RV solar panel Installation
Shortly into our full time RV adventure, we decided to install a full RV solar kit on our fifth wheel. RV parks can be great, but we found that camping in more remote spots was our preferred way to camp. Camping off-grid, or boondocking for short definitely has its challenges and requires a lot of prep work to do it comfortably. For most RVers, the heart of an off-grid set up is the RV solar panels. Responsible for harnessing free power from the sun and turning it into usable energy, it’s a hugely important part of self-sufficient RVing.
Today’s we share how we installed our RV solar panels on our Grand Design fifth wheel toy hauler. We opted for a Renogy 300 Watt Solar Panel Kit, because it fit our budget and needs at the time. This video shows you exactly how we installed our solar panels, wired the panels to our battery bank, and how we installed our solar charge controller (including a Grand Design Solar Wiring Diagram).
We hope you find this video is helpful if you’re interested in having RV solar or want to see how we install RV solar panels on our fifth wheel.
We wanted to include the exact items we used and needed in order to install our RV solar kit. That way if you want to do your own DIY solar set up, you have the resources in one place.
rv solar panels installation map
Before we dive into our step by step installation process, it’s important you understand how the system will work once it’s all installed. The “map” to the right is from Renogy and shows you how we link the solar panels to the batteries and charge controller. If you have an inverter this map also shows you how to add that piece to the puzzle. Before you set anything up it’s important to consider the location of your batteries in proximity to your panels (make sure the electric cables will reach from your panels to the batteries) and from your charge controller location to the batteries (again make sure you have enough cables to reach).
step by step how we installed our rv solar panels
- Test your Solar Panels with your Volt Meter. When the panels face the direct sun it should read within the range specified on your panels (look on the sticker on the back of the panels for range).
- Map out where you want your solar panels. Think about space on your roof and proximity to your batteries (length of your electrical chords). Make sure your layout will work before installing or drilling any holes.
- Assemble brackets to panels using a socket wrench.
- Once you’ve determine where your housing bracket will go, outline it with a pencil. Using your electric drill, make a 1″ hole in the center of where the housing bracket will go.
- Feed the chords through the housing bracket.
- Label the positive and negative chords with blue tape and a marker so you know which is which once the chords make it to the battery bank area.
- Attach the two positive and negative electrical chords to the fish tape, so you can easily maneuver the chords through the hole down toward your power bay (or battery bank).
- Determine where you will want your Solar Charge Controller, outline the size of it wherever you will be installing it using a pencil.
- Cut a hole to fit the size of the charge controller using your dremel.
- Turn the battery disconnect off to your coach.
- Once chords are in the battery bank attach to the proper positive and negative feeds of the batteries. (Make sure you did #10 before this)
- Attach the battery leads to your solar charge controller (positive to positive, negative to negative).
- Drill pilot holes in roof for mounting brackets on the solar panels.
- Add roof epoxy to mounting brackets, flip panels down where you will be installing on roof and drill screws over the epoxy and into the pilot holes.
- Add epoxy over the mounting brackets and drills. More is better here!
- Plug in the proper lead to the in-line fuse.
- Plug in the MC4 adapters to their proper connection.
Liz & Dennis
We’re two travel-loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America as full-time RV’ers. This blog is where we share our lessons learned, tips and tricks, and favorite places to eat, see, and RV across North America! We hope it helps you find your wanderlust, plan and prepare for RV life, and get out on the road!
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Hey quick question….when you mounted your solar panels on your grand design roof, can you just screw them where ever the panels fit or do you have to find trusses in the roof? And what type of screws and length did you use? Thanks
We just drilled them directly into the roof. It’s helpful if you can find a truss but it won’t always be available. I’m not sure I remember the length of the screws! It’s been so long. I’m sorry!