We’ve posted many times in the past on various topics related to RV solar panels. We’ve produced a number of related YouTube videos and have discussed our own ultimate RV solar panel system detailing how we roll with our solar power system. But today we’re talking about a literal solar-powered RV. And by that, we mean an RV that runs completely on solar power… engine, and all!
Have we come that far with solar? Is there an RV with enough solar power to run everything that requires electricity IN our rigs and the rig itself?? Or even partially power the rig with solar energy like a hybrid vehicle?
Let’s take a look at the possibilities!
What Do We Mean By a “Solar Powered RV”?
Typically when we discuss solar-powered RVs on this blog, we’re referring to an RV solar system that allows us to power the appliances and devices in an RV when we’re not plugged into shore power.
This could be a single 100 watt solar panel, a small charge controller, and one or two batteries to store (a relatively insignificant amount of) power that’s sufficient to get an RVer through a weekend: powering the rig’s lights, water pump, and recharging devices such as laptops, phones, and tablets.
It could also be a larger system that runs anywhere from 200 watts to a 1,300 watt system like ours with a couple of charge controllers, hardware, and a large lithium battery bank (like our Xantrex lithium battery, or maybe a bank of Battle Born batteries) that’ll run all of an RV’s 120V AC appliances, air conditioners included.
But that’s not what we’re talking about in this post!
With today’s topic, what we mean when we use the term “solar-powered RV” is a motorized RV that is completely powered by the sun, meaning that the RV itself is an electric vehicle so its engine runs on battery power and its battery is recharged using solar power.
In addition, everything inside the rig runs off the same battery(ies) and solar system as well.
So, the sun (via the solar panels and charge controller) recharges the battery(ies) that run the rig’s appliances AND the RV itself!
This would be a great option because we could travel as far as we wanted without worrying about getting to a charging station before our “EV RV” needs recharging!
Is There an RV With an Engine that’s Powered By the Sun?
As it turns out, there is! And there are more are rolling out.
Here we want to give a hat tip to some bright young students with the vision, energy, and drive to make a fully self-sustainable RV a reality.
Here’s the deal:
A team of students from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands created a phenomenal little RV known as “Stella Vita” that runs entirely on power generated through solar panels mounted to its roof.
The students designed an extremely lightweight and aerodynamic, self-sustaining motorhome to generate sufficient solar energy to sustain their daily living needs… AND to drive the rig!
When Stella Vita reaches its camping destination, the roof can be raised. This offers standing height for the motorhome’s residents and allows additional solar panels to be deployed, doubling the solar surface to a maximum of 17.5 sq. ft.
Given sufficient exposure to the sun, Stella Vita can drive right around 450 miles, which should be sufficient for a day’s RV travel.
In September of 2021, the students hit the road to put Stella Vita to the test on a road trip through Europe. The results were fantastic!
They traveled from Eindhoven University in the Netherlands all the way to the southern tip of Spain, a total of 1,242 miles, without stopping to charge the camper!
These 22 bright, determined, innovative young students accomplished a significant goal that may herald a time when we, too, can also drive an RV powered only by the sun.
Are There Any Other Solar Powered Electric RVs?
As a matter of fact, a fully electric RV is no longer a pie-in-the-sky idea. There are varying degrees of solar campers on the market, including self-sustaining solar rigs.
Their biggest drawback at this point, of course, is price.
Here’s a fully solar-powered Class C RV that runs on 3,000 watts of solar power, engine included!
And right here in North America, creators and manufacturers are hard at work to ensure that all-electric RVs are coming.
However, in addition to being expensive, those currently on the market offer a limited driving range before they need to be recharged, so that’s still a far cry from what the students from Eindhoven University pulled off.
Thor’s Vision Vehicle will take you about 300 miles before needing a recharge, so it’s certainly not a fully solar-powered RV, but it delivers some North American possibilities for the future.
Would You Have an Interest in a Fully Self-Sustainable Solar Powered RV?
What are your thoughts about fully solar-powered RVs? Would you be interested in owning one? Would you have concerns about it, such as a worry about multiple days without sun, for example? Other concerns?
Drop us a comment!
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