A 'World First' Solar RV Awning Enables More Affordable Off-Grid Living

The auto-retracting system can be deployed when solar energy is needed.
Chris Young

California-based energy firm Xponent Power developed an auto-retracting Xpanse Solar Awning that can be deployed if and when solar energy is needed, a report from New Atlas reveals.

The retractable solar panels move out to the side of the RV, creating a nice bit of shade for travelers, at the same time as providing on-demand solar energy. Depending on the model, owners will get 800, 1,000, or 1,200 watts of charging power.

The off-grid solution was designed to allow RV owners to camp away from electrical sockets for days at a time, and it can be easily mounted to either side of the vehicle. The Xpanse awning is made up of a 16 x 7-foot (4.9 x 2.1-m) "fabric" of high-efficiency glass-based solar panels. The awning features "bi-facial" solar panels, meaning it captures the energy of the sun from above as well as from below — the underside can capture a surprising amount of energy from reflection off the ground and the RV itself.

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The Xpanse awning is deployed at the push of a button, and it has an auto-retraction feature that will automatically pull it back in during stormy and windy conditions to avoid damage. On top of this, Xponent says that the panels feature small air gaps that make them more stable in moderate wind conditions.

A 'World First' Solar RV Awning Enables More Affordable Off-Grid Living
Xponent claims it built the world's first solar awning for RVs. Source: Xponent Power

In October, we reported on a new EV pickup, EF1-T, by Chinese automaker EdisonFuture, which also has a retractable solar panel roof. Unlike, the EF1-T, The Xpanse awning, unfortunately, can't stay deployed during driving. While the 1,200 watts of charging power on the Xpanse awning are impressive, they don't compare to the likes of the 2021 Living Vehicle RV's 3,080 watts of solar power, though that full RV, with all of its luxury amenities, comes at roughly the price of a house — of the non-moving variety.

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The 1,200-watt Xpanse awning is priced at a more affordable $9,950, and it currently has a 24 percent preorder discount. The 800-watt model will cost $4,990, while the 1,000-watt model is priced at $6,250. Xponent Power plans to begin deliveries in the second half of 2022. Have a look at the video below to see some general info on the Xpanse awning.

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