5 Best Solar Panels for Homes (2023 Costs, Reviews & More)
By Karsten Neumeister /
Tired of your noisy generator? Read this article to learn how solar can boost your RVing experience:
Each product and or company featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
As more and more people opt to leave the sedentary life and turn to a nomadic lifestyle, interest in solar panels for RVs and mobile homes have continued to rise. Whether it is for a shorter roadtrip or a new lifestyle, staying connected while in your RV has become increasingly important. No longer having to rely on rest stops or gas generators to power your home on wheels; a better option is to embrace the clean, renewable energy of the sun — Invest in solar panels to keep everything in your RV humming along.
Living off the grid and harnessing the energy of the sun, how much more do we need to say? A good RV camper offers the serenity of nature along with the basic comforts and conveniences of the modern world. To make your travels more eco-worthy, investing in one of the best solar panels for RV use is an obvious answer to staying connected “off-the grid”. The portable solar panel offering has improved since they first came out, now portable solar panels are easier to come by, at more affordable rates and produce more energy than when they initially were developed. Allowing you to choose the best potable solar panel for your RV.
We’ve compiled our top list of Solar Panels to keep you on the go so that you don’t have to worry about if you’ll have energy or not. Where the sun goes, your solar power will go too!
There are so many RV solar systems available, which is why many RVers and van-lifers find it hard to choose the right kit to suit their needs. In the table below, we’ve laid out our hand-selected best RV solar panels for every genre of glamping.
|Solar Panel||Our Award||Buy Now|
|Renogy 400W 12-Volt Monocrystalline Solar RV Kit||Best Overall||Check Price|
|WindyNation 100W Solar Panel Off-Grid RV Kit||Best Basic Kit||Check Price|
|Renogy 100W 12-Volt Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel||Best Flexible Panel||Check Price|
|Goal Zero Nomad 100-Watt Monocrystalline Portable Solar Panel||Best Portable Solar Panel Kit||Check Price|
|Renogy 100W 12-Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit||Best Kit for Beginners||Check Price|
|Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Off-Grid Portable Foldable Kit||Best Weatherproof Kit||Check Price|
|EF ECOFLOW DELTA Mini Solar Generator and 2 110W Solar Panels||Best for Full-Time RVers||Check Price|
|100W 12V Poly Solar Panel||Best Compact Panel||Check Price|
|ROCKPALS SP003 100W Portable Panel||Best Foldable Panel||Check Price|
|DOKIO 110w 18v Portable Foldable Solar Panel Kit||Best Value Kit||Check Price|
The Renogy 400W solar RV kit is our top choice for the all-around best solar panel for RV and campervan use. This solar power kit comes with four 100-watt panels that are not only high efficiency but are durable. Renogy is a leader in the portable solar panel industry and offers a 25-year warranty to back up its quality panels.
Something else to note is that the kit comes with all of the mounting brackets and solar cables you need to install the panels on your RV’s roof. Renogy also offers easy app integration that allows you to control your solar energy panels from your phone or tablet.
This WindyNation 100W solar panel is the perfect choice for RV campers and van-lifers who are new to solar energy. The 30A PWM controller and panel kit is rated to provide, on average, 350 watt-hours or 33 amp hours of charge each day. This should be enough energy to power most of your appliances.
WindyNation’s solar panels are less expensive than other competitive panels, but they do tend to generate less electrical power. However, if you don’t need a ton of energy, this single solar panel system should more than accommodate your needs.
Few flexible panels can compare to Renogy’s 100W monocrystalline panel. This flexible solar panel is ideal for uneven and curvy surfaces, such as the hood of your campervan. Despite its thinness, the panel itself is known for its durability and ability to withstand high winds and heavy snow loads.
Renogy’s flexible panel may not be able to power an RV on its own, but it can be combined with several panels to provide enough energy to run all your appliances. This panel is sold on its own, so you’ll need to purchase the rest of your solar kit separately.
The Goal Zero Nomad lives up to its nomadic name because you can place it on the ground with its built-in kickstand, attach it to your kayak to absorb maximum sunlight, or even clasp it to your backpack for on-the-go power.
The solar kits with lower wattage include a USB adapter and are best used as a power source for phones, power banks, battery chargers, headlamps and lanterns, but the larger modules can be used to power more advanced equipment. Lithium batteries are required but are sold separately.
Complete with an adaptor kit, charge controller, tray cables, and Z-brackets, the Renogy 100-watt starter kit is the perfect affordable setup for the novice solar enthusiast. Built with a durable aluminum frame, this high-quality panel can withstand high winds and heavy snow.
This single-panel kit will not have enough power for your entire RV, but it is a good starter kit for supplying partial solar power. It can also easily connect to additional solar panels, so you can upgrade your system as needed.
When you’re RV camping, severe weather is practically inevitable. Renogy’s portable and foldable 100W off-grid kit is waterproof and built to withstand even the harshest of weather.
The kit also comes with a heavy-duty protective case and safety guarantee for your charge controller and batteries. This portable solar panel is easy to set up and can be added to your existing solar system.
Available on Amazon, EF ECOFLOW’s panel system is perfect for RVers who make it to a campground and stay awhile. Whether you need to charge your phones, plug in your air conditioner, or power your mini fridge, this solar panel system has got you covered.
