If You Travel a Lot in a Motorhome, You May Be Interested in Installing Solar Panels

Part of the appeal of a caravan or motorhome lies in its ability to make you enjoy the world while you are away from home. However, the experience of camping with them would not be complete without the ability to spend time plugged into an electrical network. In these cases, you need a power generator or, better yet, a photovoltaic system that you can install as a solar panel (or several) in your caravan.

The trend to stay at home and the isolation imposed during the health crisis made mobile homes, campervans and other types of motorhomes extremely popular. In fact, more RVs were built in 2021 than at any other time in history , which is why more and more companies are being born to build some rich man's dream RV, though, thankfully, options have also expanded for an alfo more modest audience.

Coming back to the case, to fulfill its purpose, a motorhome needs electricity to power the appliances and keep things comfortable . This means that you will either stay in places that have access to electricity or make it yourself, using a generator or photovoltaic system. In many cases and for the casual traveler, the generator works well, being a simple and economical solution. On the other hand, if you want to stay off the grid for long periods, you may want an alternative.

We say this because a generator is usually noisy and only works as long as it has enough fuel . You probably don't want it to work at night while you sleep. In addition, the generator requires some maintenance and sometimes breaks when you need it most. A photovoltaic power system, on the other hand, is a maintenance-free, clean and quiet system , despite generating power more slowly. But it also proves on the other hand that it is more profitable when used more frequently.

Choosing between a generator and a solar panel system depends not only on your camping habits, but also on your budget . That is why one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to putting solar panels on the caravan is: "How much does it cost?" However, there is no simple answer to this question, and it all depends on what you want to do and how much you are willing to spend.

If you want the cheapest solution for powering a few things, like your caravan's LED lighting and maybe your TV, a 400W system will suffice. This means you'll still need a generator for larger consumers like your refrigerator, microwave, oven, and air conditioner. A photovoltaic system like this should cost between 3,500 and 5,000 euros in total . With $1,000 more, you could afford an 800W system that will help you power more appliances while giving you some wiggle room to work.

We recommend making better use of the money and opting for a 1,200W system instead. This is similarly priced at £4,500 to £5,500 in total, but will be able to power almost everything in the caravan except the air conditioning itself. You will still need to keep an eye on the total fuel consumption when you turn on more power-hungry appliances. You will no longer need a generator, although it is still a good idea to take one on board in case there is an emergency and you need electricity at the moment.

For larger systems, you hit a wall with the limited space available on your caravan roof. This prevents you from installing more or larger solar panels, which limits the total power that the PV system will be able to deliver. If you have a really big caravan, you can install a system capable of generating more than 20,000 W per day for a price that could be around 10,000 euros .

Depending on the kit you buy, you may need an additional charge controller and inverter , but these are the cheapest components, which you can find for around $500 . Batteries, on the other hand, are the most expensive and are not included in any PV kit . Depending on the type of electrolytic batteries - flooded, gel or AGM batteries - and their capacity, the price ranges between 150 and more than 1,000 euros. This is practically everything, and you will only have to complete the homologation certificates to enjoy it.