How Much Solar Power Do I Need In My RV?

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“What is the ideal quantity of solar power that is needed to meet the electricity needs of my RV?” This question arises because the amount of solar power required for an RV varies depending on several factors such as the size of the RV, the number of appliances, gadgets, and devices that need to be powered, the duration and frequency of usage, and the climate and weather conditions. Therefore, the optimal amount of solar power required for an RV is unique to each individual’s specific requirements and preferences.

Solar panel technology has gotten more inexpensive to customers during the last ten years. As a consequence, many individuals are considering installing solar panels on their RVs. 

It has enabled them to travel further “off the grid” and stay out dry-docking for extended periods.  If you’re thinking about making the switch to solar panels, there are a few things you should know on how much solar do you need for your RV.  We also have a good selection of Best Portable Solar Panels for RV if you intend to get one.

If you are a beginner in RVing, check out these tips before you start.

Panels and Power

The number of solar panels you’re going to need for your RV is determined by your daily use of power. One thing to keep in mind is that your solar panels do not power anything at all in your RV. They replenish the batteries in your residence.

But instead of asking “How much solar electricity do I need for my RV?” we believe that you should ask “How many solar panels do I need for my RV to protect my batteries from running dry?”

Watts, Amps, and Volts

How much solar power do i need for an RV? Before we proceed, you must first comprehend what every electrical measurement entails as well as what it signifies for your electrical system.


Volts are a unit of measurement for the amount of electrical current that flows across wires from one place to another. Moving your child’s automobile toy on a smooth surface is an example of volts. 

If the path is longer, you’ll notice that it slows down as it progresses after you release the toy. Electricity is the same way. If your solar panels have a low voltage, this will take much longer for your batteries to charge than when they have a high voltage.


How many watt solar panel do i need for RV? Watts are a unit of measurement for the rate at which electricity is used. The volume of water that flows out of a hose is a suitable analogue for watts. The number of GPM (gallons per minute) pouring out from the hose is measured in Watts.

Assume you have a one-yard hose that has a 120 psi water pressure (instead of 3120 volts). This imagined pipe can pump out 3000 gallons per minute if you turn the water on all of the way (watts). That’d be a spectacular hose, but you get the point.

Amperage (Amp)

Amp is a unit of measurement for electrical current. It’s similar to how fast electricity travels. In the water instance, the rate during which water runs through the hose at 120 psi (volts) to pump out 3000 gallons per minute would be precisely that (watts).

All of the measures listed above are interconnected. If the water pressure lowers, you’ll need to have more amps (higher speed) to maintain the very same flow of water out from the hose (watts).

One thing that you need to keep in mind is that, like mpg ratings for vehicles, this statistic frequently assumes ideal conditions and may vary significantly in the actual world. In ideal conditions, a 100Ah battery will deliver 10 amps of reliable power for 10 hours.

Watt-Hours (Wh)

If watts are a unit of measurement for power, watt-hours are a unit of measurement for power utilised over time. Watt-hours, in other words, are units of measurement for the quantity of energy consumed or expended.

Maths and Inverters

What size solar panel do i need for RV?
At minimum you need four solar panels with 100 Watts each. If you plan to boondock for long periods with intensive uses of power, consider getting solar panels with 1800 Watts.
DC electricity is supplied via batteries and solar panels. You’ll have to have an inverter to convert the DC to AC if you would like to operate any 120V AC items. To calculate how much power will be drained from your batteries, you’ll need to convert from AC to DC power. To begin, you should be familiar with a few formulae. Don’t be put off by the phrase “formula.” You’re fine to go if you can multiply and divide.

Amps X Volts = Watts

Watts / Volts = Amps

Watts / Amps = Volts

Solar panels are typically graded by the number of watts they produce. As a result, you’ll need to learn how to convert watts to amps. This will assist you in determining the size of your battery bank as well as the number and size of solar panels required. 

If you are staying in areas where you are not familiar with the superiority of the power supply, then it is a must to have a RV surge protector. We have a detailed on the Best RV Surge protector if you do not own one yet.


Calculating Your Amp-Hour-Per-Day Value

You may estimate your Ah consumption using a few different approaches. The first step is to figure out how much Ah you have in your system right now. 

Embark on a boondocking adventure with your RV by following these steps: First, ensure that your batteries are fully charged. Then, switch off any charging sources like the generator or solar panels, and continue using your RV as you normally would.

Continue to monitor your battery’s voltage until it hits around 12.2 volts. If your RV panel doesn’t already show voltage, you’ll need to use a multimeter.

Your battery is roughly half-discharged at 12.2 volts. To extend the life of your batteries, you should never operate them below 50%. (If they are lead-acid). You can calculate how much Ah you consumed now that you know how long it takes to go through 50% of your batteries.

Choosing the Right Panels for Your Amp Hours

After you’ve calculated your daily amp-hours, you’ll need to figure out how many panels you’ll need. With 100-watt solar panels, the typical rule of thumb is that they can generate roughly 30 Ah each day with 5 to 9 hours of sun exposure. So generally, most RVs require around two to four 200-watt solar panels.

If you have a 12 volt battery with 100 Ah, you should have roughly 300-400 Ah of solar panels.

You must consider a variety of factors before ordering your panels and equipment. Many factors might reduce the efficiency of solar panels.

– Dust in the air

– Dirty panels

– The weather condition (cloud cover, rain, etc)

– Indirect sunlight as a result of the shadow

– Panels that aren’t directly facing the sun

– The temperature is (the hotter the panel is, the less efficient it is)

Your RV would have to be under lab-like settings to attain maximal efficiency, which is nearly hard to duplicate in the real world.

Is Solar Power a Good Investment?

Although solar panels have become more inexpensive, plan to invest in the early four figures to get it all set up. Part of the system is already in place if your RV has house batteries. Solar panel connections are now available on newer coaches, allowing you to connect portable solar panels that rest on tripods.

Even if your RV isn’t pre-wired, you can still install it yourself. Once you begin, do your homework. You’ll be drilling through the shell of your RV and dealing with power.

The advantage of solar energy is that it does not require much upkeep. The panels are made to withstand the elements because there are no moving components to wear out. Your primary priority should be ensuring that your system is properly connected to avoid burnout.

The benefits may be worth it once everything is in place. You won’t have to use your generator, which will be appreciated by your neighbors. Furthermore, your dry dock experience is only limited by the capacity of your water tanks. 

Energy is no longer a problem because your panels are constantly replenishing your batteries. You may save money by parking with the less costly raw site in campgrounds that provide multiple tiers of campsites, from merely a spot to set up to the full hookup setup.
If you looking for alternative source of energy besides solar panels, check out our article on the Best RV Generator For Boondocking.

[ Also Read: If you’re thinking about living in an RV but have heard some falsehoods that are deterring you, we’ll use this guide to debunk 5 Full-Time RV living myths and misconceptions! ]


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Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

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