You might have been confused with the selection process if you’re interested in installing the best RV solar panels. There are many of these items on the market, each with different features and specifications. So, if you’re a first-timer, you might have been stressed not being aware of what to expect from a solar panel for the RV.
In the following guide, we’re discussing the top picks with the things that make them unique. Also, we’re featuring what to know when shopping around for this product. Later, we’re hoping that you can buy the system for the right RV solar panel installation.
|Top 1||Top 2||Top 3|
|Preview||Renogy Solar Starter Kit||ECO-WORTHY Solar Panel Kit||DOKIO Solar Panel Kit|
|Dimensions||41.8 x 1.38 x 20.9 inches||41.73 x 22.05 x 2.36 inches||39 x 21 x 0.9 inches|
|Material||Monocrystalline Silicon||Monocrystalline Silicon||Monocrystalline Silicon|
Top 11 RV Solar Panel Reviews
1. Renogy Solar Starter Kit
- Perfect for first-timers in solar panel use
- Solar efficiency of 21%
- Upgraded charge controller
- No instruction guide needed
Take a huge leap and get started with solar panels with a trusted brand. The Renology 100 Watts 12 Volts solar starter kit is perfect for newbies who want to learn but not genuinely invest in solar panels. This is a highly recommended 12V RV solar kit. Not it is just limited to RVs but also to boats, trailers, sheds, and even cabins for that ultimate outdoor adventure for you and the whole family.
Truly novice-friendly, every component you would need is part of the package. You will receive the 100W solar panel, a 30A PWM negative charge controller, the MC4 connectors, your tray cable, and even mounting brackets to be used for your RV or boats. The holes are also pre-drilled on the back of the panel so you can afford a quick mounting process.
By the way, the charge controller that you get on this starter kit is an upgraded version. You will have the Renology Wanderer, a better choice as you can magnify your system to up to 400 watts.
You will commend its overall Monocrystalline solar cell competence of 21% with an ideal output per day of 500W. With this collected power, you can charge a 50Ah battery from 50% in 3 hours, given that you have direct and ample solar supply. The general design is also thoughtfully conceptualized. The panels are corrosion resistant with the aluminum frames designed for prolonged outdoor use. It can withstand the not so forgiving elements of the environment and can allow you to enjoy this mighty investment for decades.
2. ECO-Worthy Solar Panel RV Boat Kit
- Produces more solar power than other brands of the same size
- Very easy to install and use
- Charge controller comes with adequate protection
- The robust construction of the solar panel and frame
- No need to purchase other parts or components
- Some issues with the charge controller
Owning an RV gives you the chance to travel anywhere and still enjoy the comforts of home. To make this possible, you need to have a portable solar system that will power modern household appliances right in your RV. One solution is the ECO-Worthy Off-Grid RV Boat Kit. This is a system that comes with a plug and play design for instant and secure use.
The ECO-Worthy comes with a large-capacity solar panel that can produce up to 20 percent more solar power than products of the same size. You get more power for your appliances without ever-increasing the surface area of the solar panels. We must commend ECO-Worthy for designing a solar system that is compact and powerful.
The solar panels are straightforward to connect to the accompanying charge controller. This device can serve as a solar trickle charger for RV battery. The system lets you charge your batteries more safely, preventing overcharging and unnecessary discharging.
3. DOKIO 300W 18V Portable Solar Panel Kit
- Powerful 300-watt system to generate clear, pure, and seamless energy
- Compatible with different 12V batteries and solar generators
- Portable and effortless setup design, 3-inch when folded
- Comes with 2 Type-C USB ports, changing various device
- IP65 waterproof and robust design
- Ensures safety against short circuits, overloads, and overcharging
- Compatible with 12V system only
The DOKIO 300W solar panel kit is excellent for RV boondocking and marine applications, as it can deliver up to 300 watts of clear, pure, and seamless energy. A lot more efficient to set up than three 100-watt photovoltaic panels, this system makes it effortless to power modern-day devices.
To put things into perspective, 300 watts is enough to power blenders, small refrigerators, desktops, PCs, and other small appliances. It might be insufficient for some, but 300 watts is typically enough for most RVers.
What makes this product so great is its folding solar panel design, which further simplifies the setup. And thanks to its handy carrying bag and lightweight design, I can bring this kit anywhere on my camping trip.
In addition, the folding RV portable solar panels are never cumbersome to stow in any vehicle because they are less than an inch thick. Once folded, the panels shouldn’t occupy more than three inches of vertical space.
I like this solar panel’s impressive battery compatibility. It works with lead-acid, AGM, lithium-iron phosphate, gel, and lithium-ion power cells. Two Type-C USB ports are also available for charging compatible devices, such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. The kit also comes with six charging adaptors for different solar generators.
Safety is never an issue with this portable kit. Its solar charge controller sufficiently protects batteries against short circuits, overloads, and overcharging. Electrical components are also IP65-rated, giving me confidence in using this kit in not-so-good weather.
4. Renogy 100 Watt 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel Suitcase
- Can produce up to 500Wh
- Works with different battery types
- Comes with a built-in charge controller
- Good electrical safety features
- Can take and mount anywhere
- Quite expensive
If you want top-quality portable solar panels for RV, then look no further than Renogy. The company’s Solar Panel Suitcase is one of the most compacts we have seen. People will never realize that what you are carrying is a reliable and trustworthy solar generating device.
