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How to Size Solar Panels for RV: Beginners Guide

Learning how to size solar panels for RV is very handy, especially if you want to have your own power source. The truth is that investing in solar panels for RV is a great way to stay off the grid and just travel as you see fit.

You don’t have to rely on the energy grid at all, while still enjoying your activities and stuff you do all the time. Which is why it’s a great idea to figure out what size solar panels for motorhome should you buy. Once you do that, things get a whole lot easier.

How Much Money Should you Expect to pay for Solar Panels for RV?

If you want to get the best size solar panel for RV, then that can be a bit costly. But in general, you will notice that the best solar panels for RV aren’t that expensive. In fact, a proper RV solar panel system will usually cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000 before installation costs.

So it’s not overly expensive. And more often then not, it will fulfill all your necessities. Which is great, because the solar panels for RV work very well and they can offer you all the power you want.

However, prices can vary due to the size of your RV. The amount of appliances you use in the RV is also important. After all, the more energy-eating devices you have in your RV, the more power you need.

Yet in general, if you size the solar panels for your RV properly, you don’t really have to worry about any issues that might arise.

But for the average RV, we found this solar kit to be especially versatile. You can read more about by following the link.

What is the Ideal Size for the Battery Bank?

A good rule of thumb is to estimate the energy requirements of your appliances. Check the overall watt ratings on Google. Then you just have to add up and see how much energy is needed.

If you have just a coffee maker, electric blanket, a phone charger and hot plate that you use half an hour to 3 hours, then you will require around 140 amp hours on a daily basis.

Larger batteries are always preferred, since you never really know how much energy is required. But it makes sense to take your time and assess everything to see how it all adds together.

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Once you have that information, you want to assess the power requirement of the RV solar panel. The peak discharge current and continuous current that the battery can handle.

For example, if the current amps are exceeding the continuous battery rating, you want to limit how many appliances you use at once. Generally, you want to stick with a single appliance being used at once just to conserve energy. It’s a great idea and it can bring you amazing results if you go this way.

The thing is, if you don’t have enough current, the device won’t work the way you want. So it makes a lot of sense to find a good method that helps you replenish the amount of current you use. The amount of hours you are running these appliances every day is crucial.

It makes it easier to figure out just how much energy you need and results can be great for all of that. With that being said, once you know that you want to identify the weekly requirements. It just makes the process simpler and easier for you.

Figuring out the Right Solar Power Requirements

Finding out what size solar panels for motorhome should you use can take a bit of a trial and error. Once you know the amount of solar power you need, it becomes a lot easier to find the best size solar panel for RV. With that being said, solar is usually found in 100 to 300 Watt panels.

The watt ratings have their own efficiency levels. However, things like the time of the day, weather and temperature will influence how much power you generate via the solar panel.

Based on our experience, you get 30 amps of power for every solar panel that you own. This is great because it makes the process easier and it will help prevent concerns that might appear.

It’s also a good idea to check the optimum current rating or the output power. The ideal option is around 5.3 to 5.7 amps, something around those lines. With that being said, it does make sense to have more power than you may need. Who knows, maybe one of your guests is using one of the appliances more.

So it makes sense to be overly prepared and have more energy readily accessible if you need it. Otherwise, you just won’t be able to use anything and that becomes an issue to deal with in a situation like this.

Read More: The ultimate guide to solar panels: Everything you need to know

Recommended Capacity for Solar for Your RV

What we recommend is something around 20% to 25% of capacity over the regular requirements. So even if it’s a cloudy day outside, you’re still generating more power than you need.

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It’s a great idea to be prepared because you never really know what issues can arise in a situation like this. Avoid any rush, and you will be more than ok with the results in the end.

Read More: What are the different types of solar energy?

How Much Roof Space do you Have for Solar Panels for RV?

This is another thing to consider as well. When you learn how to size solar panels for RV, roof space is critical to keep in mind. The idea here is that you can end up limited by the amount of space you have on your roof, so that’s something to consider.

So while the budget is important, you still have a limited amount of roof space that you can work with. These solar panels are basically rigid rectangles that won’t fold or bend around vent pipes or AC units.

That’s why the layout of your solar system needs to adapt to what you already have on your RV. These obstructions will require workarounds or a new way to improve and adjust, but the experience can be great in the end.

That’s why it makes a lot of sense to assess all possible things when you learn how to size your solar panels.

Read More: Advantages and disadvantages of solar energy you didn’t know about

Consider the Storage Space for Your Solar kit

Aside from that, another topic to focus on is the storage space for your solar kit. If you want to step away from roof space limitations, you can add portable solar panels to the solar array.

Portable panels also take some room, but at least you can hide them when they are not in use. It’s a great idea, but it also depends on how much space you can offer for such an idea.

Such limitations are normal when you try to size solar panels for your RV. It’s something normal and natural, even if it does come with its fair share of challenges.

Campers want to find the best size solar panel for RV, but they know that the largest size isn’t always ideal. That’s why you experiment and see what works for you and what can be improved.

As long as you meet your energy needs, you will be fine. But as we said, going overboard and generating more than you need is always a good idea. It just makes things better overall, and you will be much happier with the results.

Read More: The Different Types of Solar Panels

Below is another solar kit for an RV that gives good value for money. This specific kit is well-powered at 500 watts 40A, and pretty easy to install. For more picture and specs, read more on it below.

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Things to Keep in Mind for Solar Panels for RV Roof

All the power that’s generated by your solar panels gets stored in the batteries when nothing requires any energy. If you’re actively using items that require electricity in the RV, the energy isn’t even stored in the batteries. Notice that it gets directed to the items that need it.

However, most of the time when nothing uses electricity and the solar panels still generate it, this gets stored in batteries. The main role of batteries is to offer you electricity when you are off the grid. You don’t have to wait for energy to be generated, instead you just use it from the batteries.

The solar panel layout should offer you enough space for all the solar panels you need. Remember, once you know your energy requirements, you want to go a bit extra.

This will ensure even if there’s bad weather or less sun, you still get the amount of energy needed to cover your daily tasks. That’s why you may end up needing to make solar panel layout changes on your RV. Trial and error is required in these situations, but it’s totally worth the effort.

Read More: How to Become Proficient in Solar Panels for an RV


Learning what size solar panels for motorhome do you need is extremely important, and it can take a bit of time to narrow down all the information. But once you know all of this, it becomes a lot easier to identify what works for you.

Remember, the main focus is on making sure you have more panels than you need. If you don’t, you can end up without electricity when you need it the most.

Study these ideas and you will have no problem finding out how to size solar panels for RV properly. All these tips and tricks will help you avoid issues and ensure you always get to size your panels without any worries!

Read More: What is a Solar Power System

Keep in mind too, that while purchasing solar kits, most of the kits will either be sold without batteries or an inverter. Some of the kits will also have a way lower capacity than your needs in your RV. So make sure you do your homework well.

For that matter, have a look at this solar kit below. It will work well both for your RV or boat. You can either purchase the complete set of solar panels, batteries, and inverter, or whichever combo you like.

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