best rv solar panel

The 10 Best Solar Panels For RV to Buy in 2022

Solar panels have been gaining in popularity in the RV community throughout the years. There are a few reasons behind this fad. They look futuristic, the way they can power many things in your motorhome without the need to pay for it certainly intrigues RVers. Some people even go as far to say that solar panels are must-haves when it comes to boondocking.

We also promote the use of solar panels. If you are looking for an alternative to propane or gas generators which can be overwhelmingly noisy (by being quiet as a mouse), and can still provide the electricity needed to run your phones and laptops (maybe even your air conditioner if you are lucky), then the solar panels are no doubt one of the most attractive upgrades you can have to an already well-equipped RV. 

You will experience a stark change in your boondocking life after installing high quality solar panels, given that you are in a sunny region. Stay tuned, because we will be going through some of the most important characteristics of the best solar panels for RVs, so that you can effectively decide which one fits your needs.

Along the way, we will also recommend some of the best solar panels for RV use based on RV solar panels reviews that we have collected from RV community. RV experts from RVing Trends tested every single RV solar panel in our Top Pick list to make sure they’re all worth your investment. If you have been looking all over the internet to find the best solar panels for RV trailers and motorhomes alike, then I’m sure you will get a thing or two out of this article.

Contents show

Quick Recommendations

Preview
Best Overall
Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable 2Pcs 50W Solar Panel Suitcase Built-in Kickstand with Waterproof 20A Charger Controller
Best Value
100 Watts 100W Solar Panel 12V - 18V Poly Off Grid Battery Charger for RV
Editor's Choice
WindyNation 100 Watt Solar Panel Off-Grid RV Boat Kit with LCD PWM Charge Controller + Solar Cable + Connectors + Mounting Brackets
Title
Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable
100 Watts 100W Solar Panel 12V - 18V Poly Off Grid Battery Charger for RV
WindyNation 100 Watt Solar Panel Off-Grid RV Boat Kit with LCD PWM Charge Controller
Type
Monocrystalline
Polycrystalline
Polycrystalline
Wattage Options
100 Watt, 200 Watt
100 Watt
100 Watt
Rating
Prime Status
-
-
Best Overall
Preview
Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable 2Pcs 50W Solar Panel Suitcase Built-in Kickstand with Waterproof 20A Charger Controller
Title
Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable
Type
Monocrystalline
Wattage Options
100 Watt, 200 Watt
Rating
Prime Status
Details
Best Value
Preview
100 Watts 100W Solar Panel 12V - 18V Poly Off Grid Battery Charger for RV
Title
100 Watts 100W Solar Panel 12V - 18V Poly Off Grid Battery Charger for RV
Type
Polycrystalline
Wattage Options
100 Watt
Rating
Prime Status
-
Details
Editor's Choice
Preview
WindyNation 100 Watt Solar Panel Off-Grid RV Boat Kit with LCD PWM Charge Controller + Solar Cable + Connectors + Mounting Brackets
Title
WindyNation 100 Watt Solar Panel Off-Grid RV Boat Kit with LCD PWM Charge Controller
Type
Polycrystalline
Wattage Options
100 Watt
Rating
Prime Status
-
Details

Best RV Solar Panels: Comparison Chart

NoBest RV Solar PanelsPriceOur Rating
1Renogy 100 Watt Monocrystalline$$$*****
2WindyNation SOK-100WP-P30L$$$*****
3Mighty Max MAX3550270$****
4Renogy KIT-STARTER200D$$$****
5ACOPower HYS100-12MB$****
6Renogy Flexible$$****
7Go Power GP-PSK-130$$$$***
8Eco-Worthy AM-P20X-CB-1$***
9HQST HQST-100D-SS$$*****
10Newpowa NPA100-12H$$*****

 The Basics About RV Solar Panels

What is an RV solar panel?

Most of us who aren’t living under a rock know roughly what a solar panel is as well as what it does. A solar panel will consist of many solar cells, these solar cells are made of a few more ingredients which helps it to absorb photons from sunlight, with which it generates electricity.

The formal definition of a solar panel isn’t very far from this, since what it is and does isn’t nearly as important as how it functions under the hood and the principles that govern it. A solar panel typically has these layers (from top to bottom): aluminium frame, tempered glass, Encapsulant, Solar cells, 2nd Encapsulant, Back sheet, Junction box.

There are three main types of solar panels: Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline, and Thin-film. Depending on the amount of state-of-the-art technology and materials involved, you can expect to pay more on a thin-film solar panel than a Monocrystalline, for instance.  

How does it work?

I have to admit that the solar panel (like many other technologies) that we use so conveniently today is a technological marvel that came from the overlapping of several fields of chemistry and physics. I used to come across semiconducting materials and solar panels in my high school’s coursework but putting such a “simple” concept into practice in such sophisticated ways and developing such a product is just unbelievable.

As we already said, solar cells are one of the building blocks of the solar panel, and also its strongest link. Solar panels convert the energy from the photons (particles of light) into direct current (DC), which charges an RV battery and the electricity is stored inside.

As sunlight passes through solar panels, photons should knock electrons away from atoms which produce electricity. With the right number and quality of solar panels, the RV battery will constantly power most of your RV’s appliances, provided the right setup.

Not all the sunlight that touches the solar panels would generate electricity though. The conversion rate of standard solar panels for RV trailer range from 10% to 15% but it gets as high as 21% on premium models. 

So solar panels make electricity, but if that’s the only benefit, what makes them stand out from other alternatives? You will see below that many times the solar panels prove to be a worthwhile investment.

best rv solar panels
Photo: TinyShinyHome

Are RV solar panels worth the investment?

You have probably heard that solar panels are expensive, and considering the looks and state-of-the-art technologies accumulated in a single solar panel, the price is justified. Since money doesn’t fall from trees, it is best to inspect and make informed choices when it comes to these accessories to know whether or not you truly need them.

Free electricity

The best thing that everyone can see about installing solar panels is their ability to provide almost free electricity. Why am I saying almost? Since as with any kind of machine, solar panels deteriorate the more they are used, therefore you are effectively losing some money, but this process is subtle. I might be nitpicking a little bit there. However, once you buy solar panels, it is going to last around 25 to 30 years. You get this many years of electricity service (almost) free of charge! Who wouldn’t want that.  

Best For Your Batteries

If you have the budget, I suggest you buy solar batteries, as these batteries together with solar panels will make a great couple. That is not to say regular batteries aren’t any good. In fact, using solar panels is a great way to charge your batteries.       

Silent

Silence is always key to a nice and zen trip with your family. Solar panels produce no sound at all, so you can enjoy yourself without ever having to hear constant loud thuds that can even make the floor of your RV rumble, the kind of sound that power generators make.

Sure, you can always turn off the power generator, but when summer comes around the corner, the heat is going to drive everyone crazy, and an air conditioner will be absolutely indispensable if you want to take a nap without sweating profusely. The solar panels are the way to go, they are silent yet powerful (enough for some small ACs) and won’t take away your peaceful time in bed. 

Safe 

If you have ever used a power generator before, then you know the hazards that come with it. In my country, there have been quite a few cases of unwanted deaths involving the power generators. A quick web browsing session can give you all you need to know about safety precautions regarding the use of power generators. 

