Why would any recreational vehicle (RV) owner wants a Do It Yourself (DIY) solar system? One of the reasons is the high cost of a custom built solar power setup. An RV usually has 2 options to generate electricity for the living compartment. The first option is to use a gasoline generator to produce electricity when the vehicle is parked. Some people do not fancy this option because it is noisy and creates a lot of pollution. It also has a high running cost because you have to constantly top it up with gasoline.
The second option which is more desirable is to use solar panels to generate electricity. It is clean, efficient, does not generate any pollution whatsoever and require minimum maintenance. The only drawback in the installation cost. A custom built RV solar power system which can generate up to 440 watt can cost as much as $3000! Many RV owners would rather spend the money on other improvements. Because of the high cost, many motor homes owners are turning to Do It Yourself (DIY) solar kit for RVs. The system is not perfect, nonetheless, it is capable of generating usable electricity for the living area at a lower cost.
A homemade solar system is actually quite simple. The key components are the solar panels, charge controller, battery storage unit and power inverter. The other miscellaneous parts supporting the system are amp meter, voltage meter, disconnect switches and safety cut off fuses. The heart of the entire system which is the solar panels is to be installed on the roof of the vehicle. If your RV has a flat roof, this will be a simple process. However, if the roof of the vehicle is curved, then a special mounting would have to be made to cater for it.
The mounting plays a major role to ensure the Photovoltaic (PV) panels are working at its optimum capacity. When it is laid flat on the roof, the panels will not have the best angle to capture the sun light. Movable mounting which can be adjusted or tilted would be the best solution.
All the PV panels are to be connected to the charge controller which will use the current generated to charge the battery bank. When building the battery bank, it is best to choose true deep cycle battery. This is the type of battery used on electric golf carts. They are more durable and can be discharged to a lower level without damaging its internal plates. The final step is to hook up a power inverter to the battery and then run an extension cable around the RV living compartment. You can now enjoy free electricity on the open road courtesy of the sun.