California-based renewable energy company Xponent Power has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first commercially available retractable solar awning for recreational vehicles, able to generate more than 1.2kW of solar power to run onboard appliances.
The Xpanse Solar Awning is compatible with most RVs and many caravan brands as well, and can power most appliances depending on usage patterns.
“Solar is the preferred source of power for RVs, but let’s face it, roof space is limited,” said Rohini Raghunathan, the founder of Xponent Power.
“You’re lucky if you can fit two or three large panels on the typical RV roof. Our research indicates that RV owners overwhelmingly want to go boondocking more often but are fundamentally limited by access to power.
“With the Xpanse Solar Awning, we are enabling RV owners to generate substantial power on the go so that they can go off-grid more often.”
Boondocking, also known as ‘dry camping’, is the practice of pulling in at free locations with your caravan or RV that have zero or limited facilities.
The Xpanse Solar Awning can provide both shade and solar power, and the company says it is also better able to withstand high winds.
The patented design creates small gaps between the solar panels when they are slightly retracted. These gaps allow wind to pass through, greatly reducing wind uplift and making it more wind tolerant. This means the awning can be kept open and produce power even at relatively high wind speeds.
“Xpanse is just the first step to creating more mobility-focused solar solutions,” said Raghunathan.
“We envision the adoption of our 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.”