Here’s a size chart for what solar panels you need by size of RV/van/camper & how many Dakota Lithium batteries you have.
To connect solar panels to a lithium battery you will need a lithium compatible solar charge controller (a deep dive on RV electrical systems is available here). To connect lithium batteries to charge from an engine’s alternator you will need a DC-DC battery charger. Every Dakota Lithium battery includes a free lithium battery charger for charging via shore power.
For a complete lithium power system kit that includes the solar panels, batteries, chargers and accessories needed check out the recommended off-grid power systems.
Size of RV | # of Batteries | Recommended Solar Panel Capacity | Recommended Off-Grid Power System
A deep dive on how to choose a battery for RVs/vans/campers is available here. More on lithium batteries and solar panel efficiency is available here.
Air conditioners are power hungry appliances. If you are running air conditioning in your RV, van, or camper then and you will need a larger solar panel and battery system. To meet the high energy needs of an air conditioner many nomads use a generator to power their air conditioner when off grid or RV camping. The problem, however, is generators run out of gas, are loud, the gas is expensive and you need to carry extra gas cans, and the exhaust is toxic and dangerous if not well ventilated (if using a generator make sure to install a carbon monoxide detector in your living space). To unshackle from shore power and the need to run a generator RV owners and nomads living the #VanLife are increasingly choosing to install solar panels and batteries that are large enough to power an air conditioner without the noise, smell, or health risk of a generators. The result is greater freedom to camp and boondock anywhere, increased health and safety, and more time in your day. You do some work to install the system once and then its maintenance free. No need to buy gas and refill the generator gas tank each day. No need to start an engine. No need to apologize to the neighbors for running your generator all night. Just free power from the sun keeping you nice and cool at night.
Determine the size of the power system you need by the size of the space you are cooling and the size of the air conditioner needed. Air conditioner size is measured in BTUs.
Size of RV | BTUs of Air Conditioner | # of Batteries | Recommended Solar Panel Capacity | Recommended Off-Grid Power System