Power generators (especially gas generators) can make the carbon monoxide levels shoot through the roofs whenever it is used. Propane generators are preferred to gas and diesel generators in this respect. High levels of carbon monoxide are guaranteed to kill you swiftly (though painlessly).

It is one of the prominent ingredients of a cigarette, but in the generator’s case, we are talking thousands of times the amount. A reasonable alternative would be, you guessed it, a solar power system.

Clean

Here we talk about the characteristics of solar energy. Along with wind, biomass and hydroelectric energy, solar energy is renewable and very clean. It is clean in the sense that electricity is being generated from sunlight alone, and gives off absolutely no substance that can potentially pollute the environment.

Generators emit burnt hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen and sometimes, unburnt hydrocarbons are released into the environment as well, packing even more of a punch as a pollutant.

Better for the Environment

Like we have stated above, solar panels are generally the better choice in many categories compared to power generators, except maybe price. Yet another advantage of the solar system that puts it above generators is the environmentally friendliness. Solar cells transform sunlight into electricity, very straightforward, while generators require fuels that aren’t renewable, and also produce harmful chemicals along with the electricity.

More Neighbor Friendly

When you are in an RV park, things should be quiet and contained inside each household (as expected of well-mannered individuals), so your neighbors shouldn’t bother you and you shouldn’t annoy them either. That includes keeping noise levels to a minimum. Power generators aren’t up to the challenge. They will just bombard the surroundings with noise.

Fully Automatic

It is obvious that solar panels should be fully automatic, since they are the ones responsible for generating the electricity in the first place. Power generators are automatic as well, but you have to manually feed them their respective fuels, normally: gas, diesel or propane. However, you don’t necessarily have to watch over these generators all the time. Power generators can run for weeks on end without refueling. 

For RVs with built-in generators, the generator only functions when you turn it on, but you can totally configure it so that it turns on automatically. In the end, solar panels win. When you don’t need them, you just have to cover the panels with a special type of blanket, called the solar blanket. This will cost you anywhere from $75 to $225.

Low Maintenance

Solar panels are trustworthy devices, and constantly give you energy whenever there is sunlight. What about the maintenance requirements? After all, maintenance is one of the things that owners dread the most when dealing with electronics. Fortunately for everyone, solar panels need minimal checkup and maintenance, and you don’t even have to clean them very oftenly. 

It is suggested that you keep to the plan of: 1 inspection per year (hire a professional), clean your panels twice a year (you can even skip one if you live in a rainy region), and finally, schedule maintenance when needed.

There are signs that show when your solar panels need maintenance, however, mainly there is one major indicator: when you notice a reduction in output energy or that your electricity bills have increased. This rarely happens, most of the time, a little bit of cleaning will simply do the trick.

Note: Generally speaking, solar panels deliver an assortment of benefits to RV owners. Nonetheless, to ensure that you don’t get caught off guard as you use solar systems, you must keep in mind the following issues: 

  • Price of components is steep 
  • Assembly is necessary 
  • Occasional fluctuations in the power output
  • Space restrictions for arrays and battery banks

How many RV solar panels do you need? 

In order to know how many solar panels or more importantly, how much power you will be providing your RV, we have several things to consider. In particular, you will need to find out the answers to these questions: how many watt-hours do you use each day? How much energy do your solar panels provide your batteries? In other words, you will have to try and figure out the amount of energy used and energy stored.  

If you can find out the answers to these questions, it will undoubtedly mean that your system is optimized (given that you can install enough solar panels on your RV). Surely, we can’t all be electricians, so it is advisable that you search for an entire article on how to calculate these figures. With that said, there is a method that can help you roughly balance these two sides of the scale, the load and the generation.

First, you have to calculate how much energy you use everyday. Using a little bit of elementary math, particularly addition and multiplication, we can easily (in terms of calculation) arrive at the estimate for this number. Just try to learn how much watts each one of your appliances consume and multiply that by the respective hours of consumption, finally add all the numbers together.

Since this is a pretty easy method, I won’t be giving examples. However, calculating by hand can lead to errors, but a rough estimate is invaluable if you don’t have an RV yet. From finding out the number of watt hours you need when boondocking, you can estimate the number of solar panels for your RV.

RV solar panel reviews
Photo: TinyShinyHome

Another way to achieve the desired results, is to install a battery monitor. From the name alone, you can make out what it does. It will do the job of measuring the amount of energy that your battery will be using. I highly recommend buying the Victron BMV-712 battery monitor.

After installing this, charge the batteries fully and turn the charger off. After that, run your RV and keep track of the time it takes for the battery power level to reach 50% for lead-acid or 20% for lithium. Take the AmpHours (Ah) reading on the battery monitor and multiply it by the system’s nominal voltage, the result will be in Watts (for example, 1000Ah x 12.6V=12600 Watts). That will be directly proportional with the amount of time you use your RV. Using the amount of time I asked you to keep track of, multiply it up to find the amount you need for 24h.

Finding out the energy need for your RV is tough enough, but estimating the number of solar panels you will be using might be even harder. A method to roughly estimate this is that a 100 watt solar panel will produce from 280 to 450 Wh per day. Using the number that you got above, divide it by 280 to find the upper bound and 450 to find the lower bound for the number of solar panels you will need. This is, again, a very brief estimate

Types of Solar Panel for RV

There are 4 common types of solar panels for RV, namely monocrystalline, polycrystalline, amorphous (thin-film) and CIGS. The relative usefulness of each of these 4 compared to one another is akin to that of diesel and gasoline fuels. 

Monocrystalline solar panels

Designed with the purest of silicon, monocrystalline panels are the most efficient, in that they generate the most energy from the same amount of sunlight at a time that the others. In other words, this type of solar panel has the highest conversion rate at the moment. This is, however, the most expensive type of solar panel you can buy. 

Polycrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are less efficient in comparison, but it is a good choice considering its durability and reliability. Packing blue rectangular cells made from raw silicon, polycrystalline solar panels reach the market at reasonable prices. Because of that, models of the type prove popular among cost-conscious RVers. Also, with mediocre temperature tolerance, solar panels that integrate polycrystalline cannot handle extreme heat.

Thin-film solar panels

After that, we have a very interesting type of solar panels called the amorphous panels. What makes this newer type of solar panels stand out is its bending capabilities, which makes installing them much easier than before. It is the cheapest in terms of dollars per watts, but isn’t up there with its counterparts in efficiency.

CIGS Solar Panels 

While they have some of the characteristics of thin-film solar panels, CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenide) solar panels have superior conversion rates. Thus, with models of the type, it’s possible to save money as well as space at the same time. In addition to that, CIGS solar panels contain less cadmium than other types of solar panels on the market. If you care about your health, you should add these solar panels to your shortlist. 


10 Best Solar Panels For RV: In-depth Reviews

With so many differences in preferences, the best solar panels for RV of someone could appear less than ideal to the rest. Nonetheless, if you like to get your money’s worth, it’s strongly recommended that you check out these models. 

