A Guide to the Best RV Solar Panels
The best RV solar panels are your saving grace that will help you to extend your trip for as long as you want to.
While boondocking in an RV is the easiest thing ever, there is always the issue of a power source. As much as we prefer to avoid any semblance of our everyday lifestyle, there are several amenities that we cannot live without. When you’re boondocking, you don’t have to worry about things like RV surge protectors.
However, as most of these are based on modern technologies, they require a power source. This is where the solar panel comes in. It will be fitted to the roof of your RV and will supply all your appliances with the necessary power.
Reviews of the Best RV Solar Panels
The Windy Nation Solar Panel, like the previous product, comes in a kit. It fulfills most of the requirements of the user. Nevertheless, this is an efficient product which exceeds the Renogy solar panel on several aspects. The panel itself is of an inferior quality than the Renogy model.
The kit provides the solar panel and along with it, a charge controller, a solar cable, mounting hardware, the MC4 Connectors, and of course, an instruction manual. Like the Renogy Solar panel, this too can be used in a variety of settings that includes an RV along with boats, cabins and even as a backup for your home.
However, the average output in a day is lower in this solar panel. It provides around 350 W of charge. You can, of course, compensate this by setting up more than one solar panel. However, the charge controller that is provided will be able to cope with 4 solar panels, each of 100 W. that runs on 12 V. For 24 V ones, it can deal with 8 100W solar panels as well.
This solar panel provides 100 W of energy. The best feature is the LCD screen that is provided to the charge controller. The display will show you the temperature, the voltage, ampere and the DC load draw. You will even be able to control the settings from your RV.
- LCD Display on Charge Controller
- 100W Energy
- Charge Controller can cope with more than 1 solar panel.
- Complete solar Charging Kit
- Lower Average output per day.
- Inferior panel quality
While the lower quality restricts the efficiency of the panel, it is not too much of a drawback. This is because the size of the panel is larger than average. So, if you are searching for something handy and small, this not the product for you. The instruction manual that is provided makes for an easy setup as well. While not as good as the Renogy solar panel, it is still a good choice if you are looking for a mid-range product.
While the previous Renogy Solar Panel is an efficient supplier of energy, it is, nevertheless, a bit bulky. If you are tired of hefting the bulky solar panels, here is a compact and portable model for you. This is an advantage because you can transfer it to your cabin or your boat from your RV if you need to.
The energy output of this model is 300 W in a day. However, this varies according to the sunlight. While this might seem a bit low in comparison, for its size, it is a good output. The cells are monocrystalline as well which enhances the output and makes it more efficient.
They can even provide well under a weaker sunlight. The charge controller, on the other hand, has a negative grounding that is meant for extra protection and reduces the chances of a fire. The charge controller has an LCD display as well as adjustable settings.
The aluminum stand is anti-corrosive and lasts for a long duration. This negates any need to replace them after a while. In the kit, you will find two solar panels which will compensate for the lower energy output. Along with that, there is a charge controller and tray cable. Moreover, because of its famed portability, it comes with a safety casing that reduces the chances of damage.
- Portable and versatile
- Monocrystalline panels
- Kit has two solar panels
- Negative grounding on charge controller
- Low energy output
If you are searching for something with a heavy-duty performance, you might consider better options. However, if you need a panel needs to be compact and portable, this could be your go-to choice. Its compact design is very efficient and easy to handle. The monocrystalline cells do provide an advantage by enhancing the output and works well on cloudy days.
ALLPowers 100W Bendable Solar Panel
As difficult it is to fit a stiff solar panel on top of your RV, sometimes, we have to adjust with it. However, this All Power solar panel is bendable to a great degree. It helps to attain a better fit on top of RV’s, boats or anywhere else you want to use them. This flexibility further adds to its durability. You have a lower chance of damaging it while trying to fix it atop your chosen spot. It can make an arc of up to 30 degrees. The weight is light as well, increasing its portability. It will be easy to handle as well.
Moreover, compared to other monocrystalline solar panels, this one has a higher percentage of output. While other panels do not exceed 19% of energy efficiency, the ALLPower Solar Panel can serve up to 25%. But if you are wondering if its large size is its disadvantage, that is not so. It is no larger than any other product on this list. You can comfortably charge all 12 V lead-acid batteries and that includes 12 V lithium batteries. The safety measures of this device are exemplary and you will have no fear of any accidents. To add to this, it is water-resistant and heat resistant, which is essential for any solar panel. You won’t have to take it down every time it rains.
