Traveling with our van is an enjoyable experience for many of us because we get to different places, meet new people, and experience new things. But to make for a more rewarding camping experience, we want the best solar panels for van for cost-effective energy solutions.
But if you would like to get the best out of solar products, you should be able to compare your choices well. Many of these solar panels are available. They are with different specifications and features. Some may be suitable for others but not for you. It is the exact reason we’ve put up this guide to help you choose a van solar panel that you can rely on for the years to come.
These solar panels are perfect for vans because they are lightweight, portable, and compact. They are also from top brands and are with excellent features. Read more in the following.
- Best Solar Panel For Van Reviews
- 1. Renogy 100-Watt Compact Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- 2. HQST 100-Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel
- 3. Newpowa 175W RV Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- 4. WindyNation 100-Watt Solar Panel
- 5. Renogy Eclipse Monocrystalline Voyager Solar Panel
- 6. SUNGOLDPOWER Solar Panel
- 7. Mighty Max Solar Power System
- 8. Renogy Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- 9. ACOPOWER 120W Portable Solar Panel Kit
- 10. BougeRV 170 Watts Solar Panel
- What Is A Solar Panel For Van And Who This Is For
- How Does It Work
- What Are The Different Types Of Van Solar Panels
- Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using A Solar Panel For Van
- How We Picked And Tested
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Solar Panel For Van Reviews
1. Renogy 100-Watt Compact Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- Slightly more compact design than other Renogy products for greater portability
- Produces ample wattage to run different appliances
- Robust construction for improved durability
- High solar absorption efficiency for various applications
- Very easy to install
- Does not come with a charge controller
When picking the best solar panel to use in your solar setup, it is often ideal to choose products from a reputable brand. Renogy is one such company that produces reliable solar energy system products. Their 100-Watt Solar Panel delivers enough power to give you a more comfortable lifestyle away from home.
At the heart of the Renogy Compact is the brand’s monocrystalline photovoltaic cell technology. While it does not have the high-efficiency rating of the Renogy Eclipse, the Compact still manages to provide remarkable solar energy absorption rates. It translates to better solar energy conversion into electricity that you can store in your batteries.
The power it produces is enough to run the microwave and other small appliances in your van. It is also possible to use the solar panel as a backup to your conventional power sources at home. The solar panel has enough technologies that protect it against the elements, including light to moderate rain and environmental particles.
We also found setting up the Compact to be easy. It is okay if this is your first time installing a solar panel in your van. The instruction manual is clear enough that even a grade-schooler will have no problems assembling the solar panel.
2. HQST 100-Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel
- Right photovoltaic technology for more efficient solar energy absorption and conversion
- Reliable construction for strength and durability
- High power output for different applications
- Easy to mount
- Good price
- Package only includes the solar panel
The HQST Polycrystalline solar panels for vans are an excellent choice for folks who want an economical solution to their solar energy needs. While the HQST are inexpensive, they are never remiss on their capabilities to absorb and convert as much solar energy as possible.
Indeed, polycrystalline photovoltaic cells are nowhere near the efficiency rating of monocrystalline units. However, our assessment of the HQST reveals that the product can perform a lot better than some Mono solar panels on the market. You get to enjoy the affordability of Poly panels, while also benefiting from the high performance of a Mono unit.
Our tests revealed that the HQST can churn out about 450Wh per day. This is quite close to the company’s published 500 Wh power efficiency. The addition of bypass diodes helps reduce the incidence of power fluctuations because of changing light conditions. On that note, we found the HQST to work surprisingly well in low light conditions.
We also like HQST’s construction. We could tell that the company paid extra attention to the overall development of the panel’s frame. The other components of the solar panel are also designed with excellent weatherproofing. Even if you were to travel in snowy conditions, you could still rely on the HQST solar panel to retain its integrity.
