More and more RVers are looking for more and more power in their rigs. As lithium batteries and the technology that surrounds them improves, we’re getting better systems. I have been participating in a prototype with my 2022 Rockwood Mini Lite. This camper has an option called the Mastervolt Power Package, which truly has changed the way I have been camping.
The Mastervolt Power Package
Available in a very limited number of Rockwood Mini Lite and Flagstaff Micro Lite trailers, the Power Package is a system designed and built by Mastervolt. The actual system I have is a bit different, as it was put together before final production was settled on. But what the package will include is a 400 amp-hour lithium battery and a 3,000-watt inverter.
This inverter has an unintegrated 160-amp inverter/charger, so the system can easily accept those 1,000 watts of solar along with panels one might want to plug into the “solar on the side” connector on the trailer.
The solar power is harnessed through a 60-amp MMPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) solar controller.
Honestly, this is all the kind of thing electricity expert Mike Sokol talks about in his Just Ask Mike series at RVtravel.com. He is far, far more qualified to speak to the details of this system than I am. So why am I here?
Naysayers of things like high-performance RV batteries and electric cars and anything else that their grandfather didn’t also use will wonder about the safety of this system. All of these RV systems have a number of safeguards in them.
The batteries have freeze protection which disables them from accepting a charge outside of their temperature range. There is an automatic shut-off, should you completely deplete the battery in this system. Incidentally, lithium batteries can be fully discharged and bounce right back when they see a charge.
I also can’t imagine completely discharging this system except, maybe, if you’re running the air conditioner overnight. There wouldn’t be any sun, of course, yet there would be an increased load of said air conditioner.
There are battery management systems so you can’t overcharge the system. I can speak to the smart design in that all the wiring, protection circuits and subsystems are extremely well thought through and designed to accommodate the loads and demands of this system.
You can duplicate the capabilities of this system as a do-it-yourselfer. You could probably duplicate the specs of this system for a much lower price than the MSRP of this system.
But the Mastervolt Power Package is extremely well-integrated and just works. All the wires, controllers, and cables are designed by one company to work—and work right together. And they do.
There is so much power and there are so many variables going on here that I like having a “responsible party” that has made sure it works and works well.
My experience with the Mastervolt Power Package and my own camping style are what brought me to the table. I like to boondock and have done a lot of that since I picked up the trailer in May.
Having a system like this is game-changing, quite frankly.
My wife is the one who takes care of our camping reservations and does most of our route planning.
In our previous trailer, our longer traveling journeys would be a night in a developed campground to charge up our batteries and then potentially a night at a Harvest Host or Boondockers Welcome location. These are usually totally off the grid.
Now we have no preference as to where we stay. We have spent a full month completely without any power while mooching at my wife’s sister’s house. No reason to plug in, quite frankly. The nights were cool enough that we didn’t have to run the air conditioner, but we did during the day and relied on the solar to keep things charged up.
We got to stay in some really fascinating places that had no power, including a Harvest Hosts location where the homeowners took us for a ride in a Rat Rod based on a 1921 Fire Engine. We stayed at an Alpaca farm and bought a blanket. And we have stayed at all sorts of state parks and other places with no power.
Power is no longer an issue. Really, our biggest challenge is water. But we have a 55-gallon fresh water tank and finding dump stations for the 30-gallon gray water tank isn’t much of an issue.
Running the air conditioner with the Mastervolt Power Package
Air conditioners are what everybody talks about when asking about this system. Yes, we can run the air conditioner. How long? That depends.
If there’s a decent amount of sun, the amount of power the solar panels bring in exceeds the demand of the air conditioner. But if we are camped where there is absolutely no sun whatsoever, then the AC can run for about 4-7 hours, depending on the setting.
If it’s full-blast non-stop, you have about four hours of run time. If you can dial it back so the system cycles, then you increase the length of time you can run the system. It’s simple math.
But what most of us have on our roof is a relic. RV units have been designed to use a lot of power. It’s cheaper to build them that way and there hasn’t really been a reason not to. You go to a park; you plug in; you use lots of energy.
But as we seek more and more ways to camp that aren’t RV parks, things are changing. The biggest change is in the Truma Aventa air conditioner, which is probably the most efficient RV AC system out there.
The one installed in my RV is a more modern unit, as well. It is a 13,500 BTU unit that utilizes soft start technology to reduce consumption.
As demand for better and more modern AC units increases, RV AC manufacturers will follow through with better solutions. We’re starting to see this now. And reducing the demand will change the game further.
The heart of this Power Package system comes from a company called Mastervolt, which you will have heard of if you’re a sailboat aficionado. Mastervolt has been building systems for sailboats since 2008. The company has established a reputation for building systems that are really well-integrated and well-designed, as they would have to be. There is no towing service when you’re 100 miles offshore, so these systems have to work well.
The company not only makes the big battery that is the core of this package but also the inverter, the shunts, the charge controller and all of that. The one thing that comes from others is the solar panels, and those are Go Power! panels. My trailer has four 190-watt panels on the roof, but the production models will have five 200-watt panels.
Yes, I’m jealous.
It’s not just Rockwood
In fact, Mastervolt has announced partnerships with a number of RV makers. I’ve written about the Thor Sequence Class B that has the Mastervolt system. You can also get a system similar to what I have in select NoBo trailers as well.
And our own Mike Sokol has been testing a Rockwood Geo Pro trailer with a smaller Mastervolt system aboard. These have been available to order for about a year. There are more than a few in the various Geo Pro and ePro forums that I troll where folks have had good experiences with them.
