Northern California's Largest Installer of RV Solar Power Systems
With solar power all you’ll need is access to water for your RV or Trailer. Our installed solar systems provide power for vintage RV’s, trailers and new RV’s of any type.
One of the best things about recreational vehicles (RVs), whether powered by battery or solar energy, is the freedom they provide. An RV gives you the power to explore the world like no other, and the flexibility to take those spur-of-the-moment trips to merely get away. Owning a solar-powered RV however, takes things to a whole new level, giving you the ability to go almost anywhere. Whereas a battery-powered RV needs to be parked and have a power source nearby, a solar-powered RV permits you the liberty to park your vehicle anywhere the sun can reach it.
Freedom from generators and plugs isn’t the only advantage that comes with solar energy, other benefits include cutting back on carbon emissions, liberation from typical campsites, and fun opportunities such as boondocking!
1. Cuts Back on Emissions
We only have one Earth and we have to take action to protect it for ourselves and future generations. Greenhouse gasses produced by human activity affect global warming and climate change. Solar energy doesn’t produce air pollution or greenhouse gasses during operation. As a result, having a solar-powered RV has a positive effect on the environment as it replaces the use of other energy sources, such as an RV generator, which will emit carbon monoxide.
Carbon emissions are the leading pollutant caused by human activity today. Even though there are federal emission standards and regulations in place, generator emissions play a huge role in polluting the world around us. Solar panels cut down, if not eliminate, the need to use a generator.
2. Local Regulations Can Make it Hard To Use a Generator
There are several regulations in place that make it more difficult to use a generator in certain places. It is common for national parks to have noise ordinances that disallow loud sounds, and a generator may be deemed “too noisy” to use regularly there. Also, if an area is under a local fire ban or fire burn restriction, generator usage may not be allowed. If a generator is your sole energy source and you find yourself under a local regulation such as these, you will either need to use an alternative energy source or you may be going without power.
Solar energy is a great alternative energy source as it has no hazards, can be easily installed, and if you find yourself in a situation where local regulations are restricting generator usage, you wouldn’t have to worry about going without power!
3. Enjoy Boondocking
Boondocking, or “dry camping”, is camping with an RV without being tied to any connections (water, sewer, or electrical), generators, or outlets. This type of camping can be done deep in an isolated area or simply pulled over at a rest stop.
If your RV is run by solar energy, you can enjoy boondocking wherever, whenever, and for as long as you want!
The Different Types of RV Solar Panels
If you do decide to go ahead and fit your RV with solar panels, you need to figure out which type of solar panel is right for your needs. The solar panel options include:
- Monocrystalline Solar Panels
- Polycrystalline Solar Panels
- Amorphous Solar Panels
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panels are currently the most efficient panels on the market. They are cut from a single piece of material (pure silicon crystal), and as a result, they’re slightly smaller than other types of solar panels. They are also known for their distinctive appearance, being square with chiseled corners.
Monocrystalline solar panels come with three main benefits:
- They are the most efficient in converting sunlight to solar energy.
- Being smaller and more compact, they don’t take up as much space as other types of solar panels.
- They have the longest life span as compared to other types of solar panels.
These types of panels are also the most expensive option due to their costly and timely production process, yet many still believe the benefits you get are worth it.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline solar panels are constructed from numerous silicone crystals and fragments that have been put together. As a result, they are less efficient than monocrystalline panels, generating about 10 to 20 percent less power.
Despite being less efficient, they are still a popular option among consumers. A few benefits of polycrystalline panels include:
- They are a less expensive option as they are easier, quicker, and cheaper to produce.
- They are more efficient in maintaining electricity production in adverse conditions (i.e. in low light or when the sun is not directly angled at the solar panels).
It is also important to consider polycrystalline solar panels are larger and take up more space than monocrystalline panels. However, if you have a larger RV, this may not be a problem for you.
Amorphous Solar Panels
Amorphous solar panels are made from non-crystalline silicon that is placed on top of a substrate (glass, metal, or plastic).
- They are easy to install as they are super thin and flexible, allowing them the ability to bend and mold to different surfaces.
- They are lighter than other solar panel types, which makes them easier to transport.
Though they are not as efficient as the other solar panel types, they are the cheapest option available.
Batteries for Your Solar Panels
If you are looking for batteries for your solar panels, there are two options – sealed lead acid batteries (SLA) or absorbed glass mat batteries (AGM).
Sealed Lead Acid Batteries
Sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries splinter off into two main types – a flooded cell battery and a gel-cell battery. Neither type requires a lot of maintenance.
A flooded cell battery works by using water as the main electrolyte. These are popular because they have a very long service life and can also be used to power a wide variety of appliances.
A gel-cell battery is similar to a flooded cell battery, but silicates have been added to the electrolyte. This gives it a gel-like appearance and is where the name comes from.
Absorbed Glass Mat Batteries
Absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries use fiberglass material, and electrolytes are absorbed directly into this fiberglass.
