Are you looking for the best portable solar panels for RVs? Well, you’ve come to the right place because this article will help you pick the right one for your needs. I’ll take you through everything relevant about these devices to make sure you become an expert on portable solar panels.
These discussions will include their advantages, disadvantages, types, and determining buying factors. In other words, everything a person could want to know about portable solar panels will be talked about within our article.
I’ll even provide 14 reviews of my favorite RV portable solar panels available. These reviews will offer a unique insight into what makes up a top-tier option. As a result, you’ll have everything required to make a smart choice about what one to buy.
Let’s now get started and find this elusive product. I promise those stressful feelings brought on by the endless waves of options will soon disappear. The following discussions will make picking out a portable solar panel for caravan, motorhome, or RV owners a breeze.
12 Top-rated Portable Solar Panel for RV Reviews
This section will contain those 14 reviews mentioned earlier. Each of them will discuss at length what makes these models superior to others available. As a result, you’ll have a better grasp of what to look for in these devices.
1. Renogy 100W 12V Monocrystalline Off-Grid Portable Solar Panel
Renogy’s 100W 12V Monocrystalline Off-Grid Portable Solar Panel is an excellent option for anyone looking for a portable solar panel. It’s a top-tier model due to the various convenient features embedded within its design.
One of these features would have to be its adjustable corrosion-resistant aluminum stand. This aspect will ensure the product is capable of working in harsher environments. It’s a pivotal piece in making sure this portable RV solar panel lasts longer than you expect.
I was also impressed with this device’s ability to perform well in low-light conditions. Many buyers were shocked by how well it performed in these situations in this portable RV solar panels reviews.
As a result, campers looking for a portable model to use in foggy areas like the Pacific Northwest should consider this option. Its 100w output should provide more than enough power for your electronics during trips into these areas.
The product coming with a convenient storage case was another winning trait. Due to this, transporting it won’t be much of an issue. It’ll also keep the device protected when placed inside your storage area during travel.
In fact, this lightweight solar suitcase for RV owners makes everything easier as it comes with several items to ensure you’re using the device effectively. It actually has every piece of equipment needed for an entire system: a set of 15in wires with MC4 connectors, two 50W monocrystalline solar panels, and a protecting case for safe transport.
But these Renogy portable solar panels for RV usage do come with one slight issue. Their manufacturer has a bad reputation concerning their customer service. If you’re a first-time solar energy user, you should note this issue before making your buying decision.
2. ACOPOWER 100W Portable Solar Panel Kit
If you’re looking to buy one of the best portable RV solar kits, ACOPOWER 100W Portable Solar Panel Kit would be an ideal choice. This option comes with various aspects capable of making a rig owner’s life much easier.
An excellent example would be its waterproof abilities, which makes it usable in any outdoor conditions. It’s one of the primary factors in ensuring this product offers top-tier durability to make sure the kit becomes a long term investment.
I was also pleased to see this model has a pre-installed stand. This feature ensures the setting up process becomes easy and hassle-free. As someone who isn’t an expert on these tasks, anything capable of making them easier is a winning trait.
This setup is only made easier when considering this model comes with MC4 connectors and an Anderson plug. Both of these aspects will make connecting the solar panel to an RV’s battery unit more manageable.
You should also know this model comes with a pre-installed 20A charge controller. It’s an important addition because it makes the entire kit much more convenient. Plus, you won’t have to buy one separately, which is always a huge hassle.
Rig owners won’t have to worry about its portability, either. This kit comes with two 50W solar panels attached in a foldable design. It’s a construction that makes moving the device around an effortless task. This construction will help when it comes to storing the device, as well. You should have no issues finding a place for it within your storage area.
But it’s worth noting some customers did report shipping issues with the product arriving with a few items missing. These complaints were only mentioned in a small number of reviews, which means they could be isolated instances.
3. Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel
Rig owners looking for an option with a high conversion efficiency need to consider Jackery’s SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel. This model offers a conversion efficiency rate of up to 23 percent, which is almost unheard of among the other products.
But its high conversion efficiency isn’t the only thing worth getting excited about when it comes to this device. I was also intrigued by this solar charger coming with two USB ports, which ensures you can charge a large number of smaller devices: smartphones, speakers, digital cameras, and tablets.
