RV Solar Panels

Everyone wants RV solar panels nowadays . Going off the grid with your RV is the latest thing . New RV’s and campers are coming solar ready. So the big question is what does all this mean and what do you buy ?


Your batteries are what stores the solar energy . Your rv solar system can be as simple as a way to keep your RV battery charged . Depending on how long you want to be off the grid and how much power you plan on using depends on how how large a of a bank of batteries you want to have .

Series VS Parallel

When you use multiple batteries you can hook them up differently depending on what you are trying to do . In series you are adding the batteries together to increase voltage . Two 6 volt batteries in series will make 12 volts . Two 12 volt batteries ran parallel will be 12 volts with twice the capacity . You can even combine the 2 methods having 2 in series ran parallel with 2 more in series for a total of 12 volts . You probably lost me there so well get to the next part.

Charge Controller

Your solar panels don’t know when to stop charging your batteries. Your charge controller manages this to make sure your expensive bank of batteries isn’t overcharged . To pick a charge controller you need to first know how much charging current you will have as well as the load current that can be expected so it is sized right for your application .


An Inverter converts DC power to AC power . Most campers have 2 electrical systems. A 12 volts system that runs lights , water pump and heater . Then an AC system that works when you are plugged in for your outlets and microwave .In order to run your AC system off of 12 volts you need an inverter .

Solar Panels

Finally the part everyone wants to know . Now that we know all of the components involved we can start looking at solar panels. The cheapest solar charger out there may not be what you are looking for . Harbor freight has this 1.5 watt charger for $15. That definitely wont run your RV off grid but may work as a trickle charger so your propane detector doesn’t run down your battery.

There are tons of options to fit your budget here . There is a nice chart here which will help simplify things if you aren’t an electrical engineer or dont want to do the math for yourself .

Solar can be a great option for remote camping, but it does have it limitations , you aren’t going to be using your Rooftop air conditioner or Microwave with a small solar setup . But you can run your heat, lights and even TV with the right setup and and Inverter .

Expand Your Grey Tank Capacity

Have you noticed your grey tank always fills up when camping for a weekend? Did you ever wish there was a quick easy way to get rid of some of that water without taking it to the dump station ? You can easily expand your grey tank capacity by using your black tank which never fills up .

As long as both of your tanks dump in the same place you can add a third valve without any tools.

Twist On Waste Valve, Boxed - Valterra.com
Valterra T-58

By simply adding this valve where your sewer cap is , you can open both your grey and black tank valves and allow the water levels to equalize. Since your grey tank is the full tank, the force is higher coming from that tank. Therefore you don’t need to worry about filling your grey tank with sewage.

If you fill both tanks you can always get a portable tank to dump into and take to the dump station. I personally like the tanks that have all the wheels on the ground that you don’t have to lift up once they are full with water .

Amazon.com: Barker (30844) 4-Wheeler Tote Tank - 42 Gallon ...
Barker 42 Gallon

Now that you can get rid of extra water and expand your grey tank capacity see how I get more water to my camper when we camp for long weekends without water hookups on my post here .

Extra Camper Water Tank

Do you ever wish your camper water tank was bigger? Do you wish you could install an extra camper water tank somewhere. If you camper is like most others, you freshwater capacity is much smaller than your dump tanks.

Camping in Ohio, most of the state parks we go to don’t have water at the sites . It seemed like every time we went camping I wish I had about 10 more gallons of water . Every time the kids wash their hand I wish I had an extra camper water tank just for them.

My camper has 1 fresh water tank that holds between 40 and 50 gallons of water. I have one black tank , a grey tank for the bathroom and another grey tank for the kitchen. I don’t know exactly but I have 2 or 3 times the dump tank capacity

First I bought a few more hoses which with my hoses and borrowing hoses from friends , we could add water to our campers if there was water within 300 ft .

My second attempt at a solution was I bought a water jug to fill my tank and used it once. It was heavy and took too many trips . I don’t know what happened to it , it either blew out of my truck bed or a left it a campsite but either way I didn’t miss it one bit.

One day I decided to take my 35 gallon tank and set it up to gravity feed to my camper I just added a hose bib to the drain hole. The tank fits perfectly in between my fifth wheel hitch and the front of the bed. It takes a little while to gravity feed maybe 20 minutes but it works great . The tank stays in my truck bed all of camping season. I eventually hooked up a water pump to the tank just because I bought a new one, but it inst necessary, just speeds up the process a little bit. So i can get back to napping or drinking sooner.

