When you own an RV, there are a number of pieces of equipment that you can also buy to enhance your experience when taking your vehicle out on a journey. Some are surplus to requirement and simply not worth the investment. However, there are some items, like an RV solar battery charger, that are definitely worthwhile paying your hard earned cash for.
In this guide, we not only look at the best RV solar panel that you can buy at the moment, but we also investigate why installing RV solar systems are such good ideas as well as how to install them in the first place!
The Best RV Solar Panel
This is our top pick as the best RV solar panel that money can buy. We like it because it is efficient and powerful, yet slim and sleek in looks. It is a 100 Watt 12 Volt monocrystalline solar panel that can be bought individually, or in a larger pack. It weighs just 16.5lbs so is not so heavy at all that it will affect your RV negatively in any way with the extra weight on top.
This is not often thought about by RV solar kit manufacturers and we also like how Renogy has made this panel with a waterproof junction box and waterproof MC4 connectors.
Strong aluminum frame
25-year transferable power output warranty
Open circuit voltage
- Weight16.5 lbs
These RV solar panels are a fantastic example of an RV solar battery charger that will keep your appliances running within your RV for days, even during bad weather. It has a small and sleek design so can be fitted to the roof of your RV easily and with minimal fuss.
It is light too so that it can be used when portable solar panels for RV drivers are necessary or even as standard camping solar panels. It can be mounted in many different ways due to the inclusion of Z brackets, pole mounts and tilt mounts in the entire package.
Bypass diodes to minimize power drops
Pre-drilled holes for quick installation
Several different mounts can be used depending on the requirements
- Weight4.26 lbs
It’s possible to buy this WindyNation RV solar kit with a battery to hold the power that the system provides. Even if you don’t purchase it with a battery, if you are looking to create and store solar power for RV journeys, this could well be the RV solar solution for you.
The whole kit comes packed with features, including a battery temperature sensor, 40 feet of solar cable as well as a whole load of MC4 connectors in addition to the needed mounting hardware to install them atop your RV. This is a highly capable RV solar kit that can provide energy when in an RV at the cabin or even on a boat.
100 watt charging kit
Battery temperature sensor
Various mounts for affixing to the top of an RV
All needed MC4 connectors and solar cable included (40 foot long)
- Weight10.86 lbs
HQST have made this polycrystalline solar panel as efficient as possible by installing them with an anti-reflective surface on top. Additionally, this surface has the highest possible transparency and is low iron tempered so that not only can it collect the most amount of sunlight possible, it is also very resistant to the elements – be they rain or snow. HQST has also installed bypass diodes to minimize any power drop should the RV solar panels be in the shade for any length of time.
Highly wind resistance
Pre-drilled holes for quick mounting
Iron tempered glass for increased durability
Enhanced technology in the form of multilayer sheet lamination to better cell performance
- Weight16 lbs
Renogy has produced a solar panel here that is available in a wide range of voltages, depending on your needs. If you need to power a lot of appliances within your RV or you have appliances that go through power quickly, the top wattage you can purchase is a 400w panel. This is incredibly powerful.
We also like it for a number of other features like the corrosion-resistant frame that is made from aluminum so these RV solar panels should last an incredibly long time. This is what all users want when looking at solar power for RV journeys as it gives peace of mind that you will always be able to switch the kettle on!
The wide variety of voltages available
Includes a negative grounding controller for ultimate safety
Aluminum frame ensures a long shelf life
- Weight88 lbs
AllPowers have designed this solar panel as the ultimate interchangeable RV solar panel kit. Therefore, if you like to use your RV solar kit in other places like your boat or cabin, then these portable solar panels for RV journeys and then at a final destination are ideal for you. Plus they are a fantastic RV solar battery charger that will be able to run appliances easily so that you do not have to worry about not being able to charge your phone or any other appliance you want.
Incredibly durable owing to being semi-flexible as well as water resistant
Flexible nature allows for mounting on even irregular surfaces
Lightweight at just 4.7lbs
- Weight5.65 lbs
This WindyNation RV solar kit really packs a punch in terms of features and the amount of energy it can produce. At 400W, users should be able to use this RV solar battery charger to keep their appliances going for a long time, even on the lengthiest of RV journeys. It comes with an assortment of mounting hardware so that the panels can be attached quickly and easily – wherever the RV owner requires them.
RV solar kit includes MC4 connectors, cable, and mounting hardware
Can be bought with two different types of battery
5-year solar panel warranty
- Weight97 lbs
GoPower has produced an easy to use portable RV solar battery charger kit with these panels. They are perfect for those that are in need of camping solar panels too as they are light to carry and easy to put away. It is able to produce up to 120 watts and even comes with a solar controller on the back as well as cables and battery clamps so that even novice users can get the system set up in moments.