I have also raved about the Winnebago Micro Minnie 2018DS with the FLX package. My friend Robert Morales, aka Traveling Robert, was beta testing a prototype of this system and loved it. I can understand why.
It’s not just Mastervolt
Mastervolt isn’t the only company that is making more advanced lithium and solar packages available to customers. I have very often written about the Keystone SolarFlex system, as well.
Keystone’s SolarFlex package is standard on all their trailers, with the base system coming in with 200 watts of solar on the roof. From there, there are various upgrade pathways to systems with up to 1200 watts of solar on the roof.
Keystone’s system is differently integrated than the Mastervolt system. But the company has partnered with Battle Born/Dragonfly battery company and uses off-the-shelf components to create a variety of solar solutions for models in their lineup. Keystone’s system is scalable, which is a plus. It is also available on all their trailers, but the fully capable system is limited to some of their larger models.
Still, it’s a great solution, too, if not a bit different than what I have.
The style of camping I do is something that is happening more and more as RV parks become more crowded. I don’t like spending a premium on camping and then being so close to a neighbor that whatever they’re watching on TV comes into my camper.
With options like BLM land, Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome and other similar services, I can save a lot of money on camping. But the better thing is that I can open the door to better experiences. And more different experiences.
I’ve never been to a campground where I go for a ride in a vintage fire truck nor one where I can walk among the alpacas. There are certainly nice places out there, but not having to seek them out and pay the price has a tremendous value to me.
Plus, when I do want to run the microwave or charge my laptop or even run the air conditioner, I’m doing it silently and without having to find gasoline.
The Mastervolt Power Package isn’t for everybody, but it does open the door for people who appreciate this kind of experience. And the systems are only getting better and more reliable.
I have 380 watts of solar on the roof of my 2022 Rockwood 2109S. I have a 100 watt portable, which I chase the sunlight with. Two six volt golf cart batteries are what I am feeding.I camp in the mountains of Utah almost exclusively, where there is limited sunlight at best. I’ve been in touch with Rockwood’s customer service with the issue of their GE 12 volt comp. fridge’ power consumption. They don’t respond to queries. Problem: After 3 days I must use a generator to bring the batteries into safe margins ie > 50%. We pick sunny camp sites.Camping is no longer much fun.Been trailer camping 45 years, no power problems till now. Not a big fan of solar here. I was, till I’ve had to live with it.
(As a side note: You may like Josh Winter’s reviews, I do; but he’s not always right! 12 volt fridge review is way off.)
My thought? If there are mountains and normal amounts of trees, any solar power system will not work long for anyone without generator or extra battery bank backup.
Not to argue with any of the advantages of solar power but in the video Tony stated his system could produce half again as much power as a 30 amp shore power plug. A 30 amp 120 volt plug provides up to 3600 watts. A 60 watt solar charger at 12 volts can only provide 720 watts and in any case cannot exceed the 1000 watt limit of the installed solar panels.
Meant to say a 60 AMP solar controller at 12 volts can only provide 720 watts.
I am currently shopping for my first RV have rented one and know I want to travel this way. I am retired. My question on the Master Volt – what happens when you don’t travel and how do you store batteries etc and protect against the cold weather. Also, I can’t find a dealer here locally – I am in upstate SC, that has the Mini Lite 2023 with power volt system. Do I have to order it. I have sent the Micro Minnie Flex and was ready to order it, but their quality seems to have gone down. I like the Rockwood line up as well as Grand Design. Thanks – I love reading these newsletters – learning lots.
Nice and great detailed discussion of this system. We, and most of our friends, wouldn’t even consider it because we don’t Boon dock, ever.
Thanks Tony. Great info! I have a small solar/lithium set up. It handled the basics for us last January at a N.P. campground with no hookups. Nice and quiet in the no generator section. This technology is not just the future, it’s here and now. Thanks for spreading the word.
Poppycock! We should all have loud, gas gulping, air polluting generators! To heck with the environment and the sanctity of quiet. Just kidding…I wanted to be the first to sarcastically condem this sorcery of solar and batteries without a drop of expertise. I’ve completed multiple RV solar and battery systems…gas generator no longer required.
Can you give an idea of the price of the standard Mastervolt package as an upgrade when ordering a RV?
And maybe pricing on just buying the components?
Thanks. Great info and it sounds like a sized right’ system..
I hope Mike does a comparison of all these battery systems some day.
Great overview!! I wish this system was an option when I ordered my Flagstaff last year. I am still figuring out the who what and where of a solar system so i can do exactly what your doing.
I am curious about one thing, in your last picture what brands is the hand rail assist on your trailer. The stock one just doesnt cut it sometimes…
Please keep this type of info coming…
That’s another prototype that you can now buy.
MorRyde included that hand rail on the trailer and I LOVE it! It fold up flat against the sidewall with a strong magnet but then extends as you see. I looked for it on their site and didn’t see it so they might have to update the site, but it’s awesome.
Another cool feature are the X-braces on the stabilizer jacks. We like those a lot as well.
Hey Tony and Mike. Are either of you going to Hershey in September so us Pa. people can visit.
Oh yes, I’ll be at Hershey all week teaching RVelectricity classes every day. Plus I’ll be teaching a 6-hr RV technician class for PRVCA registered technicians.
Hey Tony: Great overview of the Mastervolt Power Package.
Everyone: Both Tony and I will have our Mastervolt equipped trailers at the FROG Rally in Goshen IN beginning August 15. We’ve asked for camping spots next to each other, so if you’re not afraid of a geek overload stop on by and ask us a question. You might even make it onto one of our guest video interviews.
Yes, be forewarned! Looking forward to the FROG rally and hanging out showing off our RVs.