v3.5.0.2
Document and Entity Information - shares
9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2016
Nov. 04, 2016
Document And Entity Information [Abstract]    
Entity Registrant Name Real Goods Solar, Inc.  
Entity Central Index Key 0001425565  
Trading Symbol rgse  
Current Fiscal Year End Date --12-31  
Entity Filer Category Smaller Reporting Company  
Entity Common Stock, Shares Outstanding   8,048,414
Document Type 10-Q  
Document Period End Date Sep. 30, 2016  
Amendment Flag false  
Document Fiscal Year Focus 2016  
Document Fiscal Period Focus Q3