Solar panels for RVS

Solar Panels for RVs — and Apartment Dwellers?

Rachel Lark - February 11, 2023

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Have you dreamed about going solar? Maybe you thought you couldn’t do so as an apartment dweller. Perhaps you want to make your RV setup greener. Did you know there’s a solution that enables you to do both? Portable solar panels offer considerable flexibility for folks looking to green their carbon footprint without a significant outlay of cash — or making permanent improvements to their landlord’s property. Let’s explore the fascinating world of portable solar panels for RV and apartment dwellers. 

What Are Portable Solar Panels? 

Portable solar panels differ from the fixed and rigid glass-sealed models you sometimes see on rooftops. Typical portable models come encased in flexible mesh fabric or plastic. 

All solar panels consist of crystalline silicon wafers designed to absorb sunlight. This energy then converts to DC power. Some portable panels direct this DC power directly into a battery with several USB ports to power various appliances. Others use an inverter to translate it to AC — the type of power most devices use. 

Smaller portable solar panels produce about 5 to 50 watts of electricity. Larger, folding models can generate roughly the same as their rooftop equivalent — about 300 watts. 

Please note that your average RV uses 20 kWh a day — approximately 20,000 watts. Most apartments use slightly more, although usage may be equivalent if you’re in a tiny studio. What does this mean? You won’t be able to power the whole show with solar panels for RVs. 

In general, you’ll be able to power a few smaller appliances like radios and computers. Your heating and cooling demand the most power, and you’ll still need to stay on the grid or use a backup generator. Even a mini-fridge uses approximately 7,500 watts a day. Still, you can significantly reduce your energy consumption, reducing your reliance on non-renewable resources while saving the planet. 

The Best Brands of Solar Panels for RVs and Apartment Dwellers

Are you intrigued by the concept of powering some of your devices with portable solar panels for RVs — or your apartment? Here are some options to consider when making your initial purchase. 

1. Renogy 50W Monocrystalline 12V Solar Panel Kit

Are you seeking power you can take anywhere, complete with four USB ports for charging all your devices? Look no further. This system is compatible with lithium batteries for the longest-lasting juice. It’s installation-ready with a pre-drilled back frame that easily attaches to your RV, exterior wall or she-shed. A cozy, little self-powered craft room or writing center in your backyard? Yes, please!

2. Acopower HY 4×12.5W 12V 50W Portable Solar Panel Kit

Here’s a kit that comes in multiple sizes. The standard panel is 50W, although you can go up to 120W. Best of all, it’s lightweight and the smaller panels fold up no larger than a laptop — perfect if you’re crunched for space.  

3. Go Power! GP-PSK-130 130W Portable Folding Solar Kit

If you want more power with ultimate portability, consider the Go Power portable folding solar kit. It includes a carrying case, allowing you to set up easily wherever you park your RV. It also unfolds on a sunny balcony, letting you power your home office without relying on the grid. 

Setting Up Your RV or Apartment for Solar Power

Fortunately, setting up portable solar panels for an RV or apartment isn’t too difficult. Most of the kits above unfold and install in minutes. Since you plug your devices directly into the battery, you don’t have to worry about attaching your system to your home’s grid. The most work you may need to do is mounting the panels on the rooftop of your RV if your kit offers such an option. 

Going solar reduces your carbon footprint, but will it save you money? Not necessarily. According to one estimate, a $400 system will power your devices for eight years. The same cost to connect those gadgets to the grid is only $233. 

However, your initial cost is only one consideration. While you may need to replace the battery, the panels remain good — so it won’t cost you as much to maintain your system. Furthermore, you never have to worry about being incommunicado if the power goes out — you’ll always have a way to charge your phone and laptop. 

Furthermore, you need to think of the future. You might be among the many born with nothing but your labor to offer and realize that modern society has you over a barrel. Current rent prices prohibit many from ever saving enough for a home the traditional way. When it costs $50,000 in tuition to get a job paying $20 an hour, and the average home price is over $500,000, it’s a matter of math, not how hard you “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” 

As a result, more and more people are turning to RV living, either to save for a home or merely escape the endless cycle of slaving to make their landlords richer. You might be in an apartment now, but a portable solar panel kit you can take with you if your property management company decides to hike rent yet again can be a valuable investment.

Solar Panels for RV and Apartment Dwellers

If you’ve dreamed of going solar but felt restricted since you rent, you now have another option. Solar panels for RVs can also fuel your small appliances, reducing your carbon footprint. 

Plus, they give you endless options for camping, allowing you to spend long weekends away from the madding crowds without losing the ability to scroll through Reddit. If you want to go greener, consider solar panels for your RV as part of your overall carbon reduction strategy.

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About the author

Rachel Lark

Rachel serves as the Assistant Editor of A true foodie and activist at heart, she loves covering topics ranging from veganism to off grid living.