Solar How-To - Steps For Installing Solar Panels on an
Thousands of recreational vehicle owners have joined the
movement toward a greener earth. Thanks to solar how-to
technology, RV owners have more options when it comes to
travel. More of them than ever are harnessing the energy of the
sun instead of relying on non-renewable energy sources. Using
solar energy to power a camper or fifth-wheel is both
environmentally friendly and cost-efficient.
RV solar kits make converting to solar power convenient and
economical. Do-it-yourselfers with advanced handyman skills can
save even more money installing their own solar panels. It's
important to note that installing solar panels may not be a job
for a novice. Incorrect installation could lead to poor
performance or damage to the vehicle. Self-installation may
sometimes nullify a warranty. Be sure to clarify this before
The first thing the advanced do-it-yourselfer should do is
assess his power needs. This can be considered a "pre-step" in
the installation process. Determining power needs will reveal
how many solar panels are needed to deliver the correct amount
of energy. Those panels must actually be able to fit on top of
the vehicle and still meet those needs.
The panels will need to be installed in a place that doesn't
disrupt the function of the vehicle's roof components. It helps
to find a place where wiring can be run easily, such as close
to a vent. Solar panels must be approximately six to eight
inches from the edges of the roof.
1) Start by disconnecting all power sources in the vehicle.
This includes the battery.
2) Cover the solar panels. Simply leave the wrapper on if
the panels come wrapped in paper or cardboard. Otherwise, cover
them with something non-transparent. The panels will begin to
generate a charge prematurely if not covered.
3) Prepare the installation location by marking the
perimeters of the panels on the roof. A laser sight can help
ensure that the panels line up.
4) Drill holes where needed for the mounting hardware. Make
sure to locate and avoid any interior wiring before
5) Insert the mounting hardware into the holes and secure.
Fill extra space around holes with sealant if needed.
6) Place the solar panels into the mounting hardware. Secure
or tighten according the directions on the packaging. Different
types of panels have different hardware so follow instructions
carefully to avoid damage.
7) Install the regulator in the interior of the vehicle.
It's usually best to mount it within a wall.
8) Guide wiring from the panel(s) on the roof to the
regulator inside the vehicle and connect. Follow instructions
carefully to avoid injury and ensure optimal performance.
9) Connect wires from the regulator to the battery. Again,
follow instructions carefully. Polarity must be correct.
10) Reconnect the battery.
11) Uncover the solar panels. Power should begin generating
right away if the sun is shining even partially.
The guiding principles behind all types of solar kits are
the same. The variations are found in the mounting hardware.
Do-it-yourselfers should have a thorough understanding of how
the hardware works before beginning. Proper installation is
critical to the performance of the system. Human error may
result in damage to the system itself or injury to people.
Improperly secured panels may loosen during travel or break
away altogether, leading to an accident.
Solar kits can be expanded as needs change as long as there
is space atop the roof to install another panel. Simply add
another when power demands increase. RV solar kits typically
cost between one and five thousand dollars. This may sound like
a great deal of money at first. However, frequent travelers
almost always find that the kit pays for itself within several
months to a few years.
Besides saving money, solar-powered RV travel is not reliant
upon finding places to camp that have electrical outlet access.
Even remote camping becomes a viable possibility for those with
the desire for an extreme experience. Solar how-to technology
opens up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to
enjoying the environment. It also helps to ensure that the
environment is there for long-term appreciation.
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