Solar power is a great source of energy and is very popular within the RV world where access to electrical hookups can be limited.
By using solar energy while camping, you can use the portable solar panels to recharge your RV batteries.
Alongside this, you can make use of the charging abilities to recharge your gadgets such as laptops, cell phones, and speakers.
You can even heat water for showers and washing in your RV, watch the television, and light up the campsite at night.
So no more unsavory smells of generators! Camp comfortably using solar power today.
We’ve done the research for you, so continue reading to learn more about portable solar panels, their features, and some of the best available to purchase this 2020.
What are portable solar panels for RVs and how do they work?
We all know what solar panels are. They capture UV light from the sun and convert this into usable energy for our batteries and inverters.
An electric current is created when the sun hits the panel. The charge controller then controls how much of this enters the battery as a safety feature in the charge controller unit.
Both DC and AC power is available for use.
Portable solar panels are a great way to recharge your RV battery while dry camping (not hooked up to a power source).
The two main factors to consider as reasoning to install portable solar panels to your RV are:
- To keep “house” batteries charged – solar energy is a slow and steady source to charge the batteries feeding your RV living quarters. Just like car batteries, it is important to maintain a healthy charge to the battery.
- Access to electrical power – having a back-up of power is handy for emergencies, even if you go super remote or not.
Key features to look out for
There are several types of solar panels on the market for RV users. You will need to consider if you want something rigid or flexible as well.
Currently, there are three variants of solar panels: mono-crystalline, poly-crystalline, and amorphous.
The roof of an RV is an ideal location to harness UV power. So it is important to consider size and efficiency in relation to your own RV.
Poly-crystalline is the most popular option as it is a space-saving option while only producing a slightly lower amount of energy. Amorphous is the cheaper one and boasts a high-efficiency rate, but is twice the size of the option choices. Mono-crystalline is also highly efficient and is said to work well in poor lighting.
The next feature to consider is flexibility.
Film panels are extremely lightweight meaning they can be installed in large spaces without affecting the RV’s efficiency. These panels go directly on the roof giving a complete streamline finish that is more aesthetically pleasing.
However, these flexible panels do have a shorter lifespan. Around a third of the rigid alternatives. The heat can build up with the lack of airflow between the roof and the panels, meaning summertime adventures can get steamy!
The rigid counterparts have a higher durability rate and can withstand harsher conditions, so great for long-term service. But on the other hand, they can prove to be a bit of an eyesore whilst discovering new vistas and natural beauty spots.
It is important to consider your individual needs over what the average pro’s and con’s suggest. Do your own research and find which is best for you.
Requirements and installation process
It is important to do your research and work out how much power your RV requires. It’s no use generating enough electricity for only a hairdryer if you want to run heating through your RV while showering with hot water!
You need to work out how much energy you will be using and go from there.
With solar panels, you can add additional panels to reach the required and desired capability for your needs.
On average, most RV campers use up to three 100-watt portable solar panels. This generates roughly 30 amp-hours daily with 6 amps per peak-sun-hour.
They are not the easiest of gadgets to install. The controller and inverter, along with other parts, need to be carefully fitted along with the panels. You will need to call in the professionals for this job.
Once securely in place on your roof, you are good to go. Maintenance is simple and should not cause you any stress, serving you with many adventures.
How long do they last? Are they worth it?
It is generally known that solar panels tend to be on the more expensive side. So it is important to work out if this is a good option for you and if they are worth it.
RV solar panels are not an essential bit of kit to have for your explorations. However, they do have their own stream of benefits.
For adventures further afield and more off-grid, this is a useful tool to live greenly and help you along the way with some eco-friendly power.
You cut down the use of generators and assist in extending your RV’s battery lifespan. So while it’s a large price upfront, overall savings will eventually outweigh this, making this a cost-effective means of sourcing power.