#1. Renogy 100 Watt Monocrystalline – Best Overall

Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Foldable
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Specifications And Features:

  • Wattage: 100W
  • Type: Monocrystalline
  • Universal compatibility 
  • Charge controller included 
  • All-around protection 

Why This Is The Best: 

Made from the ground up with utility in mind, Renogy RNG-KIT-STCS-100D-VOY20 works well in an assortment of situations. Owing to the integration of high transparency tempered glass, this solar panel could maintain a decent conversion rate when the lighting condition is poor. Also, since it contains bypass diodes, this solar panel for RV is not as prone to developing hotspots as traditional models. Therefore, in my opinion, it’s one of the best RV solar panels for those who desire a steady flow of electricity.

With the suitcase design, the Renogy solar panel packs outstanding handling characteristics. When the need arises, I’m able to set up this solar panel and put it away in a blink of an eye. It’s worth pointing out that outside of use, this camper solar panel occupies only a bit of space inside my rig as well. Because of that, I don’t have to turn the interior upside down to find a spot for it. 

Once it comes to compatibility, RNG-KIT-STCS-100D-VOY20 supports a wide range of batteries: lithium, gel, sealed and so on. Furthermore, featuring a built-in five-stage charge controller, this solar panel would charge my batteries efficiently and effectively. With all-around protection (reversed polarity, overcharging, short-circuit,…) the charge controller minimizes the odds of my batteries sustaining damages during recharges. Thus, I could extend the replacement interval of my batteries. 

Boasting corrosion-resistant aluminum stands, Renogy RNG-KIT-STCS-100D-VOY20 handles humidity superbly for most of the time. The stand of this solar panel is adjustable too, hence, optimizing the sunlight exposure is child’s play. Besides that, with a fantastic temperature tolerance, it’s going to generate electricity regardless of fluctuations in temperature. That is a big plus for a person that travels between climate zones like me. 

Introduced at a reasonable price, the solar panel from Renogy is an excellent match for my wallet. Upon purchase, it’s accompanied by a reassuring manufacturer warranty that covers defects for twenty five years. 

Have used product for 3 years now, camping in a motorhome off the grid. I camp 60 days/year, in Nevada, where the sun is powerful year around. I no longer use the generator. System charges 4 deep cycle batteries (two are 6=volt) easily during the day, and I use (waste) plenty of electricity at night (stereo/computer/flat screen/chargers/ lights) because the unit has now paid for itself, solar power is absolutely free. The different batteries (gel/hybrid/ dual purpose) charge at their designated rate, as keyed into the system or automatically sensed. I rave about this portable system because it is simple, efficient, and does the job, with no errors or breakdowns. Please know I am rough on camping gear, that’s a fact. I have one complaint: I noticed right off that the extension cable connectors and the battery clamp connectors were weak (where the wire meets the connector) and the wires fray and eventually break off. I’m replacing them right now with stronger battery clamp connectors and also bought heavy duty home dryer (110V) plug-ins (polarity correct) that should last my lifetime. Note: I often leave the system plugged in overnight to batteries, and it does not drain them at all. I totally recommend this system, it is a marriage made in heaven, perfect, for RV use. That’s about it.

Shared by Freedom Rich

Pros:

  • Dependable and reliable 
  • High conversion rate 
  • Tip-top potability  

Cons:

  • Customer service could use some work 
  • People occasionally complain about getting used units 

#2. WindyNation SOK-100WP-P30L – Editor’s Choice

WindyNation 100 Watt Solar Panel Off-Grid RV
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Specifications And Features:

  • Wattage: 100W
  • Type: Polycrystalline
  • Expandable 
  • LCD display 
  • Battery temperature sensor

Why This Is The Editor’s Choice: 

You must set up a solar system in a hurry and have no need for solar panels with draw-out installation? Then there is a good chance that you would come to like WindyNation SOK-100WP-P30L. On arrival, this solar panel for travel trailers comes alongside all the hardware: cable, charge controller, connectors and so on. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to get this RV solar panel up and running under sunlight. 

Thanks to the use of polycrystalline, SOK-100WP-P30L is capable of generating more electricity than its competitors on the market. That is why it’s capable of powering a series of appliances on my rig at the same time. Aside from that, this solar panel remains uncompromised no matter what the outdoors throw at it in the course of operation. That means I don’t have to worry too much about it getting damaged all of the sudden on the road. 

One of the things I like about the solar panel of WindyNation is that its charge controller integrates a LCD display. By glancing at the display periodically, I could maintain a firm grasp on the flow of the electricity that enters my battery bank. Additionally, the charge controller allows me to apply changes to settings such as load disconnect, voltage disconnect, … Thus, in terms of adaptability, this solar panel is among the best solar panels for RV to my eyes. 

About maintenance, WindyNation SOK-100WP-P30L only requires a bit of care from me to stay in working order. Thus, with it, I may spend less time looking after my solar system and more time enjoying myself. Since this camper solar panel also lasts for quite some time, picking up replacements is not a big concern to me. If you have few opportunities to replace your solar panels while traveling, you must add it to your shortlist. 

As proof of confidence, WindyNation offers everyone that decides to buy their solar panel a one-year warranty. If my  SOK-100WP-P30L fails due to manufacturing defects, I could claim a replacement free of charge. 

We live full-time in a travel trailer and while in Florida (we’re Canadians) we sometimes dry camp at free sites. Our first attempt was miserable as our battery didn’t last long enough to support the fridge so we had to keep running the truck about every 10 hours to replenish the battery and we didn’t use any lights, etc.

Now with the solar panel life is good. Our battery charges up completely in a few hours when it’s sunny. We have our water pump on all day, run the water heater and use all the lights we need in the evening. We even can run the furnace in the morning to warm up the rig. We LOVE our panel and it is sufficient for our needs. If we had a second battery, it would be able to charge it too,

Shared by J Phillips

Pros:

  • Sturdy and stable 
  • Setup process is intuitive 
  • No-nonsense maintenance 

Cons:

  • Less than ideal quality control 
  • Reports of missing hardware appear every now and then 

#3. Mighty Max MAX3550270 – Best Value For Money

Mighty Max Battery 100 Watts 100W Solar Panel
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Specifications And Features:

  • Wattage: 100W
  • Type: Polycrystalline
  • Aluminum frame
  • Pre-drilled holes
  • High-efficiency solar cells

Why This Is The Best Value For Money: 

Versatile and flexible, Mighty Max MAX3550270 is a good buy for RVers that travel around the year. Packing high-efficiency solar cells, this solar panel could provide a constant flow of electricity to the battery bank of my vehicle. Moreover, since it’s capable of dealing with wind, snow and rain, this solar panel for RV is going to power my appliances in numerous situations. Because of that, once it comes to consistency, I consider this solar panel to be one of the leading solar panels for RV roof

At 100W, the rating of the solar panel from Mighty Max is unexceptional but it’s still adequate for standard rigs including mine. It’s noteworthy that this travel trailer solar panel is compatible with battery banks of variable voltages (12V, 24V and 48V) too. Naturally, I have an easy time adapting this solar panel to my batteries in the outdoors. With it by my side, keeping the charge level of the battery bank at 100% is a walk in the park. 

To simplify installation, Mighty Max designs MAX3550270 with pre-drilled holes around the aluminum frames. Hence, I could fix this solar panel to the roof of my rig in mere moments. Besides that, a combination of cables and MC4 connectors accelerate the process of wiring this solar panel to my solar system. With the long length of the cables, getting them to the charge controller that sits beside my battery bank is a breeze. 

