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Total off-grid solar powered RV

| Updated Nov 13, 2013

I came across this interesting You Tube video from a guy who calls himself “Master Luke.” It shows a 24 foot cargo trailer that he made into a totally solar-powered RV.

The entire roof of the trailer is covered with solar panels – 3,130  watts worth of them.

And then in the basement he has banks of inverters, chargers, batteries, meters and switches.

solarThe Roadtrek eTrek we drive has a 5,000 watt inverter, a diesel generator and about 250 watts of solar power. But I reckon that we can get more practical RVing use out of our rig than he can with his. That diesel generator charges those batteries very fast and the 250 watt solar panels really help keep the batteries toped off. I suppose if stuck in the woods and the diesel tank runs dry, we'd be pretty limited after a few days but don't see that as a very likely situation we would be encountering anytime soon.

But, the installation in this video is very impressive and I think it shows how solar is getting more and more viable for many. I think of applying what he has done in this video to a cabin out in the middle of the Michigan Upper Peninsula woods.

And being off-grid is, well, just very cool.

What are your thoughts on this setup?

Here's a second more in depth video he did on micro inverters, which he briefly shows in the above video.


Mike Wendland

Published on 2013-11-13

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

65 Responses to “Total off-grid solar powered RV”

November 26, 2017at5:18 pm, mica said:

How much did it cost for you to install these solar panels?
What kind of maintenance do you do on the panels?

February 10, 2016at10:19 pm, ezytrail said:

awesome!!! a solar powered RV. but how safe the RV’s are with regards to the panels specially on rough road?.

November 12, 2014at11:41 am, Rae A Bryant said:

I have soft tarp top when parked. And leather road top when traveling. Where put panels. On top of SUV.

November 12, 2014at10:20 am, Flint Stone said:

That’s alot of panel’s.

November 08, 2014at10:34 am, Steve Schultz said:

Last month you guys knocked this image saying it produced less power than your generator. Wtf? Oxymoron

November 07, 2014at10:28 am, Ginny Dugan Evans said:

Love it and very cool…the weight ??? it is a trailer so less probably close to the same < 10000 lbs?

November 06, 2014at3:29 pm, Roland Scott Tausch said:

Very cool ! But alot of weight if you plan on traveling down the road. They do make light weight flexible panels ideal for RVs’ … abit expensive though !

November 06, 2014at2:11 pm, Catherine Massaro said:

My dream machine… a girl can dream!

November 03, 2014at9:51 pm, Ludwig Herrmann said:

It hails. Ice balls coming down from above. LOL

November 03, 2014at9:08 pm, Sandy Lafave said:

Looked like mine!

November 03, 2014at8:04 pm, Pat Tata said:


November 03, 2014at8:03 pm, Charles Carmichael said:

What happens in a hail storm?

October 28, 2014at5:38 am, Edwin A. Sautter said:

How do they stand up to debris falling on the roof and can you walk on them to clean panels.

October 27, 2014at11:58 pm, Tess Carrillo said:

Nice but a bit complicated for me though.

October 27, 2014at5:07 pm, Roland Scott Tausch said:

Low weight flexible panels are better … but more expensive

October 27, 2014at4:02 pm, Debbie MacLeod Andrews said:

how much added weight is there?

October 27, 2014at3:32 pm, Garry Tuttle said:

William Streeter Sun is Green Solar, LLC can help you get this done 🙂

October 27, 2014at3:17 pm, Susanna said:

We have been doing this for a few years now, our generator gets used on occasion, just because we have to run it once in a while. We are not full timers though, but have never run out of power. Our fridge is propane run, and we BBQ a lot. We watch movies every night, run the coffee maker in the day, and use what we want. Never any lack of power, even after a 18 day stay, in the woods with a few hours of direct sunlight a day. The panels charge even on cloudy days, or in-direct sunlight. We have 3 panels, 3 6V deep charge batteries. Love this as we are completly independent! Boondocking…YEAH!!!

July 09, 2014at2:23 pm, Jerry said:

I actually have a slightly better set up with a 18′ trailer and 2100 watts solar – its designed to supply 100% solar power for the heating and cooling HVAC system. The insulation is 3 x thicker then a standard RV which makes the trailer 70% more energy efficient. There is a mini split ac – heat pump unit SEER 20 powered by a 2800 watt inverter the solar panels that feed the power to a 16,000 watt 12 volt Lithium power center. The trailer should be able to provide heat to 10F and solar cooling up to 115F. The original concept was tested with a 5,000 Btu window ac and is now being outfitted with the final components to hit the road by end of 2014.

June 09, 2014at12:47 am, Gary Zuckerman said:

I operate an 18′ Step Van that is a tool truck. I currently idle the diesel engine for the most part of a 60 hour work week to generate power for the 16 4′ florescent light fixtures and the office related equipment inside Would love to know if going solar is viable rather than having the engine running so much.