The ETFE material used on this solar panel’s surface was another standout feature. It offers a level of durability, which other folding solar panels for RV can’t usually match. I have no reason to believe this model won’t provide usable solar energy for many years.
You can thank this material for the product’s lightness, too, which is an essential factor in any top-tier option. It’s one of the main reasons this option ends up being one of the top-rated portable solar panels for camping.
Buyers would be a fan of this product’s convenient bracket, as well. This aspect ensures storing the device is more manageable than with other portable solar panels. You shouldn’t have any issues bringing it along during a hike due to this practical addition.
The built-in handle should also help during these adventures out into the wilderness. It’s just another included feature that shows this product is convenient and user-friendly. If you don’t believe me, look at the customer reviews, which only praise its working process.
However, the product’s price is a bit outside what I’m willing to pay for a 100 watt portable solar panel. Anyone who isn’t worried about spending extra for top-tier performance shouldn’t hesitate to buy this panel.
4. Go Power! 130W Portable Folding RV Solar Kit
The Go Power! 130W Portable Folding RV Solar Kit has gained a stellar reputation that comes from it featuring one of the most versatile portable solar panels for RV batteries. It’s the perfect option for rig owners who don’t want to mount panels on their roofs permanently.
A huge reason for its ability to offer this versatility comes from it having Anderson-style battery charging connectors. These connectors allow users to change the charging accessory quickly without much hassle.
In fact, you can use this solar panel for various purposes, like maintaining your rig battery or trickle charging a boat’s battery. This multi-purpose ability has made the model a favorite among rig owners over these last couple of years.
You should also take note of the product’s adjustable folding legs, which make maximizing sun exposure easier. It’s a simple inclusion to ensure users can always get the most out of their portable solar panel in any situation.
This feature won’t hurt when it comes to storage, either. Its foldable legs ensure the device can fit into smaller areas without issue. The heavy-duty nylon carrying case will ensure this product doesn’t get damaged in these storage places, as well.
If it does get damaged, there’s a 25-year warranty to ensure you always have insurance. This manufacturer has proven to honor this policy based on customer reviews. Some other companies tend to use these warranties as a selling point without any intention of living up to them.
But like our previous product, this model is a bit outside my budget. The price comes from its higher wattage and built-in solar controller, but I still can’t see myself paying this much. However, you’d have difficulty finding a better option among portable solar kits for RV owners.
5. TP-solar 100W RV Foldable Solar Panel Charger Kit
One of the top-tier portable RV solar panel kits has to be TP-solar’s 100W RV Foldable Solar Panel Charger Kit. After all, its 100 watt monocrystalline solar panel provides an excellent conversion efficiency rate to ensure enough power for charging your devices.
Its monocrystalline construction makes sure it can offer these fantastic results while being smaller than traditional solar panels. In fact, this solar panel only weighs about five pounds, which shouldn’t be much of a hassle to carry.
Some buyers might confuse this smaller size for the product having less durability than other options. This belief couldn’t be more wrong, considering the solar panel’s fully laminated and made from top-tier ETFE material.
These two aspects ensure this solar panel will be a reliable power source for years to come. It even comes with a guarantee of lasting 15 years, which is always a nice thing to see. Plus, it’s worth mentioning the panel’s completely waterproof to ensure it can handle any weather condition.
These waterproof abilities lead to a simple cleaning process. Its water-resistance allows the device to be washed directly, making it even more ideal for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, or a picnic.
This option also comes with an alligator clip cable, cigarette lighter plug, 6.5ft DC to DC extension cables, and several other useful additions. But none of these features are what sticks out the most about this product. Instead, you can give this title to its price, which is among the least expensive on our list.
However, some customers were a little annoyed by how unreadable the manual was when setting up this kit. It’s a small issue that shouldn’t stop buyers from considering the model, but worth accounting for when making a final choice.
6. Renogy 100 Watt Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase
Renogy’s 100 Watt Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase is one of the more versatile options on our list. As with most Renogy solar panels, this product was designed to seamlessly work in a multitude of situations, including life in an RV.
