How many panels do I need to run my lights and water pump?

More information on RV solar panels and the new charge controller Updated June 20th, 2020

Customer Steve has asked: How many panels do I need to run my lights and water pump?

Answer: This is a question we get quite a bit when people are trying to determine the right amount of solar for their RV. Water pumps and lights are 2 of the main uses of power when off grid camping. Therefore these loads will operate at 12 volts off the battery which are charged by RV solar panels. This means these circuits will not use an inverter, thus they are more efficient.

A water pump when used when running will pull about 5 Amps at 12 volts or about 60 watts. The good news, is that the water pump usually only runs for a few minutes at most. Thus it is a relatively small load.

Lights can be a bit different. If you have LED lights in your RV, you will have a minimal draw from these as well. If you have any incandescent or fluorescent lights, I would immediately upgrade to LED before purchasing solar. Buying upgraded lights will save you a fortune on solar panels and batteries. In fact, 20 LED lights often pull less than 1 incandescent light. Make the upgrade.

To be more specific about your question, if your RV can physically hold a 190 watt panel which is 26.3″ X 59.06″ wide, then I would purchase the Go Power Overlander Kit. You can learn more about laying out your RV solar at https://www.outsidesupply.com/solar-panel-layout-guide-for-rvs/.

RV solar controller protects your batteries

Th Go Power PWM 30 amp RV solar charge controller for lithium battery banks.
New Go Power RV Solar controller that offers Bluetooth connectivity for up to 2 battery banks.

A charge controller will protect your batteries from overcharging. A large array produces a lot of power and can quickly damage a battery bank without the required RV solar controller.

Another consideration in this question is battery type. Certain batteries like lithium batteries are better are delivering power for longer periods. This can be helpful for calculating runtime on a water pump.

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