Cost Comparrision of Generator VS Small Solar System for RV

Posted on : 29 May 2022


Solar doesn't have to be big, solar can be small and affordable and keep you enjoying the sounds of nature.  Let's explore a budget rv solar system vs a small generator for boondocking.

Small RV Solar System
Credit Cindy Shebley Flickr

RV Solar System VS Generator Cost Comparison

You may not be ready to invest in a large solar system, but you might be looking at a generator for weekend trips to some land for boondocking or campsites without hookups. The purpose of this is put these two options into perspective.

Small RV Solar System

In this breakdown we selected 2 rigid solar panels that are easily storeable in the back of a truck or in the trailer or RV itself.

For the charger we'd use a Victron Smart Solar 100|30 which is a 30 amp charger with bluetooth monitoring.

For the battery we selected a 200ah all in one battery solution with a built in battery monitor all accessible over bluetooth on your phone (Andoid or iOS).

Small RV Solar System Costs

2x 200w Solar Panels$500.00
200ah Lithium Battery + BT BMS$1100.00
Charger 100|30$225.00

Small Solar Pros

  • Quiet
  • Nothing to maintain
  • No ongoing costs
  • Battery with bluetooth state of charge monitoring
  • Battery will last 10+ years
  • Can recharge battery at home using home shore power
  • Move panels to follow sun in shady campsites


  • Slightly more expensive in the short term
  • That's it.

Gas Generator

In this example we selected a Honda inverter generator, assuming it's using 5 gallons a weekend at $4/gal and you're out for 6 weekends. The more you use it, the more than number would go up.

We also included the cost of an old lead acid battery, because they need to be changed regularly.

Gas Generator Costs

Honda Generator$1129.00
Fuel $120.00
12v Battery$150.00

Generator Pros

  • Unlimited power (with fuel)
  • Might have generator already


  • Still have old unreliable lead acid battery during quiet hours
  • No idea what state of charge battery is at/ how much time left
  • Noisy
  • Can't use during quiet hours
  • Have to maintain battery
  • Have to maintain generator
  • Have to manage fuel supply


Ultimately the choice is yours, but for just a few hundred dollars more, you can have a reliable battery with up to 4x the usable capacity of a similar weight lead acid / agm battery, possibly unlimited power on sunny days and be able to easily monitor it all from your phone.

Or, you can go with the noisy and smelly generator like we've always done.

If starting with a smaller system seems like a good idea to you, contact us.

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