Whether or not you’re in a Camper, Van, RV, or Skoolie, you’ve probably questioned before what the best method for powering your rig.
While many campsites and RV parks have electrical hookups, some of the more adventurous folk want to camp in the middle of nowhere. Even if you’re not into boondocking, there has likely been a point in your current or future travels where you won’t have access to a campground or RV park for those hookups.
There are two options for getting extra power for your rig in remote locations including a Generator or Solar Panels.
Having a reliable, portable generator is super useful to get power to your gadgets and electronics. However, many can be noisy and still require gas, oil, or other type of fuel to operate. If solar panels are just too much out of your comfort zone and budget, having a cost-effective and eco-friendly generator for backup is an excellent option, especially if you have high-powered appliances like an air conditioner or microwave.
So, Why Bother with Solar Power?
While you may not be able to completely ditch a generator based on your needs, having solar panels still carry many benefits. For one, generators produce far more power than you’ll actually need. Solar panels, on the other hand, use the sunlight to charge batteries that then provide your rig with power. These batteries can handle any 12-volt device and low wattage devices including laptops, cell phones, and TVs through an inverter. Having the ability to not use a generator for power really opens you up to an entirely new camping experience.
1. Boondocking Will Become Your Next Favorite Thing
Boondocking is a common term for dry camping that many RVers use to describe camping without being connected to water, electric, or sewer. When you boondock, you have the ability to stay on any BLM land that you want for free. This allows you to have that off-the-beaten trail kind of camping experience you always needed.
2. Less Noise
Even the more expensive generators get noisy. We love camping because it brings us close to nature and its quietness. Unfortunately, the growl of generator kind of ruin the vibe. On top of that, you’ll pretty much be using it for everything you do in your RV including watching TV, cooking, or turning on the lights.
Additionally, having a noisy generator around other people at campsites can create a bad reputation for you real quick.
Solar panels cause absolutely no noise when securing energy for you.
3. More Environmentally and Eco-Friendly
Solar panels definitely have a much more environmentally friendly impact on the Earth while also saving you money on fuel costs. While most generators are mandated by emission guidelines, they can still be slightly harmful to the environment and cause carbon monoxide poisoning which is life-threatening to humans.
Investing in solar panels can be a huge upfront cost. But, once you have them installed, they pay for themselves and don’t require regular maintenance. A well-powered generator is usually expensive and does require maintenance and fuel fill-ups which may not be the most cost-efficient in the long-term.
Solar panel systems usually last for at least 10 years, if not more. While budgeting may be a strong reason you aren’t considering a solar set-up, we’d consider it more as an initial investment and large return. As solar continues to expand and improve, the price of one will also become more affordable. Even if you’re scared of the set-up process, there are tons of cost-effective, smaller systems that are even portable!
5. No Constraints
A lot of the time, generators are allowed but only during certain times of the day. In order to be prepared, you’re going to need to check the local regulations or US National Park guidelines to see if your generator will comply. Furthermore, local fire bans and protected bird areas may limit how much you can use your generator, as well. On the other hand, if you have solar, you really won’t have to worry about any of these concerns!
Our Favorite Thing About Solar Panels
Our favorite thing about having solar panels on our school bus conversion is the freedom it allows us while traveling. We can virtually stay anywhere for free without having to hook up. Our 1400-Watt solar power system is clean, quiet, waste-free, and maintenance-free. We get an unlimited supply of energy, even on some cloudy days.
If you’re going to do a solar system setup, be sure to take your time and figure out what works best for you. Every person is different for what their daily needs are and how much solar you’ll need. We’d definitely recommend looking into a decent generator as a back-up method just in case you’re staying somewhere that isn’t sunny for a week or so.