How to Hook Up Solar Panels to RV Batteries | Guidelines

People owning an RV always come across the tension of how to hook up solar panels to RV batteries. That’s because hooking up Solar Panels to RV batteries will help you make the RV’s batteries stay charged up for longer.

Therefore, all of the RV owners install Solar Panels on the batteries right after getting RVs. Well, I guess, that’s why you’re here.

Setting up Solar Panels might seem like a tough task for you as a beginner. However, we got your back with the perfect and easiest way to hook up Solar panels to RV batteries all by yourself.

So, why waste a penny over a mechanic for that? Just follow our lead and guidelines and you will be all good and done with this process.

How to Hook Up Solar Panels to RV Batteries
How to Hook Up Solar Panels to RV Batteries

What Is a Solar Panel and How Does It Work for RV Batteries?

Before, moving on to all the procedures, you better know some facts about RV Solar Panels. This might get over all the hesitations out of your mind (like me, I always double-check!).

And also make sure you have your hands on the Best Solar Panels For RV Battery Charging!

Just as you that Solar Panels are some charge or current storing panels with Photovoltaic effects turning solar energy into electric charge. RV Solar Panels are just the same as the Solar Panels. That’s powering up the RV batteries with electric charges using the Sun rays!

Thereby, you can stay without the worries of the RV batteries getting drained up while driving or traveling long distances.

Now, let’s get ahead to know about how the RV Solar Panel will work?

On the above, we just said that the RV Solar Panels fulfills the same purpose of Solar System absorbing sunlight as current or charge.

How to Hook Up Solar Panels to RV Batteries
How the RV Solar Panel will work?

So, if you set up some solar cell systems on top of your RV and connect them with the batteries, these will keep on storing the Solar energy in the battery till it’s full. Well, that’s, while the Solar cells are out in the open and under the sun, or so long as the sunlight hits on them.

  • The solar energy transforms into the Direct Current electricity (DC) that stores charges in the RV batteries. You can use the charge right away or store it for using it later on.
  • Further, the RV batteries usually process on 12 volts, however, if more volts are necessary it can be changed into the Alternative Current of 120 volts with an inverter.
  • By using the DC charge you can operate lights, coolers, and other electronics of your RV. On the other hand with the AC power, you can process with a coffee machine.
  • Moreover, you can use AC 120 volts charge only by connecting it with the generator or RV shore power. Thus, you can use the stored solar power for anything in the RV.

Things to Know About RV Solar System Before Installing Solar Panels to RV Batteries

Any task gets easier if you know the core details about it from the beginning. Thereby, before proceeding to hook up Solar Cells with your RV power system, get ahead to learn about the components of Solar Panels.

RV Solar Panels

Well, you pretty much know the flat structure of a solar panel. The Solar System Panels get set up on the top/roof of the RV. From there the panels can absorb and collect solar energy from the Sun rays.

Moreover, the energy comes in as solar cells, then while transports to the battery bank by going through the charge controller.

(Rather than laying the panels flatly, mounting them in the right angle towards the Sunrays gives better experience)

Charge Controller:

It works like a baseplate that mounts the solar power from the panels to the Bank Batteries and Inverter. The connection goes like Panel System > Charge Controller > Bank Battery and Inverters.

As well the main purpose of a charge controller is to maintain the amount of consumed solar charge according to the RV batteries to avoid overcharge or solar power overload.

(For example, most of the Solar System uses MPPT or PWM charge controller for more efficiency)

Battery Bank:

The core power resource center of an RV or any machine/vehicle is the Battery Bank. Well, it technically saves or stores up the solar power and charge from the solar panels, and without it, none can do.

Furthermore, as the Solar panel collects quite an amount of charge by uncountable cycles of the process any average battery bank is not good.

(Lithium-ion batteries are far more compatible for Solar Cell Systems than other acid-lead batteries)

Inverter:

An inverter generally transforms the DC energy to AC charge and vice-versa.The RV batteries usually avail 12 DC (Correct Current) charge for operating 12 volts cables/ports inside your RV.

That’s, however, to power up the AC Appliance ports that aren’t 12 volts DC electricity-based you’ll need the 120 volts AC system.

(To operate with both AC and DC electricity appliance ports inside the RV, you need to set up the Inverter right next to the Battery Bank)

Specifically Which & How Many Solar Panels You Need for the RV?

Well, any kind of Solar System will be able to simply operate the RV vehicles. So, you don’t need to hassle over which Solar Panels to get for your RV.

