If you plan on adding solar panels to recharge your RV batteries and you are trying to size your battery bank, knowing what you need to buy boils down to understanding your power consumption. In order to properly understand your power consumption, you are going to have to sit down, list all the electrical items you plan to use, and do some calculations. For those of you afraid of math, the good news is that it is not as difficult as you may think and should be easy for you to figure out using the guidelines below. In this article we will try to break down how to estimate your power consumption while making it as simple and painless as possible. Similarly, we will discuss how to size your battery bank properly to meet those needs.
Estimating your power consumption is relatively simple and is determined by estimating how many total Amp Hours you are going to use per day. In order to determine the total amount of Amp Hours you use each day, it is going to require that you to sit down and think a little as well as gather some information on all the electrical items you plan to use. At the end of the exercise, you will know approximately how many Amp Hours you will be consuming each day. I say approximately because it is hard to know in advance exactly how many hours you plan to use your TV, radio, or any other device.
Most of the items that come pre-installed in your RV run off of 12V DC electricity that comes from your batteries. You may have standard electrical outlets in your RV, but it is understood that these outlets only work when the RV is plugged in at the campground. However, the reality is that many RV enthusiasts install inverters and larger battery banks so they can use standard household items in their RV such as TVs, satellite receivers, laptops, etc. when they are not plugged in. An inverter converts 12V DC power into 110V AC power. So the reality of the situation is that many RVers are going to be using a mix of AC and DC items. Since all the energy that you will be using is coming from the 12 Volt battery bank in your RV (when you are not plugged in), ultimately all of our calculations needs to be converted to DC Amps in order to understand exactly how much energy is being drawn from the batteries. Although this may sound difficult, it is not bad at all.