As more RV (recreational vehicle) owners go dry camping, there is an increasing need for off-grid power. Solar is the preferred source of power for RVs, but let’s face it, roof space is limited. RV owners overwhelmingly want to go boondocking more often but are fundamentally limited by access to power.
To address this need, California-based renewable energy company Xponent Power has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first commercially available retractable solar awning for RVs, the Xpanse Solar Awning.
Deployed at the push of a button, the stylish and compact Xpanse solar awning provides shade while simultaneously generating over 1.2kW of solar power to help power all your appliances and anything else you may need. The Xpanse solar awning is compatible with most RVs and uses high-efficiency, rigid solar panels to enable extended off-grid adventures.
The awning can mount on either side of the vehicle. It can also integrate with existing rooftop installations, extending the solar power generation capabilities beyond the roof of an RV. It is a tad longer than 15 feet (4.57 meters) while extending near 7 feet (2.13 meters) once deployed.
The Xpanse solar awning has an innovative, patented design that creates small gaps between the solar panels when they are slightly retracted. These gaps allow wind to pass through, greatly reducing the wind uplift and making the awning intrinsically wind-tolerant. The solid construction isn’t necessarily wind-proof but will withstand constant winds up to a certain speed. The awning features no protection for things like rain and other precipitation, except its casing, where it lies when retracted.
The design is versatile, meaning it should fit most camping trailers or campervans with a roof long enough to support the base of the solar awning. This also means you can install two on each side to get more than 2000W of power, and since the awning doesn’t take up much roof space, it works with existing solar panels. The Xponent team is in talks with automotive and RV manufacturers to provide the Xpanse solar awning as a pre-installed option on their new vehicles.
It is definitely an innovative energy solution that doesn’t sacrifice anything in the process, but it does come at a cost. Xponent Power asks $10,000 for the Xpanse, but if you jump into a pre-order before November 15, the cost drops to $7,500. Deliveries are slated to begin in the second half of 2022.
The company also envisions the adoption of its retractable solar technology platform in several diverse markets such as mobile medical, military, police, and emergency relief power, as well as tiny homes, apartments, and more.