One question that many RV owners ask is whether they should set up a solar panel system for their RV. Since getting it all set up can be quite expensive, the long-term savings need to justify going through with it.
Start-Up Cost vs. Long-Term Savings
A reliable solar set-up can cost thousands of dollars, but if it ends up saving you just $5 to $10 a day it’ll pay for itself at some point in the future. The big question is when will that be and how much can it save for you each year after it’s paid for itself.
Of course, if you rent an RV with Outdoorsy you don’t have to worry about investing in solar power at all. Just sayin’!
How Do You Use Your RV?
Whether solar power will make sense for you depends greatly on how you use your RV. The more you use it, the more sense it makes and the faster it will pay itself off. Let’s take a look at some of the scenarios and how solar fits in:
The Occasional Weekend – If you only use your RV on vacation or on an occasional weekend you probably won’t benefit greatly from going the solar route. It will likely just be a novelty item that you can show your friends, but won’t put money back in your pocket or lower your expenses over time.
All Day, Every Day – If you are a full-time RV user you will likely benefit from solar power. Just make sure that you have a big enough panel to power the things you use the most. And if you can’t replace all of the electricity that you use with solar power you will at least be taking a good chunk out of it.
Off the Grid – Boondocking it is where solar power makes the most sense. When you are out in the middle of nowhere with no ability to hook your RV up to electricity you will need to provide your own supply. At this point it isn’t a matter of whether solar makes financial sense, it often means the difference between being able to live where you want and how you want.
How Long Until You Break Even?
Most potential solar power investors want to know when their break even point will be, that magical time when the solar power system is completely paid for and any electricity it generates is like money in the bank. That calculation will vary from person to person, and depends on how much you initially spend on your system and how much you use it.
How Much Value Do You Place on Self-Reliance?
If you love the idea of being out in the wilderness and not worrying about running out of electricity if you run into a string of cloudy or rainy days, a solar system will probably benefit you a lot. If you’re just considering it because you saw someone with a really cool set-up and now you want one, it’s best to hold off for until you really need it.
As solar power becomes more and more popular, the costs will come down and it will reach a tipping point where everyone has it, and they come standard. Until then, calculate your break even point and determine if the future monthly savings make it a wise investment.