The batteries are dry on the inside, and as a result, are much more resistant to shocks and vibrations when compared to SLA batteries. This makes them much more durable as compared to SLA batteries.
Choosing Between the Two Batteries
If you are trying to figure out which battery is best for you, there are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Charge times on AGM batteries are typically shorter than charge times on SLA batteries.
- AGM batteries tend to hold up better when they’re placed under a significant amount of stress. For example, if you are running a microwave through an inverter, an AGM battery will handle the stress better.
- As AGM batteries do not require any water, there is a much lower risk of them corroding the battery terminals. They could be the safer choice for your RV in that way.
What if You Need More Power?
If you feel like your current batteries just aren’t strong enough, you may need to upgrade to bigger batteries.
Batteries with a higher amp-hour rating (or AH rating) will hold a more significant charge. You can also upgrade 6-volt batteries to 12-volt batteries. If you connect them in parallel, you can double the amount of time before the batteries are discharged.
If you have 6-volt golf-cart batteries, you can connect them in series and use them to produce 12-volt batteries. This can help you generate a much stronger power discharge to power your appliances.
As a rule of thumb, connecting your batteries in parallel means you add the amps. If you connect your batteries in series, you add the voltage.
Calculating Your Battery Storage Capacity
You also need to calculate the storage capacity of your batteries. Here’s how to do it:
- If you have four new, or relatively new, batteries rated at 100 amp-hours of storage, you have 400 amp-hours of energy to draw from as long as they are fully charged.
- You can only access about 75 percent of that power, as the efficiency will quickly begin to wane if you try to use every amp available (i.e. you will have approximately 300 amp-hours available).
- Divide this by the number of days you have, or will be, been boondocked to figure out how long it takes for you to run the batteries dry. If it takes six days, then you know you consume about 50 amp-hours every day.
Calculating the Number of Solar Panels You Need for Your RV
After you have decided which type of solar panels you want to install on your RV, you need to figure out exactly how many solar panels you will need.
You don’t need to worry about installing as many solar panels on your RV as you may have seen in commercial or residential buildings, as these solar power systems are designed to power an entire building. Your vehicle won’t need to generate as much power as these, as it doesn’t have as many lights or appliances to power, and those that are devices present will not draw as much power.
There are a few important factors to consider when deciding how many solar panels you will need:
The Power You Use Every Day
First, you need to figure out how much power you use every day. To do this, you could start by taking a look at the appliances and lights you have in the RV. For example, if you have a 400-watt microwave, this means that it requires 400 watts of power to run for an hour. If you only use it for 15 minutes every day, you simply multiply ¼ of an hour by 400 watts. Now, you know that you know 100 watts of power to use your microwave every day.
You need to do the same process for the other appliances in your RV to know how much power you will need to generate to run your RV each day. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t overlook the lights or the electrical components of the RV itself.
If you need a little help calculating this out – we’re here for you. Just give us a call and we’ll work with you to figure out all these details.
The Power Generated by the Solar Panels
Next, you need to figure out the amount of power generated by the solar panels you have or will have installed. For example, you may have a set of solar panels on your RV, with each solar panel generating 100 watts each.
If you have six solar panels on your RV, you have a total of 600 watts of power coming from the panels.
Watts are calculated in terms of hours, so if you have one hour of sunlight every day, you have 600 total watts of power coming from your solar panels every day. On the other hand, if you have 10 hours of direct sunlight every day, the system would be generating a total of 6,000 watts every day.
The Top Reasons To Partner With Avalon RV
At Avalon RV, we are proud to be one of the most trusted names in the industry. Here are some of the reasons our clients choose us to help with all their RV needs:
1. The Latest Technology
At Avalon RV, we always stay on top of the latest technology. This field is all about constant innovation, and being aware of the latest discoveries is very important to us as we aim to give consultations based on the most current information. We’ll always tell you what the best option for you is with the present state of the industry taken into account. Falling behind and working off of old information is dangerous. Ignoring the current and future technology findings utterly destroys any chance of giving clients helpful and valuable advice.
2. Master Craftsmen Experience
At Avalon RV, we have experience. We’ve been in this field for a long time, and we understand that every RV is different. Members of our team will lean on their experience to make sure that you select the right solar panel for you and your needs, and that your solar panels are installed quickly and properly. After the installation is complete, we’ll take the time to show you exactly how to use and take care of them.
3. Open, Honest, and Transparent
At Avalon RV, we are open, honest, and transparent with everything that we do. Before we get started, we will provide you with a 100% free estimate so you can budget accordingly. We strive to ensure our estimates are accurate, so you can feel confident that you will know what you will be charged once the work is complete.
We will also be sure to educate you and answer any questions you have. At the end of the process, you’ll know exactly how much power you can expect to generate from your solar panels depending on the amount of sunlight you receive. We don’t just install your solar panels, we take the time to help you develop a deeper understanding of your solar panels, your RV, and current industry sentiments.