3. Newpowa 175W RV Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- Higher power output than other solar panels of a similar design
- High solar energy absorption and a conversion rating
- Larger surface area than other solar panels
- Long service life span that can last up to 25 years
- Sturdy aluminum frame for increased rigidity and durability
- Heavier than similar systems
- Does not come with accessories
There is no solar panel that can harness the energy of the sun at 100 percent. That is why it is important to pick a system that can absorb and convert as much solar energy as possible. Our tests revealed that the Newpowa 175W RV Monocrystalline Solar Panel provides one of the highest efficiency ratings on the market.
We mounted the Newpowa RV onto our camper and performed a series of tests. It was able to produce a power output that is close enough to its published wattage. We were able to run the microwave, the refrigerator, and the entertainment system without draining our battery. It can translate to better convenience for RVers, campers, and outdoor adventurers. They will get to enjoy the comforts of home without having to depend on costly fuel to run the generator.
Our van solar setup allowed us to assess the structural soundness of the solar panel. It looks sturdy and is in no danger of getting blown off by the wind. It gives you the peace of mind you are looking for when you drive into an environment with unpredictable weather.
4. WindyNation 100-Watt Solar Panel
- Very efficient in absorbing and converting solar energy
- Generates usable AC electricity even in cloudy environments
- Comes with the necessary accessories for a complete solar energy system
- Very compact design for optimum versatility
- Good quality construction for increased durability
- Charge controller does not include a fuse
People looking for a complete panel kit should consider this 100-watt solar panel from WindyNation. Our evaluation shows that the product offers one of the best overall value for people who want a complete system for their van, RV, camper, marine vessel, or home.
What amazed us about the WindyNation is that all the items in the kit worked adequately straight out of their packaging. We measured the voltage that the system delivered to our battery, and it read a steady 12.9V. The installation instructions are also easy to read.
We also tested the WindyNation on a cloudy day. It was still able to draw power from the sun and direct it to our battery. Some systems that we have tested all seem to shut off the moment the sky turns overcast. You will not have to park your van under direct sunlight to draw solar energy. You can still generate power even if you are under the shade. Of course, do not expect that its solar efficiency will be the same.
This solar panel already comes with the essential accessories to help you get started on your off-grid lifestyle. The charge controller features adequate weather protection, while the cables are long enough for connecting the system.
The WindyNation solar panel kit would have earned a 5-star rating from us if not for its lack of fuses in the charge controller. It is something that you will need to buy separately. It would have been better if WindyNation also provided the fuses so that you can install the system right away.
5. Renogy Eclipse Monocrystalline Voyager Solar Panel
- Great for low light environments
- High power output rating for multiple applications
- Folding design for increased portability
- Works with different kinds of deep cycle batteries
- Comes with cables, solar charge controller, mounts, and other accessories for instant setup
- Some issues with the craftsmanship
There are vehicle owners who do not want to make significant modifications in their ride. If you are like them, then Renogy’s Eclipse Solar Panel is for you. People trust Renogy solar panels. Renogy is famous for designing and creating products with solar energy absorption capabilities like no other. Many of these solar energy panels can last several decades. The Eclipse is one of them.
People love the solar efficiency of the Eclipse. From the moment you install the system until about 25 years later, you can bet that it will keep on harnessing the sun’s energy for your needs. This is good news for van owners who want a solar panel that can outlast their vehicles.
Looking at the technology of the Eclipse, the company uses monocrystalline photovoltaic cells. This helps explain the high efficiency rating of the panels. Unlike other solar panels, the Eclipse works even in low light conditions. Appliances, gadgets, and other electronics will roar to life no matter how gloomy the weather can be.
The Eclipse delivers pure solar energy. Its accompanying solar controller directs this energy whatever kind of deep cycle battery that people may have. The kit already includes the accessories necessary for installing and starting the system in your van. You will also appreciate the travel case that Renogy involved. This ensures that your Eclipse will stay pristine and functional for many decades.
6. SUNGOLDPOWER Solar Panel
- High power output for more applications
- Power output rating that can last up to 25 years
- Suitable for motor vehicles and marine applications
- Comes with accessories for easy setup and use
- Less expensive than other solar panel kits
- The charge controller may interfere with RF devices
The SUNGOLDPOWER Solar Panel is a good campervan solar panel kit. There are enough features in this item that will make you want to ditch other brands. The construction is reliably durable, and the solar panels do not disappoint when it comes to absorbing sunlight.
