Which Solar Panel is Best for RV Use?

RV with solar panel
What's the best solar panel for your RV? We'll tell you!

Are you looking for a way to power your RV with solar energy? Solar panels are a great way to do this, but it can be difficult to know which type of solar panel is best for your RV. In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of solar panels available, their advantages and disadvantages, and how to choose the right one for your RV.

Types of Solar Panels

There are several types of solar panels available for use in RVs. These include monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin-film, and flexible solar panels. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to understand the differences between them before making a decision.

Advantages of Solar Panels for RVs

Solar panels offer several advantages for RV owners. They are a clean, renewable source of energy that can be used to power lights, appliances, and other electronics. Solar panels are also relatively easy to install and maintain, and they can be used to reduce or eliminate the need for a generator.

Disadvantages of Solar Panels for RVs

Solar panels do have some drawbacks, however. They can be expensive to purchase and install, and they require regular maintenance. Additionally, they may not be able to provide enough power to run all of the appliances and electronics in an RV.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline solar panels are made from a single crystal of silicon. They are the most efficient type of solar panel, and they are also the most expensive. Monocrystalline solar panels are a good choice for RV owners who want the most efficient and reliable solar power.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are made from multiple crystals of silicon. They are less efficient than monocrystalline panels, but they are also less expensive. Polycrystalline solar panels are a good choice for RV owners who want a reliable source of solar power at a lower cost.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

Thin-film solar panels are made from a thin layer of photovoltaic material. They are the least efficient type of solar panel, but they are also the least expensive. Thin-film solar panels are a good choice for RV owners who want a low-cost source of solar power.

Flexible Solar Panels

Flexible solar panels are made from a flexible material, such as plastic or rubber. They are less efficient than other types of solar panels, but they are also lightweight and easy to install. Flexible solar panels are a good choice for RV owners who want an easy-to-install source of solar power.

Solar Panel Mounts

Solar panel mounts are used to attach solar panels to the roof of an RV. They come in a variety of styles and sizes, and it is important to choose the right mount for your RV.

Solar Panel Inverters

Solar panel inverters are used to convert the direct current (DC) power produced by solar panels into alternating current (AC) power. This is necessary for powering most appliances and electronics in an RV.

Solar Panel Batteries

Solar panel batteries are used to store the energy produced by solar panels. They come in a variety of sizes and types, and it is important to choose the right battery for your RV.

Choosing the Right Solar Panel for Your RV

When choosing a solar panel for your RV, it is important to consider your needs and budget. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient, but they are also the most expensive. Polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient, but they are also less expensive. Thin-film solar panels are the least efficient, but they are also the least expensive. Flexible solar panels are lightweight and easy to install, but they are also less efficient.

DOKIO Portable Solar Panel Kit

For budget-conscious RV owners, the DOKIO Portable Solar Panel Kit is an excellent choice. Priced at $199.99, the kit includes a 220-watt panel, a charge controller, and wiring. It’s easy to fold and store, making it a great option for those who need a simple solution to keep their batteries charged. However, the kit comes with an inefficient charge controller and a limited 1-year warranty.

Renogy Solar Panel Kit

Renogy’s Solar Panel Kit is a comprehensive solution for those seeking a complete package. Priced at $599.99, the kit includes four 100-watt panels, mounting brackets, a charge controller, and wiring. It’s a durable and reliable option from a reputable brand, but installation requires drilling into the RV’s roof. Despite the higher upfront cost, the convenience and quality of the Renogy Solar Panel Kit make it a worthwhile investment.

BLUETTI EB70S: Solar Panel and Battery Kit

The BLUETTI EB70S is a portable all-in-one solution for RVers who want flexibility with their power system’s location. Priced at $918.00, the kit includes a 120-watt panel, a 716 Wh battery bank, and an 800-watt inverter. While it doesn’t wire into your RV’s electrical system, it’s portable and can be used wherever power is needed. However, it’s a more expensive option for RVers on a budget.

Renogy Rigid Solar Panel

This solar panel from Renogy, a leading brand in the market, is ideal for RVs with ample roof space. Priced at $89.99 for a 100-watt panel, it offers a 5-year material warranty and a 25-year output warranty at 80%. The panel is durable and reliable, but installation requires drilling into the RV’s roof and additional purchases for the electrical system. Despite these minor drawbacks, the Renogy Rigid Solar Panel has proven its worth over two years of rigorous testing, surviving harsh weather conditions without any damage or efficiency loss.