Quick and easy installation or set up
Includes a carrying case so perfect a portable solar panels for RV holidays
- BrandGo Power!
- Weight28.7 lbs
While not the cheapest, this foldable solar panel kit from AcoPower is still a good investment. It is possible to buy with a charge controller, or without, as well as a couple of other pieces of handy hardware. As it is foldable it is one of the more portable RV solar kits on our list, so it is good to use while out camping or even if you are looking for something that will charge your marine batteries on your boat.
It is straightforward to set up and does not require any separate mounting brackets so it can be put almost anywhere it fits.
Aluminum frame makes it lightweight and durable
Comes in two pieces that are foldable and generate 50w each
- Weight25.6 lbs
As the diodes are pre-installed in the junction box, setting up these RV solar panels from Newpowa is very easy. Plus it comes with three foot of MC4 cable attached too. All this makes the ease of use of these polycrystalline panels very attractive, along with its ability to generate 100w of power with ease at a 17.2Voltage. We also like that Newpowa has put its money where its mouth is by providing every set with a 25-year transferable power output warranty.
Pre-installed diodes in a junction box
Comes with a 25-year warranty
- Model2pcs NPA100-12
- Weight19.62 lbs
Best RV Solar Panels Buying Guide & FAQ
Features to Look for When Buying an RV Solar Panel Kit
RV solar panel kits are incredibly useful, so it makes sense to take a little time to ensure that you buy the best RV solar panel or panels for you and your RV. There are a number of common characteristics that you should bear in mind when conducting your research.
- Size of your RV and its roof will have a huge impact on what RV solar panels are available to you, as well as the amount of them you can buy.
- Efficiency. You can buy the biggest RV solar panel kits, but that does not always make them the most efficient. Look at the manufacturer details to see what amount of power their RV solar panels can create for you before purchase. Does that amount suit and cater to your power needs?
- We discuss the type of RV solar panels that are available to purchase below, but it’s good to bear in mind which one would work for you and your budget overall.
Benefits of Using RV Solar Panels
There are countless benefits to using RV solar panels. Here are some, to name but a few.
- It saves you money. RV solar panels can seem incredibly expensive in terms of an initial outlay. However, that money can soon be made back and then some when users have enjoyed free power courtesy of the sun for a few months.
- They’re environmentally friendly. Solar panels do not have to burn fuel to make power, nor do they emit any waste or horrid smells that are bad for our atmosphere. They’re good to install as a green form of energy, therefore.
- The sun won’t run out. RV solar panels will work even in Winter when the sun is that much more limited, so you can save money making your own power year round.
- They’re easy to maintain. Once your RV solar panels are installed, they become very easy to maintain from that point onwards. This is due to the lack of moving parts within them, so there is very little to break down or go wrong. It means your initial investment could last many years, if not decades. Plus they are easy to add to, so you can create more power, simply by adding another panel - you don’t need a whole new system if you realize you need a few more Watts every month.
- They’re great for your RV battery. Because users of RV solar panels are being less demanding of their batteries, users will find that their battery lives will increase. Some huge RV solar kit advocates proclaim that their battery has lasted almost 50 to 75% longer than they would have done without any motorhome solar panels. The result is that batteries last for up to 10 plus years when used in conjunction with RV solar systems.
- They’re easy to use. Once they’re set up, all the hard work is done for you. From the initial installation, RV solar panel kits start generating free power for you to enjoy in your RV as and when you like it.
Types of Motorhome Solar Panels
There are three types of RV solar panel kits in the main:
- Mono Crystalline. These RV solar systems are made from a single crystal. The smaller, individual cells are more often than not simply a very thin layer of silicon crystal.
- Amorphous solar panels are panels of a very thin film. Again, individual cells are made of a silicon, but this time in a very thin layer. This layer is then attached to a backing material to make the final RV solar panel kits or camping solar panels.
- Poly Crystalline. As the name suggests these types of RV solar panels are made up of several smaller crystals in cells.
The RV solar systems that are most suitable to you will depend on your needs and budget. Amorphous RV solar panel kits tend to be the most inexpensive, but they do also work pretty well too. However, they tend to be far bigger than either of the crystalline panels. Monocrystalline panels are also incredibly efficient and are best suited to those in countries or areas with low lighting. The most popular portable solar panels for RV, however, is the Polycrystalline. This is due to the amount of space these RV solar panels take up. They can sometimes be half the size of the monocrystalline ones, yet produce almost as much power.