One big plus about the SUNGOLDPOWER is its overall value. Its price tag is friendly enough for those who are not prepared to invest a tremendous amount of money on a solar system for their vehicles. The good news is that the affordability of this solar panel is also backed up by the different technologies that the system comes with.
For example, monocrystalline photovoltaic cells are very expensive. Putting two 100-watt panels of these PV cells makes the SUNGOLDPOWER a remarkable buy. The company also assures that its solar panel will keep on providing power for the next 25 years. You can use the panel in your van, RV, boat, caravan, and even golf cart. It is portable enough that you can put the solar panel in your backpack.
You will also find the components that you need to set up the system in your van already in the package. There is a mechanism that allows for the more effective management of power transfer from the solar panels to the battery bank. The company is also kind enough to supply you with the resources to install the system into your vehicle.
7. Mighty Max Solar Power System
- Provides high power output for different applications
- Efficient absorption of sunlight, even in low-light conditions
- Durable frame for better weather resistance
- Easy to install with accompanying diodes and connectors
- Good overall value
- Does not come with a charge controller and mounting hardware
People who want camper solar panels that are both reliable and affordable can trust Mighty Max Battery for the right solution. The company’s 100 Watt Off Grid Solar Power System is all you need to bring power to your electronic gadgets and appliances when you are off the grid.
We found the polycrystalline photovoltaic cells to be unique. We know that this type of PV cell does not have an efficiency that is as high as a monocrystalline type. Mighty Max’s solar panel efficiency surprised us. Its rating was almost identical to that of a monocrystalline PV cell.
Another positive thing we noted about the Mighty Max is its reliability in low light conditions. It is unheard of in conventional polycrystalline technology. It highlights the company’s efforts to produce high-quality products on which people can depend. The solar system can deliver enough power to run the different appliances and gadgets in your vehicle.
The frame of the solar panels is sturdier than other systems we have seen. The system is also straightforward to set up. The panels already feature pre-drilled holes, making it super easy to install. You can mount this on the roof of your van or your yacht with very little technical know-how. Mighty Max has simplified the installation that even a kid can do it.
8. Renogy Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- Reliable solar power output for various applications
- Lightweight and thin construction that will not detract from vehicle aesthetics
- Flexible design for better conformity to different surfaces
- Weatherproof junction box for improved safety
- Great price
- Not as durable as a rigid solar panel
One of the major drawbacks of conventional solar panels is that they can make your vehicle ugly. This is unacceptable if you have a luxury van, camper, or RV. That is why you need a more flexible and attractive solar panel. Renogy’s Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel is a great solution.
This flexible solar panel for van looks dashing. Since this solar panel is only about a tenth of an inch thick, it will not form any unsightly bulges on the roof of your van. It will not cast any shadow. This makes the Renogy Mono Flexible the perfect solution for those who want a near-seamless integration of the solar panel into the vehicle’s roof. It will conform to the shape of surfaces that rigid panels cannot.
We admire Renogy for sticking to the use of monocrystalline photovoltaic cells in their panels. This ensures higher efficiency in terms of solar power generation. The luxury items in your van can rely on the clean energy that the panels provide.
Another remarkable attribute of this Renogy product is its price. You would think that the combination of flexibility and monocrystalline PV cells will result in a prohibitive price tag. This is not the case with the Extremely Flexible solar panel.
9. ACOPOWER 120W Portable Solar Panel Kit
- The high solar conversion efficiency for maximum power output
- High solar power output for more applications
- Lightweight and folding design increases its portability
- Comes with accessories to complete the solar energy system setup
- Larger solar panel surface area for increased solar absorption capabilities
- The accompanying charge controller is not durable
There are people who dislike the idea of installing a fixed solar panel on their vans. That is why a portable unit is more appropriate for these people. If you also want a system that offers maximum portability without compromising its solar energy absorption capabilities, then ACOPOWER is the product to get.