This particular solar suitcase was made to work with lithium, flooded, sealed, and gel batteries. As a result, I can’t see how a rig owner wouldn’t find more than a few ways to utilize this portable solar device.
I was also impressed by how well this model worked in low-light situations. People traveling in foggy areas or those colder winter months should expect this option to do much better than others. Many buyers confirmed the claim in their respective reviews with significant praise for its performance in these areas.
The included alligator clips are another one of my favorite aspects. These clips will ensure connecting this device isn’t a huge hassle. Honestly, I couldn’t have been happier to see them included, given my past experiences with these products.
Buyers can also feel safe when using this product’s solar panel because it features a low-voltage system. Due to this, it can avoid potential electric shock hazards with ease. This issue is something that tends to plague inferior models.
The product comes with a negative-ground charge controller, as well. It’ll ensure the solar panel can function as a reliable power source for your trailer, RV, boat, and various other vehicles. In addition, this controller has an LCD and adjustable parameter settings to ensure users can have an unprecedented amount of control.
But this product is another one hampered by shipping issues. It seems the product has a habit of arriving damaged or missing parts. These problems aren’t a great look for a top-tier brand like Renogy.
7. Rockpals 100W RV Foldable Solar Panel
Buyers will have a hard time finding better foldable solar panels for RV than Rockpals’ 100W RV Foldable Solar Panel. This option consists of high-efficiency solar arrays that can convert up to 21.5 – 23.5 percent of the gathered solar power into usable energy.
Its high-efficiency rate ensures it’s among the most effective solar panels available. This panel shouldn’t have any issues being an excellent source of power for your rig and its devices. But its efficiency isn’t even its most impressive trait.
The product’s built-in smart IC chip would be my pick for this title. This aspect will identify your device and maximize its charging speed to ensure peak effectiveness. It’ll also make sure your batteries and electronics are protected from several issues, such as overloading or over-charging.
You can rely on its monocrystalline construction to be lightweight and durable, as well. These aspects make it a perfect fit for people looking to do off-grid camping or hiking. This panel will make sure you have a backup source of power for your device when they’re needed in either situation.
It comes with four different size connectors to ensure it can work with most solar generators available. Therefore, it provides an ideal versatility level to make sure more buyers can end up using this panel for their needs.
This product happens to be another within my budget range, too, which is always a pleasant sight. Bargain buyers should make a note to consider this option seriously. It’s not every day that you’ll find a device capable of offering results like these available at such a low price.
But it’s worth noting some people were surprised by the product’s size when receiving it. These customers’ complaints centered on the panel’s size dimensions being misrepresented in the description. It’s a small nuisance that could affect your overall happiness with this device.
8. Zamp Legacy Series 140-Watt Portable Solar Panel Kit
Rig owners who want a high quality flexible solar panel need to look at Zamp’s Legacy Series 140-Watt Portable Solar Panel Kit. It’s considered one of the best available for being adaptable based on its surrounding environments.
Aside from its flexibility, buyers need to notice its easy setup process. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes, which is a fact most of its review confirmed. You couldn’t read more than two of them without seeing a sentence talking about how easy the setup was compared to other models.
I was thrilled to see it came with an integrated 10-amp charge controller, as well. This aspect’s inclusion will help protect your battery bank and keep track of the entire charging process. In fact, this charge controller has the capability of extending your battery’s lifespan by three times.
The product was made in the USA, which is another positive sign. It’s a notable factor because US manufacturing rules are much more strict than some foreign countries. You can rest easy knowing it passed a rigorous amount of safety protocols before entering the market.
You should be thrilled by its 25-year output warranty, too. It conveys this brand has faith in its product. It seems most Zamp portable solar panels have long warranties, which is another great sign that they’re great at making these devices.
Overall, it’s a good option for anyone looking to buy one of the best portable solar panel kits for RV. It has everything you could want in one for boondocking or camping purposes. But it’s not a perfect option as there’s one downside to this model.
I was quite disappointed to see this product didn’t have the most durable aluminum frame for its foldable legs. A few customers noted this issue within their reviews, which caught my eye as a potential problem for buyers. But it’s one capable person who can quickly fix using self tappers to ensure a higher durability level.
