Solar panels are a great investment for camping van and RV owners. Perhaps you are planning to go on a long journey or are thinking about wandering around the country.
Using solar panels for campers offers many benefits, especially if you want to spend a lot of time on the road or even off-grid camping.
There are so many designs, brands, and varieties of panels out there that choosing the perfect camping solar panels for your RV isn’t easy.
We have done all the work to inform you about what you should look for in a solar system, as well as help you decide which solar panels are suitable for camping.
- The best solar panels for RVs
- How to choose solar panels for an RVs
- Rigid solid vs flexible panels
- Last words
The best solar panels for RVs
We looked at several important aspects to choose the best solar panels including energy efficiency and weight, size, ease of installation and cost. Based on our research, we have created a list of the top 5 solar panels for van or rv owners.
1. Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Solar Premium Kit
The Renogy 200W Solar Panel Premium Kit is the best choice available for RV owners who want to maximize the efficiency of their camper van’s solar installation and go off the grid. At the same time, they don’t want to blow their budget.
This kit includes everything you need to power up your van and your solar panel with a dedicated charge controller. This provides a maximum efficiency of 98% at peak conversion and Z mounts, and connects to Bluetooth so you can monitor the power output on your smartphone in real time. We are sure that you will appreciate this feature that we have always used!
These rigid panels can be mounted in vans or on the ground and combined with multiple units for extra power. Although it is suitable for charging 12V batteries, it can also be equipped for charging 24V and 48V batteries.
It is also one of the quietest and most durable solar panels for RVs and campers on the market. If anything breaks, the Renogy panel is covered by a five-year warranty for damaged materials and a 25-year warranty for solar power.
2. WindyNation 100 Watt Solar Panel Kit
This WindyNation 100 Watt 12V Solar Panel Kit is a low cost turnkey solution. It includes everything you need for installation, including mounting brackets, cable connectors, and an LCD screen that displays the charge controller.
The ability to change the settings on the LCD is one of the most attractive features of the kit as it provides detailed information (temperature and voltage as well as amp hours etc. of the system) and also allows users to change the amount of power.
3. ACOPOWER 120W 12v Foldable Solar Panel Suitcase
Its portable panel design packs a powerful punch for a kit that only weighs 8.4 pounds. With a power output of 120W, it’s more reliable than other similarly sized portable panels yet light enough to take on camping trips.
The best part is that it includes everything you need (charger cable, carrying case, built-in bypass) and installs in just one minute.
4. Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Portable Foldable Solar Panel Suitcase
As one of the most renowned companies, Renogy offers some of the best solar panels for RVs and vans. This includes 100-watt portable solar suitcase.
Although it is tiny (19.9″ x 27.2″ x 2.8″) you can be sure it will be made from the strong and durable material that Renogy is known for.
Its very easy to set up. It’s also easy to set up. The LCD monitor makes it easy to understand the working details. This is especially useful for those new to the market.
5. AllPowers 200W 18V Portable Solar Panel Kit
Its AllPowers 200W solar panel is one of the best flexible panels available. Low profile design flexes 30 degrees and weighs only 4.7 pounds.
The most striking thing about this adaptable charger is that it is very energy efficient. While other monocrystalline panels can provide around 19-20% of energy, ALLPowers cells provide up to 23.5%.
However, if you want to extract more juice from it, it can be connected to other panels using the controller.
How to choose solar panels for an RVs
Let’s see what makes a quality solar panel.
The energy consumed during the day is called watt-hours (Wh). A 100W panel provides about 400W of electricity per day. For comparison, a 60W light bulb requires 360Wh for six hours. Similarly, watching a 200W TV for four hours requires 800Wh.
If you think you’ll need more power to travel, you might consider buying some solar panels to power your RV.
Of course, the amount of power you can get from a camping solar panel depends on the conditions of the day; don’t expect a full charge in indirect light or on a cloudy day.
Size and weight
The difference in weight of solar panels can be significant. For example, custom flexible panels can weigh as little as 4 pounds, while larger solar panel kits can weigh 40 pounds.
If you’re planning on installing an attached panel on top of your van, it’s important to make sure the roof can support the extra weight.
When looking at the flexibility or portability of the panels, you must consider the size so that the panels can be stowed away in your camping van.
Fixed and portable panels
Stationary solar panels mount on the roof, sides of your rv or camping van. They are exposed to light and thus can pick up energy even when you are on the road. If you have a huge motorhome or camper with plenty of rooftop space, you’ll find that fixed panels are well worth the investment.
On the other hand, mobile solar panels are offered as individual units and solar cases. They need to be installed in the campsite and manually aligned with the sun. Mobile solar panels will be your best solution for many campers that don’t have enough outdoor space.
Your camper and the power you will need, as well as the budget you should consider when choosing between portable or fixed panels.
Monocrystalline vs polycrystalline
When choosing solar panels for a camper, you also need to consider the type of solar collector you are using.
Monocrystalline panels are produced by only one silicon supplier, making them more efficient than polycrystalline solar panels. As a result, monocrystalline panels are smaller and less bulky, but they can also be more expensive.
Polycrystalline panels contain mixed sources of silicon. As a result, they tend to be smaller and more efficient per watt. However, they are not as efficient as monocrystalline cells, which means you will need to use more panels to achieve the same power.
Rigid solid vs flexible panels
RV solar panels are available in flexible and rigid materials.
These rigid panels can be called standard solar panels used for homes, caravans and solar farms. In terms of camper roof solar panel configuration, most rigid panels are bolted or hung directly on the roof.
Because they are encased in tempered glass and protected by an aluminum frame, the panels are very durable and can withstand the toughest outdoor conditions. In terms of cost, rigid panels are also cheaper per watt compared to flexible panels.
The slim profile of flexible panels is a great option for those who want to be discreet while camping. Most of them are solar panels designed for campers that weigh less than six pounds and are just under one inch thick. This allows them to curve around certain types of surfaces. They do not need to be installed or drilled, they are flexible. Panels can be installed and used immediately.
When purchasing solar panels, it is important to consider any other features or products included in the original solar panel product, such as RV solar generators or other components.
For example, portable solar panels require chargers, connection cords, and clamps. In some cases, they are part of a panel kit, while other brands must purchase them separately.
If you are installing a non-fixed panel, charge controllers and mounting hardware will be required. It’s also important to check the specifications to determine what’s included in the purchase.
These rigid panels can also be connected to a tilt mount, which increases solar output by about 25%, allowing them to face directly into the sun. To maximize panel performance, it is recommended to look for a model that comes with a tilt mount along with the panel.
Finding one of the best solar panels for your van can be rewarding and easy if you make an informed decision. That’s why it’s important to study the buying guide, which will allow you to browse the different options in a row and learn about the best features of these solar panels. Knowing the best options will improve your chances of finding the best option for your needs.
I hope you make an informed choice of the best solar panels for your rv and camping van by following the buying guide. So get the right solar panel for your van now!