Solar power is becoming increasingly popular as people turn to sustainable forms of energy. People use solar power for their homes, cars, and even their campers. But are solar panels on a camper worth it?
Solar panels are a good way to get power in your camper if you are off the grid and in a sunny place, but many campsites provide electricity you can hook your camper up to. The high solar panels and difficult installation costs can deter people from adding them to their campers.
You need to consider four things before putting solar panels on your camper. I’ll take a look at each one of them in this article.
Things To Know Before Getting Solar Panels for Your Camper
Adding solar panels to your camper can be a great investment, especially if you plan on using the camper a lot or having it for the long term. However, there are a few things to consider before adding solar panels to your camper, some of which may make you reconsider your investment.
1. Camper Solar Panels Can Be Expensive
First solar panels for your camper can be expensive. Not all of them are expensive, and you can install solar panels on your camper on a budget. However, things can quickly get expensive if you’re looking to power many appliances.
Of course, expensive is relative, and if you are not worried about money, you don’t have to worry about what you spend on solar panels. But if you are on a budget, you might need to consider what type of solar panels you want. You’ll have to decide if it is worth getting pricier ones for higher quality or if you want to stick with the cheapest options.
When it comes to the cost of solar panels on your camper, you do need to remember that you will save money over time since you are not paying for electricity to power the camper. After the initial cost, your savings will be high, and if you plan on using your camper for a long time, the long-term savings are worth it.
The good news is that solar panels for campers are much cheaper than they used to be when they were first released. The cost is expected to continue to decrease as technology improves and the demand for these solar panels increases.
2. There Are Other Options for Electricity
Another thing you need to consider is how else you would be able to get electricity.
If you often camp at designated campsites, you likely have electric hook-up options where you can get electricity as needed. If you do most or all of your camping at sites like this, where it is set up to hook up electric power to your camper, you probably don’t need solar panels on your camper.
However, if you spend most of your time camping in your RV off the grid in remote areas where power and electricity are hard to come by, having solar panels is a great way to get electricity no matter where you are. And, even if you do have an electric hook-up, you might want to be more environmentally friendly and use your solar power anyway.
Even if you have solar panels on your camper, you can still utilize the electricity provided at a certain campsite if you need it or want to store the energy obtained from your solar panels for the near future.
Having power wherever you go is a huge convenience, especially if you are not in an area with many people around or you don’t have good cell service. But solar panels are not the only option for access to power in these situations. You can always get a gas generator that can also provide you power when you are off the grid.
3. You Need To Be in the Sun To Get Power
You also need to consider how likely it is that your solar panels will be efficient. You need the sun to be out or at least a brighter cloudy day to power the solar panels.
If you use your camper in many areas that get sunlight, such as rainy places or during the winter, your solar panels might not work as well as you expect them to. And since you can only get solar power during the day, you’ll need to invest in batteries for powering your van in the nighttime.
There’s also the fact that some areas have a much higher solar energy potential than others. Even areas with a low potential are usually enough to power a van, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you live in an area that gets a lot of sun.
Here’s a map by Global Solar Atlas that shows you the solar energy potential of almost any place in the world.
If you do a lot of your camping in the summer and you know that you will not have any trees or other forestry blocking the sun from your solar panels, they are likely worth it.
4. Installation Might Be Difficult
Finally, you need to consider the installation process of putting solar panels on your camper. Will you have the skills and ability to install them yourself? Or, will you have to hire somebody to help you and make sure they get installed properly?
If you do not have the knowledge and equipment necessary to install the solar panels, you likely want to hire somebody to do it for you to make sure they get installed correctly. However, this will raise the overall cost of your solar panels.
The good news is that most solar panels come with clear instructions that anyone can follow, so there is a good chance that you will be able to complete the installation by yourself.
Adding solar panels to your camper can be expensive, and installation might be difficult. You also need to ensure that you will get enough sun to power the solar panels. But there are many good reasons to get solar panels for your camper, such as the environmental benefits and the ability to have power wherever you are—especially off the grid.
- Camping World: Is Adding Solar Power to Your RV Worth It?
- RV.com A Complete RV Solar System Install
- CNET: Solar panel buying guide for RVs, campervans and travel trailers: Everything you need to know
- Camping World: RV Solar Panels & Solar Kits | Outdoor Power
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