Even on cloudier days, you can still harness some of the UV rays from the inexhaustible sun. You will also leave less of a carbon footprint whilst on your adventures.
Once installed these panels are pretty much maintenance-free as there are no moving parts to break. If you take good care of the system there is no reason why it won’t last you for years, even decades!
As we have previously mentioned, your RV’s batteries will benefit from the solar panels. You may even see an increase of 50% or more which will also save you some dollars.
All in all, installing a solar system to your RV allows you to cut the cord and explore further while keeping all your home need comforts available.
Top 6 Portable Solar Panels available this 2020 for RVs
Zamp Solar Panel
This product from Zamp is highly portable with its compact size, making it perfect for RV adventures.
The Omni-mount stand does not require additional drilling when installing and is completely sturdy.
With anti-reflective panels, you will be absorbing the optimal amount of energy for use.
As a complete kit, the Zamp Solar Panel also comes with a handy bag to aid with transport and protecting it while in storage.
One main downside is the system is not fully waterproof so it cannot permanently reside on your RVs roof.
Renogy Solar Panel
The Renogy system is practically noise-free and gives complete freedom for explorations with comfort, way better than a traditional generator.
The aluminum stand is somewhat flexible and adaptable, meaning you can fully adjust the positioning to match your needs and RV.
Installation is actually fairly straight forward and the system can handle the rain.
These panels are designed for a long life of service and can function even when the sun is not so bright.
We may need to have some assistance with the connectors to ensure fitting is secure.
Go Power GP-PSK-120
Go Power’s solar panel system is one of the most powerful and efficient portable power sources available.
With its compact design, you will easily be able to transport this lightweight option around on your travels.
Installation for this one is more simple than others and comes with a detailed guide to help you do it yourself – so you can save money on professional hands!
If that’s not enough, you will get a 25-year warranty at purchase giving you complete peace of mind for this product.
However, there is the main drawback. This panel system does struggle with low-light environments, so not ideal for Fall and Winter adventures.
ECO- Worthy Solar Panel
Nothing beats this fantastic product from ECO- Worthy in the ability to generate up to 120 watts of energy.
You simply just have to open this product up and you can use it straight away, no need to stress over installation worries and costs. All elements are already installed, such as the controller.
It can withstand rougher conditions of weather and see you through most adventures in your RV.
This is a fantastic product for those new to solar panels and wanting an easier option to handle.
One drawback is you cannot tilt the panel easily, so positioning to get optimal sun can be tricky.
WindyNation Solar Panel
Next up is the great product from WindyNation. This highly-constructed system lives up to WindyNation’s reputation for producing high-quality products.
Enjoy uninterrupted solar power. Use an inbuilt controller to monitor temperatures, amp/hour, and voltage.
With such a high capacity you will be looking at harnessing 100 Watt energy to use for your camping needs.
It is simple to add more panels in the future as and when you upgrade the size of your RV home, and its durability will serve you for many years.
The only drawback is it can lack efficiency once the sun goes down.
All-Powers Solar Panel
And finally, the All-Powers Solar Panel. This product is great with optimal efficiency outputs for your RV needs.
The lightweight and flexible body are quite simple to set up, meaning the use of this panel is an effortless task with on your camping trip.
It can be placed anywhere with a temporary installation which is both quick and easy.
It is even water-resistant to combat all weather elements, however, as it is flexible it cannot withstand high pressure for a long period.
One other key drawback is the plastic sheet of the panels is not the most durable option available on the market.
Final thoughts to takeaway
And that’s a wrap! Now you are well informed and have detailed information to help choose the right portable solar panel for you and your RV.
Remember, it’s down to what suits you best so be sure to check your own details and take into consideration where your adventures will be before buying.
Even though it’s a big cost to begin with, you will have this piece of kit for a lifetime serving you. Overall you will be saving money and keeping your footprint clean for the environment.
Like what you read? Have any other suggestions for the best solar panel available? Let us know in the comments section below!