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Intro to RV solar

How does solar work on my rv work?

Solar systems are virtually maintenance free, have no moving parts. Unlike some generators solar makes no noise, and does not require extra fuel to run. If you have the sun your panels will run. Rv solar works very similar to home solar. The solar cells absorb uv rays and creates electricity. The solar panels are wired into an inverter. The electricity goes to an inverter. Pre wired rvs already have one installed. The inverter is connected the battery control charger.  The inverter converts DC ( direct current) into AC (alternating current). The inverter is connected to a battery charge controller. The charge controller monitors the battery, automatically starts and stops the solar panels charging. Prevents your batteries from draining too low, prevents over charging. The battery charge controller is then connected to your battery. The solar only charges your batteries. The power produced by the rv solar kit is not a direct feed into your rv applicenes. The diagram below show how solar is wired into your rv. It shows both examples of roof mount and sidewall solar port. Your rv will likely have only one or the other. click for zoomed in pic.

Many rvs are pre wired for solar panels. There should be a sticker inside your rv telling you its pre wired. Some rvs are pre wired for roof mount rv solar kits. Others are pre wired thru the sidewall, and will need portable panels. You can still mount your panels on the roof and run the wires to the sidewall. If your rv is pre wires for a solar kit, you already have an inverter installed. And do not need to purchase one. If your rv is not pre wired for a rv solar kit, then you will need to purchase a inverter. Battery charge controllers are highly recommended to prevent overcharging of the battery. It also prevents the battery from draining to low. Prolonging the life of the battery. You could wire the converter directly t your batteries. Manually connect and disconnect. This leaves a good chance at over charging the batteries, batteries overheating. shortening the life of your battery. click image for zoom view.


How many amp hours do I need?

As your home away from home, your RV has many of the modern conveniences that you’ve become accustomed to. This includes lots of electrical appliances and devices. For a quick easy guide click here

First you will need to figure out what appliances you want to power. Then you need to determine how long you will use each appliance or device. Example a T.v. typically uses an average of 2 amps per hr. If you only plan on watching a movie before bed. The tme used is about 2.5 hrs. You take the 2 amps per hr and multiply by the number of hrs used. 2X2.5 = 4.4 amps needed for the t.v. You also need to factor in how many amps used to turn on the t.v. The chart below is based on average usage. Check all your appliances for the usage to get an accurate number of amps needed. Each 100w solar panel has a peak output of 5 amps per hr. On average five peak hours a day. So total amp output per panel is roughly 25-40 amps every 24 hrs. A typical r.v. battery will store around 90 amp hours.


Microwave 12.8 amps
Air Conditioner - 15,000 BTU 12.5 amps
Electric Water Heater – 6 gallon 12.5 amps
Toaster 10 amps
Hair Dryer 10 amps
Electric Frying Pan 10 amps
Electric Coffee Pot 10 amps
TV 2 amps
Crock Pot 1.5 amps
Heating Pad .5 amps

Most electrical products note how many watts or amps it takes to operate them. If you only see watts divide the watts by 120 (volts) and you’ll have the amps. Reverse that – multiply amps by 120 (volts) and you’ll have the watts.

 How many panels do I need?

To determine how many rv solar panels you will need you first need to make sure your battery can store enough amp hours to cover the amount of amp hours you need. Deep cycle batteries are rated on how many amp hours it can store (AH). Retainable charge might also be on the battery (RC). If you cannot find the AH rating you can use the Rc rating. Times the Rc rating by 60 percent, .60. This is the maximum number of amp hours your battery can store. If you need or want more you will need to either upgrade the current battery to a higher amp hour rating, or add a second battery to increase the total amp hours stored.

  1. Next you need to calculate on many amp hours you will need to power your appliances and devices.
  2. Find out how many amps it takes to start each device/appliance  Add each appliance together.
  3. Next find out how many amps each device uses per hr.
  4. Next you need to multiply the amps used per hour by the number of hours you plan to use the appliance or device. Now you know how much each appliance will need.
  5. Add up each appliance/devices to determine how many total amp hours you will need to run all your gadgets.
  6. Add the total number of amps needed to start appliance to total hours need to run. This is how many total amp hours needed to power your rv or trailer.

Rv solar kits usually come with 100w panels. During peak hours you average about 5 amps per hour. Most days and conditions provide about 5 peak hours. You will get about 25 amp hours generated from one 100w solar panel. Weather conditions and solar cell efficiency rates can either increase or decrease production. If your camping on a 90 or hotter day your panels will go above 120 degrees and will loose efficiency. You may need to add an extra panel.

Zamp solar provides a great all in one solar rv kit, great for new pre wired rvs. The 170 watt roof mount solar kit has everything you need to go solar. If you are new to solar rv and unsure how much you will need, check out this rv kit https://yageroutdoor.com/collections/r-v-solar/products/170-watt-rv-solar-roof-mount-kit. This will provide roughly 35 amp hours a day, and can have additional panels added to provide up to 120 amp hours a day. 

 This is a simple chart to help guide you. If you are struggling to figure out how many panels you need, this chart will help simplify the process of going solar. Reminder Solar recharges your battery. Your battery storage determines how much power your rv can store.

Size of Rv # of batteries Appliances used Recommend Zamp kit
      (1) 12v 

90 watt roof mount kit1007

(1-2) 12v 


115 watt roof mount Kit1003        

(2) 12v or

(2-4) 6v


170 watt roof mount    Kit1005

(2-4) 12v or

(4-6) 6v 

170 watt roof mount dual batteries   Kit2015

(2-4) 12v or

(4-8) 6v

680 watt roof mount

 If you have any questions or comments you can contact us at yageroutdoor@support.com.

Panel warranty info. 25 year production guaranteed.