In 2005, the U.S., through the Energy Policy, endorsed the Solar Investment tax credit, which amounted to 30 percent of project cost for both residential and commercial installations. Through a series of extensions, this tax relief is still in effect up to 2023. The deliberate decision to subsidize the cost of solar energy saw tremendous growth of the industry as the overall solar installation cost went down. More clients could afford this renewable energy. With this background, let us analyze the future of solar power in relation to applying this technology in RVs.
RV Market Outlook
Before we can discuss the future of solar-powered RVs, it is important to have a look at how the recreational vehicle industry is performing. Since 1978, the number of Americans interested in the RV lifestyle has increased steadily. According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) statistics, the retail value of RV units shipped across the country in 2015 reached a record high of $16.506 billion. This is expected to rise in the coming years given that the popularity of RVs is now widespread among adults aged 35 to 54 years. Such trends only paint optimism on the growth of this industry.
The Place of Solar Power in the RV Industry
As earlier stated, solar power generation in the U.S. has grown by leaps and bounds for the past 10 years. Solar panels are also getting cheaper by the day. The use of solar energy comes with a substantial freedom to live off the grid. This comes with a lot of cost savings on electricity.
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However, running your RV on solar power alone will require a huge investment in storage batteries and many panels. This means you trade off the already limited battery space. The other aspect worth considering is the fact that most campers will choose to go camping in an established center with power hookups. This discourages the use of solar electricity, especially if the campers have many appliances.
On the other hand, if you are going to remote areas without power supply, it makes sense to have solar power installed on your RV. You may need a fallback plan, though, just in case your charge runs out. This means an additional investment in a generator that will come in handy especially during adverse weather.
The Future of Solar Power in the RV Industry
According to the Department of Commerce 2016 Top Markets Report on recreational transportation, the number of RVs with solar power is on the rise. Besides being green, solar energy is quiet and cheap. This continues to be a major reason why consumers will opt for solar electricity to power their RVs.
However, there is a current concern that the existing growth in solar power uptake may slow down in the near future with the election of President Donald Trump, who has voiced his preference for coal and gas over renewable energy — at least for the time being. While this remains speculation, the Trump administration could potentially slow down the growth of the solar energy industry.
If this is achieved, the cost of powering RVs with electricity from the sun may become unattractive. This will scare many from owning solar powered recreational vehicles.
Generally, the recreational vehicle industry is on a growth path with or without solar energy. This is largely driven by the growing popularity of the RV lifestyle. To top it all, the drop in the cost of solar panels has encouraged the uptake of solar energy as an alternative in powering RVs. It is also important to note that powering an RV with solar only may be a challenge. In this case, a backup plan is required. However, if future legislations will discourage the harnessing of solar power, then the assimilation of this technology in the RV industry will slow down.