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As the owner of an RV or travel trailer, you understand and enjoy the unique combination of freedom, comfort, and convenience. Solar energy is quickly becoming the most popular way to power your home away from home. But before you invest in a solar power system for your RV or mobile home, there’s one essential step you need to take: size it appropriately.

Sizing Tools

Power Needs

Energy Consumption

How many Panels?

Battery Bank Size

System Components


Choosing Your System

Convenient Sizing Tools for Mobile Solar

If you want an easy way to get started quickly without having too much technical knowledge upfront, then some great tools are available online for estimating the size of your mobile power setup. For example, use the Go Power specifically tailored toward mobile homes. Additionally, Go Power has created an informative PDF document titled Solar Sizing Worksheet ,enabling you to make more accurate estimations depending on your needs. Both options provide great resources when beginning the process of sizing up a new solar power system for your RV.

Why is Sizing Important?

When it comes to powering your mobile home with solar energy, sizing the system correctly is crucial. It involves calculating the amount of power you need and determining how many solar panels you need to generate that power. Factors such as the size of your vehicle, the number of appliances you use, and your travel habits all play a role in finding the right solar system for you.

1. Don’t run out of power in the bush

Nothing can ruin a camping trip in the bush like running out of power. Whether relying on solar energy or a generator to keep your RV or mobile home powered, having enough juice is essential for an enjoyable and stress-free experience. Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to ensure that your system has enough power while you’re off the grid. With the right solar system, you can enjoy the freedom of the open road without worrying about running out of power.

2. Avoid early battery replacement

Early battery replacement can be a costly mistake, as it can result from an improperly sized solar power system. If a solar power system is too small to meet the needs of the RV or mobile home, the batteries will overwork themselves and fail prematurely. This means that even if the solar power system is efficient and working properly, it won’t be able to store enough energy to run everything in the RV reliably over long periods.

3. Save money in the long run

Buying high-quality tested components will go a long way. You no longer have to pay for power, since you are producing your own. Properly sizing the system will ensure that you have enough power to run all of your electronics and appliances while saving money by avoiding costly battery replacements.

4. Helping the planet

Switching to solar energy is a great way to help the planet. Solar energy is renewable, sustainable, and clean – meaning that it does not produce any emissions or pollutants into the atmosphere. By utilizing this abundant source of natural power, we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and move towards a greener future.

Understanding Your Power Needs

Before determining the appropriate solar sizing for your RV or mobile home, you need to understand your power needs. This means, first of all, calculating the amount of power you typically use on a daily basis.

To start, list all the electrical devices you plan to use while on the road. This might include lights, refrigerator, microwave, water pump, fan, TV, and laptop. Next to each device, write down its power consumption in watts. You can usually find this information on the device or its user manual. Then calculate your daily power consumption by adding up the wattage of all the devices you plan to use and multiplying that number by the number of hours you expect to use them daily.

For example, if you plan to use a 50-watt light for 4 hours and a 100-watt refrigerator for 24 hours, your daily power consumption would be:


Power Consumption (Watts)

Hours of Use per Day

Daily Energy Consumption (Watt-hours)












How Much Energy Will You Consume?

As a next step, consider your peak power demand, which is the maximum amount of power your system will need to supply at any given moment. This typically occurs when you turn on multiple devices at once, such as when you start your air conditioner or microwave. To calculate your peak power demand, simply add up the wattage of all the devices you plan to use simultaneously. This will to a large extent define the type and capacity of the batteries you will need.


The amount of energy you use, also depends largely on your RVing habits. How many days at a time do you spend off-grid? Do you need a lot of energy at night, when the solar panels are not generating any power? How much sunlight is available at your travel destinations? Do you only want to cover your basic necessities?

Our Solar Sizing Worksheet may better help you answer these questions and guide you to take a complete inventory of your energy usage.

How Many Solar Panels Do You Need for Your RV?

Based on your individually calculated energy usage, you will be able to determine, how much solar power you need as well as how much battery storage you require. Use our online calculator tool to guide you through the process.

Let’s say, you use 3.6 kWh of energy per day, and you are camping in California with six hours of horizontal irradiance. You would need a minimum of 600 W worth of solar panels. If you were to choose the 220-Watt Flex Kit as a base, you would add 4 expansion panels, to bring you up to 660 W of solar power, enough to cover your daily needs.

Remember to always consult with a professional before installing solar panels on your RV or mobile home. They can help you determine the best solar sizing for your specific needs and ensure that your system is installed safely and correctly.

Which Size Battery Do I Need?

When it comes to powering an RV or mobile home with solar energy, batteries are an essential part of the system. Depending on the size of the system, anywhere from one to multiple batteries may be required in order to store enough energy while the sun is up. Additionally, it is important to factor in battery efficiency and lifespan when deciding which type of battery should be used for the system. A high-quality, long-lasting battery will save money in the long run as there will be less need for premature replacements due to a low capacity or degraded performance over time.

Lithium-ion batteries are typically more efficient than lead acid ones and have a longer lifespan—making them ideal for solar power systems that require an extended storage period. When researching and budgeting for a solar power system, be sure to consider the recommended number of batteries needed for your particular setup so that you can get the most out of your new system without spending too much money on unnecessary components.

As an example, two of the GP-LIFEPO4-100 Lithium batteries will provide you with 200 ampere-hours, enough to stay off-grid for 2-3 days in a midsize trailer. Find out more about RV batteries, including helpful buying tips.

System Components - What You Need to Know

Since you are considering investing in a solar power system for your RV, you are likely also interested in how it works. Our comprehensive guide on how RV solar works can help answer any questions you may have about the parts and pieces of a mobile solar system. It covers the functionalities of the essential components: solar panels, batteries, inverters, and charge controllers. There is also a great video on the page that shows how the components work together.

Solar panels, batteries and inverters all come in different sizes depending on the amount of electricity that they are handling. It is essential to ensure that all parts of the equipment are designed to work together. If you buy all components from the same trusted supplier you are significantly reducing the risk of a system failure. Go Power runs extensive testing to make sure all mobile solar solutions are fully compatible and provide top performance with a maximum lifespan.

Portable Solar as an Alternative to Roof-mounts

There are two types of mobile solar, roof-mounted installs or portable systems. Both options come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Consider your particular situation carefully before deciding which type of installation is best suited for your needs. Many RVers choose a fixed installation on their vehicle, but you will find that a portable system can do the trick as well with an amazing amount of flexibility. Explore portable solar in more detail on our website.

Budget - How Much Do You Want to Spend?

Budgeting for a solar power system is an important part of the process. It’s essential to understand how much you are willing to spend in order to get the most out of your new system. Before investing in a solar energy system, consider all expenses: Equipment, installation, maintenance and upgrades over time. Choosing high-quality equipment can often save you substantial amounts of money down the road. Longer product lifetimes mean less frequent replacement, less maintenance and lower installation costs, and not to forget, fewer headaches for you. With careful planning, you can ensure that you have enough off-grid power without breaking the bank!

Quick Guide to Choosing the Right Mobile Solar System for You

  1. Size your solar system appropriately to ensure they don’t run out of power in the bush or end up with premature battery replacements.
  2. Calculate your daily power consumption and peak power demand and determine the type and capacity of batteries needed.
  3. Use our solar sizing worksheet, online calculator and professional advice to assist in understanding mobile home energy needs.
  4. Quality components are more efficient and also have a longer lifespan, saving money in the long run.
  5. Portable solar systems offer flexibility, but both roof-mounted and portable installations require careful budgeting.


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