The portable solar panel Suitcase is a no-nonsense system that can generate enough solar power to outclass even traditional, non-foldable solar panels. This device can give you as much as 500Wh in a day. The integrated 20A charge controller gives you the chance to store power in any type of battery. It works with gel, flooded, sealed, and lithium-ion batteries. You get to charge your batteries using this Renogy system wherever you are.
Part of this battery charging capability of the Solar Panel Suitcase is its monocrystalline design. It allows for the more efficient collection of solar light for conversion into DC power. You can then use your batteries to power the different devices and appliances in your RV. Thriving off the grid is so much more comfortable with this system in your hands.
5. RICH SOLAR Polycrystalline Solar Panel
- Reliable collection of solar
- Long-lasting solar panels
- Can stand up to the elements
- Has predrilled mounting holes
- Very affordable
- Less efficient than monocrystalline solar panels
RICH SOLAR is offering RV owners a more affordable solution to let them enjoy living off the grid. The company makes reliable portable RV solar panel kits that are good for budget-conscious folks. You can also pick a solar panel only and skip the package for more significant savings.
What makes RICH SOLAR’s solar panels inexpensive is its use of polycrystalline technology. This is way cheaper than monocrystalline systems. Unfortunately, polys are less efficient when it comes to harnessing solar.
While the portable solar panels are of the polycrystalline design, RICH SOLAR integrates a few advanced technologies to make them more efficient than other poly brands. You can rely on the panels to gather light energy even on cloudy days, in the evening, or early in the morning.
The panels are also well-made. You can have these devices powering up your RV for the next 25 years or so. These solar panels can also be an excellent option for those who have existing portable solar power kits camping systems. You can connect these panels to your portable solar power system to gain more energy from the sun.
Both the frame and the portable solar panel are durable. They are reliable and resistant to strong winds, heavy snow, and shocks, too. Mounting the panels is also easy. There are holes already drilled into the frame. All you need is the correct hardware, and you are done.
6. Newpowa Polycrystalline Solar Panel
- Solid efficiency
- Well-rounded protection for the solar panel
- Corrosion resistant
- High resistance to humidity
- Simple and easy installation
- Adapters needed for the connectors
Smaller but more powerful, the Newpowa Polycrystalline Solar Panel is guaranteed reliable efficiency. With its cells compressed in theylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA) and positioned between two high transparent low iron tempered glasses, you will be sure that this solar panel is going to be with you and a witness to your outdoor adventures for a very long time. Working with the EVA is a Tedlar-polyester-Tedlar (TPT) back sheet for backside protection to ensure a holistic approach to defense.
It also uses tinned copper, which exudes longevity and reliability, unlike other solar panels on the market that uses bare copper. Tinned copper is known to resist humidity, and they can handle high temperatures very well. The changes in the environment from cold to warm, rainy to sunny is something that tinned copper is designed to bear and survive. This solar panel can withstand 2400 PAs of winds and 5400PA of snow load.
Setting this up is also very simple. The diodes are already pre-installed in the junction box. There is already a pre-attached 3 feet MC4 cable, so technically, before you open the package, some set up is already prepared. You just need to continue completing it.
Quality-wise, the Newpowa always makes it to the top list when it comes to quality. The brand itself is a promise of high quality with valuable ratings online. One of the reasons why current users and even you would like this is because of its portable design and the fact that it can be used even without a battery.
7. Renogy Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
- Silicon crystal built
- Efficient battery charging
- Lightweight and the panels easy to handle
- Comes with the Wanderer
- Workable installation
- Short tray cable
Another option for those folks who want quality solar panels with guaranteed output is to get the Renogy 200W solar starter kit with Wanderer. This is a 200-watt solar panel for RV that uses monocrystalline photovoltaic electric, solar panels to transform the energy collected from the sun to power.
Each module of the panel is constructed of silicon crystal, which could absorb more sun power than other materials like thin film and polycrystalline. You would automatically identify these panels because they appear as all black or iridescent blue.
You will find this solar panel by this well-established brand to be reliable when it comes to providing you with power as the expected daily output it is pegged for is 1000Wh. The battery in the starter kit can be charged in 1.5 hours since it is directly angled to the sun. With so much energy, you are guaranteed that power is sufficient in your trailers, RVs, boats, jet skis, and cabins.
Setting it up requires professional assistance, or you need someone to lend you a hand. For it to be fully maximized, you must position it where there is ample sunlight that can be received. No shadows or trees that can obscure it from receiving the heat of the sun. Other than that, installation is relatively quick and doable, given that all you need to put it in place is all included in the kit.
Another reason why this would work well for you is its lightweight built. It is so easy to just bring it along with you when you go for your outdoor adventures.
8. Mighty Max Battery 100 Watts Solar Panel
- Provides reliable solar power output
- Can compensate for power drops
- Strong frame construction
- Predrilled holes for installation
- The frame is a bit thick
- Not as efficient as a mono
One of the portable solar brands that are making quite a stir among clean energy-conscious folks is Mighty Max Battery. The company’s 100W Solar Panel may seem like any other 100-watt photovoltaic panel on the market. However, Mighty Max does offer its product at a more affordable price. You get a system that is perfect for camping trailer without ever producing a gaping hole in your pocket.
