If you’ve ever wondered if you can use a Tesla Powerwall in your RV, then you are in the right place. Imagine being able to have seemingly unlimited “off-grid” power in your RV. So, is it possible to install a Tesla Powerwall in an RV?
Yes, a Tesla Powerwall can be installed in an RV. You can even add solar panels to your RV roof to charge the Powerwall’s battery bank. This allows you to park your RV anywhere you’d like and have independent power to run all of your electronic items such as:
- Air Conditioners
- Appliances (Refrigerators, Microwaves, Ovens)
- Water Heaters
- Phone Chargers and Power Banks
- Satellite Dishes
Tesla has taken its position atop the electric power industry and leveraged it to produce the Tesla Powerwall. Essentially, the Powerwall is a massive battery bank that can be charged with solar panels, and with it’s extra large built-in inverter, can power all of your RV electrical items for hours on end. Read on to see how simple it is to make your RV off-grid capable.
The Tesla Powerwall for RV Power Freedom
Imagine choosing the most remote spot for a peaceful getaway, without wondering if there is a power source at that site. With a conventional RV power setup, you’ll likely only be able to dream about this scenario. However, with a Powerwall, you can bring this scenario to life.
In a conventional setup (non-Powerwall), an RV draws power from either the 12-volt Battery or Shore Power/Generator. These are some typical uses for each, as outlined in this video:
|12-volt Battery||Shore Power or Generator|
|Water Pump||Roof Mounted Air Conditioning|
|Water Heater||Small Kitchen Appliances|
- The 12-volt Battery can power items that require less power. It does so via the discharge and recharge of the batteries via an external source like a campsite outlet, RV engine alternator, or solar panels.
- Shore Power or a Generator power items with larger energy needs. Shore power is typically via a 30-Amp plug at a campsite, and a generator is typically run on gasoline.
As you can see, the 12-volt Battery alone cannot run all of your electrical items. This means in a conventional RV power setup, you will need either a 30-Amp Shore Power plug, or a gasoline Generator to power all of your electrical items.
How Is the Tesla Powerwall Different?
It is all about the energy! Your energy use is not going to change by installing the Powerwall. What will definitely change is how your energy is sourced.
This is how the Tesla Powerwall is different: The Tesla Powerwall operates like a conventional 12-volt Battery in an RV, except it has much larger capacity and higher power output so it can power both small and large electrical items. As a bonus, the Powerwall can be recharged via solar panels mounted to the RV’s roof.
Say goodbye to the need for Shore Power or a gasoline Generator, and get ready to replace your 12-volt batteries. The Tesla Powerwall can do it all!
Can Tesla Powerwall Replace My RV Batteries?
Yes, the Powerwall becomes your battery bank. The Tesla Powerwall is essentially a 13.5kWh battery that has high enough power output to run both your small and large electrical items.
A kWh is the amount of power, in thousands of watts (kW) per hour, that a battery can store.
1 kWh = 1,000 watts.
So, is the Powerwall’s 13.5 kWh a lot? According to Silicon Valley Power, appliances use this much power:
|Total load||5.7 kWh (13.5 kWh capacity)|
IMPORTANT: In this example, you’d be using all items (including the roof mounted air conditioner and the oven) at 100% for the entire hour. Realistically, these items would be used as needed, not turned on 100% of the time. A more average “full activity” energy usage is between 1-1.5 kWh. Varies by user.
How Much Energy Can Powerwall Store?
One of the biggest questions an RV enthusiast may want to know is how much energy the Tesla Powerwall can store. Each Powerwall can store 13.5 kWh (or 13,500 watts).
Consider that an RV will drive half of the daylight hours, charge for half of daylight hours and operate independently at night.
A single 13.5 kWh Powerwall can fully power an RV for nearly 10 hours off-grid, assuming the oven is only used for 1-hour each day, and the roof mounted air conditioner becomes more efficient as the interior temperature becomes cooler. That means 13.5 kWh is plenty sufficient for a nightly camp.
What If I Need or Want More Power?
One of the best features of the Powerwall is that you can connect up to 10 Powerwalls together. This allows you to increase your battery capacity to 135kWh (or 135,000 watts). Although not very practical or cost-effective, combining 10 Powerwalls together could power an RV off-grid for nearly 100 hours!
How Do You Charge the Tesla Powerwall?
The Tesla Powerwall can be charged via Shore Power, or via Solar Panels.
There is some easy math for this question. Say you have a typical solar panel that can produce 210 watts of power per hour, and you put 12 panels on your RV, as did “we call it camping” in their real-world demonstration. That is 2,520 watts per hour.
During peak sunlight hours, you charge a single Powerwall from 0%-100% in 5.35 hours (13,500 watts / 2,520 watts).
For most cases, you will only need a partial charge, and not a full 0%-100% charge.
To figure out exactly how long it would take you to fully charge a Powerwall, divide the Powerwall’s capacity (13,500 watts) by your power source’s output.
For example, if you only have 5 panels, each being 210 watts, you’d have 1,050 watts of power output. So, a Powerwall would take 13 hours to charge from 0%-100% using only 5 solar panels.
Keep in mind, you can also use Shore Power to top off your Powerwall if needed.
For example, a standard 120-volt outlet can typically output 1,500 watts. So, a Powerwall would take 9 hours to charge from 0%-100% using a standard 120-volt outlet.
Further, a standard 240-volt 30-Amp campsite outlet can typically output 6,500 watts. So, a Powerwall would take 2 hours to charge from 0%-100% using a 240-volt 30-Amp campsite outlet.
Important: Always keep in mind that you are not very likely to use all 13.5 kWh of battery everyday. In most cases, you will only use a percentage of your Powerwalls capacity, and therefore only need to charge that amount to top it back off.
Doing a power audit to find out how much power your specific RV would require to fully function off-grid will help you determine how many solar panels you’d need for recharging.
Can a Powerwall Be Mounted Externally?
Typical RV batteries and generators are stored beneath the living area. This is less of an option for the Powerwall because it must be installed perpendicularly to the ground (standing upright) according to Tesla. The dimensions of the Powerwall are around 4 feet in height and almost 3 feet wide.
The height means you need a high wall, and its weight of 276 lbs. means you need a strong attachment to the wall (specs). Since Tesla states that the Powerwall can be installed indoors or outdoors and at comfortable ranges of -4 degrees to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, exterior mounting is possible. Follow your RV instructions for attaching add-on components to determine the best location.
How Does Weather Impact an RV’s Use of Solar?
The intensity of sunlight and clarity of the sky is the name of the game for solar power. Direct sunlight, on a clear day, during the middle of the day is just about perfect.
The brighter and clearer the day, the quicker the charge. On cloudy days, expect a loss in power output, depending on how thick the cloud cover is, and how long it lasts.
Is It Difficult to Connect an RV to a Tesla Powerwall?
If you have experience installing conventional RV 12-volt battery systems, you will only need to become familiar with Tesla’s requirements for the Powerwall, and integrate it into your own knowledge. If you are a novice or are not intimately familiar with solar panels and systems, it is best to consult a professional in this area.
A big bonus is the Powerwall has a built-in inverter, so you won’t need to connect it to an external one.
RV Life Only Gets Better With the Tesla Powerwall
Yes, you can power your RV with the Tesla Powerwall, and you even go off-grid by adding solar panels to your RV’s roof for endless power. Listen to tunes, watch the game, cool down with air conditioning, and prepare a delicious meal all at once while enjoying the freedom of off-grid living thanks to the Powerwall.