How Much Solar Power Do I Need For My RV?

Want to mount solar panels but not sure how much space they will take and what battery capacity you might need? We will help you out with that!

Written by Camilla Moln. Updated on How Much Solar Power Do I Need For My RV

For the owners of mobile homes and trailers, solar panels are often the only source of energy they can get to make the whole construction run and functionate properly.

However, if you are not much knowledgeable about solar panels and their installation, as well as nuances of use, you might be wondering how much solar for your trailer’s RV is needed.

And if this is what makes you wonder, you will surely find this article very useful for yourself!

Today, we are going to reveal a lot of useful facts and information to you regarding solar panels, their use nuances, as well as their work.

You will learn how to calculate the amount of wattage needed for your trailer.

Also, we will explain how solar panels work and what battery capacity you might need in order to support your solar panels.

Finally, you will find out how to figure out how much space you might need to install solar panels and how many of them might be needed to keep your RV running.

Still asking yourself “How much solar power do I need for my rv?”. Relax! Today you will get all the answers and even more!

How Do I Know How Much Solar Power I Need For My RV?

Solar power is getting more and more popular today as an alternative source of energy.

People learn how to make use of it to keep their households running, and of course, all the passionate travelers dream about getting solar powered trailers to be able to move to any place without worrying that their RV might run out of energy!

However, once you get solar panels installed on your mobile home or trailer, you might start wondering how much solar power is actually needed for keeping your moving home “alive”.

Solar panel used for RV battery charging is a great solution indeed! Not only is it environment-friendly, it is also an efficient way of reducing and sometimes even eliminating an RV’s need for a regular gasoline or a diesel-powered generator!

But how much solar power exactly you might need to be able to power your RV?

Well, in general, an average size travel trailer needs around 120 Amp Hours of solar power. In comparison, a luxury five-wheeled mobile home or an A-class trailer usually require from 240 to 360 Amp

Hours of solar power to be able to fully maintain all the appliances they have on board.

In addition, the amount of solar power needed for your moving home is determined by the size of the panels that you use, as well as their number since the more panels you have the more power they will consume.

This is why, in order to be able to tell exactly how much solar power is needed in your particular case, you will need to take a few nuances into consideration. And we are going to tell you more about those below.

How Do I Know How Much Solar Power I Need For My RV
Credits: Frank-Peters, via

How to Calculate How Much Wattage You Need By Appliance Use

To be able to tell how much solar power your trailer or a mobile home needs, you need to know how to calculate the wattage needed for keeping all the appliances of yours running.

When you know for sure your typical wattage needs on an average day in your trailer, it will be easier for you to determine your solar panels and the square footage needed to power your RV.

So how to calculate the wattage needed? The first method you can use is to add up the total amount of watts all the various appliances in your RV are rated for.

For that purpose, you need to check each appliance and write down its specs which are somewhat time-consuming. Of course, most appliances will have the necessary information either stamped or printed, or even etched on them.

However, you might have a few ones that will make you dig in the owner’s manual or look them up online!

To get proper and correct calculations, total up the number of watts you are going to use every day, per appliance, based on the estimated hours you will be using them.

And if you are exacting, you will end up with a relatively accurate assessment of your wattage needs.

How to Calculate How Much Wattage You Need By Appliance Use
Credits: volody100, via

Determine Your Space Available For Solar Panels Installation

Another factor that you must take into consideration is the amount of space needed for mounting the solar panels.

See, if, using the approach we have provided above, you have found out that you might need quite a lot of energy, it means that your trailer will require a lot of space for installing solar panels.

Otherwise, your appliances will not be able to work, or they will not be working properly, or they will be running out of power very soon!

These days solar panel technology continues to develop quickly. Photovoltaic cells are becoming more and more capable of generating more electrical charge per square inch than even ten years ago! As a rule of thumb, a 100-Watt solar panel is now able to produce up to 30 Amp

Hours of charge in one day. However, we recommend you keep in mind that this is just an estimate that implies you have nearly ideal conditions with a lot of sun around on a long summer day!

However, if you are going to camp under the thick trees, or if you know that the weather is going to be cloudy in the area where you are planning to stay, your solar panels might be producing much less power than stated above!

In fact, chances are you are only going to see 70 to 90 percent of possible production.

This is why you should be planning for 75 percent production capacity when designing your system. Like that, it will give you the best results.

How Much Solar Power Do I Need for My Camper? | How to Calculate Camper Solar System SizeHow Much Solar Power Do I Need for My Camper? | How to Calculate Camper Solar System Size

How Many Solar Panels I Might Need For My RV?

Depending on how much power you will need per day, you need to decide and calculate how many solar panels you will have to buy and mount.