9. ECO-Worthy Upgrade 120 Watt RV Foldable Solar Panel Kit
Are you looking to buy convenient portable panel kits for RV battery charging purposes? The ECO-Worthy Upgrade 120 Watt RV Foldable Solar Panel Kit has got you covered. Its solar panel’s space-saving design makes it one of the most user-friendly options out there.
In fact, this solar panel weighs a meager nine pounds, features a compact size, and comes with all necessary hardware. These aspects make this kit a godsend for outdoor activities, such as climbing, hiking, picnicking, or camping.
Most buyers were happy with this product’s plug and play construction, as well. The kit comes with a 10 in 1 DC adapter, which is compatible with most solar power generators. It makes setting up the device much easier than other models.
Durability was another area where this model excels past most other portable solar panels for home or RVs. Its carrying case features a splashproof surface consisting of high quality Oxford cloth, which contains impressive, long-lasting abilities.
As with several of our other options, the solar panels themselves are laminated and made with tough ETFE material. This construction should stand the test of time and ensure your new solar power system lasts a solid 15 years.
ECO-Worthy was kind enough to include a 20A solar charge controller in this kit, which can support gel, lead-acid, or lithium batteries. You can also expect this controller to protect your battery from safety issues, such as overcharges or over discharges.
The price tag isn’t too shabby, either. It should fall right into what a bargain buyer would consider acceptable for a 120 watt solar panel kit. Honestly, this option might be the biggest steal on our entire list.
But it doesn’t come with a manual, which could be problematic for first-time users. I’d suggest only experienced rig owners should buy it due to this issue.
10. DOKIO 220 Watts 12 V Monocrystalline RV Foldable Solar Panel
If you’re looking for a bit more wattage than our previous options, DOKIO 220 Watts 12 V Monocrystalline RV Foldable Solar Panel could be an excellent choice. Its 220W of power should be more than enough to power your rig and its devices.
You won’t have to worry about this extra wattage affecting its overall construction, either. This panel remains lightweight with a nine-pound design, which should be easy to carry. It’s made easier by the built-in carrying handle that makes the entire product much more practical.
The product’s smart 4-stage PWM solar charge controller was an obvious highlight. It’ll offer your battery and devices protections against various issues. These potential problems include short circuits, overcharging, reverse polarity, and reverse current.
I was also happy to see it came with USB ports, allowing users to charge their smaller devices: smartphones, tablets, cameras, and other USB devices. It’s an outstanding feature to have in a solar panel for an RV when boondocking or camping off-grid.
Aside from these features, this option comes with several others we’ve seen in our previous reviews. These include a high-efficiency conversion rate, foldable design, easy using process, and an LCD display on the charge controller.
Each of these features will make your life easier when using solar energy to power their rig’s devices. All in all, DOKIO did an excellent job creating a portable solar charger for RV capable of meeting most rig owners’ needs.
However, some customers reported it having durability concerns. It seems a few buyers have had it stop working a year or two after purchasing. But several others had only positive things to say about its durability. Therefore, I’d suggest buying this solar panel is worth it given the excellent results and affordable price.
11. ECO-WORTHY 120 Watt Monocrystalline RV Portable Camp Solar Panel Suitcase
The ECO-WORTHY 120 Watt Monocrystalline RV Portable Camp Solar Panel Suitcase is a great choice for someone looking to charge their 12V battery using solar power. It excels in this role thanks to its pre-wired battery clips and pre-installed controller.
As a result, it makes the using process much smoother for first-time users. Multiple buyers alluded to this in their reviews and couldn’t believe how easy it was to use. It also helps that this option has a wide range of applications.
It was designed to be useful for hiking, camping, boondocking, caravanning, RVing, or a solar pump watering system. These applications are only some of the situations where this solar panel suitcase would be helpful. Its versatility ends up being almost limitless.
The solar panel’s heavy-duty aluminum frame and legs should ensure long-term usage is possible. I don’t see how this device wouldn’t be in your life for a long time. Due to this, it could quickly become a truly cost-effective purchase thanks to how much it saves you in buying gas.
As for its initial price tag, this solar panel suitcase is one of the more affordable on our list. Bargain buyers should have no issues fitting it into their respective budgets. I was quite shocked to come across an effective option like this one at such a low price.
