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RV Solar Power Setup: Costs, Components, and Real-Life Off-Grid Experiences

When we first decided to pursue our dream of full-time RV living, we knew we wanted the freedom to explore off-grid locations and experience the beauty of untouched wilderness. However, as digital nomads who rely on electricity to power our work and daily lives, we quickly realized that a robust solar setup would be essential to making this dream a reality. In this blog post, we’ll share our journey of researching, installing, and living with our RV solar system, including a detailed breakdown of our components, costs, and real-life experiences boondocking off-grid.

Understanding Your RV Solar Power Needs: DC vs AC and What You Can Run

When we first started considering solar power for our RV, we had to understand the difference between DC (direct current) and AC (alternating current) power. DC power is what your batteries provide, while AC power is what you get from shore power or a generator. Many RV appliances and electronics require AC power, so if you want to run them off your batteries, you’ll need an inverter to convert DC to AC.

To determine what size solar setup you need, make a list of all the devices and appliances you want to power. Consider how long you’ll use each item and whether you really need it. For example, we quickly realized that running our air conditioners 24/7 on solar wasn’t feasible, but we could still power our computers, TV, and other essentials comfortably, and run 1-2 ACs for short term use (when we need it longer we use the generator).

Our RV Solar Setup: A Detailed Breakdown of Components and Costs

Our solar setup consists of the following components:

  • 4 Redodo 12V 200Ah lithium batteries (800Ah total) [See special discount below]
  • 1500W of solar panels on the roof (2 existing panels that came with our RV + 4 Hightec Solar 220w-286w Bifacial Solar Panels)
  • Victron MultiPlus-II 3000W inverter 
  • 2 solar charge controllers
  • Wiring, fuses, breakers, and other necessary components

 

We spent around $9,000 on the equipment itself, and another $5,000 on professional installation, bringing our total investment to approximately $14,000. 

While this may seem steep, it’s important to remember that a robust solar setup can significantly reduce your camping fees and generator usage in the long run. We went from an average monthly campground cost of $1600 to only $100-200 when mostly boondocking. That’s a HUGE difference (and we like it WAY more)

Plus, if you have the time and ability, you can install it yourself and save the $5000 we spent on the installation.

Get our Solar Schematic and Shopping List of our Setup

To help you plan your own solar setup, we’re sharing the detailed schematic and shopping list based on our consultant’s recommendations. You can access them here. 

PLEASE NOTE: Your needs WILL be different. Please do your research and consider hiring the consultant we used to help you ensure you get the right parts and layout. (we don’t get any commission from him… we just think he’s great)

Where we got the Victron scratch and dents. https://invertersrus.com

DIY or Hire a Pro? Navigating RV Solar Installation Options

When it came to installing our solar setup, we initially considered doing it ourselves to save money. However, after researching and consulting with experts like Dan from RV Solar Consulting, we realized that the complexity of the project and the potential risks involved made hiring a professional the better choice for us.

We ended up working with Paul Worster from Bulldog RV, who came highly recommended by the NRVTA (National RV Training Academy). Paul and his team were able to complete the installation in just two days, ensuring that everything was done safely and correctly. While hiring a professional added to our overall costs, it gave us peace of mind and allowed us to start enjoying our off-grid adventures sooner.

Redodo Batteries: Our Honest 1-Year Review and an Exclusive Discount

One of the most significant expenses in any RV solar setup is the batteries. After researching various options, we decided to go with Redodo 12V 200Ah lithium batteries, based on the recommendation of our solar consultant. We were impressed by the affordability and performance of these batteries compared to more well-known brands like Battle Born.

When comparing the cost of Redodo batteries to Battle Born, the difference is staggering. A Battle Born 270Ah battery costs around $2,500, while a Redodo 200Ah battery typically retails for $600-$700. That’s a significant saving, especially when you consider that we needed four batteries for our setup.

After a year of use, we can confidently say that our Redodo Batteries have exceeded our expectations. They’ve held up well to the rigors of full-time RV living and have provided reliable power for all our needs. We love that they’re lightweight, compact, and require no maintenance. Plus, with a 5-year warranty and an expected lifespan of 10 years, we feel confident in our investment.

SAVE $260 on Redodo 200Ah Lithium Batteries!!!

redodo lithium batteries for rvFor a limited time, Redodo is offering our followers an exclusive discount on their 12V 200Ah lithium batteries. By using our special link, you can purchase these batteries for just $530 each ($769 reg), which is an incredible deal. But it gets even better – when you use the discount code LIKE at checkout, you’ll receive an additional 5% off, bringing the final price down to just $509 per battery!

Here’s our special community discount link. Enter LIKE in the coupon area.

To put this into perspective, our total cost for four Redodo batteries would be approximately $2,036 with this exclusive offer. That’s less than the cost of a single Battle Born battery, making it an unbeatable value for those looking to invest in a reliable, high-performance lithium battery setup for their RV.

Boondocking with Solar: Real-Life Experiences and Lessons Learned from RVing Off-Grid

Living off-grid with solar power has been a game-changer for us. We’ve been able to explore stunning remote locations, save money on camping fees, and enjoy a greater sense of freedom and self-sufficiency. However, it’s important to be realistic about what you can and can’t power with solar.

On a typical day, we can easily run our computers, TV, lights, and small appliances like the microwave and coffee maker. We’re mindful of our power consumption, especially in the mornings before the sun is fully up, but overall, we’re able to live comfortably. That said, we do use a generator occasionally to top off our batteries or power our air conditioner during extreme heat.

Here are our favorite generators:

Champion Power Equipment 2500-Watt Dual Fuel Ultralight Portable Inverter Generator

Cummins Onan P4500I Portable Inverter Generator, Power Inverter Dual Fuel  (we just got this one. Review coming soon)

Some key lessons we’ve learned from boondocking with solar include:

  • Be realistic about your power needs and usage habits
  • Monitor your battery levels and solar input regularly
  • Have a backup plan, like a generator or campground with hookups, for extended cloudy periods or extreme weather
  • Embrace energy-efficient habits and appliances to maximize your solar power

 

Embarking on the journey of RVing off-grid with solar power has been one of the most rewarding decisions we’ve made as full-time RVers. It has opened up a world of possibilities, allowing us to explore remote locations, save money on camping fees, and experience a greater sense of freedom and self-sufficiency. While the initial investment in a solar setup can be significant, we’ve found that the long-term benefits far outweigh the costs.

By sharing our experiences, lessons learned, and exclusive discounts, we hope to inspire and empower other RVers to take the leap into boondocking with solar power. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a full-time nomad, having the ability to generate your own electricity and live comfortably off-grid is an incredible feeling. So, if you’ve been considering solar power for your RV, we encourage you to start researching, planning, and dreaming big. The untouched wilderness and unforgettable adventures await!

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