Does anyone run their RV electric on solar?

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Jul 25, 2006
A friend of my hubby's says she runs her RV electricity on solar and that it does really well for her. She says it saves her from running her generator (she doesn't run anything but her lights and tv from it, and doesn't really run her air conditioning).

Does anyone here have any experience with use of solar energy to run the general electricity in an RV? Good or bad points, anecdotes and things you might have read on bathroom walls in reststops all appreciated.
You can get by with just solar power, IF you are frugal with your electricity use and IF you spend all your time in places that have sunshine.  Most users of solar power have found that they still need a generator to augment the solar when their power needs exceed the solar capabilities and for those cloudy days.  It's very hard to cost justify solar power over any but a very long term.
Hi, Ned! Thanks for responding so quickly. We generally only use power at night because during the day we're usually out hiking or about doing something else (right now the kids are excited about earning Junior Park Ranger badges, so we're out hitting the trails). I really hate running the generator. It's just so noisy and gas is at a premium now. I appreciate the information! It's definitely something we're going to have to think about.
Do the math but you can buy a lot of gasoline for the cost of a suitable solar system.  If you're serious about living "off the grid" look in to wind power as a supplement to solar if you will frequent places that have sufficient wind.
Hey! I didn't even know about wind power as an alternative! How fun! I'll be sure to check it out! Thanks so much for your help!
Just to be sure you aren't overlooking some points...

Solar power is a battery charger, not  a direct power source. You charge batteries during the sunlight hours with solar power but you run your lights, appliances, etc. from the batteries. How long you can run depends on the number and size of the batteries as well as your consumption.  If you want to operate 120VAC appliances (tv, coffee pot, etc) you will also need an inverter to convert the 12 VDC to 120 VAC. 

The number and size of solar panels determines how fast you can recharge the batteries.  If the direct sunlight is limited in hours or at a poor angle for efficient conversion, you may need larger or multiple panels to convert enough solar to replace the previous day/nights usage.  More & larger batteries can compensate to some extent, by storing more reserve power. If you have enough batteries, you don't even need the solar - just use the batteries and let them recharge as you drive home from your camping trip (or when you reach a site that has electrical power available).  Adding batteries is usually much cheaper than adding solar panels and you generally need them along with the solar anyway. So I suggest starting out with more/larger batteries and a suitable inverter before you decide to add solar. You may find you never need it.
We added solar to the motorhome (thanks, Wally!!) not because we were looking to save money but because I really do not like listening to the generator. It has worked great for us and we will give it a real test this January in Quartzsite. It also came in very handy while we were at a convention in Pittsburgh....we stayed 9 nights in a hotel while the motorhome sat in the parking lot and the solar panels kept the batteries all nicely charged up. We did add batteries (3? 4? sorry, not on the pink list of jobs so I don't really know how many Mike added). And we do live in a nice sunny part of the country.

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