Although it’s on the expensive side, the kit comes with a powerful generator and high-efficiency solar panels. There’s no need to worry about mounting hardware because these panels are portable and meant to be set up on the ground.
Poly Solar’s 100W solar panel is the most affordable on our list and its compact design makes it great for campervans and RVs alike. To combat low-light conditions, Poly Solar’s bypass diodes minimize the power drop caused by excess shade. This helps your solar panel operate effectively on cloudier days.
The IP-65-rated junction box and aluminum frame ensure that this panel is built to survive harsh weather conditions. With pre-drilled holes and a lightweight design, these panels are super easy to install on your RV, boat, caravan or off-grid system.
The ROCKPALS 100W portable solar panel is designed with portability in mind. As a lightweight foldable solar panel, this kit can easily be stowed away in your campervan or RV. Specifically for powering generators, this panel comes with more than ten different adapters.
If you do decide to purchase this solar panel for your RV camper, you will likely need more than one, and you will have to purchase the solar generator separately. The warranty period may be short, but the panel does come with a lifetime customer service guarantee.
The DOKIO 110w 18v Portable Foldable Solar Panel Kit is great for RVers on a budget. Designed for battery charging, this complete kit can deliver enough amperage to your RV battery, marine battery, or off-grid setup. The kit comes with several different connectors to easily attach to any 12-volt battery.
What sets DOKIO apart from other panels on the market is its safety rating. DOKIO’s solar panel kit includes overcharging protection, overcurrent protection, ISO certification, and more. The panels are also durable and come with their own carrying case.
As you shop for the best solar panels for your RV, it may be helpful to know how solar panels actually work.
Generally speaking, a solar power system for an RV works like a typical residential solar system. The panels draw energy from the sun and an inverter turns it into an electrical current, which is then distributed throughout your RV’s electrical system.
Solar energy can be converted and used in real-time, but a battery can make your solar harnessing worthwhile. A battery may be used to store any excess power that’s generated by the solar cells so that you can still power your system on low-light days or at night.
When it comes to RV camping and van-living, there are typically two major “camps,” if you will — the campground electrical hook-up-ers and the off-grid adventurers. Naturally, both can benefit from using solar power, but the need looks a bit different for each.
If your ideal RV trip is to a campground with an electrical outlet, then you don’t necessarily need solar energy for your camper. But if you would rather take an eco-friendly approach to camp, then an RV solar panel kit is the way to go. Plus, you won’t be out of luck if you get to your favorite campsite only to find that all the electrical hookups are taken.
Whereas those who frequent the campgrounds often have access to electricity, our boondocking folks take a more rugged approach by living off the land or whatever they can fit in their van. That means limited or no access to electrical hookups.
Our off-grid RVers or van-lifers will likely get more out of a solar panel system because it could be used as their only energy source. Instead of relying solely on batteries and propane to power their equipment, off-grid folks can use solar energy.
There are three basic types of solar panels for RVs: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film solar panels.
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are both made from silicon. The difference is that monocrystalline panels are made with a single, unbroken silicon crystal, while polycrystalline panels are pieced together from silicon fragments. Monocrystalline panels tend to be a bit more efficient, but also a bit more expensive.
Thin-film panels can be made from a number of different materials. They’re the least expensive option, but also the least efficient. Many RVers prefer this type of panel because they tend to be more lightweight, flexible, and portable, which makes thin-film solar panels well-suited for RV use.
Portability is a sought-after feature for RVers who don’t want to mount their panels on their RV roof. These panels can easily be moved around to face direct sunlight so that you can harness more energy. Portable solar panels have other advantages, such as:
The downside to portable solar panels is that you have to manually set them up for every use and shift them around as the sun moves across the sky. This inconvenience is why some RVers and van-lifers opt for mounted solar panels.
Before buying solar panels for your RV, you’ll first want to figure out how many panels you’ll need. The number of panels generally depends on two factors: the amount of power you consume and your energy goals.
On average, RV campers use about 20 kilowatt-hours of electricity each day. This number is for your basic setup of appliances, but if you’re powering more heavy-duty appliances, you’ll probably need more panels.
The number of panels you need also depends on your energy goals. If you want to rely solely on solar energy, for example, you will need enough panels to offset your use. But if your goal is to use partial solar energy, then you’ll need fewer panels.
If you don’t know how much energy you use when camping, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to find out. One of the best ways to determine how much solar energy you need is to buy a basic solar setup and see how far that power goes. If you need more than the starter kit to offset your wattage, you can easily add panels and batteries.
Battery banks are an important component of any RV solar power system. Most RVs will only need a 12V battery, but some may opt for higher voltage depending on what needs to be powered.
You’ll also need to choose between lead-acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries. While lead-acid batteries are a common choice, they typically need to be replaced and maintained more frequently than lithium-ion ones.
If you camp most of the year, the more efficient, longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries will be worth the investment. But as always, it all depends on your unique solar energy goals and how much power you need for your appliances.
After learning more about mobile solar systems, it’s time to decide: Are solar panels worth it for your RV camper?
Solar can be a great option if you consistently camp at sites that have electric hook-ups and you wish to reduce your environmental footprint. They can be an even wiser investment if you frequently camp where you don’t have access to the power grid.
Make sure you do your due diligence so that you can find the best solar panels for your RV, your budget, and your camping lifestyle.
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