Are RV Solar Panels Worth Buying?
When people think about getting solar panels for their RVs they imagine all the freedom that goes with being self-contained. No more need for camping in the pricier campsites because there’s no longer a need for electrical hook ups. They think that they’ll no longer need that loud generator to run the AC or have a movie-watching marathon while it’s drizzling outside. Most people also imagine they’ll be saving tons of money with the newfound freedom to boondock anywhere and anytime.
So, how much of this is myth and how much of it is true? The answer is it all depends on the people doing the RVing.
In short, most people underestimate how much energy they actually use in a given day while overestimating how much energy solar panels can create in that same time frame. There are also so many different levels of solar paneling, and the more you buy, the more expensive the upfront cost. Even when folks have a pretty sophisticated system set up, many still own at least a small generator in case of rainy days and/or really hot ones that require air conditioning.
A solar system for your RV will not be cheap. It will cost thousands of dollars, even if you do your own installation. Let’s say you buy a system that ends up costing you $6,000, which should keep you pretty self-contained (though not 100%). Chances are that it’ll take you 4 or 5 years to make up the cost and start saving. Getting electricity at a campsite is not expensive, even though they often mark-up what the electric company is charging. It’s the overnight charges you’ll be saving on right away, since staying in the boondocks is often free or close to it.
The biggest reason people spend thousands on solar energy is the freedom it affords RV owners. While you may have to still rely on a generator from time-to-time, you can boondock on dry camping sites, which often have better views and more privacy.
Things to Know Before Going Solar:
- You’ll need use of your roof.
- You’ll need to use your storage space for panels.
- You’ll spend thousands of dollars, even more, if you don’t do your own installation.
When Going Solar Makes Little Sense:
- If you’re planning on staying at campsites with hookups anyway.
- If you only boondock or go off-grid for a week or two once or twice a year (a generator will suffice).
- You’ll be staying in areas where you know you’ll need to rely on air conditioning (in this case you’ll need electricity to keep up with running an AC constantly).
- If you only RV for short periods of time a few times a year. The cost of a solar system doesn’t make much sense in this case at all.
- You don’t have large waste holding tanks and aren’t set up for dry camping. In this case, you can’t afford to be in the boondocks for very long so you’ll eventually be close to hookups!
Reasons You Should Consider Going Solar:
- There are many places you want to go but can’t due to your lack of energy self-sufficiency.
- You don’t enjoy yourself at campsites because there’s too little privacy.
- No matter what happens or if your RV breaks down, you’ll have some power (at the very least for your cell phones).
- If you’re an avid RVer, it will eventually pay off financially, even if it takes a few years.
- If there’s a power outage where you’re staying, you’ll probably be much better off than if you didn’t have solar power.
- Solar panels on the roof charge up house batteries when the sun is out.
- You’ll eventually save lots of money camping off-grid, that is, if you don’t mind being a little far from civilization.
- The thrill of being energy independent.
- Solar power is cleaner and much less noisy than using a generator. While you’ll probably still need to have a small generator, you’ll be using it far less with solar power.
- You’ll feel good about leaving less of a carbon footprint using this natural source of energy.
What You Should Do if You Decide to Go for It:
Do your research before running out and buying a kit. Learn about panel types and arrays. Know your own energy usage. Learn the proper way of wiring, battery charging, etc.
You’ll want to make some lifestyle changes if you want to be energy independent. More than anything, you’ll want to start reducing your energy consumption, which a solar system may not be able to handle.
Make sure your vehicle is well insured. Some people still choose to get coverage for their solar panels, but not all insurance policies cover installations or maintenance. Generally speaking, solar panels are quite durable and are built to withstand harsh weather. However, if your policy does not cover solar panels, you can always opt for a second policy to ensure that you’re covered in case of malfunctions.
To speak with an Insurance Specialist you can trust, either click here or call 866-501-7335.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms, and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.