Of course, this number will also depend on the size of your trailer and the areas you usually travel to (since the number of sunny days also matters!).

However, in general, we can say that an average trailer normally has enough space on its roof to host two and sometimes even three 48×20 inch solar panels.

This number is enough for you to always have enough power to keep up your appliances, and also, this many panels will not be shading each other.

How Many Solar Panels I Might Need For My RV
Credits: Frank-Peters, via

What Must Be the Capacity Of My Battery to Support My Solar Panels?

If your battery is an average 12 volt one, you will manage to get approximately 100 amp hours of electrical storage. And in case the conditions are perfect and flawless, this is enough to store up to 300 watts of solar panels!

Respectively, in case you have two 12 volt batteries (or four 6 volt batteries), you would be able to store between 200 to 250 am hours, which would let you support 600 watts of solar panels.

All these factors are very important when calculating the amount of solar power needed for keeping your rV running properly.

Of course, doing all these calculations takes time and a lot of attention and measurements since you need to get accurate numbers to be able to exactly define how many panels you might need and how much power they would give you.

However, if you do everything right, you will not have to worry about the sudden power shortages or run-outs!

What Must Be the Capacity Of My Battery to Support My Solar Panels
Credits: AndrewLozovyi, via

Related: How to Unfreeze Pipes In a Mobile Home

How Does an RV Solar Panel Work?

Finally, since now you know how to calculate the amount of solar power needed for your daily needs while living in your trailer, you probably would like to figure out how those sun panels actually work.

Well, to begin with, you need to understand that solar panels are actually a collection of photovoltaic cells made of special polymers that absorb light that comes from the sun.

This sun energy produces so-called direct current. This current can be stored in the Rv batteries later.

Finally, the inverter that all mobile homes have on board then converts this direct current into an alternating current. And this is what our trailers actually run on!

How Does an RV Solar Panel Work
Credits: AndrewLozovyi, via

Related: 10 Methods How to Keep RV Water Hose From Freezing?

How to Conserve Your Energy. Tips And Life Hacks

Even if you don’t waste energy while being in your trailer on the move, you might still want to save some to make the battery run longer.

Here we would like to note at once that, in fact, there is not much you can do to save energy if you are using such appliances as a microwave or a coffee machine.

This is why the optimal way you can save some energy is to bring down your solar demand. To do it, try to look for any things that you could easily and painlessly power on.

For example, LED and fluorescent lights use much less wattage in comparison to regular bulbs. Moreover, such energy-saving lamps tend to last much longer!

Also, you might want to upgrade some of your appliances: for instance, an old TV screen usually consumes more energy than a more recent model does.

How to Conserve Your Energy. Tips And Life Hacks
Credits: pressmaster, via

And once you are done with all your appliances and light fixtures, you will see that now you are able to save around ten to fifteen percent of wattage!

In addition, we suggest you check out and take into consideration a few handy tips that can help you to reduce the energy consumption while you are traveling:

  • When you don’t use chargers and/or electronics, disconnect them. It will help to reduce the draw of watts.
  • Take short showers. Like this, your water heater will need less power on heating water.
  • Shade the sidewall of your RV since it helps to reduce the draw on the air conditioner.
  • If you need to heat up some beverages like tea or coffee, better do it over the camp stove in a percolator.
  • When you are out of the trailer, turn off all the fans and other comfort devices.
  • Cook your meals on the outdoor grill as often as possible. It will allow you to avoid heating the RV’s interior up.

With these recommendations, you will be able to reduce the energy consumption significantly which means that your RV battery will run much longer during the trip.

So, ladies and gentlemen, today you learned quite a lot about solar panels, their use and tips regarding their operation when traveling in a house on the wheels!

Now that you know how to calculate the number of solar panels needed for your trailer, and how to define the amount of power you need during the trip, you will be able to easily define how massive your panels should be and how much space they will take.

And with the help of our handy tips we shared with you today, any of you, even the most inexperienced trailer travelers, will be able to use less energy when on the trip so that your mobile home functions longer and more effectively making your trip comfortable and safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ How many 100 watt panels are needed for running a house?

An average single-family house needs around 20 panels.

⭐ How long do solar panels last?

About 25-30 years.

⭐ How much does a 100 watt solar panel cost?

A 100 watt panel will run you under 100$, and a full 100 watt kit costs around 300$.

Written by
Camilla is an experienced Consultant with more than 20 years of preparing professional articles for numerous online resources. She has done a tremendous job and has learned a lot during her career. Camilla will advise you on the latest trends and give amazing tips on how to decorate a house.
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here.
How Much Solar Power Do I Need for My Camper? | How to Calculate Camper Solar System SizeHow Much Solar Power Do I Need for My Camper? | How to Calculate Camper Solar System Size