Compared to many of its contemporaries, Mighty Max MAX3550270 needs little attention regarding maintenance. Engineered with drainage holes, this solar panel prevents water from collecting on it as time passes by. It resists corrosion as well so humidity rarely gives this solar panel a lot of trouble in use. Assuming that I remember to wipe the glass regularly, the cells should keep generating electricity for years to come. 

Reaching the market as a budget model, the Mighty Max solar panel is hailed as among the best solar panels for RV use by cost-conscious RVers. The inclusion of a one-year warranty brings peace of mind too. 

Sturdy construction. Installed in my RV with a Renogy 30A charge controller. Even in this cloudy winter sun it is keeping the battery charged with the gas heater running all day. Can’t wait to see what it can do in the high country south of the Grand Canyon this summer.

Shared by Coldcoffee

Pros:

  • Simple to install 
  • High endurance 
  • Steady 

Cons:

  • A few users notice warping frame 
  • Inconsistencies exist between units 

#4. Renogy KIT-STARTER200D Solar Panel

Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel Starter Kit
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Specifications And Features:

  • Wattage: 200W
  • Type: Polycrystalline
  • PWM charge controller 
  • Plug-and-play cables 
  • Mounting brackets 

Why We Love It: 

Consisting of two 100W solar panels that guarantee a daily output of 800W, Renogy KIT-STARTER200D is suitable for casual rigs. With the PWM charge controller regulating the electricity, this solar kit is capable of charging my batteries at a steady pace. Furthermore, since it would protect the batteries from common issues during recharge, the PWM charge controller extends the lifespan of the battery bank on my RV. Because of that, this solar kit not only lets me cut down utility bills but also extends the replacement interval of batteries.

Put together with fantastic portability, the travel trailer solar kit from Renogy facilitates transportation and installation. Using the pre-drilled holes on the back, I have an easy time securing the solar panel to the roof of my rig. Renogy distributes its solar kits with mounting brackets as well as plug-and-play cables so I don’t have to spend more money on hardware. Lastly, it works with lithium, lead-acid, gel and other batteries which eliminates the need to consider compatibility. 

The aluminum frame of KIT-STARTER200D excels at resisting corrosion in the outdoors so humidity seldom concerns me. Made to endure wind loads as high as 2400Pa, this solar kit for RV easily survives high winds too. About the snow load, assuming that it stays below 5400Pa, this solar kit is going to deliver electricity to my batteries. That is why regardless of the environment, I could rest assured knowing that would keep my batteries charged. 

Unlike traditional models, Renogy KIT-STARTER200D should stay in good condition even if it receives minimal attention from users. All I have to do is to stop dust from building up on the solar panels to maintain exposure to sunlight. Noteworthily, the use of polycrystalline results in a superb conversion rate with poor lighting conditions. Therefore, full-time RVers who want to have the best solar panels for RV battery charging hold this kit in high esteem.

To reassure RVers, Renogy backs its solar kit for RV with a five-year manufacturer warranty. Hence, if its solar kit acts up in use, Renogy would be willing to set things straight. 

I installed this kit in my motor home to eliminate having to run the generator or plug in to shore power every couple of days. I would recommend adding an inline fuse and a cutoff switch if you purchase this kit. Everything included from Renogy was packaged securely and all components seem to work as expected. This was my first solar install and I had no background in this technology so I watched a few YouTube videos to get an idea of how others were doing their installs. Overall I am very happy with this product.

Shared by JTFC6

Installed this system on my Toy Hauler RV. It is keeping the two batteries charged very nicely. We can watch a movie at night, and the batteries are fully charged by the next evening. I suspect we could watch a couple of movies, but I haven’t done this yet. We use LED light bulbs throughout the RV to reduce consumption. I wish more people would go solar and use their generators less. Solar won’t power the microwave or air conditioner, but it powers everything else.

Shared by J. Bowman

Pros:

  • Economical 
  • Power out is decent 
  • Easy-to-understand owner’s manual 

Cons:

  • Shipping still leave something to be desired 
  • Complaints about flimsy connectors pop up from time to time 

#5. ACOPower HYS100-12MB Solar Panel

ACOPOWER UV11007GD 100W Foldable Solar Panel Kit
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Specifications And Features:

  • Wattage: 100W
  • Type: Monocrystalline
  • Foldable 
  • Pre-installed stands
  • Protective suitcase

Why We Love It: 

Engineered for the demands of modern RVers and built to last, ACOPower HYS100-12MB is one of the best portable solar panels for RV available for purchase. Thanks to the foldable design, this solar panel for RV allows me to conserve space inside the interior of my RV. Additionally, by incorporating a protective suitcase, it’s not as vulnerable to damage as its contemporaries. As a result, I’m pleased to report that this solar panel is a good companion for those who place longevity above all else.

As HYS100-12MB integrates pre-installed stands, orienting it on the road is a walk in the park. Equipped with two monocrystalline solar panels, it’s going to provide me with a considerable amount of electricity as long as there is sunlight. This solar panel for campers also contains charge controller, connectors and others which means it’s usable out of the box. On average, no matter the location, I could get this solar panel up and running in a blink of an eye. 

Able to charge batteries of variable types (seal, gel, flood, etc), the solar panel of ACOPower is compatible with multiple battery banks on RV. Thus, it’s a breeze to keep the charge level of my batteries at 100% with this solar panel around. Interestingly, the flow of electricity that comes out of the charge controller into my batteries is stable as well. The result is that there is no need to dedicate a big chunk of my budget to the replacement of batteries.

About maintenance, ACOPower HYS100-12MB is not a model that requires a lot of care to stay operational. The inclusion of aluminum in the frame permits it to withstand high levels of humidity. Aside from that, outside of use, this solar panel is going to sit inside my rig for most of the time. Thus, I could stop this solar panel from coming into contact with outdoor elements all the time which is a big plus. 

In terms of affordability, HYS100-12MB reaches the market at a price that everyone could accept. That is why it’s simple to pick up this solar panel and the cost of replacement is too. 

We have a Roadtrek class B motorhome with a single house battery. Class B’s are easy enough to drive and park that we use it as a sight-seeing vehicle, as well as camping in it. All that driving keeps the battery nicely charged. When we do stop for extended periods we can get as much as 3 days out of the batter. Any longer and we need a charge. That led me to looking into solar. Permanent roof top was an option, but was overkill for out application and more money than I’m willing to spend. Space is at a premium in our little motorhome, so I looked at the “suitcase” models. I like that this one has metal legs and a 5M(eter) cord. Our battery is tucked away behind a panel, so I made another connector using ring terminals. I’ve bolted it directly to the battery. The connector hangs down and is easily accessible.

We used it for the first time last week for 5 days. It did a great job of keeping our house battery fully charged and allowed us to use the roof mounted fan on “high” during very hot weather. It kept the lights burning bright and we were everybody’s favorite neighbors for charging phones and Kindles. We had charging voltage when ever we aimed it at the sun, even when the sky was overcast.

All of the hardware is high quality. Corner protectors all the way around, stout aluminum legs, automotive grade connectors, and a very nice carrying case. I bring the battery clamp connector with, just in case we need to charge a chassis batter. The Acopower 100 Watt folding panel fits our needs perfectly.

