One of the things that everyone wants to know about the RTR is how do I get solar installed on my rig there? It’s simpler and more difficult than you think.
Here’s a video about our solar setup on our travel trailer.
The Rubber Trump Rendezvous is awesome because it’s not an organized group, while in a lot of ways it is organized. There’s Bob Wells who is an extraordinary man, a leader of an emerging movement of people who no longer conform to the expectations of society. These people need a refuge from being normal. That’s where Bob steps in and provides a supportive platform for transition into nomadic life. He’s very good at it and you can find out more about Bob and his mission at Cheap RV Living.
Within the organized event that Bob is running, a number of people gather together and become friends. There is a sub-society within the society emerging and playing out. Each of us can find a home within one of these sub-societies where we can find camaraderie. This is where you’ll find someone who can help you with your solar install. Bob will not provide you with someone to set up your solar. Don’t have that expectation.
We joined one of the Cheap RV Living Caravans and mentioned during a nightly fire that we were looking for someone to install our solar set up. That’s where we met a man who was able to help us with a complex solar system setup.
If you do not require a set up that will link your solar system into your RV’s converter, then I highly suggest you do it yourself. There are a number of great videos on Bob’s YouTube that can get you started.
To break it down for you. The links to the items below will get you a very usable, 70 amp hours of power, and basically unlimited power in the day time for a small rig set up. This is if you live in a small trailer, van, or small motor home and you do not plan to watch tv all night or run a lot of AC appliances regularly. This set up would work for you if you run AC appliances only during the day time when you have full solar and at night you are just using your water pump occasionally and lights. For a basic solar set up on a small trailer or van you will need the following:
- Solar Panels
- Charge Controller
- Batteries (connected to your rig or not)
- Wiring (sometimes included)
- Inverter (not necessary unless you want to use AC power)
The easiest way to do this on a small motorhome or trailer, and also the least expensive, is to buy a briefcase solar and directly connect it to your battery. This is what we used on our 17 foot Viking Travel Trailer for 3 years. It was more than sufficient for our needs and provided us with enough power to power all our DC devices. The obvious downside is that you have to set it up everywhere you go so it is not always charging. It is only charging when you are stationary. Still, this setup will do for most people and I recommend it for you if you aren’t full time, aren’t sure you want to full-time and are trying it out, or you are low on funds. I do not recommend a generator of any type of size for that group of people. The following easy to use briefcase solar will meet all your initial needs and be no maintenance or continued cost in comparison to a loud generator.
This panel comes with it’s own charge controller so you don’t have to worry about that. Ours even fell over and completely cracked on one side. It still continues to work at the same level it did before it cracked. We covered it in polyurethane to keep it water proof.
If you want to easily run a few low wattage AC items during the day time when you are getting a full solar charge and you can easily recharge your batteries, I suggest a small inverter that you can plug into a DC plug inside of your rig. This plug looks like a cigarette lighter.
We charged our computer, camera batteries, ran a salt rock lamp, and charge our phones on an inverter like this for three years. Just keep in mind that you should never exceed the wattage of the inverter with the items you are plugging into it. It will get really hot and could start a fire if you do that or damage your electronics. Another thing to keep in mind is wiring size, the reason I only suggest up to a 300 watt inverter in a DC plug is because the wiring is small and could easily overload/catch on fire if you try to use a larger inverter in small wiring.
The best thing to do is look for substitutions to using AC power. Get a french press or pour over to make coffee instead of a coffee maker. Buy DC appliances, truck stops are full of these.
Finally, if this type of set up just won’t do for you because you have a large rig with high power needs and you don’t have the skills necessary to set it up yourself, maybe you’ll get lucky and find someone to install your solar at the RTR. I think we were really lucky and blessed to just happen upon someone who could install it. I will say that I have a lot of difficulty troubleshooting anything that doesn’t work exactly the way it’s supposed to. I don’t understand our system setup very well when it comes to fixing things. I have swapped out a breaker but I didn’t get the wiring inserted as well as it should be and that causes issues. I think if you can learn how to install solar yourself, you are much better off in the long run.
Let me know if you have any questions at all about how to live in an RV or Solar Power in an RV. We are happy to serve.