Solar help/general info, please!

I just purchased a 2020 Heartland Mallard M33. Let me start by saying I'm RV stupid, for the most part. This is my first RV, and the electrical components are where I'm struggling. When not plugged in, I understand it runs off battery, and not all things work. It seems my lights and slides are pretty much all that work, when I'm just on battery mode. I've browsed some posts that speak of solar and extra batteries. I'm starting my own thread because I literally need someone to break this down for me, and I want it to be model specific. My owner's manual literally doesn't even speak of solar, even though it's wired for it, so I have no idea what I'm doing.

I, essentially, would LOVE to be able to be "off grid" with my RV so I can camp at friend's properties, or simply be able to have my RV fully operational at home, without needing to install a 50amp service on my home. I saw that it comes pre-wired for a Furrion solar system. My naïve brain thought "oh... you get a solar panel, and plug it in, and the RV won't need to be hooked up to anything to use it." Furrion website made it seem like their 100W panels are exactly for this, and their 50W ones are just for battery maintenance. But, the more I am reading things, the more I'm feeling like it just simply isn't that easy.

Give me cliff notes. Talk to me like I'm stupid, cause I truly am feeling overwhelmed by this. What are ways to make it so I could use literally everything in my RV, without having to be plugged in to a generator or power? Or is that even a thing? Do I need more batteries? Do I need multiple 100W solar panels? Is it not just plug and play, like I thought? Do I need extra components? I will also say this... I'm not a good researcher. I'm "reading" forums, and my ADD brain is making my eyes glaze over and it's going in one ear and out the other. I truly want to understand, but I just feel like everything I'm finding I'm getting more and more confused. I apologize, in advance, but TRULY appreciate whatever you may be able to help me with!


Well-known member
If you want everything to be like you have 50amp shore power but you're powered by solar, you need to spend ~$12,000-$15,000 to get the RV setup for that. The AC unit and residential frig is a big power draw. The costs could be more if you want someone else to install this for you. If you are comfortable with the pricing, I can go into more details for you. I do NOT do this for a living, I just have knowledge on the subject.


Staff member
Depending on what you want to do, Solar can become somewhat complicated and as previously mentioned, it can get quite expensive. Your lights, slides, refrigerator, water heater, and furnace can all run on 12V DC or a combination of 12V DC and propane. Your refrigerator and water heater may also be able to run solely on 120V AC when plugged in or on generator power.

If you want air conditioning, that'll require the big ticket system. If you can do without, a more modest solar installation may serve. Yes, you'll need more than 1 solar panel, a controller, probably additional wiring beyond what's already installed.

If you want 120V AC to your outlets, the installation will require additional components. Again, how much you want to do determines the complexity.