In the world of long-distance travel, having the best solar generator for your RV can really come in handy.
Especially given the fact that RV's are more likely to break down than cars or houses, it goes without saying that having your own solar-powered power source (outside of your RV) is a smart investment.
Today, there are hundreds of gas-fuelled generators on the market, but what is the best solar generator for your RV?
The best solar generator for your RV has high battery capacity, over 2000 charge cycles, a high watt inverter (pure sine wave), attachable PV panels, is portable, compact, and fully recharges in less than 6 hours.
WHAT IS THE BEST SOLAR GENERATOR FOR MY RV?
We have already touched base on some of the most important factors for you to consider when buying a solar generator for your RV.
In this article, we want to break down each point into several different topics and explain to you why each point is worth considering if you travel full time in your RV.
WHY DOES MY RV SOLAR GENERATOR NEED A HIGH BATTERY CAPACITY?
Think of it like this, just as your RV needs fuel to drive, a solar-powered generator needs a fully charged battery to work.
The bigger or higher capacity of your solar generator's battery, the longer it can power/charge all your electronic devices.
A solar generator with a low capacity or bad quality battery is virtually useless.
Let me explain the different types of batteries that are most commonly used in solar generators.
Lead-acid batteries are the oldest rechargeable battery technology in existence. They were by the French physician Gaston Planté in 1859. Still, to do this day, no cost-effective alternatives for cars, wheelchairs, scooters, or solar generators exist.
While lead-acid batteries are cost-effective, they also pose various potential health hazards and are far from efficient in terms of long-term usage and energy storage.
The reason lead-acid is not efficient is largely due to their weight and maximum discharge rate. You are not able to discharge a lead-acid battery more than 50% before irreversible damage occurs.
This means, if you buy a 100 Amp (Ah) hour battery, you effectively only have half of that capacity, which means you can use only 50 Amp-hours.
So if you need 100Ah of capacity, you will need to buy two 100Ah lead-acid batteries in order to meet your energy demands.One of the best things about our RV solar generators is their portability.
As you could imagine, having two lead-acid batteries each weighing 72 pounds would greatly reduce that portability.
- Pros: Cheap, high power output capabilities
- Cons: Very heavy, low discharge rates, low recharge cycles
A prototype lithium ion battery was developed by Akira Yoshino in 1985, this was based on earlier research done by John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, Rachid Yazami and Koichi Mizushima.
Finally, in 1991 a team led by Yoshio Nishi, invented the first commercial use lithium-ion battery.
Lithium-ion batteries have many advantages over lead-acid. Typically they weigh considerably less than lead-acid and have a much higher energy density.
Additionally, lithium-ion can accept a faster rate of current, thus they charge much fatser than lead-acid.
And finally, one of the biggest benefits of using lithium-ion technology in your RV solar generator is the high discharge rate, up to 80%.
This means you get more for less, ideal for a solar generator that needs to be portable.
For many of these reasons Bluetti has chosen to only use the latest lithium-ion technology in their best solar generators for RV's.
- Pros: Quick charging, lightweight (50-60% less than lead-acid), longest lifespan, more usable capacity.
- Cons: High upfront costs, sensitive to high temperature
WHY DOES MY RV SOLAR GENERATOR NEED LOTS OF CHARGE CYCLES?
First, let us explain what a charge cycle is. You have a 2000 Watt-hour (Wh) capacity solar generator. You use all that capacity to power the electronic devices around your RV.
Once your battery is flat, you recharge it (using solar energy or mains electricity). This one 100% full recharge counts as a single charge cycle.
Once you have reached and gone over your battery's total amount of charge cycles, you begin to notice a gradual decline in your battery’s ability to hold a charge.
This is not something that will happen overnight, but you will slowly notice over time that your solar generator no longer seems to last as long as it once did.
Therefore, the more charge cycles your solar generator has, the longer it will last. You want to choose a solar generator for your RV that has at least 2000 charge cycles or more.
Bluetti's AC200P can maintain above 80% capacity after 3500+ cycles, making it the best solar generator for your RV.
WHY DOES MY RV SOLAR GENERATOR NEED A HIGH WATT INVERTER?
Inverters are also known as AC Drives, or VFD (variable frequency drive). Their job inside your solar generator is to transform DC (Direct Current) to AC (Alternating Current). They are also responsible for controlling the speed and torque of electric motors.
Basically, electricity generated by your solar panels is stored as AC inside your battery. Most of the items inside your RV, if not all of them, need DC in order to work.
This is where your inverter comes in. Inverters are generally rated by a certain amount of watts.
For example, let's say your solar generator needs to power a DVD player that draws 100 watts and your laptop that draws another 100 watts (at the same time). You will need a solar generator with at least a 300-watt inverter inside.
If you were to power more appliances on your 300-watt inverter, it would not be able to hold the load and will most likely shut down.
That is why we recommend getting a solar generator with a high wattage rating for your RV, so you do not need to constantly worry about what you power.
However, like most things the higher the rating the more expensive it becomes. So, if you are on a budget it would be best for you to calculate your total energy demands before purchasing your solar generator.
This way, you can make sure to use every single bit of your inverter's wattage rating without having too much unnecessary excess.
PURE SINE WAVER INVERTER
Another important factor is the type of inverter your solar generator has. Make sure you get a solar generator with a pure sine wave inverter.
These types of inverters reduce audible and electrical noises in electronics such as fans, audio amplifiers, fluorescent lights, and TV fax. It can also prevent random crashes in computers.
WHY DOES MY RV SOLAR GENERATOR NEED SOLAR PANELS?
This point is quite self explanatory, without solar panels your solar generator would simply be, a generator...
Meaning, you would not be able to do all that adventurous off-grid travelling where you rely solely on the sun to recharge your generators batteries.
High quality solar panels with high wattage ratings are essential but not compulsory to power your solar generator. Of course you could bring along your "solar" generator without it's solar panels and still recharge it via car socket, or by some campsites electricity mains.
However, buying your RV solar generator with PV panels greatly increases your self sufficiency and ability to travel off-grid with your RV.
We recommend getting 200 watt solar panels and above for large capacity solar generators so that you can recharge them the fastest.
WHY DOES MY RV SOLAR GENERATOR NEED TO BE PORTABLE?
Having a portable solar generator comes very much in handy when you travel by RV.
The reason for this is mainly because of the need for power in various locations that could be outside your RV.
For example, let's say you would like to sit outside in the sun whilst you work, now it does not help so much to have a fixed source of power inside your RV when it is needed outside.
This is why a solar generator that is lightweight/moveable is paramount to the overall portability.
As we already discussed, lead-acid batteries can be extremely heavy. If you were to carry our AC200P with same equivalent of capacity in lead-acid form, the generator would weigh over 120 pounds!
However, because we use lithium-ion technology our AC200P only weighs 60 pounds.
WHY DOES MY RV SOLAR GENERATOR NEED TO RECHARGE QUICKLY?
If you rely on your solar generator to charge or power many of the devices in your RV, then it goes without saying that a quick recharge time is a major selling point.
Especially as you travel and live in your RV day to day, you need a solar generator that can recharge to full capacity within a day, or less, ideally.
However, it is important that you remember a solar panel only works at maximum capacity in direct sunlight. On average, this is usually around 6 hours a day, depending on your location.
Weather can sometimes also play a factor in slow recharge times, perhaps it is cloudy or rainy. Having a solar battery with the capability of fast recharge times, like that of lithium-ion technology can sometimes be a major benefit during your RV travels.
The winning combination, would be a solar generator that can recharge via both solar panels and mains electricity at the same time. this would greatly reduce the recharge time of your generator.
Our AC200P can recharge to 100% capacity within 2-2.5 hours via 700W of solar input an 500W AC simultaneously.
Based on all the points we have covered in this article we would recommend the AC200P as the best solar generator for your RV, especially if you haver higher energy demands.
It has the following charge times:
- Refrigerator (800w) 2.1+ Hours
- CPAP (60w) 28+ Hours
- Laptop (60w) 28+ Hours
- Fan (12w) 140+ Hours
- Smartphone 180+ Hours
- Led lantern light (10w) 170+ Hours
- LCD TV (100w) 17+ Hours
If you are looking for a smaller generator to power all the electronic devices in your RV or you are just travelling for the weekend, we recommend the new EB70
Please feel free to email us if you have any questions on which solar generator would be best for your specific RV/energy demands, we are always happy to assist.