Sproat Lake, Vancouver Island, BC

Upgrading Your Motorhome with Solar Power: How Easy Is It?

Upgrading Your Motorhome with Solar Power: How Easy Is It?

Simplifying Motorhome Upgrades: What Questions Should I ask Myself?

  • Define Your Main Goal
  • Consider the Project Scope
  • Assess Your Power Needs
  • Choose the Right Components
  • Plan and Execute Installation
  • Safety and Monitoring
  • Conclusion

Upgrading Your Motorhome with Solar Power: How Easy Is It?

Key Considerations and Steps

1. Define Your Main Goal

Before starting the upgrade, clarify your main objective:

  • Older Motorhome: Are you aiming to enhance your current system or completely overhaul it?
  • Solar Charging: Do you want to use solar power to charge your existing battery or batteries?
  • Inverter Addition: Are you planning to add an inverter for AC appliances?
  • Inverter Charger: Do you want an inverter charger to combine charging and inverting functions?
  • Complete Overhaul: Are you considering replacing the entire power converter with a new, larger inverter charger, along with a new AC breaker panel and DC panel? Sometimes this is a great way to avoid later issues with really old and used components.

2. Consider the Project Scope

Depending on your goal, the project can range from simple to extensive. Answer these questions to determine the scope:

  • Budget: What is your budget for the upgrade? Decide if you will complete the project in one go or in multiple steps. Begin by researching prices for the basic components, such as solar panels, batteries, inverters, and controllers, as well as the necessary cabling. This will give you an idea of the costs of the components involved. Additionally, factor in whether you’ll be undertaking the project yourself or if you’ll need to hire professionals for installation. Keep in mind that opting for professional help may be necessary, and it will also contribute to the overall costs.
  • Existing System: If your motorhome is newer and the converter can accept lithium batteries, you might only need a better inverter and larger solar panels, depending on your original design plan and goals. You don’t need to use lithium batteries but it good to know that you can easily add them in the future if you decide to do so.

3. Assess Your Power Needs

  • List Devices: List the devices and appliances you plan to power, along with their respective wattages. These are the items you’ll rely on when away from shore power, potentially during periods without sunlight, such as at night or when stationary without the alternator charging.
  • Calculate Requirements: Calculate the total power requirements to determine the size and capacity of the solar system needed. If you want consultation on how to figure out your power needs please don’t hesitate to contact us,

4. Choose the Right Components

  • Solar Panels: Select panels based on your calculated power needs and available roof space.
  • Charge Controller: Invest in a high-quality charge controller to regulate power from the panels to the batteries.
  • Batteries: Choose appropriate batteries (e.g., deep-cycle or lithium) for storing solar energy.
  • Inverter: If using AC appliances, choose an inverter to convert DC to AC power.
  • Inverter Charger: Consider an inverter charger if you need combined charging and inverting functions.

5. Plan and Execute Installation

  • Placement: Decide on the optimal placement for solar panels on the roof to maximize sunlight exposure.
  • Wiring: Plan the wiring route from panels to charge controller, batteries, and inverter.
  • Mount Panels: Securely mount the panels on the roof.
  • Connect System: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly and safely connect the system components. Alternatively, consider hiring a professional for this task, and we’re here to offer our assistance if needed just .

6. Safety and Monitoring

  • Inspect Connections: Check all electrical connections for security and safety.
  • Test System: Thoroughly test the system to ensure its proper operation and charging efficiency, simulating scenarios as if you were in remote locations without access to shore power. Begin by testing it under sunlight to observe how effectively the solar panels charge the system. Next, connect the motorhome to shore power to confirm its ability to charge through this method. Finally, start the motorhome’s engine and verify that the alternator is efficiently charging the system. Once you’ve completed these tests and ensured that everything is functioning correctly, you can embark on your adventures with confidence, knowing that your power supply is reliable.
  • Monitor Performance: Regularly monitor the system to ensure it meets your power needs and performs efficiently.

Example 1: Older Motorhome

We recently upgraded a 20-year-old motorhome that had been well-preserved and stored indoors. Our focus was on enhancing its capabilities for off-grid use without necessitating a complete overhaul. The customer sought a simple, straightforward upgrade, which involved incorporating a solar system, replacing the single flooded lead-acid battery with two new lead carbon batteries, and adding a new inverter along with two AC outlets dedicated to off-grid usage. Since the existing converter remained functional, it continued to handle battery charging when connected to shore power. However, we acknowledged that if any components, such as the converter, had been faulty, a more complex upgrade might have been necessary. This could have entailed either installing a new converter or replacing the converter entirely with an inverter charger and other electrical components, representing a greater investment of both time and money. Through careful planning, component selection, and installation, we ensured that the motorhome’s electrical system met their needs efficiently and reliably.

Example 2: Newer Motorhome

In the case of a newer motorhome, the client desired an advanced solar upgrade and the installation of an inverter to prolong off-grid periods. The upgrade was tailored to the client’s specifications, taking advantage of the converter’s compatibility with lithium batteries and the client’s preference for their superior power density, extended lifespan, compact size, and reduced weight. The installation process encompassed the fitting of new lithium batteries, the addition of four solar panels, the integration of a high-quality solar controller, and the incorporation of a sizable inverter. Careful attention was given to the installation of all required cabling to ensure the safe and efficient connection of the new components. With these enhancements in place, the client was fully equipped and confident to embark on exciting new adventures off the grid.


By considering your main goals and following these steps, you can successfully upgrade your motorhome with a solar power system tailored to your specific needs. If you’re seeking guidance or expertise for your motorhome or camper’s situation, we’re here to assist you. Whether you have questions that need answering or you’re looking to create a customized plan and design, our team is ready to help. Get in touch with us, and let’s work together to ensure your motorhome or camper meets your needs and adventures seamlessly.

For individuals seeking consultation, education, or assistance in system designs related to off-grid solar applications, IOTG Solar stands ready to help. Our team is available to address questions, provide valuable insights, and offer support at every stage of the solar energy journey. Feel free to reach out to anytime for expert assistance and comprehensive solutions tailored to your specific needs.

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