Shared PhillG

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly 
  • Rugged 
  • Customer service is responsive 

Cons:

  • A couple of users report getting mismatched connectors 
  • Quality control is mediocre 

#6. Renogy Flexible Solar Panel

Renogy Flexible Solar Panel 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Semi-Flexible Bendable Mono Off-Grid Charger for RV
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Specifications And Features:

  • Wattage: 100W
  • Type: Monocrystalline
  • Ultralight 
  • Bendable 
  • Laminated 

Why We Love It: 

Once it comes to installing solar panels on odd surfaces, few models work as well as Renogy Flexible Solar Panel. Able to be bent up to 248 degrees, this solar panel adapts smoothly to the solar system of my rig. Moreover, since it’s ultrathin, this RV solar panel blends in instead of standing out like a sore thumb. Because of that, with this solar panel, I could gain access to solar energy in the outdoors while preserving the appearance of my RV. 

Despite its flexibility, the solar panel made by Renogy is tough enough to handle the challenges of RVing. From wind to snow, this solar panel should produce electricity regardless of the weather conditions. Also, with a vibration resistance that is superior to rigid solar panels, it remains in top shape even if it’s exposed to shocks and bumps. Thus, I don’t have to worry about the integrity of this solar panel as I navigate rough roads. 

Regarding installation, the marvelous handling characteristics of Renogy Flexible Solar Panel make the setup process a cakewalk in my opinion. By taking advantage of the flexibility of this solar panel, I need mere moments to match it to the profile of my roof. As for the wiring, this solar panel possesses integrated connectors so connecting it to my charge controller is a cinch. It’s worth pointing out that there is no need to bother with battery compatibility as this works with virtually everything. 

The conversion rate of the Renogy solar panel is so-so but it could still fully charge my battery bank on a sunny day. Needless to say, with the power output exceeding the self-discharge rate, this solar panel is good at maintaining the charge level. Of course, like other models, the conversion rate of this solar panel should degrade as time passes by. That being said, it’s likely that many seasons would pass before I have to think about finding replacements. 

Renogy Flexible Solar Panel costs less than its market competitors so I could squeeze it into the budget plan at my leisure. In terms of post-purchase support, the five-year warranty puts me at ease too. 

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Splendid versatility 
  • Installation is a snap

Cons:

  • Short cables 
  • Output fluctuates on occasions 

#7. Go Power GP-PSK-130 Solar Panel

Go Power! GP-PSK-130 130W Portable Folding Solar Kit
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Specifications And Features:

  • Wattage: 130W
  • Type: Monocrystalline
  • Built-in charge controller 
  • Carrying case 
  • Plug adapter

Why We Love It: 

The power consumption of your rig is kind of high so you need solar panels that generate a lot of electricity in use? In that case, you may want to take a look at what Go Power GP-PSK-130 could do. With a wattage rating of 130W, this solar panel is capable of keeping the battery of my power-hungry rig charged. Additionally, it maintains the conversion rate throughout the years too so from what I see, this solar panel is a long-lasting source of free energy. 

Since GP-PSK-130 is a portable model, I don’t have to secure it to my rig prior to use. Every time I wish to harvest solar energy, all I need to do is to set up this solar panel so it faces the sun. The incorporation of stands makes it simple to optimize sunlight exposure on the road. For ease of convenience, Go Power creates its solar panel for RV with a plug adapter and that simplifies the process of running the wire to the batteries. 

I appreciate the presence of built-in charge controllers as it permits me to use the Go Power solar panel at will. As the flow of electricity passes the charge controller on the way to the batteries, it’s going to be stabilized. Because of that, by adding this solar panel to my travel inventory, I could simultaneously charge my battery bank and keep it out of harm’s way. With this solar panel extending the replacement interval of batteries, I get to save some bucks for other needs. 

Designed to be foldable, Go Power GP-PSK-130 takes up a small amount of space on my rig outside of use. The carrying case is there to protect the glass too so storing this solar panel is a walk in the park. Aside from periodic wiping, this solar panel needs next to no maintenance until the day it breaks down. Therefore, there is no focus too much attention on this travel trailer solar panel. 

At a glance, GP-PSK-130 costs more than standard RV solar panels but the values it offers justify the price tag. Go Power willingly compensates RVers if the power output of its solar panel degrades within twenty five years as well. 

Pros:

  • Stability is top-notch
  • Space-saving 
  • Durable 

Cons:

  • Steep price
  • RV owners sometimes report getting unusable charge controller 

#8. Eco-Worthy AM-P20X-CB-1 Solar Panel

ECO-WORTHY 25 Watts 12V Off Grid Solar Panel SAE Connector Kit
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Specifications And Features:

  • Wattage: 25W
  • Type: Polycrystalline
  • Light indicators 
  • USB port 
  • Water-resistant 

Why We Love It: 

While the output of Eco-Worthy AM-P20X-CB-1 is not as high as that of other solar panels, Eco-Worthy AM-P20X-CB-1 remains a sound choice for low-draw applications. From water pumps to gate openers, this solar panel for travel trailers allows me to power all sorts of things in the course of operation. Moreover, it’s noteworthy that the charge controller of this RV solar panel possesses an integrated USB port as well. That means in times of time, I could recharge my electronics (phones, tablets, laptops, etc) by plugging them into the charge controller.

Utilizing PWM technology, the charge controller of AM-P20X-CB-1 makes sure that I receive a stable flow of electricity. The charge controller packs light indicators too so It’s easy to tell what is going on at the moment. In the case that it notices issues such as overload, overvoltage and short-circuit, the charge controller would sever the flow of electricity immediately. As a result, My batteries as well as my applications would be protected from damage if things turn south out of the blue.

In terms of installation, the setup process of the solar panel from Eco-Worthy is no-nonsense and there is no need for specialized tools. Owing to the excellent portability of this solar panel, moving it to the roof of my rig is a straightforward affair. Besides that, on arrival, it comes alongside a combination of connectors, cables and clips. Hence, I have an easy time hooking it up to the battery bank of my vehicle.

About resistance to outdoor elements, the IP65 rating of Eco-Worthy AM-P20X-CB-1 results in reduced vulnerability to water. This solar panel headl with vibration superbly as well so it won’t give out as I move between camping locations. If you plan to spend most of the time traveling, it’s among the best solar panels for RV you can get. Assuming that you wipe the dirt on the glass every now and then, this solar panel should serve you well for years. 

Since AM-P20X-CB-1 reaches the market as a budget-friendly model, everyone could afford it. Eco-Worthy backs its product with a one-year warranty so I have something to rely on if the solar panel acts up. 

Pros:

  • Reasonable price 
  • Adaptable 
  • Maintenance is child’s play 

Cons:

  • Hardly adequate customer service 
  • A number of units show up with angled cells 

#9.  HQST HQST-100D-SS Solar Panel

HQST 100 Watt 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel with Solar Connectors
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Specifications And Features:

  • Wattage: 100W
  • Type: Monocrystalline
  • Bypass diodes
  • Multilayered sheet laminations
  • Anti-reflective tempered glass 

Why We Love It: 

Packing more solar cells than other models with the same wattage, HQST HQST-100D-SS could deliver electricity in a consistent manner. In addition, equipped with bypass diodes, this solar panel would keep producing power even if the lighting condition around my RV is less than ideal. Hence, there is no need to pay too much attention to sunlight exposure in the outdoors. The multilayered sheet lamination of this reveal trailer solar panel minimizes loss of efficiency as time passes by too.

