Can RV Solar Panels Run a TV?

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You’ve likely heard more and more about solar power in recent years. Solar power is an investment, but can help bring you and our RV highly efficient energy using the heat of the sun and absorptive, reflective panels. 

What can solar power help run? Can it run a TV?

Solar panels can run a TV for a time. We’ll go into more detail about how it works and what you should expect from the experience.

How long can solar panels run a TV?

The answer partially depends on a few variables: 

  • Are you running multiple TVs?
  • How big are the TVs?
  • What is their energy consumption?

TVs do vary in energy consumption from 25 watts for a small 19” TV to 132 watts for a big 50” TV. You’ll need larger solar panels, like 200 watts, to properly run a TV and other electronics using the large TV. 

So the answer is that a properly sized solar panel can run your TV for about 4 hours. The answer to this question does depend solely on the actual power consumption of the TV. TVs that are energy star rated typically use less power.

Another consideration is turning the brightness down on your TV. Just like laptop or anything else that is potentially battery powered, the more you turn it up and use, the more energy it uses.

If you would like to know the actual math, the standard practice is to have twice as much solar panel wattage available as your TV will consume. If the TV uses 132 watts, consider getting 200 watts or more in solar panels.

How do TVs use solar?

For the record: You don’t plug your TV directly into the solar panel. The solar panel collects heat and light and stores it in an external battery. You can plug into that external battery as a power source for many appliances or devices in your house. 

This is a little different from plugging in your TV and using it from the generator or shore power, but it’s also highly efficient and aside from the cost of installing panels – it’s a great investment.

Will my TV behave differently?

Nope. The only factor for your TV is that using it at full brightness or sound will use more battery. Otherwise, your TV should function the same.

If you are worried about changes in electrical or surges, the controller and battery for your solar should have these problems covered.

Do I have to install my TV differently?

No, not really. The solar installation should be geared toward reaching the appliances and devices it will power. 

What should I know about solar panels?

You can actually buy solar panels in a variety of sizes ranging from 25W to 100W and more, in clusters. This means that if someone is trying to sell you more power than you really feed you need, you can consider your own power consumption and how many panels you really need. At the same time, it’s not a terrible idea to get more panels in case you end up really liking solar and want to more items for longer.


Solar panels are certainly a good way to power a TV, as a TV has relatively low energy consumption. They are an excellent option for people who are frequently in the sun and want a cheap source of renewable energy. 

Solar is also an investment that can potentially help the resale value of your RV. Some people dislike the installation cost – but if it’s already there, it certainly can make it more attractive.

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