If you want to access cost-free and emission-free electricity on the road, there is no better way than with an RV solar power system. Although no two recreational vehicles are alike, there are several RV solar panel wiring diagrams that can be consulted when establishing your own renewable energy system.
At Shop Solar Kits, we design and sell solar panel kits of all shapes and sizes with all of the necessary wiring and diagrams for easy and safe installation. Whether you are piecing together your own system or are simply looking for some online instructions, we’ve created this RV solar panel wiring diagram resource page to help you find diagrams and reading materials to further your research.
But first, let’s talk about the solar panels you are planning to install.
Putting Together Your System
Previously, we put together this guide to solar energy systems for RV owners for FAQ and product information on everything mobile solar. No matter if you are a long-term rubber tramp or simply a weekend warrior, our guide outlines everything that you need to know about RV solar panels before recommending a few of the best kits for reliable solar power.
Before you get started wiring, we strongly suggest looking for a high quality solar panel or two that is backed by a credible manufacturer’s warranty. Solar panels can last for over 25 years, generating decades of free, renewable energy at slowly depreciating efficiency levels.
Our RV Solar Panel Wiring Diagrams
Once you’ve got your solar panels, check the packaging for any included instructions on safe installation and wiring diagrams for your new renewable energy generators. Typically, included instructions is a good sign of a reputable manufacturer or quality supplier.
If there is nothing in the box, then there is nothing to worry about. Most modern solar panels, such as Renogy panels, are built with universal connectors (typically MC4 or adaptable), so wiring will not be especially difficult.
Additionally, nearly all RV solar panels are rated to safely charge 12V batteries, and multiple panels wired together in a system should always have equal voltage, wattage, and amperage ratings.
Series and Parallel RV Solar Panel Wiring Diagrams
There are two ways to wire a solar panel system on the roof of an RV: in a series or in a parallel connection. The key difference is that the amperage of each solar panel’s electricity flow (i.e. the current) is added together in a series connection. In a parallel connection, the total system amperage remains at the rating of one individual panel.
RV Solar Panel Wiring Diagram for Parallel Connection
In this diagram, you can see exactly how a parallel connection works for RV solar panels. The first panel’s positive terminal is connected to the system’s charge controller and the last panel connects with its negative terminal. Between the solar panels, the terminals are wired from positive to negative with one connecting wire for each additional panel.
RV Solar Panel Wiring Diagram for Series Connection
With a series connection, a bit of extra wiring and time is necessary to install solar panels for maximum efficiency with an MPPT charge controller.
As you can see in the diagram above, the amperages are added together to equal 16.14A, the current of which a 20A solar charge controller is probably going to be the best option. Like in all solar energy parts, it is good to leave extra capacity for safe operation.
When wiring a series connection, the positive and negative wires from each panel are adjoined before being sent to the rest of your RV’s electrical system. So clearly, it's a bit more complicated, but may be entirely worth it for road warriors with a lot of electrical demand.
Should I Connect My Solar Panels in a Series or Parallel?
When it comes to wiring your solar panels in a series or parallel, most RV owners typically land on a parallel connection as the best overall choice. Not only are parallel connections easier to establish, but they are also able to continue producing electricity if one panel were to malfunction.
Throughout the day, RV solar panels receive a highly variable amount of sunlight, so owners can already expect variable input charge. Plus, adventures to developed campsites or deep into the backcountry may cause panels to become scratched or damaged, which would cause a parallel connection to shut down entirely.
Of course, it is also important to note that series solar panel connections are only made possible with the help of an MPPT charge controller. If you are using a traditional PWM charge controller to maintain an RV battery, the safest, easiest, and most affordable way to connect your solar panels is in parallel.
Solar Generator Wiring Diagrams
If you’ve had enough with your RV’s old batteries, then you may want to consider a solar generator to power your life with renewable electricity. Connecting a solar generator to solar panels is as easy as tying your shoes, as all of the other components are built right into the system.
For RV solar generator-specific wiring diagrams, please see one of our helpful resources below:
- Bluetti Generator Solar Panel Wiring & Setup Guide - Step by Step
- EcoFlow Delta solar panel wiring diagram
- RV Solar Panel Installation Guide (with images)
- Titan Solar Generator Wiring Kit
RV Solar Panel Wiring Diagram FAQ
Still have questions about your RV solar kit? Below, we will answer some of the most common inquiries we hear when our customers are looking over their RV solar panel wiring diagrams.
How Much Solar Power Do I Need for My RV?
If you’re fully embracing the off-grid lifestyle, most small RV batteries can be easily maintained with a 100W solar energy panel kit and minimal electricity use. However, if your RV needs a lot of immediate or constant power, RVs can be covered with solar arrays with inputs of 500W and more. To calculate your power demand, learn more here.
How do I wire solar panels to my RV?
If you need to wire your solar panels for RV use, the process is no different than any other off-grid DIY installation. The panels can be wired directly into your RV’s electrical system with the help of a charge controller and inverter for AC power.
How do you hook up two RV batteries to a solar panel?
Much like in an RV solar panel wiring diagram, two RV batteries can be wired in a series, parallel, or simultaneous series and parallel connection.
Didn’t think it could be that simple, right? We hope that this article has helped you find the appropriate RV solar panel wiring diagram, information, or resource necessary to answer your questions and safely wire your off-grid energy system. Safe travels!