rv how-to-tips

An Easy Explanation of the Components in a Solar Panel System

Hi, Michelle here, and today Laurie and I are dry camping, so I want to share with you some of the decisions we had to make when we set Emma up for solar power. First of all, there’s three components.

The solar panel itself, we chose to have one that could plug into the 10-amp plug that many of us have on our trailers. That meant this could not be more than 130 watts. So that’s the first thing, and that’s an easy decision. Of course, if you want to put it on the roof, that’s a whole different thing. We wanted to do this so we could face the solar panel to the sun and have some flexibility that way.

Component number two, when we bought our RV, it came with a standard car battery, and that really is not sufficient if you’re going to go dry camping, so you have to look at your battery. There are two solutions in our case: One was changing it to two 6-volt batteries or choosing a lithium-ion battery. We chose a lithium-ion battery. Both of these components and the inverter are from Go Power.

Now, the solar panel brings energy into the battery. The energy is stored in the battery, but now the battery has to use an inverter to make it work with the assigned plugs in your RV. So in our cargo bay is the 2,000-watt inverter from Go Power.

So those are the three components we had to get to make the RV work for us. So if you get as confused with watts and amps as I do, you’ll find it very helpful to talk to the customer service people at Go Power.

Now let’s go inside so I can show you the inside part. Welcome to our humble abode. This is the control panel that shows you how much battery charge you have. This also was from Go Power. It comes with the inverter. When you have the inverter installed, the person installing it will say, “Which plugs do you want to dedicate to the inverter?” We chose mainly the extension cord near the recliners, because that’s where we do our work, but also the two plugs near the bed, and they also added the two plugs outside, so that’s pretty cool. But what we didn’t know– and it’s not a problem, but what you need to know is that, once those are dedicated to the inverter, they’re not gonna work when you plug it into an electric pedestal. They’re always gonna work off the battery. But when you’re plugged into your electric pedestal, your battery is charging, and when you’re running your vehicle, your battery is charging. So we dry camp two nights in a row, at most, right now. We haven’t really tested it for multiple days, but I don’t think we’re gonna have a problem. But if you do, Go Power also supplies a toggle switch, so you will have the ability to turn it all to electric.

So that’s it. Again, the three components that we got from Go Power is the 130-watt solar panel that works in the 10-amp plug, the lithium-ion battery, or two 6-volt batteries, and the inverter. And that’s it.

This is Michelle. I hope that helps some of you