If you are serious about traveling the country in an RV then it is important that you plan properly for your trip. When my wife and I took a year’s sabbatical and decided to travel across country we spent a full year preparing. We had many decisions to make. What kind of RV should we buy? How much could we spend? What did we need to be able to do while traveling? What should we bring? All of these were important questions. We had a long camping checklist!
We knew that we did not have a ton of money to spend and therefore, we knew that we could not purchase a top of the line RV with all the amenities. Since I was handy, I was convinced that we could modify any RV to meet our lifestyle needs. Since we already had a 1 ton truck, we used that as a base line for our decision and decided on purchasing a 5th wheel that we could tow. The next few pieces of the puzzle were not as clear. Since my wife was teaching online, we knew that we needed Internet access. That meant that we needed to be able to have internet connectivity from our RV, power a laptop, and a printer while on the road. Additionally, we also knew that we wanted to stay connected to the world and have satellite TV, Sirius satellite radio as well as other amenities.
As we began to figure out how we were going to do all of this, one thing became clear. We needed power and lots of it. The challenge of full time rving for us was that we were also travelling with two dogs. For most this would not be much of a challenge, however, our dogs were Rottweilers. Upon researching the best ways to travel with dogs we quickly found out that most RV parks would not allow us to stay with our dogs. Apparently Rottweilers have bad reputations and are considered an insurance risk. Traveling without our dogs was not an option for us so things became even more complicated. If we were not going to be able to stay at RV parks, where were we going to get the power we needed for all of our required amenities? Thus began my research for a solution to our power problem.
I immediately though that RV solar panels could be the solution. I was right, but the problem was a bit more complicated than just bolting on a few solar panels. In order to make the solution work, I needed to know how much power I was going to use on a daily basis so that I could properly size not only my solar panels, but also the battery bank that I would need to store the energy collected, as well as the inverter that I would need to convert that energy from DC to AC power. Each system was a part of the overall solution.
Ultimately, I ended up modifying my entire RV. I added a large bank of 6 Volt AGM batteries properly wired to output 12 Volts for the RV. Attached to the batteries and wired into the RV electrical outlets was an inverter that transformed the DC battery power to AC for all the appliances that I needed and also charged the batteries when we were plugged in at an RV park. Lastly, and most importantly, I utilized solar panels to charge the batteries. For the most part, we did not stay at RV parks. The solar panels once properly sized for our needs kept us going and allowed us enough power to live the lifestyle that we wanted while on the road.
Today I consider the solar panels that we purchased the best investment that I ever made. They allowed us to camp in style wherever we wanted without having to rely on costly RV parks. They constantly keep my batteries charged and maintained as long as there is sun available. Additionally, they allowed us to live the lifestyle that we wanted to live while on the road without compromise.
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