After researching and DIYing his own RV solar system, Justin Ford discovered a gap in the market for RV solar installers and for DIY information. A passion for sharing his knowledge and helping others led Justin and his wife, Stacy, to open Panels Up Solar. The team at Panels Up Solar offers everything from professional solar installations to RV electrical system solutions and DIY consulting services.  

Meet Justin Ford 

Panels Up Solar

Justin Ford and his wife Stacy have been married for nearly 30 years and have three daughters. During his active-duty service in the Navy Seabees, Justin and his family traveled all over the world, living wherever he happened to be stationed at the moment. When Justin retired from 20 years of service in 2010, the Ford family was ready to settle down. They bought their dream home, Stacy settled into her career as an Insurance Advisor, and Justin became a heavy equipment mechanic.  

Living out the typical American Dream, Justin and Stacy had two homes and plenty of things to fill them. They quickly found themselves spending much of their free time doing chores and yard work to keep their home pristine. Once their youngest daughter went to college, Justin and Stacy became empty nesters and began spending so much time at work, they didn’t even have time to enjoy the home they had worked so hard on.  

It dawned on Justin and Stacy that the typical American dream wasn’t their dream. They had a desire to carry out a simple life and to live more intentionally, allowing them to explore the world around them. After a short time of making plans to downsize, Justin and Stacy sold their two homes, all their extra possessions, and hit the road for full-time travel. 

Opting Out of Normal for Full-Time RV Life 

Opting Out of Normal

When Justin and Stacy moved into their RV in 2017, they found themselves living the life of their dreams. Choosing to ‘Opt Out of [the] Normal’ way of living, they started a YouTube channel and blog to share their travel adventures. They were able to live everyday like it was the weekend and travel across the country exploring places they had never been. The Fords love finding hidden gems and traveling to places off the beaten path. Their favorite activities on the road are hiking and kayaking, and they love chasing waterfalls. 

The desire to visit remote locations forced Justin to start researching electrical systems that would allow them to spend as little time as possible connected to power, while still living with all the comforts their 5th wheel would offer. Upon looking into solar power for their RV, Justin realized there were very few people doing installs, so he started learning how to DIY his own solar powered electrical system.  

A Passion for Helping Others Drives the Mission of Panels Up Solar 

Justin immersed himself in all things solar power and became fascinated with the RV solar industry. He was excited to share his knowledge with anyone who would listen and started helping his friends build their own RV electrical and solar systems. During their five years of RV living and traveling, Justin helped with many solar installations and consulted and assisted with plenty of DIY projects. He was inspired to share his knowledge and passion to help people live a self-sufficient lifestyle, off-grid in their RV.  

After working with several component manufacturers and staying up to date on the latest trends for equipment, Justin opened his own full service install facility and DIY learning center, called Panels Up Solar. He is driven by a passion to help people and has a goal to provide reliable information that is up-to-date in the ever-changing environment of RV solar and electric.  

Justin Ford

To ensure the seamless opening of their brick-and-mortar building in Mississippi, Justin laid the groundwork by collecting a long list of manufacturers, resources, and partners. He had the self-awareness to know he wasn’t good at everything and made sure to hire people who had strengths to balance out his weaknesses.  

What Does Panels Up Solar Offer? 

Along with his team at Panels Up Solar, Justin offers a wide range of services from full energy solutions to suppling and installing individual parts and component upgrades. Correct solar panel mounting is essential for getting the most out of a solar system, and Panels Up ensures that each installation is custom-designed for the customer’s needs. They will also help their customers find the optimum battery or group of batteries that will allow long-lasting off-grid capability, and properly fit all necessary wires and cabling. Then, they determine the most effective inverter and charger solution that will the enhance safety and efficiency of the system.  

Panels Up Solar Install
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For those interested in a more hands-on approach, Justin offers DIY consulting services through in-house classes or one-on-one meetings. “My DIY consulting service assists individuals who are willing to learn or already have some experience and understanding of basic electrical principles.” Taking the time to learn how to DIY a system offers a deep understanding of how the system functions and makes troubleshooting and routine maintenance much easier. Justin’s training seminars offer teaching about the various components and tools, hands-on demonstration boards, and details about everything needed for a DIY install.  

Whether Justin is completing an install, teaching a training seminar, or offering one-on-one consulting, he loves every project he works on. His favorite part is staying connected with customers after their install is finished, when they reach out excited to share the experiences, and about the adventures their new solar systems have allowed them to go on.  

Panels Up Solar Systems Powered by Battle Born Batteries 

Justin is committed to only offering and installing the best brands in the industry, and we’re proud to be one of them. After meeting Battle Born co-founders, Denis and Sean, in 2018, Justin said, “Their vision, passion, and love for their company and customers drew us to installing Battle Born into our own rig.” After using Battle Borns in his own rig for full-time RVing, Justin knew he wanted Panels Up Solar to install them in their solar systems. “We know beyond a doubt their focus is making sure they produce quality batteries and give quality service. The two must go hand-in-hand to be successful.” 

Battle Born Batteries

As an installer, Justin enjoys being able to work with his hands and challenge himself with the diversity of every install. Even with two identical RVs, the installs are completely different, and Justin makes sure to factor in the customers unique needs. He thoroughly discusses every aspect of the system and how the customer will use it so that it is properly sized and installed for maximum efficiency.  

“Anyone can sell you a solar system, but we answer the questions you didn’t know you needed to ask. We won’t just sell you any system. We currently live and have traveled full-time for over five years in our RV. We know what it takes, and we’ll provide you with first-hand knowledge to successfully meet your needs and expectations to live your life with your requirements.” 

What’s Next for Panels Up Solar? 

Panels Up Solar is continuing to assist customers with all their solar needs. Justin is doing installs and upgrades and designing complete solar systems to help his customers spend more time off-grid and in nature. He is working on adding more training seminars and classes, and encouraging those who are able to consider DIYing their own system. As the company grows, Justin is focused on the business performing to the best of its ability and he notes that “it takes a village.” Justin has been hiring people to meet needs within his business that he simply isn’t able to.  

As for Justin and Stacy, they will still be setting aside time to disconnect and get off-grid in their RV. They look forward to exploring new places and spending time with their three daughters and one granddaughter.  

To keep up with Panels Up Solar’s latest installs and DIY seminars, check out their Instagram, Facebook, and website. If you’re interested in following along with Justin and Stacy’s latest adventures, check out ‘Opting Out of Normal’ on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and their blog

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