According to the University of Michigan, one in twelve vehicle-owning households in the U.S. owns an RV. That’s nearly 7 million households with RV’s throughout the United States. Many of those RV owners have either already installed, or have thought about adding solar panels to their RV.
Solar panels have the potential to take the RVing experience to a whole new level, as it offers the possibility of creating electricity on the road no matter where you may wander.
However, there is no question that while the electricity might save you money, the installation cost might be a little overwhelming. Therefore, to answer the question of whether solar panels are really worth it really depends on your personal situation.
Having an RV opens the world up to you, with or without solar panels. Granted, solar panels are a beautiful convenience that can add safety and security to your road trips. So the more you are on the road, the more opportunity you have to use the solar panel features. This means you will get much more bang for your buck.
If you are a weekender RV enthusiast, the cost might not be worth the use you receive from the solar panels. After all, if you have a destination and you do not intend to stay in an RV for an extended period of time, you likely won’t need the capabilities of solar panels.
Regardless of how often you use your RV though, there are options for you. You can get a full-fledged solar panel system, or you could just get a few panels to test out your usage.
Alternatively, if you are a full-time RV enthusiast you might need more than what solar panels can offer you. If you frequent campsites and RV parks, you are likely going to need to pay the electric hookup fee regardless of whether you need it or not.
Pros of RV Solar Panels
RV solar panels can open up a whole new world for those that use them to their fullest. There are so many different things that a person or family with a solar panel system on the RV can do, that a non-solar paneled RV is not able to do. Here are some of the main pros that are associated with RV solar panel setups:
Freedom and Security
There is nothing like your own bed and if you are an RV-owner, this could extend to the bed inside your adventure motor caravan. Having a sufficient solar panel system on your RV gives you freedom and security. You don’t have to go to RV parks to sleep for the night. Rather, you can stay in an area of seclusion far away from the rest of the world.
You can enjoy the freedom of going anywhere while having the security of always knowing where you are going to sleep.
Opens Up Opportunities
Due to the silent nature of RV solar panels you are allowed in U.S. National Parks and other areas where you would otherwise either be banned or restricted. Whether there is a fire hazard or simply a noise ordinance, you are covered. Using a solar panel system on an RV poses no threat or bother to anyone. Solar panel energy is quiet, clean and unintrusive.
Return to Nature
One of the most popular reasons people get an RV is so that they can get back to nature and enjoy the beauty of the world without having to make rigid travel plans. However, when you need to rely on a generator or you need to find RV parks, it can hamper your adventurous spirit. With a solar panel system, you don’t have to worry about where you need to stay for the night. For the most part, you can just stay connected to nature and live in harmony.
Cons of RV Solar Panels
There are a few negative aspects of getting a solar panel system for your RV, though. These cons should seriously be considered before purchasing a system:
The cost for a solar panel system even for an RV can reach upwards of $3,000. While this isn’t anywhere close to the cost of putting solar panels on a house, it is still $3,000+ that many people just don’t have. It is an investment and, if it is not utilized properly, is a waste of money.
The good news is that RV solar panels systems can be eligible for a federal solar tax credit. Although, if you are heavily relying on this credit, make sure you and your RV specifically are eligible and act fast as tax credits for solar panels are hastily disappearing.
Solar panels can be a complicated system. There is the possibility of hiring someone to install the panels for you but if you are truly using them for going off-grid, you should know how they work. The last thing you need is to be in the middle of nowhere, with only the sun’s energy to help you survive and a bum solar panel system you can’t fix. Therefore, before you commit to a solar panel system make sure you understand how to install and fix the system you are thinking of getting. If you are not very technical, try finding a simpler system and learn it well before you need it implicitly.
Solar panels are weather permitting. Always remember that if you don’t have sunlight on your trip (or sufficient access to sunlight) you won’t have power. Therefore, going into areas with dense trees, areas with a lot of fog, or simply during rainy seasons might hinder your trip as you will not have the capability to utilize your solar panel system to the fullest, if at all.
To close, in order to figure out if solar panels for your RV are worth it, ultimately, you need to decide if you will get enough use out of them. Solar panels for an RV can be awesome. They offer a sense of freedom and reliability that you can’t get anywhere else on the road. Yet, if your lifestyle does not call for off-grid solar panels, the use is not likely to justify the cost.