How Much Solar Power Do I Need for my RV?
How much solar power do I need for my RV? That is one of the ultimate questions. The answer is quite simple and at the same time a little complicated. “It depends.” But wait, there is a very simple way to know how much solar power I need for my RV and I’ll show you how to figure that out very easily.
What do you want to run in your RV and for how long?
This is the most important question to figure out how much solar power you need for your RV. I have a 27ft travel trailer (bumper pull) which I have added 2,100w of solar power to the roof of my RV and run the entire RV with my Titan Solar Generator. I use 2,100w of solar power and the Titan because I wanted a simple system that I knew would make all the power I needed including running my AC during the day.
Let’s break down what devices use how much power:
AC (typical) RV Fridge ≈ 80wh/hr
DC RV Fridge ≈ 30wh/hr
12v LED Light Bulb ≈ 2w
13,500BTU A/C ≈ 1,300wh/hr
Fan plugged into AC outlet ≈ 35w
12v DC Roof Vent Fan ≈ 10w
12v Water Pump ≈ 30w
Furnace Blower ≈ 100w
What do I mean by watt-hours/hour vs watts? It gets a little confusing and they’re very similar terms. When I talk about watt-hours/hour I am saying that running that device for 1 hour will consume that many watt-hours. For example, the fridge will use 80wh per hour it’s running. But when the fridge is cooling and running it will use more than 80w to run, more around 250-450w. But it doesn’t run for 60 minutes of every hour. It runs much higher than 80w but over the course of an hour will only consume about 80wh.
When I talk about something running off of watts that means that is how much power it is using while running. And since it’s constant power for as long as it’s running then it will consume that many watts in an hour as well. For example, a 12v DC roof vent fan will use about 10w to run and is constant, not fluctuating how much power it needs to run like the fridge. In the course of an hour it will have consumed 10 watt-hours, and while running was only using 10 watts.
I know it’s confusing. But let’s get back to how much power do I need for my RV?
Add together the total daily power usage:
I know in my RV there are certain things that will be running all the time. The biggest is the fridge and usually my 12v DC roof vent fan. Both of those combined (80 + 10) I am looking at about 90 watt-hours used every hour for those. That means I automatically need 24hrs x 90wh = 2,160wh of total capacity to run just those two items non-stop for 24 hours.
I will also be running certain things in the evening such as the 12v LED light bulbs which use hardly any power at all. But I will likely be running a water pump throughout the day and evening as well. I will likely use about 50wh total each night from the LED bulbs and about 50wh per day using the water pump. That puts me up to 2,260wh total power usage per day.
If it’s cold I’ll likely be running the furnace all day and night but that cycles on and off so it will likely use about 1,200wh per day. That means if it’s cold outside I’ll use about 2,460wh per day total.
If it’s hot outside I’ll likely be running the A/C all day long, and maybe a little bit at night depending on how hot it is at night. The A/C unit is the most power-hungry item in the RV. At about 1,300wh/hr it will kick on and off all day long, which will put my power usage somewhere around 8,000 to 10,000wh for the entire day. That’s a lot of power!
Things like coffee makers, microwaves, toasters, and similar items run for a very short amount of time. They use a high amount of watts when running, but don’t run long so they don’t use many watt-hours. This is why it’s important to have a large inverter that will allow me to run those items when I need to but I don’t have to necessarily have a huge battery bank or solar panel array to run those items.
Determine the size solar power kit needed:
RV Essentials Only (no heat or a/c)
I now know how much power I need to just run my RV with no heat or a/c which is about 2,500wh for an entire 24 hour period. The Titan 500 Solar Kit is capable of making 2,500wh of capacity each day. That means that I can easily bring my Titan 500 kit camping with me in my RV and run all of my essentials for days on end.
Hot Weather (need a/c)
Most people spend their time RVing from spring into fall with the biggest amount of time during the summer since that’s when we usually have more free time. But that can bring high heat. Because of that, we need air conditioning. To run A/C all day long, and hopefully just fans at night, I know I need something much stronger like the Titan+ 2000 Solar Kit. That is capable of making over 10,000wh per day and has 4,000wh of battery storage.
All-day long I can be running my RV while still charging up the Titan batteries which will give me full batteries by nightfall. That means I can still run the A/C a little bit at night while still running my fridge, lights, fans, and other necessary items.
Cold Weather (need heat)
Luckily the furnace blowers don’t use a lot of power. Because I am running essentials as well as the heater I will only need something like the Titan 1000 Solar Kit to run all of that. It would be best to have a second battery with this system as well to make sure there’s enough backup power to get through the whole night and into the morning.
During the winter there is less sunlight which means I need to account for more stored power, so it may even be best to bump up to the Titan+ 1500 Solar Kit to make sure I have to charge more power per day and have more backup battery to get through the night.
There are many different sized solar kits going all the way up to the Titan++ 3000 and Titan++ 4000 kits but those are a little too big for RVs since they have so much power in solar panels it’s hard to travel with that many panels.
It all comes down to doing the math and finding out how much power your RV will be drawing during the day and night. Once that number is figured out then it’s easy to see how much solar power I need in my RV to run what I want. I will likely need different amounts of power at different times of the year.
The Best Option
Truly the best way to go is to get the Titan+ 2000 kit because that ensures that whether I am just using my essentials, or it’s winter and I need heat, or it’s summer and I need A/C that I have enough power for whatever the situation is.
I installed the Titan+ 2000 kit in my personal RV and added one more 100w solar panel because of the way I was connecting everything on my roof. Normally using 4 banks of solar panels with each bank having 5 panels connected together works best. You can watch my video here.
In the end, go with what you need. The Titan is the ONLY unit on the market right now that can truly run everything in an RV without having any overload issues. It is also the ONLY Unit on the market right now that can allow that much solar power in it and run things all day and all night easily.
Nothing else compares to it. It’s just a matter of choosing which solar kit is best for your needs in your RV. When in doubt, go with the Titan+ 2000. Or start with the Titan 1000, and expand it from there if needed.
There’s no easier way than the Titan because it already has the charging capability built-in, inverter built-in, and batteries. It’s a complete system. All that’s left is to set out the solar panels, plug them in, and plug an RV into the Titan. That’s it. It’s that simple. No other system is that simple. Not to mention that if I were to install my own inverter, charge controllers, battery management systems, wiring, and all the other pieces, it’ll still cost about the same as buying the Titan.