April 5, 2020

Installing Your Own Solar

Can I install my own Solar Charging System?

Most RVs do not come equipped with solar charging systems as standard equipment so many RV owners choose to save money on labor and perform the install themselves. Anyone considering this option should know how to safely work on the electrical systems in their RV and feel comfortable doing so. If you do not have those skills, I strongly recommend you hire a professional.

It has been my experience that the research and system design part of the project is the most critical. So take your time and choose the right components for your needs. I also recommend having a professional review your design prior in installing.

If you decide to hire a professional installer to design and install your solar charging system, I highly recommend you take extra steps to do your own research and be very familiar with the components of your system. It pays to be an informed consumer and understand what you are paying for. Solar components can range from affordable to very expensive. So having a little knowledge beforehand may prevent you from being sold something you may not actually need. Having a good working knowledge about your system will also come in handy should something go awry and you have to ask for help.

Review the basics of RV Solar First

Consider Starting With A Kit

We put together this list of PROFESSIONALLY CONFIGURED DO-IT-YOURSELF SOLAR KITS to help you get your small off-grid solar project completed faster and eliminate the guess work of choosing compatible solar components

Starter Solar Kits

These basic packages are ideal for RVs with a single deep cycle house battery, or as an expandable starter kit that you plan to add more panels to later. You can also use these systems to keep your battery trickle charged while in storage or not connected to shore power.

GoPower 100 Watt FLEXIBLE Solar Starter Kit

When mounted on your RV root, these flexible panels are 80% lighter, do not restrict access to your RV roof and are virtually undetectable from ground level. This expandable kit from Go Power includes a 100 watt monocrystalline flexible panel, a 30 amp charge controller and MC4 cable.

Renogy 100 Watt Off-Grid Starter Kit

This highly affordable starter kit from Renogy includes a single 100 Watt standard solar panel, PWM solar charge controller, cable and mounting equipment.

Mid-Sized Solar Kits

These packages will get you started with multiple solar panels for RVs, boats and long haul trucks with mid-sized battery banks. Just a step above the basic packages, these configurations add additional panels for more solar watts.

GoPower 200 Watt Flexible Solar Kit

When mounted on your RV roof, these flexible panels are 80% lighter, do not restrict access to your RV roof and are virtually undetectable from ground level. Flexible panels are also perfect for mounting on curved surfaces. This expandable kit from Go Power includes 2 100 watt monocrystalline flexible panels, a 30 amp charge controller and MC4 cable.

HQST 200 Watt Flexible Solar Kit

At under $500, this 200 Watt Kit from HQST features two high quality 100 Watt flexible solar panels, 20 Watt PWM charge controller, cables and MC4 connectors. This is a perfect match for a 200 Amp Hour battery bank.

Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit (Most Popular!)

This popular kit provides 200 watts of solar charging power. Keep 200 amp hours of battery capacity charged up throughout the day. This is a great deal for under $400. For a few dollars
more you can also upgrade to an MPPT charge controller.

Find More RV and Marine Solar Kits

Solar on our RV

Solar Components on our RV

Here is a list of Solar equipment on our RV that we have featured in our DIY Solar Videos.

Flexible Solar Panels

We have several flexible Solar panels on our roof that provide us plenty of power and full access to the roof. The larger UniSolar panels we purchased are no longer manufactured. Remaining inventory can still be found on Amazon and eBay. We’ve since added HQST 100 Watt Flexible Solar Panels (seen in the photo).

Morningstar Tri-Star TS-45 MPPT Solar Charge Controller

This has been a solid solar charge controller for our RV. Our panels, when wired in series (versus parallel) output over 80 volts. This allows us to really take advantage of the MPPT features to convert the higher voltage to more charging AMPs. This controller
can also handle up to 45 AMPs which will be more than enough for us as we expand our solar capacity.

Morningstar TS-RM-2 Charge Controller Remote

This remote control panel allows us to monitor our solar panel performance and access all of the charge controller functions from within the RV.
We have it mounted just inside our entry next to our power inverter remote (Watch installation video).

Bogart Engineering TriMetric Battery Monitor

Having the ability to accurately monitor your battery usage is essential when relying on your battery bank for power. The TriMetric Battery Monitor tracks AMP usage to provide accurate state-of-charge readings back to you. We know precisely how many amp hours we have available at all times. This is the unit we use and rely on.
To measure AMPs you will also need to install a shunt (below) near your battery bank and connect it to the monitor. Here is how we use the TriMetric in our RV (Video).

Samlex 2000 Watt Pure Sine Inverter

To provide AC power from our battery bank, we installed a 2000 watt power inverter. This Samlex 2000 Watt Pure Sine inverter also comes with a nice remote control monitor panel that we installed the coach. There are many ways to hook up an invter in your RV. We wired ours directly into our shore power connection
so that we could provide power to all of our AC receptacles. Here is how we have our power inverter hookud up (Video).