Okay. You have survived the uncertainty, the quarantine, and the restrictions that dominated 2020. Now you feel this overwhelming urge to savor the freedom of the open road.
So, you paid a visit to Trotters RV in Kingman, northwest Arizona’s largest RV sales and service center. After finding the ideal trailer or motor coach, you had it serviced and are ready to hit the road.
One hundred years ago you would improve upon perfection with the addition of a kerosene stove. Fifty years ago you might splurge and add a microwave oven or satellite dish. A tsunami of technological development has dramatically magnified the options available to enhance the RV life.
In recent years a popular subject of discussion among RV enthusiasts is solar power. Are solar panels feasible? Are they worth the investment? What about maintenance or installation? The answers are a bit complicated.
The cost of quality solar panels has declined in recent years. At the same time there have been dramatic improvements in regards to quality and durability. Still, solar panels are but one part of a system.
The cost for three or four 100-watt panels represents a sizable investment. To this you can add the cost of several deep-cycle solar lithium ion batteries to store power. And you will also need a controller to regulate electrical flow and prevent overcharging the batteries. An inverter to turn DC power into AC power will also be needed.
Still, there are distinct advantages to adding solar panels to your trailer or RV. And increasingly portable solar power units are becoming a feasible option. As a bonus portable units often have a built in inverter.
The most obvious advantage of adding solar power is added freedom. You are no longer tethered by a cord. And you are not restricted to locations with hookups.
Depending on how often you camp, the money saved on space fees can offset the expense of solar equipment. Another bonus is silence. Imagine enjoying the great outdoors without neighbors or the sound of a generator.
Another box to check in the “pro” column is the fact that solar systems are virtually maintenance-free. There are no moving parts. That means there is almost nothing to break or wear out. Aside from batteries, once a system is properly installed it is feasible to expect decades of trouble free service.
And there is one other advantage to consider. If in the future you decide to expand the system to produce more power, it is a simple add on. There is no need to replace the entire system, or make expensive upgrades.
So, is solar power a feasible or practical option? Yes. But the caveat is that it depends on your individual needs. Before making a decision discuss options with the professionals at Trotters RV. Perhaps they can simplify the entire process. After all, some newer trailers and RVs are wired for solar panels. Some even have solar panels installed.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America