The Mighty Max is a solar panel-only product that does not include mounting hardware. This adds to the affordability of the unit. You get to decide on the different mounting options and save a few dollars more. While this solar panel is relatively inexpensive compared to other brands, it never fails in its fundamental job. The solar panels can generate enough power to operate the devices, appliances, and gadgets you have in your trailer.
We also like the addition of diodes on the back of the solar panels. These components allow the system to compensate for any loss or reduction in solar power. The predrilled mounting holes are also a plus. At least you can mount the system right after purchasing the correct hardware. The aluminum frame is both robust and sturdy.
9. Goal Zero Boulder Solar Panel
- Can directly be connected to the Goal Zero Yeti Portable Power stations
- Removable kickstand
- Lightweight and portable
- Anodized aluminum and rugged tempered glass built
- The kickstand is not adjustable
- Need to buy power stations and combiner cables separately
Undeniably solid, the Goal Zero Boulder monocrystalline solar panel is the ultimate portable solar panel for camping, trekking, and even off-grid or emergency situations.
With no additional cables needed, this solar panel is designed to recharge Goal Zero Yeti Power Stations straight out of the box. Using it is very simple. You just need to set it directly under the sun and connect it in the input of the Goal Zero Yeti, and you can leave it as it absorbs and collects the power from the sunlight. This can also be connected to other solar panels that are compatible.
This solar panel comes with a kickstand, so you have the liberty to decide when to set it up and where you want it. If you are selected to install it permanently, just remove the kickstand and install it via mounting brackets.
You can also bring this with you anywhere without worrying about it getting wet or being damaged easily because this is made of durable and weatherproof materials. The construction is made with the roughness of the outdoors in mind. You are given the advantage of being able to move it around with its lightweight anodized aluminum built paired with tempered glass and the toughness that comes with it to withstand water and the harsh elements of the environment.
10. GP-PSK-130 Portable Folding Solar
- Folding capability
- On the go carrying case
- Easy installation
- Lightweight and portable
- User friendly
- Quality of hinges and screws can be improved
There won’t be stopping you from being on the go with those adventures and outdoor activities with the Go Power folding solar kit. It is one of the most flexible and convenient charging options if you don’t want to mount a solar panel on your roof permanently. This can also be added reinforcement to your existing solar panel rooftop kit.
One of the things that you would love about this solar panel is that it uses Anderson-style charging connectors to exchange the charging fittings to suit your needs quickly. It also has foldable legs so you can maximize the absorption and collection of solar power. At the same time, store it conveniently when required.
Another plus point goes to its straightforward setup. Straight to the point, you just must take it out of the box, position it to a place where it will get the most sun, and it starts working and collecting solar power for you. The controller is user friendly, too, and it comes with complete directions if you have any hesitations in setting it up.
What sets this apart will be the carrying case. The way the panel is designed to fold up and fit nicely into the carrying case simply is brilliant and practical. You can bring it with you anywhere and not worry about a storage device to carry it with. It is an excellent investment because it will pay for itself with all the money that you would save by not using any kind of hookups and solely depending on the solar power of the sun.
11. BougeRV Mono Solar Cell Charger for RV
- IP65 rated junction box
- Water and shock-resistant
- Compatible with indoor and outdoor use
- Easy and quick installation
- High-efficiency conversion
- Heavier than the other solar panels
If you want a cost-reducing solar panel that will let you turn the natural sun into savings, then the BougeRv solar panel is the perfect choice for you. On average, a residential customer like you approximately consumes 909 kWh every month. With a 170W solar panel that can produce 375 kWh per year, your energy costs will go down so you can reallocate that budget for other purposes.
To convince you further, you will like that this panel uses a monocrystalline solar module, which is known to be very efficient when it comes to converting the solar to power. IT is a feasible recommendation when you are just starting in using solar alternatives for energy. It is excellent for emergency and off-grid applications.
You can easily use in for your trailers, RVs, trucks, and vans. When you are out on a road trip, you can focus on the sceneries without having to worry about having no power on your trailer or small cabin.
This solar panel is designed from corrosion-resistant aluminum, so you can have that peace of mind using it for extended periods outside. It utilizes anti-reflective and high transparency glass that makes the overall system water and shock resistant. You can leave it outside, and it will surely bear strong winds and snow.
Installation is easy with the solar panels for RV battery. The panels have predrilled holes at the back, so you can easily install it without the need for heavy tools to complete the setup.
SUNGOLDPOWER Monocrystalline Solar Panel Kit (Outdated)
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
- Corrosion-resistant aluminum frame
- Budget-friendly price
- Easy and quick installation
- High-efficiency conversion
- Charge controller needs to be wired 12V
There is no need to bring your solar panels inside when it starts raining and snowing because the Sungoldpower is crafted to be used in all weather conditions. You will get to enjoy this for a very long time because its frame is made from corrosion-resistant aluminum. Simply mount it flat on your roof, and it will start absorbing the sun’s heat and converting it to the power that you can consume.
This is not limited to just your home but is also recommended for your RV. The installation process is straightforward and can be a DIY project for you. It comes with predrilled holes already, so all you need it just to set it up. There is no need for heavy tools just to complete it. When you get this package, you get not only the solar panel itself but also your charge controller, a pair of MC4 extension cables, mounting brackets, and a pair of MC4 branch connectors. Everything you need is all made available for you.
