A Panel Discussion: RVs and Solar Power
Spending time in the great outdoors is a perfect opportunity to unplug and be away from the modern world. But what about those people who just can’t disconnect from the Internet? You know who we mean, your teens, Grandpa Steve who thinks he’s got “The Google” down, or maybe people who live in their RVs full-time and don’t want to lose touch with friends and loved ones? Traveling in your RV doesn’t have to mean that you need to give up your devices. Despite Mother Nature’s desire to claim all of your time on the road, going green with solar panels makes it possible to charge those gotta-have-it gadgets right under Mother’s nose.
Solar energy is made with the power emitted by the sun’s rays. It is collected with a solar panel that can be added to your RV, usually by mounting it on the roof. Kind of like the disco ball you always wanted for your room even though Mom always told you “no.” The sun’s rays are then converted to power that can be used with your cell phones, laptops, refrigerators and many more. The type and number of panels, and the overall cost to you, depends on how much energy you use based on your camping style. For example, Weekender Wendy would need a smaller amount of energy, and fewer panels, than RV Roberta who lives in her RV full-time. Save up your allowance, kids!
- After the initial investment, solar power is pretty much free. It costs nothing to park (or drive) your vehicle in the sunlight for your panels to grab those rays.
- It works regardless of the climate you’re in. Even if you’re driving through a really cloudy area, bits of sunlight still break through the clouds, so even Mother Nature can’t rain on your parade.
- Your RV’s battery stays fresh for a longer period of time because it’s always being charged. Keeping a battery mostly charged means that you’ll have to replace it less often. Bonus bucks for you.
- Almost zero maintenance. Once the panels are in place you never have to move them or replace moving parts. Just make sure that the panels aren’t covered with snow or other gunk and you’re good to go.
Solar panels come a lot of different ways. The first are the traditional panels that are as rigid as old Aunt Mary. These are the original model, super-efficient, time-tested, and they’re better able to convert energy in low-light situations. They are also heavy and add extra pounds to your RV, reducing your gas mileage. Another type of panel is a flexible panel. This is a newer model, but lightweight, which means that it doesn’t affect your price at the pump. It can be used on almost any surface because of its flexibility. These panels do require more space to be as efficient as its older cousin, and they’re fragile, making them more likely to crack and reduce their lifespan.
Installing solar panels is an easy way for you to resolve the difference between your need for technology with your love for Mother Nature. When she tries to ground you, fight back by going green to bring a whole lot of good to your Good Life.