Jack & Danielle Mayer
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In this article I describe various wiring techniques and electrical designs. These generally conform to code, but it is up to YOU to determine their suitability to your situation. DO NOT take this as electrical advice, only as possible design considerations. If you do not understand basic residential wiring and 12-volt automotive wiring then you should not undertake any of these implementations without further help and advice. If in doubt be sure to get help. Electricity is dangerous. The high amperage DC electricity obtained from the large battery banks described here is suitable for welding and can easily kill you. Do not underestimate the danger involved in working with DC power.

I'm assuming that you have a basic understanding of both 12-volt and 120-volt power. There are many excellent tutorials and books on both subjects. I won't repeat the information here, but leave it to you to explore on your own if you don't understand the basics. For basic 12-volt electrical info, try http://bart.ccis.com/home/mnemeth/tech.htm which is Mark Nemeth's article on 12-volt power. For wiring techniques and parts check the The Truck Electrical Center section of this site.
For an understanding of various RV and house connectors, and proper wiring, check out http://www.myrv.us/electric/index.htm. This will give you an understanding of basic RV electrical service, and how it differs from residential electric. You might find the website of Bob Hatch useful as well: http://www.bobhatch.com/electricStuff/30to50amp.htm. He describes upgrading a 30 amp RV service to 50 amps. Even if you are not performing this upgrade, understanding what he did will expand your knowledge of RV electrical.

If you have a basic understanding of AC/DC electricity then you should be able to design a reasonable system following the recommendations in the sections below. The system designs and components used are only examples, and need to be modified to meet your needs. You need to complete the entire design before you start implementation or you might find your system unable to meet your future expansion needs.
If you need help with system design you can work with a single vendor for most of your system components and they should be able to provide design help. The best thing is to work with someone who understands the special needs of RV's. My first choice would be AM Solar (Greg Holder). Their business is RV solar, they can supply almost all the required solar parts, their prices (for the most part) are reasonable, and their preconfigured systems are very nice; http://www.amsolar.com/. John Palmer (Palmer Energy Systems, http://www.jolynenterprises.com/) also specializes in RV solar systems. For parts and design help from the residential market try http://www.thesolar.biz or http://www.backwoodssolar.com. I'm also willing to answer questions if you contact me directly - see the About Us section for our email address.
A complete implementation of an RV solar system, including an inverter, and batteries (from scratch) is going to cost in excess of $3000, depending on sizing and components selected. Time spent in the design phase is time well invested. Mistakes can be expensive. If you have the system installed instead of doing it yourself make sure you find a good installer. You want someone who will charge by the hour - not a flat rate. You are more likely to get a good job if the installer is not rushed, or loosing money on the work.

Click the links below.

Introduction to Solar

Solar Panels

  • Rules of Thumb

Solar Regulator

  • Using 24-volt and 48-volt Panels
  • Solar Regulator Summary

Inverter / Charger

  • Checklist For Selection
  • What About My Converter?

Xantrex Inverters


Battery Bank

  • Battery Types
  • Charging and Charging Stages
  • Choosing the Battery Type
  • Battery Bank Sizing and Installation
  • Wiring Techniques
  • Maintenance
  • Specific Gravity Test


  • Rooftop Wiring
  • Interfacing to Your Loadcenter
  • AC Wire Types
  • Grounding
  • Neutral Bonding 
  • Installing a Sub Panel
  • Powering the Entire Loadcenter
  • "Splitting" a 50-amphere Loadcenter
  • Monitoring and Control
  • Recommendations

At the end of  The Truck Electrical Center section is information on cable building and wiring methods. Sources for parts and tools are there as well.

Using a 30 amphere inverter in a 50 amphere RV

Sample Systems

AC Circuit Protection