With some basic maintenance, RV solar panels can provide renewable and abundant energy to your RV for years to come. If you like taking your RV off the grid, solar panels give you the power to go anywhere and everywhere. So, how do you maintain your RV solar panels on the road while you are boondocking?
Learn everything you need to know about the essential tips for taking care of your RV’s solar panels. Find out what the most common issues are with RV solar, and how to resolve them while on the road or off-the-grid. And, see why some RVers get more out of their solar panels than others, based on their solar maintenance practices.
Essential Maintenance for RV Solar Panels: The Guide for Boondockers
RV solar panels are a great upgrade for boondocking, but they need more maintenance than stationary solar panels, like those on the roof of a house. When properly maintained, your solar panels can power your RV for the next 20 to 30 years. But, like any electronic, without the proper care and attention, you can start to see diminishing energy returns after only a few years.
That being said – solar panels are designed to be relatively low-maintenance. This is certainly true with stationary panels, but when you mount solar panels to a moving vehicle a host of issues can arise.
If you are experiencing issues with your RV solar panels or solar system, talk to an RV solar expert for a free consultation. And, if you are looking to keep your solar panels working like new, try these basic essential RV solar panel maintenance tips:
Keep Your RV Solar Panels Clean
The most important piece of maintenance you can perform on your RV solar panels is to regularly clean them. Solar panels don’t generally require too much hands-on maintenance, except for making sure the photovoltaic cells can absorb as much light as possible. The more dirt, grime, and dust that accumulates on the solar panels, the less efficiently your solar system will charge your RVs batteries.
Solar panels on the ground are mounted differently than on the roof of your RV. Ground-mounted solar panels are installed at a 45-degree angle to the sun, whereas solar panels on the roof of your RV are often mounted flat. Mounting your solar panels flat on the roof of your RV means that they don’t naturally shed rainwater as easily as solar panels that are mounted at an angle. So, instead of rainfall acting as a natural cleaner, it can cause residual water stains and dirt buildup if not properly maintained.
Using solar panels on your RV means that your solar system is exposed to the same conditions as your RV. When you are boondocking in the wilderness, there is no way of knowing what wild critters are doing their “business” on top of your RV. If you are driving your RV through the American Southwest, sand and dust present one of the biggest adversaries to roof-mounted solar panels. But, all you have to do is to make sure you clean your solar panels as often as necessary to keep your batteries charging.
How to Clean Solar Panels on Your RV
When it comes to cleaning off your RV solar panels, all you need is water, a couple of clean rags, and maybe a little bit of soap. If dust and dirt are all that is obstructing your photovoltaic cells, spray the panel off with a hose, or wipe the dirt off with a damp rag. If you are cleaning tougher build-up, like animal droppings, add a bit of dish soap to your water, and rinse with clean water.
Monitoring Your Frames, Wires, and Energy Efficiency
Every once in a while, as you are up on top of your RV cleaning your solar panels, take a look at the frames in which the panels mount. By rights, these frames hold your solar panels water-tight, but cracks or gaps might form over time. If you use your RV regularly, about once every four months take off the solar panel frame to be sure that sticks, debris, and dirt have not caused any fraying or damage to the wires, fuses, or electrical connections.
Often, you can stay aware of the state of your solar system without visually inspecting it, with a monitoring system. Solar monitoring systems hook-up with your RVs solar system to give you real-time information and alerts to your smartphone regarding the state of your solar panels. A solar monitoring system allows you to see the energy metrics, sunlight uptake efficiency, and cumulative data regarding your solar system.
Keep Your RV Parked in the Sun
It might sound obvious, but the most important thing to keep your solar system running smoothly is to give it ample sunlight. If you are used to finding the perfect secluded and shady oasis for your RV, things have to change. Remember, your RVs power depends on the sun, so keep it parked in direct sunlight as often as possible.
Protect Your Solar Panels from Storm Damage
Arguably, the biggest threat to your solar panel system is damage from storms. Falling branches can scratch the glass on your solar panels, obstructing the photovoltaic cells' ability to uptake sunlight. If you keep your RV parked and unused for long periods, consider getting solar panel covers to protect your panels from falling debris and other unforeseen damage.
Keeping your RV solar system functioning optimally is easier than you might think. If your solar system is installed and maintained correctly, it can provide you with the freedom to take your RV off the grid to seek greater adventures. Talk to an RV expert to learn more about maintaining or repairing your RV solar panels.