- 22-25% efficiency
- Bendable and flexible
- Can charge 12V lead-acid batteries
- Control panel can be faulty
While this product has no manufacturing flaws, there are, however, a couple of defects that may turn up in individual purchases. However, that is not a deterrent for trying it out. It is more efficient than most products in its price range. While not necessarily portable, it is still easy to handle. Moreover, its flexibility is unique.
ACO Power 100W Poly Solar Panel
Setup can be a messy and difficult process in all cases. Most of the time, we shy away just due to that or we call a mechanic to handle the issue. However, the design of this solar panel eliminates any such problems. There is no need for those drill machines while fitting this panel. The Aco Power Poly Solar Panel comes with pre-drilled holes for setup and that makes it easier for installation. Along with that, you will be provided with the required MC4 connectors as well.
This is an off-grid solar panel that is made up of polycrystalline cells. While it does provide efficient energy output, it is not as good as panels with monocrystalline cells. The power output is 100 W. The panels are weather resistant and can be subjected to adverse climatic conditions without any damage. This is an advantage because you won’t need to uninstall it every time there is a storm. It is waterproof and that provides protection against rain.
The setup is very easy when compared to other panels. It can even be used in marine outings. You can fix it to a boat or your caravan along with your RV. On the whole, it is qualified for off-grid purposes and you can travel for days without any issues.
- Off-grid solar panel
- Easy to install
- Polycrystalline cell panel
This has comparatively lower power efficiency and I would prefer a monocrystalline panel over this. However, its versatility is a major advantage when it comes to remote locations where there are little to no sources of electricity. If you want to experiment a bit or try out something different, this is a good option. Besides, it eliminates the hassle of a complicated setup as well.
ECO-Worthy Polycrystalline Solar Panel
The Eco-Worthy Solar Panel is another polycrystalline panel. This is a small and compact design that is highly efficient. This ensures that it can be easily fitted in the most compact of spaces. For your RV, you would usually require something that is easy to carry and handle, in case you need to take it down mid-way.
However, this one being made of Polycrystalline, has a lower efficiency output than monocrystalline solar panels like the Renogy. However, his can be compensated by using more than one panel, according to your needs. It is meant to work with DC appliances. If you want to use it for AC power, you will have to purchase an off-grid inverter for it to work.
It does include a charge controller. But if you have to use it with more than one panel, you might have to get a better one separately. However, the solar panel has a long lifespan of 20 years and is unlikely to cause too many problems before that. It is further waterproof which works well in cloudy weather. It is useful, especially for travelling to places where you have to drive through various kinds of climates.
- Small and compact
- Long lifespan
- Waterproof and versatile in all weathers
- Easy and efficient
- Polycrystalline panel
- Meant for DC appliances
Except for the issues with polycrystalline products, this is a perfect companion for a long RV trip. It is easy to carry and takes up little space. It is waterproof and you don’t need to worry about the impending storm. And it lasts for a long time as well. But there are a lot of appliances that you have to purchase separately. The charge controller may not be sufficient and you have to get the inverter as well.
HQST Monocrystalline Solar Panel
If you don’t want to invest too much in the installation process, this might just be the thing for you. There is no need to spend on expensive roof reinforcements to set this solar panel up. You can use velcro, zip-ties or even mere adhesive for it to work. Moreover, the panel is designed with holes and you don’t need to drill them separately for the setup. It is easy and most importantly, temporary. If you want to use it elsewhere someday, it would be really convenient to take it down and set it up again.
The panel is built with monocrystalline cells which are always superior. They are set on a plastic sheet on the panel. This is not prone to breakage unlike glass or aluminum panels and you can rest easy while handling it. Plastic sticks comfortable on top of the panel and even if you drop it, it won’t crack. The conversion of monocrystalline panels is better than other varieties and the efficiency will leave no room for complaints.
If you ever need to store it away, it fits comfortably into cramped places. However, do keep in mind, that while the panel is flexible, it is certainly not bendable. This is a disadvantage as bendable panels can be fixed more efficiently on top of RV’s or anywhere else.
- Inexpensive installation
- Monocrystalline cells
- Plastic sheet instead of glass or aluminum
- More durable
- Flexible and fits into compact places
- Not Bendable
This is an easy to handle and easy to store product. It does not require too much effort for the setup. As far as the functionality is concerned, it gives a decent performance. And in case of any accident, the damage will not be minimal, in my opinion. While bendable panels are nifty, it is not a requisite for solar panels. It will work well enough on any surface.