Our tests confirm about which many users of the system have been talking. It has a larger surface area than similar products on the market. This allows it to absorb more sunlight in its array of photovoltaic cells. We also learned that its solar efficiency is as high as 25 percent. This is the average efficiency rating of high-end solar panels.
The unit we tested already came with MC-4 connector cables. We hooked them up to the generator in our camper, and the system purred like a kitty. Our assessment has led us to believe that ACOPOWER is an excellent solar generator for van life. It is durable enough that the system can even outlast your vehicle in terms of service life.
I love ACOPOWER’s folding and lightweight design. It is effortless to set up virtually anywhere. Becoming independent from traditional sources of electrical power should now be more comfortable to achieve.
10. BougeRV 170 Watts Solar Panel
- Higher power output than other brands
- The high solar power efficiency rating for optimum solar energy absorption
- The strong frame and photovoltaic panels for exceptional durability
- Excellent quality accessories for improved durability
- Very responsive and accommodating customer service
- Quite heavy
Living off the grid is challenging. However, everything seems a lot easier with the BougeRV 170 Watts Solar Panel giving you the power for all your needs.
We evaluated the performance of the BougeRV by mounting it on the roof of a Mercedes Benz Sprinter van that we wanted to convert into a solar-powered platform. The electricity we generated allowed us to run the refrigerator for a couple of hours. We also used the microwave for a couple of dishes. We concluded that this system should do very well in luxury vans and campers. Our setup gave us the impression of high-performance Sprinter van solar panels that do not detract from the aesthetics of our van.
The use of monocrystalline PV cells guarantees optimum solar conversion rates. The system allows you to harness solar energy so you can run many appliances at the same time. You can connect the solar panel to any deep cycle battery.
We also tried contacting the company’s customer service. This is by far the most responsive customer service we have ever experienced. They always go out of their way to address any concerns that you may have. This is the kind of customer service that will make you want to stay loyal to the company.
What Is A Solar Panel For Van And Who This Is For
A solar panel for van is exactly what the phrase implies. You have an array of photovoltaic cells mounted on the roof of your van. Electrical wiring connects the photovoltaic panel to the battery bank and a solar power inverter. The setup then delivers an AC type of electric current to the different outlets in your vehicle. You can then power up your mini-refrigerator, microwave oven, a television set, and other appliances like you would at home.
The number of appliances in your van that you can hook up to your solar system depends two essential things. One is the power requirements of the devices you want powered by solar energy. The other one is the overall voltage output of your solar system.
The performance of your van-mounted solar system depends, in part, on the overall voltage output of the system. Hence, you will want to use a solar panel that has a high energy efficiency rating. You will want it to absorb as much of the sun’s light and convert it into usable AC current.
A solar panel for van is for people who love to spend a more convenient time away from home. They can be campers, RVers, or road trippers. Hunters and vacationists can also benefit from such a setup. It gives you all the modern conveniences you can imagine without becoming dependent on traditional electrical power sources. Solar panels for vans and RVs let you enjoy living off the grid. They guarantee a more comfortable life away from home.
How Does It Work
A solar panel for van is not that different from the solar energy systems we see in other settings, such as commercial establishments, local homes, and industries. The main difference is that a van solar system is ‘mobile,’ literally. It goes wherever the van goes.
Solar panels come with very specialized cells that gather or absorb the energy coming from the sun. The more intense the sun’s rays are the more energy that the photovoltaic cells can collect. However, keep in mind that different photovoltaic technologies have varying degrees of solar energy absorption efficiency. There are technologies that are more efficient in absorbing the sun’s energy. That is why it is critical to choose a system that will give you the most amount of solar power in terms of voltage.
The PV cells in a solar panel absorb sunlight. The photovoltaic cells knock the electrons in the sunlight loose. These loose electrons are what we call ‘electricity’. The free electrons then flow as electrical current. They go to a collecting mechanism in the solar array. From here, the electric current gets transferred to the wires and into the other parts of the solar energy system.