February 24, 2014at4:15 am, Chris Aloise said:

Hi Mike, we developed a customized 550 Watt solar roof for the Sprinter. It is available from our US Dealer.

February 17, 2014at3:54 am, Glen Smith said:

Great idea!

February 15, 2014at4:29 pm, Chris Harwood said:

I don’t think there’s a Class B under all those panels?

February 15, 2014at3:26 pm, Rita Collins said:

Seem that I have heard of these, but never saw one!!

February 15, 2014at12:20 pm, Steve Jones said:

Solar is the way to go

February 15, 2014at12:06 pm, Alice Higgins said:

so cool. never need an outlet again.

February 15, 2014at10:41 am, Barbara Worley said:

I like it and would love to have it also. ^_^

February 15, 2014at10:22 am, Ray Harwood said:

can this set up be put on any moto home

February 15, 2014at9:58 am, John Tiffin said:

Full sine wave on the inverters?

February 15, 2014at9:42 am, Roy King said:

Ralph Ryan Sean this is our utility hook up

February 15, 2014at9:22 am, Murry Gillespie said:

How much weight? Did you have to strengthen the roof at all. Any extra stress while driving highway speeds. Yes that does look great.

February 15, 2014at9:12 am, Fred Showker said:

Is this the one that will go the full 8-hours or Air Conditioning over night??? That’s the one we’re looking for.

February 15, 2014at9:07 am, Rejean Trudel said:

I will have that to for Spring…

February 15, 2014at9:04 am, Tommy Vinson said:

Plans and details please.

February 15, 2014at8:48 am, Donna Mason-Wilson said:

no I will have this!

February 15, 2014at8:48 am, Donna Mason-Wilson said:

I want this!

February 15, 2014at8:47 am, Robbie Mingle said:

Totally off the grid is the way to be that’s all I want to make my motorhome what all the solar panels right on the roof along with my satellite dish lmfao

February 15, 2014at8:42 am, Barbara Benoit Zabala said:

Marisa Dolores

January 25, 2014at3:09 pm, Andrew S. said:

That is a lot of solar!!! I have been intrigued by the idea of solar + fuel cell (Efoy) capabilities combined with Li-Ion batteries. (Similar to–but not quite the same as–current E-trek options)
I have seen that Mastervolt and Efoy have combined products to offer this Solar + Fuel Cell system with integrated inverter and Li-Ion battery bank (2.5 kWh or even 5.0 kWh!):
Combined with an Aux. generator (potentially a regulated Mastervolt series) attached to the Sprinter’s engine, there should be no need to ever plug in! (You will want to carry a Fuel Cell cartridge or two with you . . . )
Anybody experimenting with this?

February 15, 2014at9:59 pm, Jim said:

I looked into the Efoy and the cost and availability of the fuel are a serious problem, at least in the lower 48. I like the idea, just wish it were affordable.

January 05, 2014at7:59 am, B Smith said:

I have seen this video a while ago and it looks and sounds great (oh I am free from mother power system) BUT has anyone looked into the cost of doing what was done in this video? Well I did and the very quick lookup using what was seen and said to use in this video and it is well over $10,000!! When I looked this up and can up with this kind of pricing with the best average with today’s best solar panels you are looking way over 10 yrs. too recoup your money!! I have looked and loved solar since it first became an issue and something to move to in the first big oil crisis of the 70’s and guess what I still do not have anything with solar because the dollars to return still do not work! So when someone can get the pricing closer than a 10 yr. break even I might look into it with more interest, but that time is not here. Now for people looking for basic duty for a couple of days in an rv out in the desert (without a/c use) solar works great but you still are paying a lot of money for the couple of days folks.

January 02, 2014at9:37 pm, Mary Santos said:

Love it!!
Who makes these or are they special order??

January 02, 2014at9:00 pm, Sherry Smith said:

Now I want to find a totally solar powered boat!!!

January 02, 2014at7:09 pm, Doris Keil-Shamieh said:

It’s about time!

January 02, 2014at5:58 pm, Ray Sanchez said:

Hail resistant ?

January 02, 2014at4:39 pm, Paul Bulgier said:

The author’s may be more convenient, but he must still buy diesel fuel for the generator, and produce the noise and stink of a generator. The solar is free to use, clean and quiet. 🙂

January 02, 2014at4:37 pm, Marilyn Anderson said:

Solar powered. I wonder if it operates the engine, too. Wouldn’t that be nice….

January 02, 2014at4:15 pm, Mary Snook said:

If I bought a new one I would consider it.

January 02, 2014at4:14 pm, Terry Wasik said:

now their is a awesome turtle wax shine …;)
cheers from cornwall,Ontario canada

November 13, 2013at4:39 pm, Martin Lambert said:

I think I’d prefer your eTrek. But it is interesting.
I am intrigued by solar and want it on my next RV. Maybe it will be that eTrek you keep showing us, Mike! We’re going to move from a travel trailer to a motorhome. Maybe a C but most likely a Type B.

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