Suaoki 100W Solar Panel
Flexible solar panels come with several advantages that regular ones do not have. It is easier to handle and convenient to set up. This RV solar panel is semi-flexible and suited to more crowded settings. The extra durability protects the panel and you can use even the more traditional glass or aluminum kinds in crowded areas.
The panel is moreover, bendable and can form an arc of 30 degrees. This is mostly required for irregular surfaces that do not have a stable structure to support the panel. It is far better to get a bendable one than risk any damage. It is also water-resistant and this helps immensely in rainy climates.
The best advantage of this solar panel is its thin design. This does not compromise its efficiency which is 100W. However, it is no thicker than 0.1 and is pretty lightweight for handling. This makes it portable and less bulky than most solar panels. The mounting holes are pre-drilled and require no extra effort on your end. It can be used on tents, boats or even your rooftop, apart from your RV.
- Water resistant
- Thin design
- Pre-drilled mounting holes
- Nothing other than manufacturing defects
This is a truly exceptional product with little to no cons. Any defects you might find would most probably be manufacturing ones and can easily be replaced. The panel is efficient and very easy to carry. It does not add too much weight to your RV either. It is often a hassle to travel with a bulky solar panel on top of everything else.
If this is your first time, this Renogy 100 Watts Starter Kit should be the perfect purchase for you. It comes in a set and so, you wouldn’t have to make additional purchases to fix it to your RV. At the same time, the panel is versatile enough to be used for more than just an RV. You can fit it on top of your summer cabin, your new boat or even trailers and sheds.
This set includes a set of brackets, a Tray Cables, a Charge Controller and an adaptor kit. Further, depending on your requirements, this could potentially eliminate the need for an extension cable. On an average, the total output in a day is a maximum of 1,000 Wh. This means that a 50Ah Battery can be comfortably charged within the duration of 1.5 hours. Of course, this depends on the availability of sunlight that day.
The monocrystalline cells, moreover, hikes up the rate of conversion to low 20’s. This too enhances the speed of charging your battery. The negative off-grid controller opens it up for further applications, off the grid. This enhances the safety of the product as well. The latter is particularly important when you use it on an RV whose chassis has a negative.
Further, the product does not make a lot of noise. It’s quiet and will let you enjoy your ride in peace. It comes with LED indicators which make it easier to spot.
- Effective and Easy
- Comes in a set
- Good for first-time users
- Negative Grid Controller
- The Charge Controller often comes with some defects
The product works well enough and is easy to set up without having to scramble for equipment that you missed buying. However, several users have complained about the charge controller. So you have to be leery about that part or get one separately if you wish. Otherwise, it is handy and perfect for using with a large output capability.
How to Choose an RV Solar Panel
Solar panels can be of various types and sizes. However, for your RV trailer, this requires certain characteristics that may not work on those you use at home.
RV solar panels are in charge of all the appliances you will use in your RV. So, the efficiency needs to be high enough. It is better if you can get a monocrystalline one instead of a polycrystalline product. They convert the energy faster and more efficiently.
On the road, it is troublesome to carry a bulky solar panel on top of your RV. So your panel needs to be lightweight and compact. Often this is not possible because the higher the efficiency, the larger the size of the panel. It might be hard to find a panel that is both compact and highly efficient. You might have to use two panels for a higher output. So, it is better to use smaller ones in that case.
Easy installation is also a perk that is very beneficial on the road. You may have to take it down for some reason and install it again. You might not get access to a mechanic all the time. For that, the installation needs to be as efficient as possible. Many panels come with pre-drilled holes. They are cost-effective as well. After all, one of the advantages of using a solar panel is its cost-efficiency and you wouldn’t want to spend too much on a trip either.
Benefits of RV Solar Panels
Solar panels are the key to a better and pollution free future. It is a source of renewable and less damaging energy for the environment. You can use it without too many expenses and there is no limit to this source of energy. It reduces global warming and helps to attain a better source over-all. On top of that, is very cost-effective as well.
There is less emission of C02 on the whole. Moreover, you have the ultimate freedom if you use solar panels for your RV instead of a traditional power source. There is no need for an electrical plug and that makes it easier to travel wherever you want without the need to stop for an energy refill.
Of the several reviews, the choice, of course, is yours. There are certain key requirements of a solar panel and if you maintain those, it comes with as little effort as possible. Solar panels prove to be very cost-effective in the long run.
There are certain fire-safety requirements as well. So, you should choose the one that comes with negative grounding. Moreover, waterproof panels are more versatile on the whole. Solar panels are a contribution to nature and are the most effective choice for an RV or a boat or any vehicle that needs a power source.