Optimize the Sun When RV Boondocking – It's More Than Just Solar Panels!


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Unlike a campsite in an RV park, when you’re wild camping (or if your prefer – boondocking, dry camping or RVing off the cord) in a remote location like Quartzsite, AZ, you can usually park your RV facing any direction you want to.

Here are some tips on how we get the most out of the sun when we’re camping off the grid. These tips are especially useful for winter snowbirding, when nights are cool, days can be warm, and the sun never gets very high in the sky.

We hope these tips help you make the most out of the sun when you’re camping in the middle of nowhere.

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40 replies
  1. FIBERGLASS OVERCAST
    FIBERGLASS OVERCAST says:

    Thanks for the tips. We tried orienting due East in South Florida last week, ended up with +100 degree temps in the cab and the under-awning area was unbearably hot. The North side was cool and shady. Then we noticed every other camper was pointing due West, awning to the North. We concluded the due East recommendation makes sense in the desert when it is chilly at night and the latitude is considerably higher than hot humid Florida.

    Reply
  2. Brent Davies
    Brent Davies says:

    A lot of those tips are so simple yet they aren't if someone doesn't know the information. Good ideas for directional parking, I never thought of that but it makes total sense, as far as the fridge being on the "non-sun" side of the RV. I enjoy watching your videos. Keep 'em coming Geeks. One question I do have though is about the solar panels. How durable are they when it comes to harsh weather such as hail or dust storms?

    Reply
  3. ScorpionRegent
    ScorpionRegent says:

    I would still tilt panels in summer, but at a lower angle. Unless you are in the tropics the sun is always going to be angle less than perfect for flat panel placement, it helps to compensate. Best angle is the one that cast the longest shadow at noon. The sun may be in the sky longer during summer, but peak charge times are still between 9am and 3pm.

    Reply
  4. WindersRanger
    WindersRanger says:

    How much does one of your solar panels weigh? Im brain storming an idea and im not sure i can make it work or not. What im thinking is mounting a solar panel maybe two if i can get away with it, to the TV antenna. This way the panels could be raised, lowered and tracked to the sun from the inside. The 65 dollar question is if the antenna can pick up and support the weight.

    Reply
  5. TheDesert IsPatient
    TheDesert IsPatient says:

    I watch with interest your discussion on solar etc since I wish to boondocks off the grid often as a full time RVer.

    I"ve been told a 5th wheel or bigger is TOO big for boon docking; ya can't turn around etc. But you folks are clearly able to do it. Generally, with the length rigs ya'll have, how easy is it for you to find boon docking spots near the places you wish to explore? Seems you have much more capacity for boon docking in terms of solar power, propane and water capacity etc.

    It's great you folks are posting your YouTubes!

    Reply
  6. RVgeeks
    RVgeeks says:

    @MrRoboto2338 Those are 123-watt panels (three of them). Keep in mind that they're ten years old. Panels of the same dimensions are readily available in 160 watts these days, with better technology too.

    Reply
  7. P701
    P701 says:

    Just curoius .. I have an older 1996 Newmar Mountain Aire with a Todd's Engineering Power Source P75. Would you happen to know If I am able to simply plug my solar panels into the input on this inverter/charger to charge my batteries? 

    Thanks so much for all you do! 

    Todd

    Reply
  8. Fastlanedann
    Fastlanedann says:

    Question? My motorhome already equip with converter/invertor. I would like to add solar panel to the motorhome. Can I hook up the solar panel output  to my existing inverter/converter? or do I need a separate inverter / converter for the solar panels?

    Reply
  9. Kosta Vangeloff
    Kosta Vangeloff says:

    Also keep in mind magnetic declination (deviation) when finding TRUE south. True south is where the sun is at, while using just a compass you are finding magnetic south. In quartzsite this is about a 11.5E degree deviation but can be 16-20+ degrees in the northwest and northeast United States. NOAA has a calculator but googling "magnetic declination map" will get you close for your area. If your declination is 11.5E for example you would just add 11.5 degrees to your desired direction. In this case, we want the RV pointed east (90 degrees magnetic) plus 11.5 = 101.5d TRUE. Drive the RV in direction of 101.5E on a compass and you will optimize the southern exposure onto right side of RV. If you declination is West then subtract. (Applies to United States/North Hemisphere) EDIT: Make sure your declination number is as up to date as possible since it changes every year. Don't use a map/calculator from 2001!

    Reply
  10. tommy1a1a
    tommy1a1a says:

    Another good video – thank you. Noticed that your charge controller is rated  25amp max and you were charging close to that. Presumably you can generate more than 25amps with your panel setup. Are there any problems or potential for harm if your panels produce more than your charger controller rating? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  11. police1184
    police1184 says:

    Hey Guys, love the videos. My wife and I are looking into getting an RV so I am still very new at this stuff. Why do you place the wheel covers on the sun side? I would think they the wheels shouldn't have a issue being exposed to the sun.

    Reply
  12. intenseatpon
    intenseatpon says:

    So many things I hadn't thought of about orienting the RV. Great tips. I can't see myself getting up on the roof twice a day, every day, though (you do put them back flat in the evening/AM, right?) Anybody make an affordable motorized solution for this?

    Reply

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