How to Install Solar Panels on your RV
Posted on August 22 2018
Install solar panels on the roof of your RV, car, and truck and generate free, renewable energy!
It's more and more common to see people around the world using solar panels. At SUAOKI, we find this action a step forward for a greener world with less footprint.
If you have read our previous articles, you know by now that we have widely talked about the benefits of solar energy. Today we bring you another cool reason why you should switch to solar energy and solar panels. And we will teach you how easy it is to install solar panels on your vehicle.
But first, let me refresh your knowledge on how solar power and solar panel work. Very briefly, solar panels comprise photovoltaic cells, which are used to convert sunlight into electricity. Solar panels allow photons from the sun – particles of light, to break and bond knocking electrons free from atoms. When this breaking and bonding action is repeated, it created electricity. (For a deeper explanation, have a look at our post “How do solar Panels Work”).
Here is what you should know about how to install solar panels on your vehicle’s roof:
HOW DO I INSTALL A SOLAR SYSTEM? IS IT EASY TO INSTALL?
Installing solar panels on the roof of your RV, truck or other vehicle is easier than you might think. The steps might vary a bit depending on your vehicle’s characteristics, but the basic concept of installation remains the same. These are the products you are more likely to install on your RV: solar panels, batteries, and inverters.
Here are the steps to install your solar panel on the roof of your car:
First, you have to examine the roof of your auto in order to see how much space and possibilities you have to install the solar panel(s). Ideally, the best surface to install your panel should be a flat surface. Once you have found your surface, check how many bolts your solar panel packs. The fewer holes you have to create on your roof, the smallest the risk of leaks. Another trick you can use to secure your panels to a flat roof surface is using tape. No, we are not crazy. Yes, it works and is cheap.
Note: please don’t take any kind of tape unless you want to wave goodbye to your panel when driving. You will put in danger drivers behind you. Also, do not do it unless the roof is flat. On a curved roof, it could be catastrophic too. You can use industrial VHB tape. This type of tape features a determined tensile strength (this information is displayed in the tape’s specifications) which tells you how many pounds per square inch it can hold. Anyways, if you don’t feel 100% sure about the tape trick, go back to create some holes and make sure you add weatherproofing sealant against any possible leak.
Secondly, you have to decide where to place the rest of the cables that come with the solar panel. Yeah, you have to put all those cables inside the vehicle… this means that you might have to create another hole to pass the cables through it, adding, therefore, its corresponding amount of weatherproofing sealant for the leaking. Other hole-free alternatives are vents. You need to check what will work best for you and your vehicle. A recommendation is to place the cables as close as possible to the rest of the equipment, this way you will have fewer wires hanging around inside your car.
There you go, your solar panel is now installed on your vehicle’s roof.
IS THERE MAINTENANCE? HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF THE SOLAR PANELS ONCE THEY ARE INSTALLED ON THE ROOF OF THE RV?
Once your solar panel system is up there installed on the roof of your RV, car, truck or other vehicles, there is very little maintenance you should do. You only need to pay attention to 2 main things:
Water cells: it is important that you check from time to time the water cells in the batteries – and refill them when needed with distilled water (a monthly check should be more than enough to ensure that everything is looking good).
Possible leaks: as we saw before, in order to install your solar panel you have to make holes on the roof of your vehicle. While we recommended sealing the holes with weatherproofing sealant, it is important that you check the status of the roof after big storms or long trips to prevent new leaks or cracks.
Note: using solar power energy as your main source is possible and it is a great benefit for nature as well as for your pocket. Solar power is soundless, compared to the noisy gas generator, it requires little maintenance, reduces carbon emissions and it is free (once you reach your break-even point on your solar panel investment). However, in reality, it is likely that you use a gas generator at some point, for example during rainy or cloudy periods. Another reason to use a gas generator is the A/C. It is difficult to run this type of appliances on solar energy.