Camping Solar Panels Installation
Great care needs to be taken when installing RV solar panels as once they are set up properly, you shouldn’t need to tinker with them again. Each RV solar kit is different, so read over the installation instructions a couple of times, if not more, to ensure that you are setting them up correctly. However, there are a few things that should be kept in mind regardless of what RV solar systems are being used.
There are a couple of options available to those that are looking to how to install motorhome solar panels. The best recommendation is to mount the panels upon your roof so that you get the optimum sunlight possible. Otherwise, if you have portable solar panels for RV vehicles in your truck, you can place them wherever you think is best according to your location. This is perhaps the better option if you are using camping solar panels, but the positioning of them is key to get the most efficient use out of them possible.
Remember that inclining them can really help them reach their maximum usage and align them carefully so as to make the most of their ability. What can also make a big difference is any dust on the surface so keep an eye out for this. Also, ensure that all of every panel is in the sun for the best results.
Camping Solar Panels Maintenance
You can clean RV solar panel kits simply by wiping them down with a soft cloth. Make sure the cloth is clean with no nuggets of dust on the surface or particles that could scratch your RV solar panels making them less efficient.
Additionally, test your RV solar panels regularly according to the manufacturer instructions to ensure that they are working correctly at all times. It is the worst feeling in the world to have an empty battery simply because your RV solar systems are not working correctly, once you have got to your destination. Always test before you leave.
Best RV Solar Panels FAQ:
Q: How do RV solar panels work?
A: Using the sun to create energy and power in the form of electricity may sound like magic, but in reality, the science behind it is simply very clever. Motorhome solar panels work like all other solar panels out there and rely on sunlight hitting the panels themselves. This is why they are always put on the roofs of an RV. When the sunlight hits the RV solar panels, it is turned into an electric current. Depending on your system, this current then goes into a charge controller. This part of an RV solar kit is in charge of how much of a current goes through a batter.
The batteries included produce electricity in a DC power form and so an inverter is then used to convert it from DC to AC power for usage.
Q: Do I have to install a battery?
A: You will always need a battery when you have installed any RV solar systems into your RV. It is what collects the power that the solar power converts from the sun’s energy. It’s often advisable to install a battery that would last three or four days without having to be charged again, as this should cover needs if a bout of bad weather is experienced.
Q: How much solar do I need on my RV?
A: The amount of solar power you need on your RV varies depending on your needs. In the main, each RV owner needs to determine how much power they need to figure out what size RV solar systems they need. Other considerations that need to be taken into account is simply the amount of space that is available on your RV roof. Sometimes you won’t have space for one big RV solar panel, so the best RV solar panel for you will be two smaller ones.
There are some online calculators that will help you calculate how much power you use and from there you will be able to figure out what size RV solar systems are suitable for you.
Q: Can I run an air conditioner with solar power?
A: Unfortunately, the answer to this is not a blanket yes. In some cases, RV air conditioner units can definitely be run using solar power. However, if you have the most basic RV solar systems installed, the answer is probably no. That being said, most RV solar kit manufacturers will maintain that their solar panels have the capacity to do so.
The reason being is that for air conditioning to run efficiently from RV solar panel kits, some modifications to the systems need to be made for them to have this capability. To make this possible, the solar power has to go through the charge controller and then into the battery bank as normal. It needs to be turned into AC for it to power the air con, so an invert is needed. Not all kits will come with an inverter.
Q: Do I need additional hardware?
A: It’s a good idea to buy a controller in addition to any motorhome solar panels. Controllers are great because they stop a user from charging batteries too much with the solar panel. It will stop power moving from your RV solar panels to the battery if needed.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to buy an inverter as part of your total RV solar systems. It allows you to use as many of your appliances as possible from the energy generated from your RV solar kit. This is because sometimes there will be a difference between the voltage that your battery provides and the voltage your appliances need. A power inverter is able to take care of this problem.
Our Top Pick
Renogy 100 Monocrystalline Solar Panel
Of all the RV solar systems that we rated and reviewed as a suitable RV solar battery charger. This came top. It is the best RV solar panel on the market owing to its sleek and slim design that manages to pack a punch in terms of efficiency. They’re incredibly light when compared to other RV solar panel kits so won’t negatively impact your RV and its suspension. It has a strong aluminum frame and the junction box is totally waterproof along with all the MC4 connectors making it very safe to use.
In short, you won’t be disappointed if you buy one of these RV solar panels or a handful of them. They’ll keep your appliances running for days.