You cannot use the electricity from the solar panels without first converting it into AC electricity. A charge controller delivers the right charge to your deep cycle battery. An inverter connected to the battery turns the DC electricity to AC electricity. Only then can you start using the electricity to power up the devices and appliances in your van.
You can use your coffee maker and your oven to make a delicious breakfast while enjoying a fascinating view of the landscape. It is also possible to hook up your entertainment system. Watch movies and listen to your favorite songs without ever draining the battery of your van.
What Are The Different Types Of Van Solar Panels
There are three common ways in which we can classify solar panels for vans. The first is according to their form factor, whether they are flexible or rigid. The second relates to their manner of installation. The third way we can categorize van solar panels is by the type of their photovoltaic cell construction. Let us look at them one by one.
According to Form Factor
Many of these solar panels come with an aluminum frame and are perfect for outdoor use. They are also easier to clean and are more weather-resistant than flexible types. They are ideal for people who want a durable and high-performance solar panel for their van.
Most van owners choose this type of solar panel because it can conform to the natural curve of the vehicle’s roof. The only issue with this solar panel is that it is not as durable as a rigid type. It is also more vulnerable to scratches.
According to Solar Panel Placement
One advantage of a fixed solar panel on a van is that it is always collecting solar energy. If the sun is up in the sky, it will continue generating power and storing this into your battery bank. The problem is that it requires significant installation work on your vehicle.
The best thing about a portable solar panel is that you can position it anywhere where the sun shines best. You can park your van in the shade and position the solar panel elsewhere. The downside is that you will need to set it up every time you stop for a break.
According to Photovoltaic Cell Type
This type of photovoltaic cell features single-crystal silicon. This allows electrons to move more efficiently. Hence, they are more efficient in generating electricity. The downside is that monocrystalline solar panels are expensive.
A solar panel made of polycrystalline cells features many small-sized crystals of silicon. Because of the smaller dimension of the silicon wafers, electrons cannot move as efficiently as in a single-crystal silicon. In other words, they are less efficient than monocrystalline solar panels. The good news is that they are less expensive.
This type of solar panel is not ideal for vans and RVs. They take up more space and can be quite expensive. The advantage of this type of solar panel is that it works even in cloudy weather.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using A Solar Panel For Van
One of the best ways to enjoy the comforts of home in one’s van is by using a solar panel to run the different electrical appliances and gadgets in the vehicle. Like all things, however, there are advantages and disadvantages to such a solution. Understanding what these are can help you decide whether a solar panel for van is right for you or not.
The traditional way of operating AC appliances in a van or RV is by using a generator. This machine requires gas, consuming about 0.5 to 1 gallon of gas per hour. If you were to run the generator for about 5 hours, you will be spending 2.5 to 5 gallons. This can cost you around $7 to $15 for using the generator for only 5 hours.
Using solar panels will not cost you anything, except for the price of the solar panels and the other components of the solar energy system. Suppose you will be spending about $300 for the whole system, this is already equivalent to twenty 5-hour use of a generator. The solar panel system already pays for itself.
Requires Very Little Maintenance
Maintaining a solar panel is easier than maintaining a generator. You only need to wipe clean the surface now and then and check the different connections. Removing dirt and dust from the panels can help the system absorb more sunlight with greater efficiency.
Contributes to a Clean Environment
This is an advantage of all solar power products. You get to contribute to the ongoing movement towards lesser carbon emissions. You also get to ensure a greener and cleaner environment. Of course, there will always be issues of carbon emissions in the manufacture of these products. When you compare it to conventional methods, however, it will still turn out cleaner and with less impact on the environment.
Dependent on the Weather
The main issue about solar panels for vans is that they are very dependent on the weather. There are advanced solar panel technologies that work best in an overcast or cloudy sky. They also do not get affected by snow and severe weather storms. The problems with these technologies are that they are costly and are not suitable for use on vehicles like vans. Those solar panels that are suitable for vans may not function well if the sun is not shining or in low light conditions.
