The Solar Power generated on top of your RVs will let you operate without taking any additional power from the vehicle / RV battery. You will get enough power to use your RV’s lights, refrigerator, and other appliances. But if you’re asking how much solar do you need for your RV? Keep reading below to find out.
- The Complete RV Solar Charging System
- Understand the Difference Between Inverter and Converter
- Working Process of RV Solar Inverters
- Benefits of Using RV Solar Inverter (AC)
- Things to Consider While Choosing an RV Solar Inverter
- Difference Between Off-Grid RV Inverter and Grid-Tied RV Inverter
Installing RV solar panels or solar inverters is eco-friendly, requires little maintenance, and is cost-effective. On top of that, solar energy isn’t heavy on top of your RV as well,  They are lightweight and easily maintainable. But the inner workings of these RV solar panels are still a mystery for many who want to install Solar for their RVs. Therefore, you need to understand how an RV works and the components of the complete charging system.
Hence, this article intends to explain all the details regarding RV Solar Inverters This guide covers the complete RV solar charging system and all the other associated information.
The Complete RV Solar Charging System
With the idea of including an RV Solar Inverter charger in your vehicle, you are adopting a newer approach to power all of the vehicle’s internal components. The solar panels installed on top of the RV collects energy from the sun, store it and then provide the necessary power that the vehicle needs.
If you own an RV or plan to buy one, consider having an RV solar inverter. The benefit of having a solar inverter is that it helps you save a lot of power consumption from the batteries installed in the RVs. You can use the batteries for any emergency need on your RV. In contrast, you can use solar panels to generate sufficient energy for your RV to run appliances, equipment, computers, and even TVs.
But when you are willing to get power to run your RV appliances, you must give them an ample electricity supply. Hence, you will need an inverter charger for channeling the solar energy from the grid to the storage hub and transmission.
Understand the Difference Between Inverter and Converter
Before you go ahead and learn about the RV solar power system or RV solar panels, you must understand the difference between a converter and an inverter. Both have different functionalities and have different significance in terms of solar panel installation for your RV.
The purpose of a power converter is to change the Alternating current (AC) to Direct current (DC). When the RV is plugged into the regular power (Outlet), the converter will take control, take the incoming 120V, and reduce it to 12V so that the appliances within the RV can function on 12V.
The remaining unused current will be returned to the in-built (house) batteries for storage to be used again whenever needed. These batteries are commonly included as standard components for all RVs.
The power inverter does the exact opposite! When you use power from your batteries or solar panels, the inverter will take the 12V current and again convert it to the 120V current to send it to the items that primarily require the same.
Most of the equipment within an RV will demand DC (Direct current), but some of the residential essentials will take AC power, such as refrigerators, space heaters, and TVs.
Working Process of RV Solar Inverters
The solar panels are made up of solar cells, which are small devices that have the potential to capture the sun’s energy. The solar panels then convert the obtained sun’s energy into a DC electrical system. As a result, this charges the RV batteries and stores the electricity.
There can be several panels joined together to form a solar array. The household appliances within the RV require AC (Alternating current) over DC power generated by the solar panels. Therefore, if you are willing to run the appliances and luxury items in your RV, having an inverter charger is necessary!
Connecting the solar charging system with the power inverter converts the DC power from solar power to household AC power. Hence, this will allow you to use the lights and appliances within your RV.
The RV solar inverter charger is accountable for allowing you to power all of the appliances within the vehicle that need 12V AC shore power. An RV shore power is when you can plug your RV into an AC electrical grid or outlet power.
This available power is measured in amps; the most common RV connections are 30 amps and 50 amps. Suppose the RV plug-in doesn’t have a Solar power inverter. In that case, you will have to plug in shore power to the RV or use a power generator for running several appliances such as a refrigerator, oven, TV, and other household goods.
The DC (Direct Current) is constant, while the AC (Alternating Current) is destined to cycle from +120V to -120V and vice-versa. As stated above, the purpose of the RV solar power system inverter is to take the 12V DC power generated from the RV solar panels and convert it to alternating current by increasing voltage.
The power inverters will modify the current to ensure it alternates to different phases. For better understanding, modified sine wave RV Solar inverters for RV solar panels boost the 12V DC power supply into 120V AC power or shore power.
To learn more about sizing an RV Solar Inverter, check out the article Solar Inverter Sizing.
Benefits of Using RV Solar Inverter (AC)
After installing the RV solar panels on your vehicle, you need to develop an ideal inverter charger to avail yourself of the benefits of owning an RV. After installing the inverter, you can travel across cities for camping, touring, and adventure with your RV.
Having an RV solar system without an inverter will limit you to appliances. Even though you carry a noisy generator or shore power supply with you for running the additional appliances, it will still cost you a fortune.
So, why not convert solar energy into AC for running off the grid without much hassle? Using RV Solar inverters for RV solar panels brings you many benefits besides running the shore power or AC household appliances.
Therefore, to help you better understand the fact why you should invest in getting a solar inverter, here are a few of the benefits:
You can Keep the Devices Charged at all Times!
Charging the devices is essential when you are out on your adventure trip in the RV trucks. You never know when you need to call or drop an email. So, you will always have the right power source to keep the laptops and mobiles charged.
With this, you can stay connected with the people you have left behind and your work. When you don’t have a suitable power source, you will cut down on things to save energy for meaningful use. And that shouldn’t be the case when you have a ready solution.
Stores the Power in RV Batteries
The off-grid campers are pretty interested in equipping their RVs with solar panels. It is to help get a power supply even when they are in the countryside. The solar system generates DC power(1), sending the direct current to RV batteries without a converter. The stored power can be used later on in the RV.
