RV solar panels for campers are becoming more and more popular with Airstream owners who are interested in keeping their homes away from home as up to date as possible. Upgrading to solar power can make your Airstream even more efficient and the cost of the solar panels will be offset by the energy savings you see with each passing year. Nor only will you able to enjoy having electricity no matter where you are, you can run your entire Airstream on naturally harvested sunlight!
What Are the Benefits of Adding Solar to your Airstream?
Airstream campers are some of the most energy-efficient RVs on the market. They are built to last and designed to be as energy-efficient as possible. Adding a set of RV solar panels to the mix, not only improves efficiency and reduces expenses, it also allows you to live completely utility free if you choose to do so. When RV solar panels are installed, they continuously work to recharge the camper’s batteries, even when the batteries are being used. This makes it an ideal choice if you choose to boondock and camp in areas where there are no electric hookups or alternative sources of fuel for your RV generator.
One of the best things about relying on RV solar power is the cost-effectiveness they offer. Once you pay for your panels, the money you save from no longer having to pay for outside electric service will start to pay you back. Solar panels for your Airstream are an investment in your future and, with proper care, guarantee you years of solar energy usage without paying for what you don’t use.
How Much/Many RV Solar Panels Do You Need to Add?
In most cases, two RV solar panels will provide you with all of the solar power your Airstream will need. Six amps are produced every hour from a 100-watt RV solar panel. This energy production can result in as many as 30 to 36 amps on a daily basis. Installing two solar panels will provide you with approximately 60 amps each day. It’s important to know how much energy it costs to run your Airstream every day. This includes during other seasons when your energy use may be higher. It’s also good to remember that the bigger your Airstream, the more panels you will need.
If you aren’t sure how much energy your Airstream uses, carefully monitor your energy usage to determine how many amps you use on a regular, day to day basis. If you travel in remote areas and you will not have access to any other form of power, you may want to install a third/fourth panel, especially if your energy usage increases during different seasons of the year.
Should You Do Portable (Suitcase) Solar or Permanent Solar on the Roof?
Portable solar panels, also called suitcase solar panels. offer several advantages over their permanent counterparts. First and foremost, solar panels that are permanently attached to the roof of your Airstream risk being damaged by hail, falling tree limbs, overhangs, and other natural elements. Although having the solar panels permanently attached is an added convenience, it can lead to costly repairs down the road.
Portable RV solar panels can be easily moved to capture every extra minute of peak sunlight. Permanent panels remain in one place and normally have a peak harvest time of approximately 6 to 7 hours, depending on where you are located. Another added convenience of portable, or suitcase, panels is that they can be protected from the elements while you are traveling.
What Are Common Questions to Ask When Upgrading to Solar?
If you are unfamiliar with how solar energy works, this should be one of the first questions you ask. Before adding anything to your Airstream, it’s a good idea to do your solar panel research. Learn as much as you can in terms of how many solar panels will you need to be able to service the amount of energy you use in a day. Knowing the amount of energy you use will help you purchase the right number of solar panels without paying for an abundance of energy you may not use.
The next question has to do with maintenance and proper care for your new RV solar panels. Once you have upgraded to solar, you will need to maintain your solar panels just like you do with any other appliance or equipment on your Airstream. With proper care and maintenance, your solar panels will provide you with all of the energy you will need for several years to come.
What Are Some Problems People Run Into When They Upgrade to Solar?
Microcracks and snail trail contamination are two of the most common problems with RV solar panels. Microcracks or tears can occur in the solar cells and are commonly caused by rough handling during shipping. They can also be caused by taking your Airstream over very rough terrain. Cracks may grow over time and reduce the efficiency of your panels.
Snail trails are a form of contamination that occurs in panels that have been in production for long periods of time. As the manufacturing process continues, this type of imperfection becomes more noticeable. This can also be the result of a defect in the metallization silver paste used on the front of the solar cells. Hot spots are also a problem and normally occur in areas where weakened solder connections result in overloaded sections within the panel itself.
How Hard Is It to Upgrade To Solar or Do You Need to Have Solar Professionally Installed?
Installing RV solar panels on your Airstream is a process that is best performed by professionals. Although the job may be an easy one for someone who has a background in technical or electronic engineering, it can be a nightmare for someone who knows little about the mechanics of how solar panels for Airstreams work. Installing the RV solar panels are only part of the process. You must also know how to install the inverter, the battery monitor, and the wire harness that is needed to tie it all together.
Upgrading your Airstream with energy-efficient RV solar panels is a great way to save money and utilize nature’s most powerful fuel supply. Solar panels are an investment that will start to pay off the first time you turn on a light switch. No matter where you are or what other fuel sources are available, you can always count on your RV solar panels to provide you with all of the energy you will need to power your Airstream camper.
If you’re planning on boon docking or dry-camping for extended periods of time, make sure that your RV propane tanks are ready to go off-the grid. Make sure you have recently sanitized your fresh water tank.