Once it comes to strength, the use of anti-reflective tempered glass lets the HQST solar panel resist impacts while maintaining electricity production. Able to endure wind loads up to 2400Pa, it gives a good account of itself when the wind picks up as well. Aside from that, during winter, this camper solar panel keeps my batteries charged as long as the snow load won’t exceed 5400Pa. That is why those who travel extensively lime usually think highly of this solar panel. 

About the setup process, HQST-100D-SS boasts pre-drilled holes on the back so seuring it is a walk in the park. While HQST only sells the solar panel as it is, I have no trouble locating suitable mounting brackets for the installation. Since it’s compatible with a wide range of batteries, this solar panel charges my batteries smoothly. As a result, I could keep using my current batteries instead of swapping them out.  

Similar to the average solar panels for campers, HQST HQST-100D-SS requires maintenance to stay in working order. Nonetheless, with its basic demands, this solar panel won’t give me a lot of trouble as I travel. One interesting thing about this RV solar panel is that it’s capable of withstanding low-pressure water jets during cleaning. Consequently, it’s simple to get rid of the particles that accumulate on the glass. 

Regarding longevity, I expect HQST-100D-SS to provide me with electricity for years to come. The reason behind my confidence is the length of the manufacturer warranty: twenty five years. 

Pros:

  • Great values for the price 
  • Lightweight and compact 
  • Cleaning is a breeze 

Cons:

  • Several users complain about getting wrong units 
  • Packaging is barely acceptable

#10. Newpowa NPA100-12H Solar Panel

Newpowa 2 Pieces 100 Watts 12 Volts Polycrystalline Photovoltaic PV Solar Panel
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Specifications And Features:

  • Wattage: 100W
  • Type: Polycrystalline
  • EVA capsules 
  • Low-iron tempered glass
  • TPT back sheet

Why We Love It: 

In spite of the plain appearance, Newpowa NPA100-12H is a solid solar panel for campers with splendid output. Possessing EVA capsules as well as low-iron tempered glass, this solar panel is able to generate electricity even if the availability of sunlight is barely acceptable. That is why I could count on it to power my appliances in all sorts of weather. Rated at 100W, this RV solar panel is going to generate enough electricity to run a couple of appliances simultaneously. 

NPA100-12H is a lightweight solar panel, thus, moving it to the top of my rig is a piece of cake. The compact design helps save space too so it’s easy to organize things on the roof. In addition, owing to the pre-installed diodes and pre-attached MC4 cables, it’s possible for me to wrap up the installation in a matter of hours. That is advantageous for me as I like to make use of solar energy but have a schedule to keep.

For endurance, the RV solar panel made by Newpowa holds together well as it comes into contact with outdoor elements. Featuring heavy-duty anodized aluminum frames, this solar panel for travel trailers could survive everything from high wind to heavy snow. Needless to say, in terms of longevity, a multitude of RVing enthusiasts deem it to be among the best solar panels for RV money can buy. If you seek long-lasting solar panels, you won’t regret buying this solar panel. 

Created with an emphasis on universal compatibility, Newpowa NPA100-12H would charge RV battery banks with relative ease. In my case, I don’t have to wait long before this solar panel restores my batteries to full charge. It’s good at keeping the charge level at 100% over time too which is nice. Last but not least, it possesses basic maintenance requirements so keeping it in top shape is a cinch.

While NPA100-12H is not exactly a dirt-cheap model, there is no need to cut spending to grab it. All it takes to add it to the solar system is to make a number of changes to the budget plan. 

Pros:

  • Resilient 
  • Instantaneous setup process
  • Affordable 

Cons:

  • Post-purchase support is hardly adequate 
  • Sporadic drops in the output 

What to Consider When Buying RV Solar Panels

Accompanied Inverter

If your solar panel kit has an inverter with it, that would be very nice. Most likely what you will receive in a solar panel kit is the solar inverter dedicated to the use of that particular solar panel. There are actually 3 types of inverters: micro-inverters (grid-tie), string inverters (grid-tie), and hybrid inverters (off-grid).

Micro-inverters are, as the name suggests, tiny. One micro-inverter can monitor at least one solar panel. This kind of inverter is beneficial in that it minimizes energy loss from shading, and maximizes the solar energy output of the solar panels. Due to its nature, you can easily add another solar panel to your system. For these reasons, micro-inverters are solely recommended for solar energy production in homes and RVs.

String inverters are less durable, but easier to install and cheaper. Another advantage of string inverters lies in their superiority in converting DC to AC, which is more efficient.

Hybrid off-grid inverters are basically string inverters, but are more versatile and have some more features, such as a battery charger and smart energy management systems. Like string inverters, this one is easy to set up.

Even better, aside from consuming directly (via plugging), solar electricity can be dispatched to the utility grid any time. This one is more expensive than regular string inverters, but less expensive than micro-inverters. 

Efficiency

As I mentioned above, there are three types of solar panels which differ from one another in terms of efficiency. Monocrystalline is definitely on the top, while polycrystalline ranks in the middle, and amorphous solar panels take the last spot.

Definitely go for the monocrystalline panels if you have enough money in hand. In the long run, it just beats out the others in terms of giving the best bang for one’s buck.

Dimensions

If you are planning to install solar panels on the roof, you and your electrician will have to discuss the positions on which individual panels go. It is best that you have rough calculations ready before you buy the RV solar kit (or even consider buying one at all).

Make sure you have space for at least 4 or 5 solar panels. Most people install 100 Watt or 200 Watt solar panels on their roofs. Dimensions for a Renogy 100 Watt 12 volts Monocrystalline solar panel is the following: 42.2 x 19.6 x 1.38 inches.

Expandability

best rv solar panels
Photo: Small Scenes

Expandability refers to the possibility of adding solar panels to your RV system when you need it. For this, I will again recommend Renogy for their expandability. There are several solar panels of other brands that allow for an expansion when you need it.

Mounting 

Mounting is crucial in that it will affect the solar panel’s efficiency in different seasons. There are three types of mounting: on the roof, on the ground, and there are also pole mounts. Of course, roof mounting is the most popular, since there is no frequently used space that is taken. Since they are mostly flat (unless you use a tilter), it should be able to take in most of the sunlight in all seasons. They are really affordable, too.

Ground mounting is obviously not the choice for RVs since they must be fixed on the ground. The final type of mounting is pole mounting, this is also a rigid type of mounting, so you won’t be moving them anywhere. With that said, you can only have either portable solar panels, or roof mounted systems. Depending on different seasons, you can purchase a tilter for better exposure to sunlight.

RV Battery

You can definitely go with your available RV battery, buy solar batteries which come with solar kits are the way to go. If you want to change your battery banks, I would recommend Renogy Deep Cycle charger 12V or Interstate 12V Deep Cycle rechargeable batteries. Just make sure you pick the deep cycle battery chargers, it will keep the energy much longer than regular battery charger.   

