Did you know there’s more than one way to add solar capabilities to your RV? I am continually amazed at the number of campers and RVers I have encountered who have never heard of a solar generator or know what it can do.
While on my long, long RV trip, I quickly lost count of times neighbors asked “What’s that?” or came over to check out my portable solar panels, not knowing that such a thing was possible.
Sure, some people, especially larger rigs, will want to install permanent solar.
However, depending on your RVing style, a solar generator may hold some enticing advantages over installing solar panels on your RV’s roof and then purchasing and installing the inverter and controls and monitors associated with them.
To begin with, solar generators come in various sizes, so depending on how much power you need, there probably is an option for you. There is the possible exception of running your air conditioner, although it can be done with a large enough generator and some modifications such as a SoftStart.
My Jackery 1500 solar generator keeps my devices charged and keeps my small appliances running, including fans, a small heater, coffee grinder, blender and the like. I even use it to trickle-charge the house batteries while boondocking. Pretty much everything except the air conditioner.
When boondocking, I get into a rhythm of when to put out my four solar panels in order to recharge and be at or near 100 percent stored power come evenings.
Of course, the weather has to cooperate. At least to some degree. You can pull some power most any rain-free day, even when overcast, but it will greatly reduce your power-generating capacity.
If you do require a lot of power, or you run your A/C a lot, then an installed solar system might be a better option for you. (Or a solar system and gas generator.) But otherwise, consider a solar generator.
7 advantages of a solar generator over installed solar on an RV
Quicker and easier: Professionally installed solar can be costly and involves mounting panels on your roof and installing wiring and controls in your rig. Things can and sometimes do go wrong, and the process can take a while before all the work gets done. Conversely, you can take a solar generator out of the box and be fully charged and ready to use in a few hours. Zero installation needed.
Portable: The solar generator and its power need not stay in your RV. Both within your RV and outside of it, solar generators are incredibly versatile. Take it outside to power outdoor parties; ditto on the boat. Even when at home, you have a backup plan should the power ever go out. This is also advantageous if you won’t be keeping your present RV for long. You can simply take the solar generator with you to your next rig.
Multiple ways to use power: You have lots of plug and charging options.
Multiple ways to recharge: You can use solar panels, plug into a wall outlet, or charge via your vehicle while driving.
Lower cost: Depending on the size system you need to be installed or the size generator you require, the solar generator will usually cost less.
Less maintenance: While both solar power methods have solar panels that will need to be cleaned, the ones that come with the solar generator are far easier to access and clean and require less overall maintenance.
Leak-free: Installing solar panels on the roof entails attaching hardware to your rig’s roof, which makes for a potential new place for leaks down the road. Since the solar generator is not installed, this is never a worry.
Solar generator buying tips
Without a doubt, a large solar generator is a big purchase. I had planned to add this accessory somewhere down the road, but I ended up buying mine long before I ever took off on my Long Long RV Trip.
Why? Because Amazon made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
If you are in the market for a solar generator, it might be beneficial to wait for their annual Prime Day, usually in July, as discounts were SUBSTANTIAL!
Another way to potentially get discounts and special offers any time of year is to get yourself on the mailing lists for the solar generator brands you are interested in.
From everything I read about them, including unbiased consumer reviews, they seemed more or less equal. I have no doubt both would do a great job. The only factor that nudged me towards Jackery was that amazing Amazon Prime Day deal.