Modern RVs aren't the simple camper vans of the old days, when a radio, a few lights, and maybe a coffee maker was the only gadgets you’d need to the plugin. In any suburban home, new motorhomes have all the creature comforts you'd find.
All the big appliances you'd like are lightweight versions: LED TVs, coffee makers, microwaves, refrigerators, dishwashers, a boiler, even clothes washers, and dryers. To use these, you need to utilize energy and to know how to hook up solar panels to RV batteries. What’s a better way than using solar power to your advantage?
How much solar power do I need for my RV?
Solar panels are rated for their optimum efficiency. In ideal conditions, a 100-watt solar panel can generate 100 watts. The amount of solar power the panels actually produce is determined by the weather, temperature, time of day, and other factors. The normal rule of thumb is that a solar panel of 100 watts will generate about 30 amp-hours per day.
In amp-hours, you need to balance your battery capacity with your solar output in watts. For example, a 300 amp-hour camper battery will require about 300 watts of solar power.
Bear in mind, on cloudy days, solar panels experience a 75-90% drop in performance. So, it's nice to have slightly more than you need when it comes to solar power (about 20% cushion, if possible, to account for less than optimal conditions).
The amount of solar power for RV depends on-
If I want to manage the full distribution of power in my RV, the first question arises- how much solar power do I need for my RV?
To determine that, you'll first need to decide your standard wattage requirements on an average day in your RV. It’s a significant first step in deciding the solar panels and square footage to power your RV. The average solar panel used on the majority of RVs ranges from 100 to 160 watts.
A solar panel with a capacity of about 100 watts is capable of generating an average of about six amps per peak-sun-hour. You can also convert this to about 30 amp-hours a day. You’d most likely need two solar panels (around 100 watts each) in that scenario to recharge or give your RV full power on an average day.
That’s how I know how much solar power do I need for my RV.
How to hook up solar panels to RV batteries?
Before you get to know how to hook up solar panels to RV batteries, you’ll need to consider some facts first.
Depending on your rig's make and model, what kind of panels, controller, and inverter you bought, and more, the details for setting up your RV solar panels can vary.
The solar panels come in different sizes together with the details above. You can even buy extra ones and add more later without a whole device overhaul. In order to learn a flawless procedure on how to hook up solar panels to RV batteries, you should remember the steps below-
You should hook up the charge controller of the solar panel to the battery. To link the two, you might use any general stranded copper core wire.
Make sure you lead the wire to the charge controller battery terminal and match the + and - to the + and- battery. Make sure to tightly screw inside the controller terminal in the exposed wire. Then the battery rings are screwed to the battery.
Please connect your solar panel to the charging controller. We recommend that you first connect the adapter kit to your panel, then follow the + or-sign coming from the panels' leads and match it on the charge controller with the + and-sign.
At this stage, be careful because if the panel is inserted incorrectly, the reverse polarity and shortness of the system can cause damage to the panels or controllers.
Now you should have the idea of how to hook up solar panels to RV batteries.
You can also get a comprehensive list of the most suitable battery for your RV solar system.
How many 12 volt batteries to run an Air Conditioner?
The required size of the battery bank depends on the amount of power, duration, and what kind of batteries you have. Just to start up, an air conditioner needs a lot of electricity even to run for an hour too.
However, it is feasible to run conditioning on batteries. To help offset the battery draw, you just need a lot of battery power, along with a lot of solar panels. Besides all the other stuffs, you’ll need to determine how many amp-hours you’ll devote to your AC unit, then add a battery bank sufficient to support the unit.
You may wonder how many 12 volt batteries to run an air conditioner. But a 12-volt battery doesn’t generate AC electricity, which is where an inverter comes in and where only solar panels mean solar stops.
You’ll need an inverter to invert your batteries' DC power to AC power if you want to operate 120-volt AC appliances.
You’ll also need a much larger battery bank than the single 12-volt deep-cycle battery that is common on most RVs. A standard lithium 12-volt battery, delivering 100 amp-hours, weighs approximately 30 pounds. To run two air conditioning units for 8 hours, you’d require nearly 16 to 20 flooded-cell, 12-volt batteries, at 100 amp-hours each.
Say an average of 1200W per hour is drawn from the air conditioner. That’s 100 Amps in a 12V system. So, you can theoretically run the air conditioner for about 1.5 hours before you need to refuel your batteries if you’ve a good quality lithium deep cycle battery. Take the time to recharge those batteries regularly.
The size of your A/C unit and how much wattage it takes to start and operate. Together with the size of the panels you mount, these two variables will determine how many panels you need to efficiently use solar power for the power supply of RV air conditioners.
From this, you’ll get the idea of how many 12 volt batteries to run an air conditioner at your RV.