Lightweight and well built, you are sure that these panels try to absorb as much sun as possible even while the sun is nearly behind its set up. You can monitor it via the solar charge controller so you can easily track how efficient it was for the day. This one is a definite win not only for your budget but also for all your outdoor adventures. Once back home, you can continue using it, so should any emergency arise, there would still be electricity that you can use.
Renogy 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel (Outdated)
- More efficient solar gathering than poly
- Very compact size for increased versatility
- Durable and weatherproof construction
- Easy to install with predrilled holes
- Excellent for RVs and motor homes
- Does not include mounting hardware
Renogy is a well-established and trusted brand when it comes to solar products. That is why people are looking to choose the best RV solar panels to always go for the Renogy brand. They know that they can rely on the durability, quality, and performance of the brand’s different products. It is what you will get with the 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel.
This Renogy creation is the perfect solution for a comfortable off the grid living. It is compact enough to fit on the roof of your RV and even your boat. The solar panel is also more efficient in gathering solar power since it utilizes a monocrystalline design. You get to send free and clean energy to your battery bank and power up the different items in your vehicle.
This solar panel from Renogy features excellent construction. It can stand up to heavy loads of snow or powerful winds. Renogy was also kind enough to have the mounting holes predrilled. You get to secure the solar panels on your vehicle for maximum stability. Unfortunately, you will have to purchase the mounting hardware yourself.
HQST 100 Watt Monocrystalline 12V Solar Panel (Outdated)
- Good sunlight gathering capabilities
- Can minimize power drops
- Durable and solid construction
- Works with different kinds of mounting systems
- Good value for money
- No mounting hardware in the package
People who want an efficient solar system without breaking the bank should always consider products from HQST. It is a brand that manufactures reliable solar systems that are more affordable than others. The company’s 100W Mono 12V Solar Panel should be high for RV and motor homeowners. Families living off the grid can also benefit from the reliable solar gathering performance of these solar panels.
HQST designed its RV solar kits to allow for the more efficient gathering of light energy. It makes for a dependable solar panel for RV battery charging. You get to optimize the sun’s power and use it to run the different appliances and electronic gadgets in your motor home. The RV solar kits are with a bypass diode that can minimize solar power fluctuations. An overcast sky or parking in a partly shaded area should never be an issue with these panels on your RV.
WindyNation Solar Panel Off-Grid RV Boat Kit (Outdated)
- Efficient sunlight gathering capability
- Can deliver up to 350Wh
- Allows for expansion of the solar system
- Dependable solar panel construction
- Already comes as a complete kit
- Included wiring may not be enough for some users
A proper solar system for travel trailers is the Off-Grid RV Boat Kit from WindyNation. This is a complete system that already includes everything you need for installation. It is an entire system that consists of a PWM charge controller, solar cables, mounting hardware, and connectors. This is perfect for people who want a system they can install right after opening the box. There is no need to go to the hardware store to buy other parts.
The solar panels are built tough. They are easy to install since WindyNation already includes mounting hardware in the package. The system can deliver up to 350Wh to your RV. The top-tier part of this system is that you can expand it in the future. The WindyNation already comes with a charge controller that allows you to add three more 100W solar panels or seven 100W solar panels if you have a 24-volt system. You will get better savings since you only need to buy the additional solar panels.
While WindyNation’s RV solar system kits are already complete, the wiring included in the package may not be sufficient for some people. We found consumers complaining about the package not having additional wire for connecting the solar batteries to the monitoring panel. Some kits also did not include an in-line fuse as well as lugs for connecting wires to the cells.
HQST Foldable Solar Panel Suitcase (Outdated)
- Efficient gathering of solar
- Portable design for different applications
- Comes with its charge controller
- Easy to set up and maintain
- Included hardware is not of the top-quality
Renogy makes great portable solar power units. Unfortunately, these products are often beyond the means of average-earning families. One good alternative is HQST’s Foldable Solar Panel Suitcase. It performs as well as Renogy products, but at a friendlier price.
The HQST Solar Panel Suitcase utilizes both open surfaces of the case to provide you with an efficient solar gathering system. Each panel comes with a 50-watt rating to give the suitcase an overall power output of 100 watts. And since the solar panel suitcase features monocrystalline panels, you can be sure of its higher efficiency than polycrystalline solar panels.
We like the integration of sturdy aluminum stands in the portable solar kit. You can position the solar panels at the right angle to optimize solar collection. The stands are robust, yet do not add substantial weight to the panels. It is a handy feature that makes installing the solar panels so much more comfortable wherever you are. There is also an integrated charge controller that allows you to safeguard your batteries. The device also makes sure that the energy from the solar panels gets stored in your battery bank.
It is thoughtful of HQST to include wires for connecting the different components of a solar system.
Renogy 160 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel (Outdated)
- Lightweight and transportable
- Increased photon absorption
- Compatibility to 12V devices
- Higher price tag
You can expect nothing but the best and innovative product from Renology. The ever flexible, monocrystalline solar panels with 160 Watts of power is relatively a newcomer when it comes to the photovoltaic scene. It is slowly establishing a reputation for higher competence and extreme versatility as it can be adjusted to an angle of up to 248 degrees.
This is highly recommended for you if you would need regular off-grid power generation but not the hassle of the weight. You would surely give this thumbs up because it is compatible with 12V devices like the traditional 12V rated panels.