4. Real, Reviews From Actual Avalon RV Customers
We’re passionate about what we do which reflects in our customers’ experiences with us. We display our customer testimonials on our website so you can get a good idea of what you can expect from us and decide for yourself if you’d like to partner with our team.
If you’re ready to get solar installation for your RV and want a team that is up to date with the latest solar power technology, with master craftsman experience, and who provides open, honest, and transparent communication and information, reach out to us today for a brief consultation!
Why Rely on a Professional for Solar Panel Installation for Your RV?
The thought of installing solar panels yourself may have crossed your mind, however, it’s always better to rely on a professional for a truly seamless installation, here’s why:
- If your solar panels come with a warranty, you don’t want to run the risk of voiding them by installing them yourself. Make sure you protect your warranty by having a professional install them for you.
- If you want to maximize the efficiency of your solar panels, you need to have them installed by a professional who understands how to install them in a way that maximizes the amount of electricity that can be generated.
- You can reduce your chances of dealing with a repair down the road if you install your solar panels with the help of a professional. Solar panels are a significant investment, so make sure you maximize this by minimizing the potential of facing future repairs.
Contact Avalon RV for RV Solar Panels
If you’re interested in solar panels for your RV, don’t look any further. At Avalon RV, we stay on top of the latest technology in our field to make sure you walk away from us with the best RV experience possible. Our customer service is second to none, and it’s made us the go-to choice for clients looking for RV Solar, Inverters & Lithium Battery Installation Services in Northern California. Give us a call today to talk to our team about installing solar panels on your RV.
FAQs About RV Solar Panels
What happens if the sun is not shining?
If the sun isn’t shining your solar panels may not generate any electricity, but you should be able to use unused stored electricity from previous sunny days. Make sure you understand how many amp-hours you use on a given day. That way, you know how long your power will last, and if you can store extra energy.
Why are solar panels better than a generator?
Solar energy is more sustainable, less expensive, and provides more freedom as looking for a camping spot with accessible spots to plug in is not necessary.
How many solar panels do I need?
The amount of solar panels you need depends on the amount of electricity you use and the types of solar panels you choose. We can work with you to figure out how much power you need to be generated by calculating the number of amp-hours you’ll use, and then we can figure out how many solar panels you need to replace that power.
Can I use the small solar panel that came with my RV to charge my batteries?
Technically, yes, but the small solar panel is not large enough to generate a significant amount of power.
Also, if it is older, it may no longer be efficient. The point of the solar panel is to keep the battery from dying when you are sitting still for a long amount of time. It was not intended to help you generate enough power for the entire day. Many of these small solar panels only put out 50 mA and are in the 1.5-watt range. Because of this, it could take you weeks to fully charge your batteries.
Is it worth it for me to invest in adjustable solar panel mounts?
In general, it is not worth it for you to do so. Even though you might be able to generate a little bit more power if you tilt the panels to catch the sun, the improvement is not significant. If the sun is approximately 30 degrees offset from your panels, the efficiency drops by about 13%.
While this might sound significant, it is expensive to invest in a tilting mount. In addition, it will add a significant amount of wind drag to your RV, which will reduce your gas mileage. If you think you will sit still for a long amount of time, then it might be worth it for you to invest in a tilting solar mount; however, this is usually not the case.
Can I take my converter’s output and run it through the solar regulator?
You may not want to try this. Many of the converters that come with the original equipment or not high-quality. If you run your converter through your solar regulator, you could have some hard times ahead. First, the output of the converter isn’t regulated.
The DC power is pulsing and it’s not filtered. Your solar regulator will struggle with this type of power, and you can damage the equipment. On top of this, a lot of converters are not current-limited. Your charge controller probably won’t be able to handle an unlimited current, and you could fry the entire system, leading to a major repair bill that you would rather avoid.
How often do I need to wash my solar panels?
It depends on where you live, the level of dirt and pollution in the air, and the type of weather you experience. In general, you should clean your solar panels every few months, but you may need to clean them more often if they get dirty more quickly than that.
We pride ourselves on selecting top quality RV products. We are proud to sell and install Victron components. For more information regarding Victron please use this link to visit their website.
Victron System Install July 2021
Compact & Powerful System
We have a master-certified RV electrician available to dive into as much detail as you’d like when we give you the walkthrough of your new system.
We always label what each of the switches are so you can easily remember how to use everything in the future.
Pro Cable Management
An Example Install:
Cerbo Gx & Touch Screen Monitor
BMV-712 Shunt & Monitor
Orion DC-DC 30
150/35 MPPT Controller
Portable Solar Inlet
Zamp 445w RIGID Monocrystalline Array
After consultation, we work hard to keep the interior of your Van, Airstream, or RV looking crisp and clean.
No one wants to look at a bunch of tech – our work is installed discreetly so that the craftsmanship of your rig is what you see.