Best Solar Panels for RV’s

In this article we will show you my recommendations for the best RV solar panels on the market today.

I find that recently there are more and more RV’ers adding solar panels to their rigs. This is great for a number of reasons. 

If you are considering installing solar panels on your RV, then you probably want to know which is the best solar panel for RV’s, because choosing the right one will make a huge difference in how well your solar system works and the use you can enjoy from it.

If you are in a hurry, here is our list of the best solar panels for your RV.

Selecting the Best Solar Panels for RV's

While you may be tempted to rush to the store right away to buy your new solar panels, there are three things that you want to consider to make sure that you choose the best solar panels for your RV needs. Consider the tolerance, rating, and the peak power of the panel. The tolerance will represent the drop percent in total power, the rating tells you the size of the solar system, and the peak power is the maximum output that you can expect in the best conditions.

The solar panels that are the right choice for you will vary from ones that other RVers own. This is why you need to take into consideration your needs, as well as what you expect from your new panels, so that you can easily select the right ones.

Benefits to Having RV Solar Panels

There are a number of benefits to using solar panels on your RV. 

I wanted solar panels to reduce my reliance on having to plug into shore power, but quickly found that I enjoyed many other perks as well. 

Not only will you be more free to roam when you have solar panels as opposed to shore power, but you won’t be negatively affecting the environment by using a generator. This also means that you will be much quieter, so you won’t disturb nature or your neighbors or if you are trying to stay under the radar.

I also love how clean and safe solar panels are, as you don’t run the risk of fires or carbon monoxide poisoning, and even the risk of electric shock is incredibly low.

solar panels set up image

Solar power is an incredibly cost-effective source of power when you are on the road.

While you will need to pay for the initial setup, you can rely on energy from the sun to power your appliances once everything is in place.

Even during winter months, you can still get some sun, which means that you can take advantage of a quiet, clean, and renewable power source for your RV.

All in all, solar panels are safer, better for the environment, and easy to use. What more could you want?

What to Look For

I know that it can be overwhelming when you are in the market for new solar panels, but there are a few things that you can look for to make your search easier. Solar panels for RV’s need to be small, but still produce a lot of electricity for you to get the most use out of them. The efficiency of a new solar panel for your RV is generally determined by how much solar energy is converted into useable electricity. I find that it’s simple to look at it this way, solar panels with higher efficiency percentages will be more efficient and will produce more electricity

Best Way to Use Your RV Solar Panels

Solar panels on your RV will allow you to run electricity without worrying about using a generator or plugging into an electricity source. This means that you may be able to cook your food, enjoy lights to read or dress, possibly watch TV and even access the internet. Another common use for solar panels on an RV is to power fans to produce air movement inside the RV to stay as comfortable as possible in hot weather. I find that this is a top reason why a lot of people are interested in installing solar panels on their RV’s. 

Considerations When Using Your Solar Panels

Generally speaking, people don’t run into major problems or risks when using solar panels on their RV’s. 

I find, however, that there are some things to consider before buying solar panels and having them installed for your use. 

The first reason that some people balk at installing solar panels is the price. 

While you can buy systems that are less expensive, these won’t necessarily offer you all of the power that you want when you are on the road. 

It’s important to invest in a large enough system to offer you all of the power that you want, and this can be a bit more pricey.

Another thing to consider before installing a solar panel system on your RV is that they can be complicated. Installing the panels on your own and connecting them to your RV isn’t easy, but learning how to install them and manage any glitches is important so that you can take care of problems by yourself when you are on the road.

Finally, I find that it takes time to recoup the investment of installing solar panels. You can reduce and even eliminate camping fees, but it can take a while for your solar panels to pay for themselves, especially if you do not camp very often. But if your goal is to be prepared to live in your RV without concern over shore power or gas for a generator, solar is absolutely the best way to go. 