Unlike the traditional panels which have permanent glass on their front sides, which makes it very open and vulnerable to both natural and transportation hazards, the Renogy flexible panel solves that because it removes the glass from the setup. This makes it more durable for you as the brittle components are taken out. Apart from this, the panels are very durable. The lamination is of the highest standard, and the junction boxes are designed to be water-resistant. Overall, it is a complete weatherproof solar panel.
Surprisingly, this solar panel is more user friendly compared to traditional ones. For starters, it is very light and easy to carry. It is about 6 pounds so you can easily transport it with you. The overall installation is simple, too, thanks to its MC4 connectors.
What you will like for sure, though, is the laminated front sheet of the panel, which is not glossy, so it boosts the level of sun absorption. It is also designed to withstand any level of shock. Curved, it can easily fit non-flat surfaces, so no further modifications are required from your end to use this.
What Is An RV Solar Panel And Who This Is For
Solar panels are great additions to have in your RVs, motorhomes, campers, and the like. They act as another energy source in your vehicle as they collect and convert solar into electricity for your gadgets and appliances to use.
Because of this, RV solar panels, such as solar power for RV air conditioner, are quite useful and handy to have. Traveling on the road does not always mean you get a stable electricity source. This is especially true if you intend to travel to remote places or during winter or colder months. Having solar panels is also great as you can be prepared for any emergency. However, if you have solar panels installed, you wouldn’t have any reason to worry.
Depending on the size, capacity, and how many you have, RV solar panels enable you to continuously use your gadgets, appliances, and all other features and fixtures inside your RV homes. As such, you can travel without any problems or worries and in the height of comfort.
Solar panels are also a great way to preserve and cut down on your generator use as well as extend on your RV’s battery life. You can switch between using your generator and power stored through your solar panels.
Aside from that, solar panels are also for those who are eco-conscious. Since you are just utilizing solar, you are not harming nor damaging your environment. It’s also quite cost-effective since you can only save on money and electricity in the long-run.
How Does It Work
Solar panels usually have the following parts or components. You have the panel itself, a charge controller, batteries, and an inverter.
The solar panel is responsible for collecting and converting solar energy. Depending on its type, panels can receive an ample amount of solar energy for your RV’s needs. Once it’s collected, the panel’s photovoltaic cells then convert the solar energy into DC. For the top-tier results, it’s top-rated to use several solar panels for a faster charge.
Electricity then flows into the solar charge controller. Many users consider this as an essential part since it prevents your battery from overcharging.
When the battery is low, the controller sends an ample amount of current to replenish its charge. Once it’s full, the controller limits the amount of electricity flowing to your batteries to prevent it from overcharging. There are several types in the market: one- or two-stage controllers or the modern pulse width modulated controllers.
The third part is your battery, which stores electricity for later use. Common types include AGM batteries, gel batteries, and lithium batteries. Many users tend to purchase lithium batteries since they are the most efficient among the three.
How many batteries you need depends on your RV’s energy consumption. As such, you will need to ascertain how many appliances and gadgets you are planning to run.
Most devices cannot run on DC. As such, it needs to pass through an inverter that converts DC into AC power current. After this, the AC power current is then being used by your various gadgets and appliances.
What Are The Different Types Of RV Solar Panel
Due to their popularity, RV solar panels come in several sizes, styles, colors, and the like. As such, there are quite a several factors and categories they differ in. However, these are the most common differences.
In terms of the type of solar panel, there are usually three variants found in the market.
The first type is the monocrystalline solar panels, such as portable solar panels for RV battery charging, distinguished by its black coloring and wafer-like appearance. Made from pure silicone materials, these panels are said to be the most efficient in collecting and converting solar energy.
However, monocrystalline solar panels also tend to be the most expensive since they are made from pure silicon.
The next type is the polycrystalline solar panels. They sport a blue color and have rectangular-shaped cells. Unlike the monocrystalline variants, these types have a different manufacturing process. Thus, they are not made of pure silicon and cannot deliver the same power as that of the monocrystalline ones. However, these types are powerful.
Moreover, polycrystalline solar panels are quite ideal for more prominent applications since they are quite cheap.
The last type is the thin-film solar panel. Out of the three, these types are the least-efficient in terms of collecting and converting. It is because it has a lower amount of silicon and can only provide a 13% energy-efficiency rate.
However, they are also quite cheap due to their materials and are quite compact. They are ideal if you are just planning to power up a small number of devices and gadgets.
Aside from the type, solar panels also differ in terms of their flexibility. Rigid solar panels are quite common in both the market and in actual use. These types are known to be durable as they are from tempered glass.
On the downside, they are difficult to move and are not for curved surfaces.
The other type is the flexible solar panels. Compared to the first type, flexible solar panels are 80% lighter and can be easily be molded to curved surfaces. As such, they are ideal to use in specialty applications or when there are height-weight constraints.
However, unlike their counterparts, flexible solar panels are susceptible to damage. Hence, you need to take extra care when handling them.
Are solar panels for an RV worth it?
Like any product, you should also assess the pros and cons of a solar panel, like Renogy solar panels. Check them out in the following section.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using an RV Solar Panel
Being part of solar innovation, solar panels are intended to be eco-friendly. Since they only rely on solar energy, these panels do not make use of fuel or any other energy sources, nor do they emit odors or wastes that are harmful to the environment.
As in their name, solar panels rely on the sun on as its energy source. Solar energy is a nonrenewable resource, and as such, you wouldn’t have to worry about it disappearing. As such, you wouldn’t go through the hassle of finding it.
