When it comes to getting uninterrupted power supply in an RV, solar panels are the top choices of RVers. Though generators already hold a strong position as an RV power supplier, the solar panel will be a cost-effective and eco-friendly solution for regular boondockers.
If you want to install a solar panel on your new RV or planning to switch from a generator, you must know how much does it cost to install solar panels on an RV.
Benefits of RV Solar Panel Installation
Listed below are the plus points of having a solar panel for your RV:
- With a solar panel, your ears will get some peace as you can catch a break from the noisy generators.
- Environment-friendly electricity generator with fewer carbon emissions.
- Solar panels always involve little maintenance costs.
- It does not need any fuel, which is good for the environment and your pocket.
- It becomes cost-effective if you use it regularly.
How Much Does It Cost to Install Solar Panels on an RV
The solar panels for RV cost will depend on the type or size of the panels that you want to install on your motorhome. Here is an outline of three types of solar panels and their costs.
Remember that prices will vary based on the brands and the time of the year, so make sure to check everything before deciding to purchase. Here’s a cost breakdown of how much does it cost to install solar panels on an RV:
1. Small Rooftop RV Solar System
It is the lowest-capacity solar panel for an RV, but still suitable for off-the-grid camping in a small camper. This package contains a solar battery charger and a 110 volt AC power component provided by an inverter.
The installation of this type of solar system is not tough at all. Use heavy-duty cables to connect the inverter to the batteries. Now, you have to run a power strip from the inverter to anywhere inside the rig.
Plugging the AC appliances into the power strip is a better idea than taking power from the wall outlets. Be careful about not putting much pressure on the inverter by operating too many things simultaneously.
Small Solar Panel Kit and Price
If you are willing to purchase an RV solar panel package of 150 Watts, it will cost you around $430 to $440.
You can extend the package by adding another solar panel of 300 or 450 Watts and with a big-size charge controller. The package will include these items:
- A solar panel of 150 Watts
- Mounting brackets
- Charge controller
- Modified sine wave inverter
- Cables and connectors
- Heavy-duty cables
- Power strip
2. Portable Solar Power Folding Suitcase
A portable solar power package, which you can fold like a suitcase, is a popular option for the weekenders and seasonal RVers. As you can join the parts together, it is easy to fold them for carrying or storing like a suitcase.
It is also a convenient alternative for the boondockers who are not comfortable handling the electrical things. The self-contained nature of this solar panel works as its plus point.
If you sell your present trailer and get a new one, you can fit the same solar panel to your new RV. Or, you can sell the solar panel too with the RV and install a roof-mounted solar system later.
Portable Folding Solar Panel Kit and Price
These suitcase solar panel packages are available in all sizes, but kits between 120 and 200 Watts are a reasonable choice. An estimated cost for a portable solar panel suitcase kit is $670 to $680. The package will include:
- Portable solar panel suitcase package of 120 Watts
- Modified sine wave inverter of 1100 Watts
- Heavy-duty cables input DC into the inverter
- Power strip to transfer AC from the inverter
3. Big Solar Power System
This solar panel is best suited for the full-time campers who do not want to waste money by connecting to costly hookups in RV parks all the time. These heavy-duty solar panels ensure uninterrupted electricity for all your RV appliances, offering you the best camping experience.
The inverter of large-size solar panels has a built-in transfer switch. Therefore, you can directly connect the inverter into the RV AC wiring system and plug the appliances to the standard wall outlets.
Big Solar Power Kit and Price
This panel is costlier than all other solar panels. A 600-watt RV solar installation cost will be $4100 or above. There are chances that you will find it difficult to install by yourself, so it is wise to keep a budget for the installation work too. Big solar system installation will cost you around $1,500 to $2,500. The labor costs will depend on the difficulty of the installation work.
- 4 solar panel units of 150 Watts
- 4 Mounting brackets
- Magnum 2kw inverter/charger
- Outback FlexMax 80 solar charge controller
- MC4 branch connectors
- MC4 connector tool
- 4 units of 6-volt golf cart batteries
- Cables and connectors
- Battery cables for battery wiring
- Heavy-duty cables
Should You Invest in a Solar System for RV?
After getting an idea about how much does it cost to install solar panels on an RV, you must be thinking whether to invest in this power system. Think about these points before making the purchase:
- When you stay in campgrounds and parks with hookups, you don’t need a complete solar system.
- If you are out in your RV on during the weekends or holidays, or a limited time, a complete RV solar system will be a financial loss. Instead, you can opt for a smaller solar system of 100 Watts.
- If you are a boondocker who camps or parks in places without an electrical facility, you need a complete RV solar system. Spending on a package that includes solar panels, a battery, charge controller, and the inverter will turn out to be useful in the long run.
By switching to renewable energy like solar panels, you can help the environment to a great extent. But before proceeding, you should have an idea about how much does it cost to install solar panels on an RV. Install solar panels only if you stay off the hookups for a long time. Otherwise, you will not get the desired return of investment from this installation.