But, there’s this tiny issue with some non-RV-specific Home Solar Panels. That’s some of the Solar Panels work with the PWM charge controller, which cannot be utilized for high voltage electricity. So, you better either go for the RV-specific Solar Cells or the general Solar Panels with MPPT charge controllers (MPPT contains a high voltage rating feature).

Now the fact of how many solar panels your RV requires for better charge storage. To choose the precise number of Solar Panel Systems according to how many Solar panels your RV requires! Therefore, it also regards how much solar power you need to for a comfortable and proper boondock.

Therefore, typically you should look at the two prime factors to know how many Solar Cells Your RV Needs?!

How Much Energy (Watt-Hours) You Need to Use:

You must find out how much power you utilize per day. You can find out the exact amount of it in many ways. Well for me I like the mathematical method.

The calculation to estimate how much energy you use on a particular electric device states like-  suppose you use a computer for three hours a day, that takes 70 watts-hour charge. So, the energy consumption rate will be 3 hours ×70 watts = 210 watts-hours a day.

How Much Power/Charge Your Panels Can Store in the Battery Bank:

It’s estimated that the 100 watt-hour Solar Panel will provide 350 watt-hour charge a day. Well, this can be different regarding time, location, place, the angle of the sun or panels, so on. So, on rainy/foggy days, you might not get the estimated amount of power. That’s why it’s better to store charge while keeping high possibilities of casualties.

Moreover, another fact is that how many batteries you require for storing the significant amount of charge. Well, a 12-volt lithium battery can store up to 1200 watts per hour.

Well, rather than calculating everything about batteries, watts, and energy, some people choose the easiest at to measure their power usage. Just simply monitor your RV butteries’ charge consumption rate for a day while enjoying boondocks somewhere.

How to Hook Up Solar Panels to RV Batteries – Proper Instructions

Since you know it all about what type of Solar Panels and how many panels your RV needs, let’s proceed on how to hook up Solar Panels to RV batteries!

Thereby, although the size of the Solar Panels varies the process of installing Solar Panels is just the same. Therefore, without much experience with electronic components, you can still perfectly wire up it all.

Now before that, first you need to buy things you need for setting up a Solar Panel in an RV. Well, you can get the RV Solar Panel equipment/gears separately or just buy a kit with everything in it.

So, the things you should ensure of buying for installing Solar Panels in an RV are below (if you get a Solar System kit make sure these are present) –

  • One or a few Solar Panels (if you need more than so be it).
  • MPPT Charge Controller ( PWM charge controller can become problematic for some Solar Systems with high voltage).
  • Inverter (Of course you’ll want to use the stored solar electricity on both DC and AC appliances).
  • Battery Bank and Battery Monitor (These are quite handy for storing and monitoring how much power you have or spent).
  • Electrical wiring harness with some connectors brackets, adapters (for attaching, hooking, and mounting the components).
Step by step Guidelines to install Solar Panels in the RV Batteries
Step 1:

Set up the RV Solar Panels on top of the RV and it’s better if you mount them with the right angle directing towards the Sun.

Step 2:

Now, connect the MPPT or PWM charge controller right next to the RV batteries (or as near you can).

Step 3:

Then, attach the wiring harness with the Solar panels and trace it into the RV and over to the MPPT charge controller. Make sure to set up fuses and circuit breakers on the wires for the connection to be running completely. (If your RV consists of the vents and hole wire the harness through them unless simply drill some holes to the places you’ll run the wire).

Step 4:

After that, mount all the wires from the charge controller, then connect the wires to the battery bank. (You will need to install another fuse on the wires for the connection to be proper, the fuse must be bigger than the charge controller’s designated current rate).

Step 5:

Now, you just need to plug in the Solar Panels with the MPPT charge controller while wearing a safety uniform to avoid sparks getting on you. (before the plugin process, you better double-check all the positive-negative wires connections one last time).

Step 6:

Lastly, all you need to do is mounting a current inverter next to the RV batteries with wirings and fuses running through it.

Step 7:

Voila! Your RV batteries are perfectly hooked up to the RV solar panels. Now, enjoy simply enjoy the free solar energy rather than spending money on new batteries.

Last Verdict

As a person who loves boondocks by riding his own RV, it’s wise for you to install RV Solar Batteries. That’s why to learn how to hook up Solar Panels to RV batteries we tried out best to avail with the correct and the simplest methods.

Therefore, we know how overwhelming it can get when you’re working with electronic appliances. So, we hope you will be cautious, and carefully follow our instructions and guidelines to enjoy the perfect outcome.