Renogy Flexible Solar Panel

For RVs with curved roofs or those where drilling is not an option, Renogy offers a flexible solar panel. Priced at $135.99 for a 100-watt panel, it’s easy to mount on rounded surfaces and doesn’t require additional holes in the RV’s roof. However, it’s less durable than rigid panels and more expensive. Despite the higher cost, the Renogy Flexible Solar Panel is a great fit for Airstreams and other RVs with unique roof shapes.

GoPower Overlander 190W Solar Kit

The GoPower Overlander is a robust solar kit that offers easy installation and a durable frame. With a high wattage of 190W for a single panel, it’s the largest 12-volt panel available in the market. This kit is perfect for long trips, camping, or road travel, ensuring your battery stays charged.

The kit includes all the necessary mounting hardware and cables for connection to your battery. The panel is constructed with an anodized aluminum frame and durable tempered-glass panels, making it weather-resistant. However, it’s on the heavier side, weighing 26 pounds.

For those needing more power, GoPower offers an expansion kit that doubles the output. Customers have reported easy installation and consistent power maintenance in their RVs, even under less-than-ideal conditions like partly cloudy skies and rain.

Rockpals Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Panel with Kickstand

The Rockpals Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Panel is a lightweight and versatile option. Weighing only nine pounds and folding up to 17 by 15 inches, it’s the most portable option we recommend. Despite its compact size, it delivers a powerful 100 watts of power.

This panel can charge all types of batteries and even has the option to deliver power directly to your devices with the integrated USB-C and USB-A ports. The included cable connection is versatile, with two different-sized DC jacks and an Andersen connector.

The panel also comes with a parallel connector cable for those who want to expand their solar power capacity to 200 watts. However, the panel’s positioning with the kickstand is somewhat limited, which can affect the power draw.

Jackery Solar Generator 500 with Panel

The Jackery Solar Generator 500 is a comprehensive power system that includes both a solar panel and a portable power station. The generator houses the lithium-ion battery and inverter and is compact enough to carry with one hand.

The 100-watt solar panel is foldable and includes integrated handles for portability. Weighing just 11 pounds, it’s easy to move and maneuver without weighing down your camper.

The panel also features a USB-C and USB-A port built into the back, allowing you to charge small devices directly without needing extra adapters. The adjustable kickstand enables you to angle the panel for optimal sunlight exposure. However, it’s worth noting that the panel is not weatherproof.

Final Thoughts

Investing in a solar power kit for your RV can provide you with the freedom to explore off-grid locations without worrying about power. Whether you’re a full-time RVer or a part-time adventurer, having a solar power solution is a wise investment.

FAQs

  1. Can any solar panel be used for RVs? Not all solar panels are suitable for RV use. Factors such as size, weight, and installation requirements can limit which panels can be used on an RV.
  2. How many solar panels do I need for my RV? The number of solar panels needed for an RV depends on your energy consumption, the efficiency of the panels, and the amount of sunlight they’ll receive.
  3. Are solar panels for RVs easy to install? Many solar panels designed for RVs come with easy-to-follow instructions for installation. However, if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, professional installation may be a better option.
  4. How much do solar panels for RVs cost? The cost of solar panels for RVs can vary widely depending on the type, brand, and efficiency. Prices can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
  5. Do solar panels for RVs require maintenance? Solar panels for RVs require minimal maintenance. Regular cleaning to remove dust and debris is usually sufficient to keep them in good working order.

References

[1] “Understanding solar panels.” (2021). Energy.gov. https://www.energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/renewable-energy/solar

[2] “Types of solar panels.” (2021). Energy Sage. https://www.energysage.com/solar/101/types-of-solar-panels/

[3] “Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel review.” (2021). Solar Reviews. https://www.solarreviews.com/blog/renogy-100-watt-12-volt-monocrystalline-solar-panel-review

[4] “WindyNation 100 Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel review.” (2021). Clean Energy Reviews. https://www.cleanenergyreviews.info/blog/windynation-100-watt-polycrystalline-solar-panel-review

[5] “Uni-Solar PVL-136 PowerBond PVL 136 Watt Flexible Solar Panel review.” (2021). Green Tech Reviews. https://www.greentechreviews.com/uni-solar-pvl-136-powerbond-pvl-136-watt-flexible-solar-panel-review

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