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Alternative Energy: Are Solar Panels Worth It?

Are you an energy-conscious RVer who is considering adding solar panels to your RV? If so, you've probably discovered that there is so much to consider when making this big decision, as it’s both a pretty big lifestyle change and an investment all the same! Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of RV alternative energy and answer this all-important question: Are solar panels worth it?

Consider Your Lifestyle


As members of modern society, we’ve grown incredibly accustomed to a lifestyle with an endless flow of electricity to power our smart gadgets, computers, and even our automobiles! How would you feel if the amount of power available in your life was cut by about three quarters as much power? That’s roughly what you’d be looking at when you make the switch to depending on solar panels in your RV!

The biggest question you’ll face is whether you think you can cut down on energy consumption. If you can’t live without your cell phone, laptop, air conditioning, and TV (for binge watching your favorite shows), dependance on RV solar panels may not be for you. There’s nothing wrong with wanting your creature comforts, but it may not align with the RV solar power lifestyle.


Solar Panels Aren’t a Fix-All


Ignorance is bliss, and if you’re thinking that the sun will just completely power your RV and you can run all its systems like normal, we have bad news. Although sunny afternoons are great for charging up your battery bank, there is only a finite amount of energy that your RV’s batteries can store. Also, daylight hours always give way to dark skies at night, and Mother Nature loves to keep us guessing on what tomorrow's weather will bring. There is no guaranteed amount of energy you can store from day to day, and there is just no way that you can live life plugged in like normal.


Do Your Homework


If you’re considering switching to solar power, it’s not advisable to just spontaneously pick up some panels and get them on top of the RV. There is a lot of careful planning and measuring that you must do before making the right choice for a solar power system:

  • How much energy do you use? You’ll need to keep track for about a week to get a good idea.

  • How much usage can you cut out of your life? There’s no way around this. You’ll definitely have to make some lifestyle changes!

  • How many hours do you typically use energy? How much will you want to use with your new system?

  • What appliances do you use on a daily basis? Will you be able to function with reduced use or will you eliminate them altogether?


Deciding on whether to switch to a solar energy system for your RV is a calculated, in-depth process, so do your homework and pay attention to your daily life! It’ll give you an idea of whether switching over to solar is right for you!


Where/How Much Will You Camp?


Where you camp and how often you travel should definitely be taken into consideration when deciding on whether to invest in a solar power setup. Being energy independent is great for boondocking, as hookups are not offered out in the middle of nowhere! But consider, are you getting solar power just to have it, or are you actually in need of it? If you plan on sticking to campgrounds or RV parks, where electricity is readily available, and with all moral considerations aside, why not use hookups if they’re there and available? It’s something to consider too if you plan on camping in warm climates. Going without A/C on sweltering days isn’t exactly enjoyable.

Similarly, how much do you plan on camping? If you’re living full time in your RV, a big, expensive solar power system could definitely be worth the money! You’ll have the opportunity to get a lot of use out of it, and can plan to travel to places where you’ll actually need it. On the other hand, if you’re just a weekend warrior, investing thousands of dollars for a few uses a year probably isn’t worth it. You could still consider a smaller system setup, or just depend on your generators from time to time.


The Up-Front Cost Is Expensive


There’s no denying that the initial cost of installing an RV solar panel system is an expensive venture. Not only will you shell out big bucks for the solar panels themselves, but you’ll also want to consider upgrading your batteries for more power storage. And you’ll want an inverter that can handle the amount of energy you’re desiring to have.


You Can Go Anywhere


A big plus to using solar energy is that the world is your campground! As long as your RV and tow vehicle can handle the terrain, you can camp anywhere, from friends' and family members’ backyards, to the middle of the desert, rustic national park campgrounds, the seaside, and everywhere in between! It’s such a liberating feeling to not be dependent on a power cord, and to be able to supply yourself with the power you need to live sustainably!


You’ll Always Have Power


As long as you plan and use energy sparingly, you’ll never be without power! Even if the whole campground loses power, you’ll still be able to turn on your lights and go about your business!


Say Goodbye To Generator Restrictions


Many campgrounds have tight restrictions on generator use. Even if there aren’t hookups available in campgrounds, many will oftentimes enforce designated generator run times, as most units are loud and disruptive to neighbors. With solar power, you won’t have to worry about that!



Now that you’ve been able to consider all the factors of alternative energy, what do you think? Are solar panels worth it? We think that it’s a personal preference, and it depends heavily on these factors we’ve just discussed. But any way you look at it, there’s not a single thing we have to say against solar panels! They’re great for getting off the grid and are environmentally friendly, and if they can save you money in the long run, it’s a great worthwhile investment!

Almost all of the newer model RVs for sale here at Hamilton’s RV come equipped with solar panel prep, making it easy to install panels if you choose to live the off-grid lifestyle! Come on down today and browse our vast selection of all the nation’s top RV brands and find a travel trailer, fifth wheel, or toy hauler that is perfect for your alternative energy needs! You may save a considerable chunk of money by switching to solar panels, but you’ll save even more by choosing Hamilton’s, one of the top RV dealers in Michigan!

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think about RV solar panels!

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