Moreover, solar energy is free energy. With this, you can cut on your expenses and save since you wouldn’t have to rely on fuel and the like.
RV solar panels are also handy and useful to have around, especially during emergencies or when you are traveling to remote places with little to no electricity. You can just whip out your panels, press the ON button and continue to use your gadgets and appliances without any problem.
If the sun is shining, you wouldn’t have to give up the comforts of your RV home.
- Easy to maintain
Once you install these panels into your RV home, they do not require additional maintenance. You can just install and forget them after.
There is no need to constantly check up on them since there are no moving parts.
- Saves Battery Life
Having solar panels installed also helps preserve and prolong the life of your RV’s battery. With this, the battery stays charge whether you are using it or not. As such, you can prevent it from draining in any weather or season.
- Reliant on the Sun
Solar panels are reliant on the sun for its amount of power. As such, it follows that it will need the sun for it to charge and power up your devices.
However, during cold or winter months, you might have a hard time using it since it will only provide a little extra power while needing more hours for charging.
- Expensive upfront costs
RV solar panels are quite expensive, more so when you plan to purchase high-quality components. It is because of this that many users tend to be discouraged and put off from buying one. However, you can slowly recoup your initial investments in the long-run.
How We Picked And Tested
Due to their popularity, there are different solar panels in terms of their size, types, color, efficiency, and the like owing to different brands and manufacturers. However, the variety of such makes it difficult to choose one, especially for beginners.
However, you don’t have to worry. This guide will list all the factors you need to consider when you are in the market for an RV solar panel.
Type Of Solar Panel
The first thing you need to consider is the type of solar panel you will be getting as it will dictate its efficiency. What type to choose depends on how many gadgets and devices you are planning to run.
As explained earlier, there are three common types of solar panels available. These are the monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film solar panels.
If you have a lot of gadgets, then it’s to purchase either crystalline solar panels. In terms of energy efficiency, they are quite reliable, with the monocrystalline variant being the superior of the two. Moreover, they are also durable and made to withstand a lot of environmental factors.
However, keep in mind that these types are also quite expensive. If you have no qualms about the quality or just intend to power up a small number of gadgets and devices, then the thin-film solar panels are enough.
Thin-film solar panels are lower in terms of efficiency and are not as durable as the other two. However, they are enough to accommodate small electrical needs and are also cheaper.
Aside from looking at the materials and its features, you should also consider the weight of your solar panel. For RV owners, it’s recommended that you purchase a lightweight and compact design. With this, you can quickly and comfortably bring it anywhere with you.
Smaller and more compact solar panels are also ideal since they won’t add much weight to your RV.
Solar panels also differ in size. The bigger the panel, the more power it can generate. To determine how big your panel is going to be, you will compute the amount of energy your RV can consume in a day.
As such, you’ll need to undergo the tedious process of looking at how much electricity your gadgets, appliances, and the like will consume. Otherwise, you’ll risk the overcharging and undercharging your system.
Of course, no one wants a product that is difficult and tricky to install. As such, you also need to consider the product’s installation process.
It’s ideal that you choose one that you can easily install on your own. Make sure it comes with its instructions as well as its installation tools.
However, you can also choose to have your solar panel professionally installed. But just bear in mind that this may add to the overall costs.
It is also recommended to purchase a solar panel kit that enables you to add more components into its system easily. With this, you can continue upgrading your system without any hassle.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the price range of solar panels for RVs?
Solar panels for camper units and other RVs range from $600 to $2,000, with higher-end products costing up to $3000. While $1500 is usually the starting point for a decent kit, the price can vary drastically depending on the solar panel technology and accompanying accessories.
For example, an RV solar kit with inverter technology included might cost more than a solar panel-only product. Models with inverter and battery systems will be even more expensive.
So expect to pay roughly $3000 for a complete RV solar system with batteries, inverters, charge controllers, adaptor kits, tray cables, mounting hardware, and other components.
Polycrystalline solar panels are also more affordable than monocrystalline options. However, branding will also impact price. A leading brand might offer a polycrystalline solar panel that costs as much as a monocrystalline solar panel from an unknown brand.
Is a 400-watt solar panel enough for RV?
Yes, a 400-watt solar panel is sufficient for an off-grid RV solar system. It is also enough for boats and off-grid residential units, allowing families to run different appliances and devices without worrying about high electric bills.
You can also calculate how many watts you need from a solar system for RV to know if a 400-watt solar panel is enough.
First, determine how many watts each appliance or device needs to run, including average usage length and frequency. For example, a laptop uses 100 watts/hour. Do this for all gadgets you wish to power and calculate how much electricity you’ll consume in a month.
Second, learn the average peak sun hours in your location. For instance, Arizona enjoys seven to eight hours of complete sunshine, while Massachusetts only three. Multiply it by 30 or take the monthly average.
Suppose your daily solar power requirement is 2,000 watt-hours (Wh), and the average monthly peak sun hours is 150 hours. Multiplying 2,000 Wh by 30 days gives us 60,000 Wh. Dividing 60,000 Wh by 150 hours results in 400 watts. Hence, a 400-watt solar panel is enough for motorhome units with these parameters.
How much solar do I need for 30 amp and 50 amp RV?
A 100 watt solar panel is sufficient for a 12-volt, 30-amp RV electrical system, while 200 watts is enough for a 50-watt circuit. How do we know this? Let us break down the math for you.
