the peace and tranquility of camping in secluded areas. In each case, having the means to generate enough electricity to power the appliances in an RV can be both convenient and cost-efficient. RV solar panels are becoming more popular among people who enjoy taking their RVs on the road while enjoying some of the amenities of home. In this article, you'll learn how to determine the proper solar panels for your RV as well as some factors to consider regarding their output.

Choosing based upon efficiency

Your RV is obviously less spacious than your home. Because of this, the solar panels that you choose should use as little space as possible while maximizing the output you need. Efficiency in solar panels is generally defined as the amount (typically reflected as a percentage) of solar energy that is converted into electricity.

There are three types of solar panels that can be used on RVs. First, amorphous paneling is approximately 7% efficient. Of the three types, this type of panel is the least expensive, but also the least efficient. Polycrystalline paneling can be up to 15% efficient. In effect, this means they can generate the same amount of electricity as amorphous panels while requiring about 50% of the space. At 16% efficiency, mono-crystalline panels perform similarly to polycrystalline cells. Try to purchase RV solar panels with the highest level of efficiency that your budget allows.

Considerations that can impact output

The output of solar panels refers to the watts each cell produces. The higher the wattage, the better the cell. That being said, there are a few dynamics that can influence a cell's wattage. First, the angle at which the sun hits the cells can impact output levels. If the cells are placed at an angle to the sun, some of the sunlight will reflect off of the cell's surface. Most of the time, RV solar panels are placed flat (especially when the RV is moving). However, they can usually be adjusted to allow direct exposure to the sun, thereby increasing output.

Your panels' output will also suffer if the panels are dirty or shaded. If you stop your RV, try to make sure that there aren't any trees or other obstructions in the sun's path that may cast a shadow across your solar panels. Also, check the wiring and the connections of your panels. Poor connections can happen frequently in the paneling as a result of driving your RV. If the connections aren't set properly, it can impact your solar panels' output.

Reliability on the road

The benefit of installing RV solar panels is that they can provide a convenient and reliable source of electricity when you're on the road. Some paneling systems are inexpensive and provide just enough power to recharge your RV's battery. Other systems are more robust and can offer a dependable power source for televisions, lights, radios and other appliances. When you're ready to invest, consider the efficiency of the solar panels. Then, start with a small two-panel set. Many RV owners overestimate their needs and invest in larger systems than they can justify owning. Start small. You can always expand as you identify your energy needs down the road.