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A Simple RV Solar Setup Can Be A Game Changer
We all know that boondocking is amazing. It is normally free, the vistas are usually quite appealing, and the likelihood of neighbors is lower than normal. But, let’s face it, we’ve gotten used to many of those comforts that electricity provides.
From laptops to fans, phones to lights, electricity plays a big role in our everyday lives. Granted, most Rv’s come with a simple battery or two. You can get by with those for a night or two if you are super frugal, but wouldn’t life be easier if they recharged themselves? That’s where this basic solar setup comes in. It has allowed us to boondock on the beach of an island for two weeks with plenty of power for laptops, phones, tablets, and….you guessed it… lights.
I know you have heard horror stories about how expensive solar is. That you have to have super power this, and giant that, and an electrician to install it, and you better get a loan. Groan…. It’s really not that scary. Or that expensive. Our cost was $600 start to finish. This is how we did it.
Now, before we get started, I am not an electrician and am not recommending that you install anything involving electricity without one. They know what they are doing, it is their job. We personally opted not to use one as it was a simple system and we both have a background where we have installed electrical wiring. Do what’s best for you, and above all BE SAFE.
To begin with, here’s the list of things we purchased on Amazon. We did use some other things that we already had like wire strippers, dikes, screwdrivers, etc. Those aren’t counted in this list, so should you need them your cost would be slightly above the $600. Additionally, prices change on Amazon daily. It’s sometimes worth using something like the extension Honey to make sure you are getting the best deal.
Amazon Purchase List for our Basic Solar Setup
50′ solar cable Bulk Black copper #10 AWG 1000 volt PV Wire with Tough XLPE insulation – $32.68
We only needed 50′ – 25 for Neg, 25 for Pos – You may need more
The total of that whole shopping cart is $599. Granted, our UPS man wasn’t really happy with us by the time it all arrived, because it somehow came from about every warehouse Amazon has and he was at our house everyday for something like a week. But it all arrived intact, and we were ready to plan where the panels would go and get started.
Alright, so now that we’ve got the shopping list covered, on to how we set it up. It’s a relatively simple setup, but here’s a written diagram of the general layout:
There’s the nuts and bolts! The hard part is figuring out where everything will go, and how it will best be placed to be cohesive with everyday life.
Onto the charge controller, and why you don’t need one of those fancy displays. Remember that bluetooth dongle that came with the Victron solar charge controller? You plug that puppy in and then find someplace to put it. We just stuck ours on with 3M tape.
Then, you download the app. It is called Victron Connect and is available for both Apple and Android devices. Here’s a general overview of how it works: