My Ultimate RV Electrical System

Click Devices on Drawing for Details
Click on a component on drawing for more info for that device
Click here for printable PDF copy of  drawing

General Information
Do you "dry camp", "boondock", "WallyMart", camp in unimproved national forest campgrounds, layover at rest areas, or simply need to keep your RV batteries charged while in storage?  Consider an RV solar electric system. 

When we bought our first travel trailer, I planned on charging the camper battery by connecting to the tow vehicle and running the engine.  After some research, I found that this process does not work well because of voltage drop in the tow vehicle and camper wiring, and also because of the chemical properties of lead acid batteries when charged from a automotive alternator.  Another option is to carry a portable gasoline generator or install permanently mounted RV generator.  While generators provide adequate power to run all of the RV appliances, they can be noisy, expensive, need fuel, and require periodic maintenance. 

If your camping habits are modest, an RV Solar System may work for you.  A solar electric system for an RV is totally quiet, light weight, requires no operator attention, and requires no maintenance (other than periodic battery maintenance, which you should be doing anyway).  The picture above is an example of a typical solar electric system in a motor home.  A towable camper would not have the vehicle alternator, and the generator and/or inverter is optional.

An RV solar electric system can be very simple, consisting of a small solar panel connected directly to the RV battery, provide a few amp-hours per day, and cost less than $100.  More sophisticated systems may consist of multiple solar panels, generating enough power to run a microwave, and cost thousands of dollars. 

The system I have installed in my 5th wheel camper consists of the components shown below, generates 40 - 60 amp-hours per day, and cost about $2000.  With this system, we have enough power to dry camp in the summer indefinitely, while running modest lighting, stereo, water pump, an hour or two of TV, and so on.  Spring and fall camping require more modest power usage as less sun is available to charge the batteries, and the furnace runs more because of the colder temperatures.  Winter camping with only solar power is not practical for more than one night.  We use an Onan 3600 LP generator to supply 115 VAC power when solar power is insufficient to meet our energy demands.

The Solar Panels

Kyocera KC-120 Solar Panel (two installed)
Installation Picture
The Solar Charge Controller

Blue Sky Solar Boost 2512iX MPPT Controller
Product Data Sheet (PFD)
Installation and Operation Manual (PDF)
Battery Temp Sensor (PDF)
Installation Picture

The 12 VDC to 115 VAC Inverter

Xantrex XS-400 True Sine Wave Inverter
How to Install an Inverter
Inverter Selection
Xantrex Website
Installation Pictures

The Batteries
T-105 Battery

Trojan T-105 6 Volt Deep Cycle Battery (two required)

Battery Terms About Deep Cycle Batteries
Installation Picture Battery Maintenance

Battery and Solar Charge Controller Monitor

  IPN-PRO Remote Battery & Solar Controller Monitor
Product Data Sheet (PFD File)
Installation and Operation Manual
Installation Picture

A 500A/50mV current shunt must be used with
the IPN-Pro Remote to measure net battery
current and must be installed in series with the
negative battery cable.

Progressive Dynamics INTELI-POWER
9200 Series Electronic Power Converter
The Progressive Dynamics 9200 Series INTELI-POWER converter provides safe,reliable, filtered DC power to all Recreational Vehicle 12-Volt lighting and appliance circuits, and also safely recharges and maintains the RV battery while connected to 115 vac external power or generator.

The built in Charge Wizard is a microprocessor-controller that constantly monitors the RV battery voltage to determine if the battery requires a quick recharge, is fully charged and being used, or is fully charged and is in storage. The Charge Wizard then selects one of three charging voltages: 14.4, 13.6, or 13.2; and one of four operating modes (Boost, Normal, Storage or Equalize) to properly re-charge or maintain the battery.

The Converter Status Remote Pendant PD92201 is designed to plug into the standard accessory port on all models of the Inteli-Power 9200 Series Converters. The Converter Status Remote Pendant shows the charger/converter operating mode and allows for manual mode selection.

Progressive Dynamics website                   Installation Picture            

Onan Microquiet 3600 LP Generator
The Onan Microquiet 3600 LP generator provides 115 vac power when there is insufficient solar power available to meet our electrical demands, including running the A/C and M/W at the same time.  With the addition of this generator, and the winter insulation package of the Arctic Fox camper, we are now prepared to camp without hookups almost anywhere at any time of the year.

The SurgeGuard surge protector (right) provides a two-minute time delay before power is applied to RV, allowing the generator be stabalize before loading it.
Generator Installation Generator Noise Levels Installation Pics
SurgeGurad Built-In Model 34520
  • Rated 120 volts 30 amps
  • Protects RV from faulty power
  • Easy Installation inside RV compartment, hard wired
  • Multi-Mode Surge Protection
  • Reverse Polarity, dangerous current on ground wire, pedestal mis-wire caution indicator lights
  • High and low voltage protection
  • Two-minute time delay on power-up
Where to Buy It

Note: I am in no way affiliated with Northern Arizona Wind and Sun, or Camping World, or any other manufacturers mentioned on this website and receive no compensation in any way for referring to them.  As a satisfied customer, I recommend anyone interested in these products consider purchasing though these outstanding dealers.  I provide this information solely as a service to the RV community.

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