Whole house solar power is possible, but has several disadvantages:
1) It is very costly; and 2) It is fixed in place. One excellent alternative
is to go solar with an RV solar installation. The economies of scale
result in a substantial savings over whole house systems, and if forced
to evacuate it is ready to go with you.
Going solar with an RV installation can provide full time electric
power for many uses: lights, pumping water, radio and television reception,
powering a computer, etc, all in 12 volt standard RV equipment. or
in 110 volts through the inverter already present in the RV.
By connecting a large inverter to the RV "house" battery, 110 volt
power is available...just make sure the extension cords are not too
long to avoid line loss, or have too much draw for the inverter and/or
battery. A 1000 watt inverter will provide sufficient 110 volt power
for most small appliances for a limited amount of time, then the solar
panel can recharge the battery. Remember, amps times volts equals
watts, so a 9 amp motor at 110 volts will draw 990 watts, or about
the maximum sustained use for a 1000 watt inverter.
As an example, let us assume you have a source of potable water (rain
water in a barrel, whatever), and desire to transfer it to the house.
A portable sump pump may be used, as they usually are only 1/4 horsepower,
an "O" ring for connecting them to a rope, and a 3/4" garden hose
male fitting for pumping the water out. A hose may be connected to
a sump pump, which is connected to an inverter, lowered into the barrel,
and water pumped into the RV's water storage tank. A standard drinking
RV hose may be connected from the RV's water drain hose bib and to
an external hose bib on the house (a double female connecter is required).
Open both valves, turn on the RV's "on demand" water pump, and water
will flow under pressure throughout the home, sinks will fill, toilets
will flush...all the comforts of home even when the electricity goes
Perhaps the safest way to go solar for an RV is to purchase the entire
kit: cables, connections, controls, mounting hardware, rugged solar
panel (s), all designed and sized to work together. The photo above
shows the "Solar Traveler" 64 watt RV kit from Real Goods (1-800-762-7325),
priced at $629.00. If needed or desired, this kit may be expanded
by 32 watts ($299.00), or 64 watts ($499.00). (These prices and
availability are several years old.)
The photo above from Real goods shows their "Solar Traveler" on a
classic, all fiberglass 1977 American Clipper motor home. No, it isn't
mine. My American Clipper is identical (see