Charge Controller Type

There are two types of charge controller most common with solar systems: pulse width modulation and maximum power point tracking (MPPT). The idea is to effectively control the energy output by the solar panels in order to keep the battery charge levels at the maximum without overcharging them, while also keeping the batteries’ temperature in check. Deciding between these two types involves considering these factors: temperature conditions, array to load ratio, size of the system, type of solar module, cost.

Cost

The best RV solar kits aren’t necessarily affordable. I must say, in any circumstances, installing solar systems is quite the investment. A 100 Watt 12 Volt RV solar kit for beginners is already upwards of $200. Large rig owners will need to buy at least a 400 Watt kit, which can be almost $800 for a fully featured product.

In exchange for buying from a renowned brand, your RV will be equipped with the most sustainable electricity-generating system for year-round usage, and you virtually don’t need to buy anything else. No need for any more hookups, you and your family can live off-grid for as long as you need to.

The best solar panels for RV roof (full kits) for me are the following:

  1. ECO-WORTHY 200 Watt Monocrystalline solar panel complete RV kit
  2. KOMAES Polycrystalline Solar panels for RV complete kit
  3. Renogy 400W Monocrystalline kit

Best RV Solar Panel Brands

With so many brands making solar panels for campers, RVers don’t have to worry about running out of options. That being said, if you care about reputability, you should keep an eye out for models from the following names. 

Zamp 

Regarded by various RV solar panels reviews as one of the leading brands of solar panels, Zamp is a popular choice among modern camper owners. With the emphasis on innovation, Zamp is capable of producing solid solar panels that hold together over time. Additionally, it’s worth pointing out that  Zamp releases its models in all shapes and sizes as well. Thus, no matter what type of vehicle you own, you could find a number of Zamp solar panels that fit it. 

Renogy 

Being a long-established brand with plenty of experience, Renogy knows what RVers expect from solar panels in the outdoors. As a result, Renogy models receive a lot of compliments from those who desire no-nonsense solar systems. Aside from that, Renogy releases solar panels across the price points which is advantageous. If you plan to build a big solar system, you won’t go wrong with Renogy. 

WindyNation 

Thanks to the user-oriented approach, WindyNation as well as its models achieve high scores in terms of convenience. On average, it takes RVing enthusiasts mere moments to get solar panels of WindyNation up and running. Moreover, the maintenance of WindyNation models is a straightforward affair that involves minimal time and effort. Therefore, if you don’t have the patience to look after maintenance-intensive stuff, you would come to like solar panels from WindyNation. 

HQST 

By investing heavily in optimization, HQST could put together robust solar panels that operate well in challenging conditions. Assuming that the RVers nail the setup process, HQST models should be able to handle everything that the outdoors throws at them. 

Eco-Worthy 

Despite the lack of fancy features, solar panels made by Eco-Worthy still give a good account of themselves for most of the time. Models from Eco-Worthy reach the market at reasonable prices too, hence, they match the shipping budget of typical camper owners. 

ACOPower

Unlike many of its competitors, ACOPower dedicates its attention to making space-saving solar panels with good handling characteristics. Needless to say, models from ACOPower not only conserve space on the top of RV but also require little work to set up. Don’t want to spend all day positioning unwieldy and cumbersome solar panels on the crowded roof of your rig? Then it’s strongly recommended that you opt for ACOPower. 

RICH SOLAR 

Able to generate electricity even in less than ideal weather, solar panels from RICH SOLAR could charge batteries consistently on the road. Furthermore, owing to the the affordable nature of RICH SOLAR models, squeezing them to the spending plan is a piece of cake. 


RV Solar System Components

In order to get the energy all the way from the sun into your RV and powering all your electrical appliances, you will need more than just solar panels. An RV solar system is not very hard to install, but you have to make sure you have all the components.

The good news is, for beginners, there are solar panel products that come with some or all of these components. You should definitely opt for these products if it is your first time buying.

Battery Bank

A battery bank stores the energy that is generated from the RV solar panels. When you buy a solar kit for your RV, they always come with a solar battery. It is best that you use these solar batteries, since they are much more efficient than the average batteries.

These batteries have deep cycle recharge, which guarantees that the energy will be retained for a longer period of time. This is particularly useful since regular batteries will deplete their energy really quickly when used.  

RV Solar Panels

Throughout the majority of this article, we have been talking about solar panels, and this is no doubt the most valuable player (MVP) of this system. It is the component that gives the system the name “solar”. Without its ability to harness the power of the sun, there would be no appeal at all in buying a solar system.

You can use residential solar panels on your RVs, but it is normally too enormous to fit on the roof. If it can fit though, then you have saved yourself some big money.

Charge Controller

Charge controller is a very important part of any RV solar kit. Like a surge protector, a charge controller will protect the system from overcharging. Unlike smartphone batteries which can’t be overcharged, solar batteries and other car batteries can be overcharged, and believe me, it won’t end well for your battery.

Overcharging can lead to the battery bank getting overheated and an explosion might occur. You will have no choice but to replace the battery once it is damaged by overcharging. If your charge controller is damaged, then stop the solar panels from charging immediately.

Inverter

An RV inverter will invert the electrical current and transform the DC current output from the solar panels into AC current. Most of the time, you can easily use an inverter by connecting it to the battery bank and just plug in your AC devices directly into the inverter. After that, just sit back and enjoy fresh energy coming straight from the sun. 


How To Install An RV Solar Panel

Note: Once it comes to the installation of solar panels, “safety first” is the rule of thumb that you must keep in mind at all times.

  • Before doing anything, look for safety instructions included with the solar kit 
  • Never touch electrically active components if the panel is exposed to light, indoor as well as outdoor.
  • Only install the panels in good weather.
  • Cover the panels during installation to prevent them becoming charged
  • Don’t sit or step on the panels.
best rv solar panel kit
Photo: Airstream

When you have gathered all the components of a solar system, it should be no surprise that you should go about installing it to your rig immediately. 

There have been entire articles on this matter, but here we will once again recommend that if you aren’t a certified electrician, it is best that you get your rig to the professionals to install your solar panel. 

If you follow the instructions on your solar kit, and only if you manage to read and understand everything that is instructed by the manufacturer, can you go DIY.

There are several steps that are taken when installing RV solar panels. I will walk you through this, and you should take this as a very brief introduction to installing solar panels for your RV.

Step 1: Mount your solar panels

First things first, you have to mount your solar panels, in RV’s case, on the roof. Note the shape and type of roof that you have. If your roof is curved, then flexible thin-film or amorphous panels are the better choice for aesthetics and ease of installation. A tip before installing is to place the solar blanket over the panels to prevent them from charging while you work with it.

Okay, on to the mounting. Rigid panels must be fixed to the roof using screws while flexible panels can be mounted using adhesives. The roof membrane material will determine what kind of adhesive you will have to buy. Make sure you know where the solar panels are positioned after you put them in place.

If the kit comes with mounting hardware, follow the instructions to secure the panel in place. After mounting, apply a sealant (the type of sealant depends on the roof materials) to make a water-tight seal. Screw the panels to the roof.

Step 2: Run your wiring

The most common way to run your wiring is through the refrigerator vent. With this method, you don’t have to poke holes in your RV. You will only need to run the wires from the solar panel down to the charge controller, and step 2 is done.

Step 3: Connect the charge controller

The next step involves connecting the charge controller. First thing to do is to test your wire polarity, and then mount the charge controller onto the wall as close as possible to your battery bank.