Best Solar Panels for RV

Going solar on your RV is a real game changer. Once your solar panels are installed you will be able to keep you RV batteries charged no matter how far from home you go. Solar panels have improved so much recently that it doesn’t take that big of an investment to get yourself fully solar powered. I have reviewed the top RV solar panels for performance, quality of construction, and durability.

These solar panels can flex up to 248 degrees, making it very easy to install them in any location on your RV, and since they are so lightweight, there isn’t much of a concern over being able to easily handle them during installation. Transporting and using these solar panels is fairly easy.

Pros

        Due to their size, they are incredibly easy to move and install

        High-quality construction prevents breakdowns

        Able to harness energy, even on overcast days

        Flexibility ensures that you can bend the panels during installation without them breaking, especially when you are installing the panels on a curved surface, such as on an airstream

        Ideal for a stealthy setup, as they are incredibly thin

        Rigorously tested to be able to withstand both high winds and heavy snow loads without being damaged

Cons

        No grommets or holes to ensure that the panels are securely attached to the roof and can’t easily be removed

        Bendable, but still fairly stiff

This starter kit contains the items that you need to start using solar power on your RV. If you want to expand your panel kit, it’s easy to add additional panels and connect them to enjoy even more power when you are on the road.

Pros

        Includes the tray cable that you need to connect your battery and controller

        The grounding controller offers safety features to ensure that you don’t overcharge

        Great starter kit for when you are interested in setting up solar panels, but don’t know what parts you need to buy

Cons

        Included controller isn’t very high quality, and many people upgrade to a better charge controller

        Some users report the charge controller failing completely and burning out

        There aren’t instructions included for installation

        Doesn’t include all hardware or brackets that are needed for installation

        Glass isn’t very strong and will easily shatter

Thanks to a higher than average energy conversion, you will be able to enjoy a lot of power with these solar panels. Designed to resist high temperatures, corrosion, and to be incredibly easy to clean when you are on the road.

Pros

        Surface has been designed to grab more power when in the sun

        Thanks to the solid copper foundation, these panels are strong and durable

        Incredible power conversion due to pure silicon

        Flexible and contoured to make installation easy

        Designed to prevent reverse current draining during the night

Cons

        Tend to fail after a few weeks of working without problems

        Not fireproof and only backed with flimsy plastic

        There is a chance that the connector will not work with other solar panels already in use

Perfect for use on any RV that has a curved surface, this solar panel will curve with and can be installed easily without worrying about it breaking. Additionally, it has been rated to withstand high winds and heavy snows without being damaged.

Pros

        Guaranteed no hot spots

        Weighs 70% less than other conventional solar panels

        Installation and transportation are both easy due to the size and weight of the panels

        Can be mounted using a silicone adhesive on the back of the panels

Cons

        Difficult to mount using the suggested method

        Watts produced decreases quickly as the solar panels get warmer

        Difficult to test outgoing voltages, as a voltmeter is recommended

Even when faced with low light conditions, these solar panels may be able to trickle charge batteries. They feature high quality microcrystalline cells designed to harness as much power from the sun as possible.

Pros

        Offers a maximum power of 100W

        Connectors are waterproof to prevent damage to your solar panels

        Provides high efficiency without taking up a lot of space

Cons

        Incorrectly installed diodes will cause problems with the panels and need to be repaired

        Glass panels shatter easily and often break during shipping

        Compact size often decreases the overall output

        Sharp edges can result in you getting cut

Conclusion

I find that the best solar panel for you to install on your RV is the Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volle Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel. This panel is not only flexible enough for you to install it on any surface of your RV without worrying about it breaking, but offers a lot of power for its smaller size. Unlike other solar panels available, this option from Renogy is powerful, durable, small, and captures a lot of energy even on cloudy days. Since these solar panels have been so rigorously tested, there is a very low possibility of them being damaged, as long as you install them correctly. They are lightweight enough to go with you anywhere and attach easily to your RV.
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