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Original articles plus the "best of the web" on beginning and advanced RV care and maintenance topics by RV writer and enthusiast Bruce Bernhart

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Nacogdoches • Dakotas


Updated June 30, 2013

RV Solar Power

In Minnesota, Bruce Bernhart has been an RV enthusiast since the 1980's



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What To Know About RV Solar Power

Solar power can be a great help for any RVer, regardless of how many days they're on the road each year. RV solar power is quiet, and it works as long as the sun is out, any day of the year. RV solar power panels can provide enough power to run your entire RV, or just enough to run an appliance or two. It can also keep your batteries charged.

RV solar power used to be much more expensive than it is today. Now it's an affordable energy solution for just about any RVer. Most RV solar power panels mount on the roof of your RV, and the more panels you have, the more power you can generate. Some RV solar panels are created just to keep batteries charged, while other handheld units can power a small game or appliance. RV solar panels are an affordable investment in both power and piece of mind.

RV solar panels are a clean, green solution to your RV power needs. You can mount RV solar panels on the roof of your RV. These RV solar panels can help your inverter get fully charged (as they convert sunlight into electrical power that you can use to power appliances) or keep your inverter fully charged. Solar panels also come in smaller, portable varieties that you can plug into your RV dash to power small appliances or games.

You can also keep your RV chassis battery charged with RV solar panels. RV solar panels are an excellent investment for those who travel full-time or quite often in their RVs and don't want to hassle with the problem of running out of electricity or a charge in one of their batteries or inverters. RV solar panels are silent, which is much better than running a generator on a quiet night in the woods!

Most RV dealers carry RV solar panel kits that you can install on the roof of your RV yourself. If you haven't priced these RV solar panel kits lately, you may be surprised at just how affordable they have become. They are also more efficient that earlier RV solar panel kits, which means you'll get more power charging for your buck when you invest in these kits.

The kits are easy to install; most do-it-yourselfers can complete the job in an afternoon, especially if they're only installing one or two solar panels. Be sure to ask your dealer how many panels you can link together in the system you choose, and what the maximum power output is for the panels you've chosen.

The solar cells that you see on calculators are also called photovoltaic (PV) cells, which as the name implies (photo meaning "light" and voltaic meaning "electricity"), convert sunlight directly into electricity. A module is a group of cells connected electrically and packaged into a frame (more commonly known as a solar panel), which can then be grouped into larger solar arrays, like the one operating at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

Photovoltaic cells are made of special materials called semiconductors such as silicon, which is currently used most commonly. Basically, when light strikes the cell, a certain portion of it is absorbed within the semiconductor material. This means that the energy of the absorbed light is transferred to the semiconductor. The energy knocks electrons loose, allowing them to flow freely.

PV cells also all have one or more electric field that acts to force electrons freed by light absorption to flow in a certain direction. This flow of electrons is a current, and by placing metal contacts on the top and bottom of the PV cell, we can draw that current off for external use, say, to power a calculator. This current, together with the cell's voltage (which is a result of its built-in electric field or fields), defines the power (or wattage) that the solar cell can produce.

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Bruce Bernhart RV Topics

Check out the other Bruce Bernhart RV Websites and Blogs:

Solar power for your RV

The care and feeding of your RV battery

The sport of "geocaching" and RV refrigeration basics

The basics of RV power inversion

RV travel tips and tire care

Advanced discussion on power inversion

Tips on buying a house battery and cold weather maintenance

RV insurance basics

Buying the right generator for your RV and portable power

RV television reception options

Care and maintenance of the RV air conditioner

Top RV destinations

RV long-term supplies and weight considerations

RV insurance- Road protection and bodily injury coverage

RV battery types and winter charging considerations

Deep cycle battery basics


Bruce Bernhart RV Websites

Also, be sure to check out Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites:

Bruce Bernhart mandolin rock tabs

Bruce Bernhart mandolin lessons- common scales

Bruce Bernhart on buying and setting up your new mandolin

Bruce Bernhart mandolin lessons- tuning

Bruce Bernhart mandolin lessons- chord patterns

Bruce Bernhart on mandolin history and basic chord structures

Bruce Bernhart on string and saddle adjustment

Bruce Bernhart more tuning tips and whole/half steps

Bruce Bernhart on more chord patterns

Bruce Bernhart on the mandolin family

Bruce Bernhart on mandolin bluegrass chords and patterns


Bruce Bernhart on temperature considerations

Bruce Bernhart lessson on mandolin flats and sharps


Bruce Bernhart lesson on scales, circle of 5ths and meter


Bruce Bernhart on triads, gears

Bruce Bernhart mandolin chord diagrams

Bruce Bernhart on modern emergence of the mandolin

Bruce Bernhart on simple chords

Bruce Bernhart on whole and half-note steps on the mandolin

Bruce Bernhart mandolin practice excercises

Bruce Bernhart on playing waltzes


Bruce Bernhart on majors, minors and sevenths



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