A 100-watt photovoltaic panel connected to a 12-volt electrical system generates about 8.3 amperes per hour. This translates to 49.8 amperes (Amps=Watts/Volts).
However, solar panels aren’t always at their peak. They can only peak maximum output when the sun is at its highest, which is around noon. So realistically, you should expect an average of 6 amperes per hour. Again, as the sun’s intensity constantly changes throughout the day, you’ll typically get around 5 hours of sunlight.
Using the adjusted parameters (six amperes and five hours), we should get 30 amperes, justifying the 100-watt-for-30-amp rule. Doubling this figure gives us about 60 amps, approximating the requirements of a 50-amp RV system.
What are the most trusted 12v solar panels?
Solar panels are the top-tier way to help you charge your batteries and, at the same time, provide your RV with energy converted from the sun. It is a practical investment and can provide you with many benefits.
There are many solar panels on the market today, each promoting their advantages over the other. Buying one needs a lot of thought, and you must make sure that you will be getting your money’s worth when you are decided on getting one.
The top-quality 12v solar panels should be made to last. The overall design should be able not just to withstand the non-controllable factors like the wind, hail, and sand. More so, it should be made with materials that can absorb as much sun as possible. So long as there is sunlight, it should be collecting. At its best, it should also be designed to be waterproof and the glass resistant to scratches. The good ones are usually supported by an aluminum base frame that keeps the sun panels slightly raised off your RV’s roof for proper airflow.
The type of solar panel cell also plays a huge role. Monocrystalline panels are known to be more efficient. It takes less space, but it may cost you more. Polycrystalline is cheaper and a practical choice, especially if you are just new to the solar panel idea.
Your solar panel should also be lightweight. You need to consider the fact that it would be sitting on your roof for a long time. It should be weight friendly so as not to add unwanted weight but also to make installation easier.
Although rigid solar panels are established and efficient when it comes to energy conversion, flexible 12v solar panels are getting more hype because it can bend to shallow curves and are less likely to crack. Your needs should determine the choice between rigid and flexible.
How many solar panels do I need for my RV?
Just like the question, “how much solar power do I need for my RV,” you might want to know the number of panels you need. Getting solar panels for your RV is one efficient way to save on costs and still maintain power to your vehicle. Knowing the right number of solar panels to purchase and install to your RV is critical to maximizing its benefits.
The first thing you must consider here is the size of your RV and your daily power consumption so you would know how much power you need to generate. You must consider the number of people in your RV. These appliances need the power, your geographic location, among other things. In general, though, most solar panels in an ideal set up can produce 100 watts. Still, again, that is with a perfect setup.
Note that the weather, time of the day, temperature, and other factors can impact the amount of energy that your solar panel can generate, and you cannot have consistent results too as again; everything is dependent on natural factors. In general, most RVs travel with one to three panels (100 watts). This can generate roughly six amps/peak sun-hour on average or approximately about 30A hours daily.
To provide a rough estimation using an assumption of 50 amps-hour requirements to power an RV daily and an exposure to 6 hours of light that would produce an output of 32.58 amp per hour per day, we can safely conclude that two solar panels would be enough for your RV. Double solar panels can produce 65.16 amp-hours, so we meet the 50 amp per hour requirement plus a cushion for additional energy needs.
To better assist you, you can start with two solar panels and do a trial run and go from there. There are also reliable online calculators that you can refer to that can help you determine your average power consumption so you would know how much you need to generate.
How long do RV solar panels last?
What makes solar panels a significant investment is it pays off for itself. Solar panels for RVs can be expected to last you a good number of years. The average life years of solar panels is an impressive 25 to 30 years with this considering the normal wear and tear.
If you are very keen on ensuring that it is maintained and cleaned, you might even get 40 years of your solar panel. Of course, if it lasts you that long, expect that there might be some slight deterioration with its performance.
Solar panels, yes, can last you for the right amount of years, but they don’t last forever. Based on studies, solar panels don’t die the traditional way but experience a slow death that can be termed as degradation. This is the gradual decline in your solar panel’s ability to generate energy. Regardless of the years of service, if your solar panel is generating less than 80% of the energy, they were able to produce in the first three years of use, then solar panel installers would be recommending a replacement.
Uncontrollable factors like the temperature spectrum, humidity, and corrosion are also factors that can affect your solar panel’s longevity.
How to wire RV solar panels?
Wiring your solar panels can be done in two ways. It can be wired either in parallel or series. Panels wired parallel have all their positive wires into a single combiner that connects into the charged controller. All the negative wires are also allocated to a separate combiner.
The goal for parallel wiring is to sustain the voltage but increase the amperage going into the charge controller. In specific shade circumstances, the parallel is deemed the better option because if one of your panels is shaded. The other one is not, then you are not losing as much power since you are still receiving the full voltage from the sun. Note that parallel requires bigger wirings, combiners, and fusers.
Each of your solar panels should be fused at the combiner intersection in case a short happens in one. The wirings are needed to be bigger too because your objective is to increase the amps.
Series wiring, on the other hand, is where you connect the positive of one panel into the negative of another in a long series like Christmas lights. With a series of wiring, voltage is improved while at the same time maintain the amperage. This type of wiring is simpler and less expensive because it requires no wiring or fuses. In certain lighting conditions like overcast days, series wiring is deemed to be better.