Check out my other posts and feel free share them.

Buy New or Used Camper

The big question is do I buy a new camper , or scour Craigslist and Facebook for a used one? Besides your budget there are many things to consider .

When we first started looking for a camper , I asked about warranties. Did you know new campers come with a 12 year warranty on the roof for the original owner only. The rest of the camper and equipment inside it only has a 1 year warranty.

When I heard that it sealed the deal for me. If i wasn’t going to buy new , there was no reason to even buy a fairly new camper from a dealer . Any camper you buy other than new is as is. For me that really didn’t matter since i know how to fix them and enjoy working on them. Lets look at the pro’s and con’s of both to help you decide whats right for you.

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Buying New


Comes with a 1 year warranty and 12 year non transferable roof warranty. No one else has slept, cooked or used the bathroom. The camper shouldn’t require any repairs other than routine maintenance. Financing is available for up to 12 years.


You may be paying for this camper for 12 years. No one has lived in it and worked out the kinks.

Buying Used


Significant savings over the price of new. The camper has been used and all problems have probably been addressed. You can often find used campers that are practically like new .


Camper has no warranty. You must fully inspect the camper or pay someone to inspect it before purchasing. You may not be able to find the layout that you want.

Water Damaged Rear Wall
This can be hiding behind what looks like may have been a small leak

Whether you choose to buy new or used is a personal decision that you shouldn’t rush into.

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Did you read my post about choosing a camper. http://rvlifehacks.com/2019/08/11/choosing-a-camper/

Choosing a camper

There are many things to consider when choosing a camper or RV.

Your first thing to consider will be a drivable RV or one that will be towed.

You also have to consider where you will store it , what you will tow it with and how many people will be using it .

There are many types of towable campers . Pop-ups, hybrids, travel trailer, fifth wheels, toy haulers and all of these have the option to have a slide out or multiple slides . They all have advantages and disadvantages depending on your needs.


Starting with the Pop-up , it is the smallest can be towed by almost anything with a trailer hitch and can sleep up to 8 people . These tiny transformers are an upgrade from a tent and are even available with Air conditioners. They do take some time to setup and don’t have tons of storage . Most pop ups don’t have a toilet or shower.


The hybrid campers are half travel trailer half pop up. The beds fold out from the ends and the center is like a travel trailer with a full bathroom and full-size ( camper full size ) refrigerator. These can be towed by a small suv with a tow package.


The travel trailer comes in all shapes and sizes and is the most common type of campers out there. There are many different layouts which are usually abbreviated in the model name.

BH- Bunk House

RK – Rear Kitchen

RL – Rear Living

S-Indicates it has a slide out .

Be sure to look at the trailer weight and know your tow vehicles towing rating before purchasing a trailer that is too heavy. Always use a weigh distribution hitch with sway control to prevent trailers away.


Fifth wheel campers are the larger of them all. They are towed by a fifth wheel hitch in the bed of the truck . They are much taller than the other campers and usually have a bedroom in the front over the hitch. Fifth wheel campers don’t experience trailer sway like bumper pull trailers . But you give up most of your bed for the hitch.

Choosing a camper which will work for you is easy, find it may be a little harder sometimes.

Check out my post on buying new or used here

Ten camper items under $10 you cant live without.

Ten camper items under $10 you cant live without.

These 10 items are must haves if you ask me and they are all less than $10 some are less than $5. These are the most commonly used items in out camper.

1-RV Awning Hooks (camco 42693) these can be used to hold lights and or a shade screen and they can roll up with your awning.

2-Table Cloth holders keep your table cloth in place when the wind kicks up.

3-Over the door Hooks are a must have for hanging bath towels

4-Camco Pop-A-Plate is a great way to keep paper plates out of the way.

5-Mosquito Repellant is a necessity in our part of the country

6- Camco Pop-A-Towel- Mountable or Portable Paper Towel Holder Dispenser can be mounted under a counter and moved to the tale when needed.

7- The Original Bongo Bag Pop-Up Hamper get two , one can be used as a trash can.

8- ACCO Binder Clips, Large, 1 Box, 12 Clips/Box (72100) . we have used these for chip clips .

9- Extension Cord for lights , electric griddle , crock pot .

10- Surge protector because there are never enough outlets especially for charging phones and tablets.