Going Green in Your RV: Solar Panels, Recycling, & Your Vehicle

In today’s world, going green is an important consideration. We are all aware of the tenuous state of the Earth’s climate, and sustainability is at the forefront of many people’s minds.

Thinking about some of the beautiful natural gems in the United States, like Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon, we want to conserve these picturesque places for our children and grandchildren.

So how can we do this on the road in an RV or travel trailer? Below we will outline a few ways we can do our part in making our travel practices more sustainable for Mother Earth, so we can visit the natural wonders of the world, guilt-free.


Of course recycling sounds like a no brainer, but is it more than just throwing paper into a different colored trashcan than the rest of your trash? Or was it glass? Or cans?

Recycling means a lot of things, and we will provide you with some tips to improve your recycling knowledge, whether you’re on the road or parked at a campsite.

If you’re at a campsite, give the park’s brochure a quick look and see if they have any recycling programs. At this point in time, most places will have separate containers for your regular garbage, glass, aluminum cans and occasionally organic wastes.

Some easy things to recycle would be your glass bottles, soda or beer cans, and your food waste. If you’re a very proactive camper, you can bring different colored trash bags to separate out all of your different waste products.
rving and the environment

Also, if you’re extra proactive, you can bring products made from pre-recycled items to reduce your carbon footprint.

If you’re having trouble finding places to recycle your waste at your campsite, check out PitchUp, an awesome website which will help you locate recycling bins.

Of course, all of these tips can be used when you’re not on the road as well. Being conscious of how much you consume, driving fuel-efficient vehicles, and not leaving your lights and water running unnecessarily are all beneficial practices! These are all things that will help preserve Earth’s environment, and do your wallet a favor at the same time.

Solar Panels and Generators

solar panels

As a traveller, it’s fun to get off the beaten path. The best, most popular tourist attractions have gained their reputations for a reason, but sometimes it’s nice to get away from all of the hustle and bustle.

When you’re away from electrical hook-ups for an extended period of time, you need to generate power. However, using a gas generator isn’t a sustainable solution. But how do you decide if moving to solar panels is a good option for your style of travel?

Solar panels have advantages and disadvantages compared to generators.rv solar panels

RV Solar Panels vs. Generators

Generators are great at putting out large amounts of power, quickly. If you want to charge your phone, watch TV, and make toast in a climate controlled RV, you’re going to need the many thousands of watts from your generator.

But, if you don’t need all of that, you can still get a good amount of power out of most solar panels.

Generators are great for quick, high-powered bursts of energy. Your panels, on the other hand, are good for sustained but lower output energy generation. They require a good supply of sunlight, but can provide a steady amount of output. Your solar battery will store the energy to supply power during night times and cloudy days when sun exposure is low.

Fortunately, advances in solar technology means panels can pack a punch in 2017. Your solar panels will be able to comfortably charge your phone, laptops, and stand-alone batteries.

Another benefit is that solar panels are low-maintenance, don’t generate noise, and will not require you to carry along combustible fuels.

In summary, you might not be able to take a whole trip just with your solar panels, but if you’re looking for a way to extend your time away from the shackles of an electrical hookup, they are absolutely a viable option.

RV Solar Panel Information & Resources

Check out Talco Electronics’ website for some ideas on products to purchase. They include a more technical look at how solar panels work, which we don’t cover in this article, if you’d like more information.

If you’re interested in more long-term, sustainable solar power, Will Prowse has a great guide on Vehicle Dwelling that covers everything you need.

Your Vehicle

For a lot of us, unfortunately, running out and buying a new RV isn’t feasible. But for those that are in the market for a new RV, there are some great new options for efficient RVs.

RV & trailer makers are creating vehicles from lighter materials, which will help you save on gas and time. Newer RVs are also incorporating more efficient diesel engines that are getting the most out of their fuel. While many older engines struggle to get more than 8 miles per gallon, an more modern, efficient diesel engine comfortably go beyond that.

And if you’re towing a trailer, fuel economy is dependent on your tow vehicle, your hitch, and the size and weight of your trailer.

If you aren’t going to be buying a new RV anytime soon, there are still some fuel-smart decisions you can consider. If you have a vehicle that is compatible with E-85 fuel and are pulling a small trailer, you can decrease your carbon footprint by making the switch from gasoline. You might sacrifice a little bit of mileage and pay a bit extra, but the decision will have a positive impact on the environment.

rv gasoline options

If you have a diesel engine, biodiesel fuels are a potential option. Your diesel engine won’t need any modification and it will reduce your environmental impact.

Many things have to be considered in deciding which RV fits you best, but fuel efficiency should be part of the equation. And it will help you save some cash in the long run!

Summary: Going Green in Your RV

To wrap up, going green has never been more relevant than it is now. Driving your RV is going to have an environmental impact, and there’s no way around that, but by being mindful you can drastically reduce that impact.

How much energy you consume and how you generate it are very important to your carbon footprint. Switching to solar panels is a great decision for the environment, and you can compliment that with a move to sustainable fuels. Being conscientious of what you do with your trash and what products you purchase can help as well.

We hope that you got some new ideas from our article today, and if we left out one of your tried and true tips to go green, contact us and let us know! Happy travels and good luck going green!

Written by Margaret Robbins

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