Connect the controller and the battery bank, and also connect the controller and the drop down line from step 2. It is absolutely essential that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations by reading the instructions carefully.

Step 4: Install the inverter

The final step is to install the inverter. Connect the batteries’ positive and negative lines to the inverter. After that, connect the inverter with the RV’s electrical system/grid, and you are good to go.

It is a very fun process doing your own wiring, but things can be risky if you are not careful. Read up the instruction manual and online tutorials, watch some videos if you are a total beginner.


So, Which Is The Best RV Solar Panel?

All in all, solar panels on the markets have unique pros and cons that let them excel in particular arrangements. Still, if you like to create a solar system that you could count on in the outdoors,  you won’t go wrong with Renogy 100 Watt Monocrystalline. The Renogy solar panel not only packs a high conversion rate but also holds together well over time. In addition to that, the charge controller Renogy 100 Watt Monocrystalline permits you to get the most out of your batteries.

In use, the solar panel for travel trailers made by Renogy receives a shower of praises for its handling characteristics. When a need arises, you should be able to relocate it to anywhere you like to optimize sunlight exposure. The hardware that accompanies Renogy RNG-KIT-STCS-100D-VOY20 makes it easy to harvest solar energy at a moment’s notice. Lastly, the compact nature of the Renogy solar panel saves space in the interior of RV.

If you don’t like Renogy RNG-KIT-STCS-100D-VOY20 for some reason, you should take a look at WindyNation SOK-100WP-P30L. Available at a reasonable price, the solar panel from WindyNation is a sound choice for building solar systems on a budget. Aside from SOK-100WP-P30L, it’s worth the time to check out Mighty Max MAX3550270. Designed with attention to detail, MAX3550270 guarantees a stable flow of electricity on the road.


FAQs About Solar Panels For RV

1. Are solar panels on RV worth it?

f you spend a lot of time traveling, it’s wise to invest in a solar system for your rig. As long as sunlight touches solar panels, they would keep generating electricity. With solar panels providing you with electricity, you could escape the hassle of charging batteries via generators, shore power, etc. Moreover, since solar energy is free, you don’t have to worry too much about your utility bills in the outdoors. 

2. Which is the better way to power an RV: solar or generator?

This is a tough choice to be honest. However, I can tell you one thing: If you have the money, go solar. For the reasons above (in the “Are RV solar panels worth the investment?” section), I believe solar has the edge over a generator.

The reasons someone might prefer generators over solar panels is that they are cheaper to buy. However, after you get the generator, you will still have to spend money on propane, gas or diesel in order to run it. Maintenance is more frequent with generators.

For solar panels, it is pretty much a one-off investment. Another reason to buy a generator is that the energy from sunlight isn’t consistent for obvious reasons. In solar panels defense, that is what batteries are for, they store energy. Your choice of course.

3. What type of solar panel is best for RV?

As we have mentioned above, the type of solar panel that you should be aiming to get is monocrystalline. Efficiency and power capacity is the answer. Monocrystalline panels are the only ones that can get upwards of 20% in efficiency, which is the highest on the market. The reason why 20% is a respectable figure is due to the panels being capable of only absorbing light of a certain spectrum of wavelength (which is smaller than that of sunlight’s). Its blacker color also adds to its aesthetics, making its appearance another selling point of monocrystalline solar panels.

RV solar panels can also be divided into two categories: roof mounted solar panels and portable solar panels. Portable solar panels aren’t as effective as their roof-mounted counterparts. If you only plan to boondock or go camping on the weekends, then they will do just fine. The best part is, you guessed it, you don’t have to install them, just move them from place to place wherever the sun shines, connect them to the charge controller, and you are good to go.

Some of the best portable RV solar panels that we have come across are:

+ Renogy 100 Watt Eclipse Monocrystalline 20A Voyager Suitcase With Waterproof Controller
+ ECO-WORTHY 120 Watt Foldable Solar panel kit
+ Zamp Solar Legacy Series 140-Watt Portable Solar panel kit

4. How much does it cost to install solar panels on an RV?

If by “install” you mean the whole process of buying and then installing then the answer is best split into two parts. You have to buy all of the components that we discussed before, including solar panels, charge controllers, battery bank, and inverter.

If you buy an RV solar kit like that of ECO-WORTHY for example, then the cost will be cut and you get the whole bundle. A 400W 12V system will cost you $550 whereas buying separately can cost you $200 more. Larger setups can cost you up to $2,000. This is ideal for heavy-duty usage. The cost of actually installing these solar panels varies between states and is a small fraction of the cost of the kit, but it can be free of charge if you do it yourself. 

5. How often do solar panels need to be replaced?

Solar panels last a very long time, on average from 25 to 30 years. So if you are asking how often do solar panels need to be replaced, then the answer is “not very often”. However, these panels certainly don’t last forever, so be sure to plan out an annual maintenance and monthly cleaning routine. Still, the funny thing is, the solar panels can live long enough to eventually outlast your RV! That is some awesome durability.

6. How many watts of solar do I need on my RV?

To maintain the charge level of the battery bank at 100% alone, you need to have at least 200W. As the number of appliances that you wish to power via solar energy rises, you must increase the total watt of solar panels correspondingly. In most of the cases, 2000W is the sweet spot for rigs with typical appliances. That being said, it won’t hurt to have a bit more power than necessary as a precaution. 

7. What size solar panel do I need to charge my RV battery?

For this question, you only need to buy standard RV solar panels/solar kits, they are sure to fit your RV’s roof. Just don’t buy residential solar panels, they won’t fit. Also, you will have to measure the dimensions on your roof and see how many you can fit. Do the calculations, and if there isn’t enough room on the roof, you can always go for portable alternatives.

In order to charge your RV batteries, the size doesn’t matter at all. It is the Wattage that determines whether or not it can provide enough energy for daily usage. If all else fails, you can always rely on generators to charge your batteries in tandem with solar panels. There are just too many options here.

8. Do you need an inverter for RV solar panels?

The answer is definitely yes, since the electricity that is produced by the solar panels is direct current (DC), so it is a no-brainer that you will need an inverter, considering that almost all the appliances in the modern home are AC-powered. The reason alternating current is used more often than direct current is that it is more efficient. The energy loss by DC is much higher due to the resistance of the conductor (the transmission lines), for that reason AC is preferred.  

After reading this, we hope that you will have gotten a little more understanding of the best RV solar panels that you can install on your family’s RV. Decisions get harder when it comes to money, especially extravagant devices such as solar panels. After all, there is a reason the majority of the population haven’t switched to using solar yet. Trust me, after you have gotten them for a while, you will come to appreciate its usefulness.

9. Can solar panels power an RV air conditioner?

The answer is yes. Solar panels can definitely power RV air conditioners, but only just. Technically, you would need more solar panels than usual, and even then, you will still have to cut down usage of other electrical appliances for prolonged usage of air conditioners.

10. How many solar panels do I need to run a refrigerator?

To run a mini fridge on solar energy, you need between one and two solar panels. In the case that you like to run a full-sized fridge, you should include around four solar panels in your solar system. It’s possible to deduce the number of solar panels by checking out the ratings of your fridge. When you know the ampere and voltage, it’s easy to calculate wattage. 

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  1. Steve

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