If you own an RV, a trailer, a camper, or a motor home, you’ve probably already considered ways to optimize your energy and fuel efficiency. One of the technologies that have entered the spotlight is solar power.
Solar power is “all the rage” right now among RV owners. Many people are installing solar panels on the top of their RVs and buying flexible panels to place outside the cabin to charge small and large appliances.
But is it worth it? Here is a full and fair expert review of solar power for RVs. Use this guide to determine if solar is the right solution for you.
When Solar Power Is Worth It on Your RV
With costs going down, installation becoming easier than ever, and solar generators becoming smaller and more powerful every day, it may be the best time there’s ever been to install solar on your RV.
Even the word “install” is a bit misleading. Products like EcoFlow’s Power Kits are small, compact, and easy to set up. You can inquire at EcoFlow for free installation and consultation, but no professional installation is necessary if you prefer the self-sufficient route.
EcoFlow’s Power Kits are modular units designed explicitly for powering Class A and Class C RVs, vans, trailers, and more. With expandable capacity and stackable batteries, you can charge it all.
When you need to recharge, the new Power Kits can easily switch between four different methods: solar, the RV alternator, shore power, and a portable power station.
Here are the five best reasons to bring this solar unit aboard your RV.
If You Spend a Lot of Time in Remote Locations
One of the best reasons to install solar on your RV, camper, or motor home is if you’re spending much of your time off-grid. If you’re spending most of your time in urban areas with abundant power sources or in RV parks that offer plug points, solar may not be exceptionally high on your list of solutions to soup up your RV.
But if you’re planning a trek through a remote landscape or the United States, you’ll want to think about power in advance. Even if you think you’ll have opportunities to charge along the way, the U.S. has more power outages than any other developed country. It’s not a bad idea to have a backup power plan.
If You Live Out of Your RV
Some owners live out of their RV, whether on a long-term trip or indefinitely. If you’ve embraced life on the road, you’ll want to amass the right power sources.
The RV life means a lot of devices that need electricity — you have to find a way to draw power to charge your appliances like a dishwasher, fridge, coffee maker, toaster, and of course, phones, tablets, and more.
With the EcoFlow Power Kit, you can charge multiple devices simultaneously with a wide range of battery capacities. And it’s a space-saving solution. No matter how much you have crammed in the rig, you can still take advantage of a great energy reserve.
It does take some time for a solar panel to bring the power. But thankfully, if you mount the panels on the roof of your camper or RV, you’ll be generating and storing energy constantly.
If You Want to Get Rid of Your Gas Generator
Gas generators have a much shorter life span than solar-powered devices. They have an average lifespan of 2500 hours of operation.
In contrast, solar panels can go over 50,000 hours of use when combined with a portable power kit.
Besides the shorter life span, gas generators also produce fumes and toxic chemicals. You can’t run a gas generator inside the RV. But you can run a solar generator inside your trailer without any issues.
If You Want an Easy Install
Modern solar power systems designed for moving vehicles, like the EcoFlow Power Kit, are portable, easy to set up, and cheaper than solar energy options of the past. EcoFlow can customize these kits for any van size, including class A vehicles, camper vans, class C vehicles, or travel trailers.
EcoFlow’s Power Kits are “plug-and-play,” meaning you can quickly customize them to draw power from the sun, alternator, a traditional power supply, and more.
Even if you install the panels on your roof, it’s easy to detach them and set them up on the side to catch the sun.
If You Want to Save Money in the Long Run
The price tag on a gas generator may seem like a cost-effective power source, but the expenses pile up over time. And with rising fuel costs, your wallet may be hurting sooner than you’d think.
On the other hand, solar panels can be pricey to purchase upfront but cost you virtually nothing over time. You don’t have to pay for sun hours, after all. Not to mention, solar products are getting cheaper every year.
When Solar Power Is NOT Worth It on Your RV
What fun is road tripping if you can’t download an audiobook or even make hot food? A regular home draws power from the grid without issues — you don’t even need to think about it. But RVs are a bit trickier.
Solar power is a green and cost-effective solution to the mobile power problem, but there are some downsides. There may not be many reasons to pass up solar power functionality for your RV, but here are some factors worth considering.
If You Stop in Parks and Rest Stops
Many people who drive RVs and campers frequently stop at rest stops and parks. They want to get out, shower, change, grab a bite to eat, stretch their legs, and charge their devices. Some folks buy their RVs to visit all 423 National Parks in the US. Generally, these spots will have charging stations for all your gadgets.
Then again, not everyone wants to stop and join the crowd of other RVs. Sometimes, the decision to stop at these parks and rest stops is made out of sheer necessity because people don’t see an alternative.
With solar power, stopping at a park or rest stop for a health and rest refill can still be an excellent opportunity to go green. Recharge your Power Kit by letting your RV rest and soak up the sunlight.
If You Can’t Wait Through the “Solar Payback” Period
The so-called “solar payback” period is the time it takes to make back on your investment in solar energy. Once you purchase solar panels and a Power Kit, you will generate energy at virtually no cost. But the initial investment can be prohibitive for some. You should do a personal calculation to see if the investment is worth it.
The average payback period for a whole home solar installation is between six and ten years. But for RVs, the cost comes down because Power Kits are much smaller. Depending on how much energy you use, the payback period could be cut in half or even a third.
If You Don’t Drive Your RV Frequently
Some people buy a camper and only use it once a year. This group certainly doesn’t represent the majority of RV drivers, but solar may be an unnecessary investment for people who rarely use their RV.
The solar payback period stretches out when you get little to no use of the power kit. Then again, since Portable Power Kits are cheaper, easier to install, and easy to move around, you can use them for more than just powering the appliances inside your RV.
If You Don’t Mind the Buzz and Fumes of an Inverter Gas Generator
Inverter generators are noisy. They used to have the advantage over solar for size and portability, but modern portable power kits have given solar the edge. The EcoFlow Power Kit takes up less space thanks to its compact, five-in-one design.
Inverter generators can be a reliable and durable power source if you don’t mind the unpleasant noise they produce. Not to mention, gas generators produce noxious fumes and contribute to global warming through greenhouse emissions. But if you can live with that, you may not need solar.
Charge Up Your Life
RV or camper life just isn’t complete if you don’t have power.
The fun of road tripping in an RV is the ability to watch movies, cook meals, and power your smart gadgets while enjoying the freedom of the open road. But for that lifestyle to be comfortable, you need a robust and reliable power solution. Especially if you’re travelling in and out of remote areas, you’ll need a charge in case you need power off-grid. You can do that with a solar power kit, portable power station, or solar generator. Shop EcoFlow’s selection today for Power Kits for RVs, portable power stations, solar generators, and more.