But, if you intend to use this stored power for the AC appliances and equipment, you will eventually need an inverter. You can use the power stored within the batteries to run the vehicle functionalities such as headlights, cabin lights, vehicle audio systems, air conditioners, and others linked to the Direct Current power.
Things to Consider While Choosing an RV Solar Inverter
So far, you got an idea of how a pure sine wave inverter is essential for powering RV appliances. But some other purchase considerations will help you pick the best inverter for effective outcomes. Hence you should consider a few things before choosing an RV solar inverter. The purchase considerations include:
The first thing you must consider while picking up a simple inverter for your RV is its type of inverter. There are off-grid inverters that are pretty simple to install and come with integrated models.
The integrated types of inverters are ideal if you have an old charger or converter which you want to upgrade. Apart from that, the off-grid units are considered the best when adding the inverter to a multi-stage charging system.
Sine Wave Inverter
While you are getting an inverter, one of the most crucial purchasing aspects is considering what kind it is! The best version is the sine wave inverter, which perfectly imitates the standard power from the shore generator or connection. The sine inverters also intend to work well in an optimized manner.
Voltage Output Of The Inverter
The next consideration is size, which will impact your decision to purchase. You must ensure sufficient battery power within your RV to support the inverter. Therefore, you need to do some form of research on that aspect!
For instance, a 1000-watt inverter supplies 1000 watts at once, but if you have the basic needs, then a 1000-watt model will do fine for typical applications such as charging laptops and phones.
But if you intend to power large appliances, you must go for the inverter that can supply up to 3000 watts.
The next aspect of your buying decision is the capacity of the RV inverters. The capacity is primarily mentioned in the unit of watts, where high indicates high capacity! In all RV power inverters, you will get different power ratings: surge power capacity and continuous power capacity.
The continuous power capacity of an inverter is the general supply of power offered by the inverter. On the other hand, the surge power capacity hand is accountable for the significant power burst, which can be obtained from the inverter. But this power is viable for only a short period.
The surge power capacity is usually double the continuous power capacity, indicating that you have picked a suitable inverter.
Warranty Of The Inverter
The RV sine wave inverter chargers are considered the most expensive RV accessories available for purchase. These inverters are costly, and it becomes nearly impossible for you to replace them frequently over time.
Therefore, you need to consider getting one that comes with a warranty. It will offer you rely upon the use of it in your RV. The reliability concerns are not just from the warranty but also the build quality, inverter charger, safety measures, and application.
If the brand is offering you a warranty on their inverters, then you can conclude that they have taken care of build quality, functionality, and effectiveness as a whole! When the inverter is within the warranty period, you can claim service without cost for any kind of damage or functionality error.
Look for manufacturers that offer at least a warranty for a couple of years or more. A higher warranty comes at a higher expense. So, count on the budget-specific consideration, but do not compromise the warranty aspects.
Here are some of the other technical aspects that you must consider on priority:
The inverter’s efficiency is the most important aspect that you should consider before buying one. It measures the amount of usable power that the inverter can deliver to the appliances in your RV while it is operating in ideal conditions. The excellent efficiency is preferably around 94% to 96%.
Heat is a big villain for an inverter. The inverters are accountable for being sensitive to an excessive amount of heat. Therefore, you need to pay attention to the temperature range that it can withstand while getting installed on your RVs.
You need to check how much power the inverter will consume by sitting idle. You should choose an inverter, the one with the least rating in this scenario.
Difference Between Off-Grid RV Inverter and Grid-Tied RV Inverter
It is yet another important aspect of considering inverters for RVs! There are two different types of inverters competing against one another in terms of their installation complexity and other such aspects. So, here is a brief understanding of them both:
- Grid-Tied RV Inverter
The grid-tied RV inverter takes the Direct Current power and converts it to AC. Following that, it sends the power to the grid for credits. These inverters are simple and straightforward in terms of wiring, as there are only two major components, which involve the solar panels and the inverter itself.
- Off-Grid RV Inverter
The off-grid inverter requires a battery bank to function, which is readily available in most RVs. Therefore, this is one of the preferable options for people who love using their RV trucks.
The solar panel feeds the DC power to batteries, with the battery bank operating off-grid inverters. And then, the inverter takes that power and inverts it to create AC alternating current power for the home appliances used in RVs.
The working of this type of inverter acts like a miniature type of power grid. This inverter setup won’t deplete the RV batteries! But the condition is that the system should be set up and designed in an ideal manner.
The battery bank gets recharged by the solar panels using a charge controller. People might assume that the off-grid inverters are more complex than the grid-tied ones. It is because of the additional components such as the charge controller, additional DC & AC circuit breakers, and battery monitor.
The inclusion of all of these components makes it difficult for you to install and wire the off-grid systems. But the perks are astounding, which makes it an obvious inclusion for the RVs.
You will need to mandatorily purchase the breakers, surge suppressors, enclosures, battery monitor, and remote controls to seek proper installation.
Picking the right parts is quite confusing for the rookies. But you can take the help of professionals or do your research to get the best accessories at budgeted pricing.
Before you decide on buying an RV inverter of any kind, make sure you check the manufacturer’s details. There are many available in the market and choosing one might be difficult. Hence you need to know if the manufacturer has a reputation for making quality special inverters, especially RVs.
RVs are good only if they have all the luxury appliances within them! If you are a true camper, you can seek to add a coffee maker, refrigerator, microwave, laundry machines, and others. So, you will need an inverter that can provide sufficient energy to power them all.
As a result, you will eventually have proficient RV solar panels and power inverters. While you are looking for power inverters, you cannot compromise on the quality of solar panels and lithium batteries or lead-acid batteries that your vehicle needs.
Without a complete RV solar system, you cannot expect optimal performance. Therefore, determine the battery power, plan on getting the perfect solar array, and set up the electrical system.