How We Picked And Tested
Choosing a solar panel to use in your vehicle can be confusing. This is especially the case for those who are newbies to the world of solar energy. That is why we came up with a list of the top solar panels to use in your vehicle. Here is how we picked, analyzed, and tested what we believe to be the best solar panels for vans.
- Solar Panel Efficiency
The principal function of a solar panel is to generate electric current by absorbing sunlight. We recognize the fact that there are solar panels that absorb sunlight a lot more efficiently than others. That is why we had to evaluate the efficiency of the solar panels to make sure that you will get the maximum energy output for your van’s appliances.
We know that high-quality solar panels have an efficiency rating of 20 to 23 percent. Good quality solar panels can have an efficiency of between 15 and 18 percent. This is good enough. As such, we set our parameters to include only solar panels that have at least a 15 percent efficiency rating.
What is the use of installing a solar panel in your van if it cannot deliver the much-needed energy to power your devices? While the final power output of the solar panel will depend on your intended use, we know that a solar panel with higher wattage will deliver more power to more devices in the vehicle.
We examined the different solar panels and focused more on their power output in terms of voltage. We then took into consideration the size of the panel. We prefer a small solar panel that can produce high voltage over a large solar panel that delivers the same amount of voltage. After all, space is something that our vans do not have plenty of.
- Ease of Installation
We also investigated the ease of the solar panel’s installation. We included both portable and fixed types of photovoltaic panels in our tests. We made sure that the products are easy enough to install and use. In the case of fixed panels, we only chose those that do not require specialist skills in the installation of the product.
It was also critical to examine the manual that came with the package. We evaluated it for readability. If the instructions are very complicated, then some people may have problems installing the system in their vehicles.
- Included Accessories
We examined each product for any inclusions. At the very least, it should come with the hardware necessary for its installation. If the manufacturer included cables, blocking diodes, and other essential accessories to set up the solar panel, then we believe that the product is the right choice.
One of the reasons why some people have second thoughts about using solar energy power is the high cost of starting a system. That is why we also evaluated the price of the solar panels relative to its other features. We included only those that have a higher intrinsic value relative to its price tag.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most trusted van solar panel brands?
When shopping around for the right solar panels, you can use for a van, you might also want to check out their brands to ensure that you’re dealing with a reputable one. Some of them include Renogy, HQST, Newpowa, and WindyNation, among the rest featured earlier.
How many watt solar panel do I need for my van?
First off, know that the solar panels do not run the devices you have in the camper but the batteries. What the solar panels do is to recharge the battery.
So, in this case, you should also know that you’re going to charge your battery faster with more solar panels. With that said, you’re going to charge the batteries twice as fast, if let us say if you have 400W solar panels. So, if you would like to compensate and store more power on cloudy days, you might want to increase the number of your solar panels.
To figure out the number of solar panels you need, you must match the wattage of the solar to your battery’s capacity in Ah. If you have a 200Ah battery, you need 200W solar panels.
What is the warranty?
The warranty on the materials and output energy, for instance, varies from one manufacturer to another. You must read and check the warranty on the specifications’ page/sheet of the product you want to buy. Some might provide a one-year or a limited lifetime warranty; again, it varies.
How to install and use?
Some models require drilling, while others are portable. Nevertheless, you can find specific instructions on installation and use in the user manual of the product you bought. For a helpful resource, please check this guide from instructables.com.
How to care & clean?
These solar kits are maintenance-free once installed. But to make the solar panels efficient, be sure to dust them off from time to time. For any specific care and cleaning instructions, you can refer to the product manual.
Where to buy?
These items are available in many places, such as Lowe’s, Walmart, and home depot. Online, you can find them on the manufacturer websites or in online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. Nevertheless, compare your choices well to ensure getting the best deals.
Shopping around for the best solar panels for van is easy and rewarding if you could make an informed decision. That’s why it’s wise to read a buying guide that helps you compare the items side by side and learn about the best features of these products. And with information on the top picks, you can increase your chances of buying the right one that suits your requirements. Our team hopes that you’ll be able to make a great decision about the right solar panels for your van after reading this buying guide. Buy a solar panel for your van today!