Both are used almost equally, and each has their pros, so it would be top-tier to seek professional guidance when deciding on how to wire your solar panels. Although based on RV users, wiring in series is the most suitable way to do it. This wiring set up involves less complexity but with higher efficiency. The key for it to be successful and safe is to fuse everything securely and properly.
Do RV solar panels need to be grounded?
Solar panels in RVs and homes are top-rated recommended to be grounded. The frames of all your panels must be connected or at least linked with a bare ground wire or an equivalent to a mobile system. An essential requirement, all exposed metal components of a solar panel, including aluminum module frames, should be grounded.
The main reason why it is best to have your RV solar panels grounded is when there is a potential short circuit in the panels of the system; we avoid the possibility of shocking and electrocuting anyone who gets into contact with the frames. For an RV, car, truck, or any mobile system, the chassis of the vehicle is commonly used as the electrical ground.
To simplify, the chassis of your RV is linked to the negative pole of the automobile’s house battery. This is often termed to as ground. But since your RV will work without any physical connection to the earth, then it’s more appropriate to term it as a local ground or ground plane. This is the spot where all the DC negative terminals of your lights, battery, starter motor, radio, blower fan, and just about everything that runs from 12-volts DC in your RV returns energy to the battery or converter.
To be properly grounded, your RV chassis should have its EGC wire securely and properly connected to the service panel’s bonding point. The EGC or Equipment Grounding Conductor is what shields your RV from lightning strikes since it will guide the lightning find its way back to earth in a direct and shortest course that’s possible. Furthermore, it will also protect you and the RV from a possible short circuit in the wiring of your RV that could cause to shock the RV chassis.
How to use & install?
Getting solar panels to your RV system is doable but not as simple as just laying down panels on top of your system and expecting it to work already. There are other involved parts that are essential to make it work so you can start converting your collected solar energy to usable electricity. Installation can be a little tricky, so it would be best to get a professional to do it for you. But in a nutshell, it will involve the following process:
- Mounting the panels – this initial step will vary depending on your choice of the solar panel. Rigid panels would need to be fastened on the roof via screws. At the same time, flexible ones can also be mounted by screws or using strong adhesives. Note, though, that you must consider the material of your roof in determining which glue to use. Make sure that the panel is secure.
- Run the wirings – the next thing would be to set your power cable to run from the solar panels and down into the RV’s charge controller. There are a few choices in getting this done. The simplest and most common method is via the refrigerator vent. The central premise here is not needing to put in unnecessary holes if there are existing ones already? If your refrigerator vent is far from the battery compartment, you might need to consider running the wire through or at the plumbing pipe side. If you go this route though, make sure that you apply sealant around the holes. If all fails, drilling is the next top-tier option for you to run the wirings.
- Connecting to your charge controller – always best to select a mounting spot that is close to your batteries so you can reduce loss. Once you have determined your charge controller location, then you can already make the connections to the power wires from the fridge vent.
- Inverter installation – although purely optional, if you are planning to use your AC appliances like microwave or laptop, then you will need an inverter so the solar panels’ DC power can be converted to AC. The inverter should also be installed near your batteries. Connect the positive and negative wires to the inverter and link it to the RV’s electrical system.
How to care & clean?
The required caring and cleaning for your RV solar panels are low. It doesn’t require high-level maintenance so long as it is well designed and properly installed. The reason why is requiring low maintenance is that it doesn’t have any moving parts. There is also no fuel consumed, and filters are not needed. There is nothing to replace.
One of the care maintenance routines highly suggested to maintain its optimum functionality is to clean your solar panels occasionally. You can use a non-abrasive cleaner just to rid it from the accumulated dust and particles. Remove any stray leaves if there are any, as well as any bird droppings. While at it, you can check the fasteners, screws, and mounts used to ensure that they are tight and in the correct position. Although, as stated that there are no moving parts, vibrations are coming from the daily road trips, temperature expansion, and reduction can loosen up hardware.
Every month, it’s nice to check the battery too for any corrosions and spot-on clean away any detected ones. The batteries, as well as the wire connections, are very critical to your solar panel system.
Once a year, it would be good to do an overall check tracing the wirings and connections. It is again to ensure that there are no loose ends that can cause resistance or heat. If installations need to be replaced, promptly do so as wires are detrimental to the overall performance and output of your solar panel.
Where to buy?
These solar panels are available in many places. These include home depots, solar products’ shops, and home improvement stores. Online, you can also buy them from the websites of the manufacturers. Also, you can find them in online marketplaces, including eBay and Amazon. Nevertheless, compare your options well before buying a solar panel kit and check their features based on the size you need.
Installing the best RV solar panels will save you on cost in the end. It is why it pays off that you study your options well before buying a system or kit for your recreational vehicle. These solar panels are great for backup power, camping, and off-grid solutions. Before buying one, you should weigh your options based on the features and specifications you need. Get started in comparing using the buying guide earlier. Also, be aware of the things you should look for in a solar panel kit. Take effort and time to weigh the top picks and their features. Finally, buy the solar panels for your vehicle today!
Hi, I am Eddie, Cleanenergysummit’s content editor. It’s so much joy to work alongside Justin, as the idea of providing knowledge about using clean energy excites us.
I’ve been working to address any concerns or questions you may have as you transition to using solar electricity to power your home. Tune in to hear our advice and suggestions on anything clean energy. Welcome!