But if you don’t mind taking a risk, this option would be the one to choose. After all, it’s an affordable bargain with a proven track record for durability.
12. PAXCESS 120W RV Solar Panel
PAXCESS’s 120W RV Solar Panel is the final product on our list, but don’t think this positioning means it’s lacking compared to the other options. This solar panel more than stacks up with the rest when it comes to features and performance.
You can expect this model to offer an impressively high conversion efficiency up to 23%, which ranks among the best available today. This aspect alone makes it a solar panel worth considering for any RVer or camper.
The product comes with four different size connectors, further making it more appealing. After all, these connectors ensure it can work with most portable solar generators. It ends up being a versatile and handy device to have on your road trips.
Rig owners can rely on this high conversion rate to allow the solar panel to function as a useful backup power source during power outages. For instance, if you find yourself stuck in a hurricane’s aftermath, this device can help ensure you have enough power to live semi-normally.
Buyers should also pay attention to this model coming with USB and Type C outputs. These outputs will ensure your smartphones, laptops, power banks, and tablets charge twice as fast as they usually would. Therefore, a perfect addition to the RVing lifestyle.
Other features capable of making a perfect fit for RVing include water-resistant capabilities, durable construction, lightweight design, and a user-friendly using process. In the end, it’s clear this solar panel can help almost any rig owner.
However, rig owners looking to use this device in parallel with other solar panels will need to look elsewhere. It doesn’t offer this capability, which will concern the RVers who would like to use it that way.
SUNGOLDPOWER 130W Portable Solar Panel (Oudate)
SUNGOLDPOWER’s 130W Portable Foldable Solar Panel Suitcase has become one of my favorite solar panels for RV battery charging thanks to its various exciting high quality features. The primary one would have to be its plug and play design.
As with some of our previous options, this suitcase’s using process consists of unfolding it, connecting the right wires, and facing it toward the sun. I don’t think even a person like me would have issues getting this product ready to power their rig’s battery.
You can use this model in any weather condition due to its waterproof construction, as well. It should have no issues providing reliable solar energy even during a heavy sunshower. This aspect was one, which received a great deal of praise in the customer reviews.
I was also rather impressed by the number of safety measures built into this option. Its two 65w monocrystalline solar panels have a low-voltage system to help prevent electric shock hazards. This feature is vital to ensure nothing goes wrong when using the system.
Buyers can rely on the automated solar charge controller to provide even more safety measures with various protections: overcharge, reverse current, short circuit, and incorrect polarity. I do not doubt that this model will function correctly with these precautions in place.
The product’s design was another winning trait as it features a corrosion-resistant aluminum frame. As a result, it should hold up well when being used outdoors for an extended period. This suitcase should provide everything you’re looking to get from a solar panel for RV purposes.
But this product was another one hampered by customer service issues. These complaints aren’t what you expect from a brand known for making some of the mos trusted portable solar panels for RV owners.
HQST 100 Watt 12Volt Portable Solar Power Suitcase (Outdated)
If you’re looking for a simple suitcase solar panel system, HQST’s 100 Watts 12Volt Monocrystalline Portable Solar Power Suitcase should be an excellent fit. This product was designed to be a plug and play system.
As a result, the user will have to do very little besides plugging this device in when setting it up for usage. It makes people like me much more comfortable with what seems like the complicated nature of using solar-powered devices.
Buyers should also find this lightweight suitcase appealing because it includes everything needed for a solar power system. It comes with two 50w monocrystalline solar panels and a 10amp PWM charge controller to ensure the using process goes smoothly.
The PWM charge controllers are quite impressive because they can be used with either a 12V or 24V system. Due to this, the entire solar suitcase will be a suitable option for a lot more rig owners looking for solar panel products.
I should also note that this charge controller functions using a smart 4-stage charging process, which will increase your battery’s lifespan. It makes arguing against buying this suitcase option a hard thing for anyone to do effectively.
You will find these efficient monocrystalline panels are capable of providing excellent results, as well. It ends up being a handy portable solar power system for RV owners to have when camping, hiking, or even boondocking.
I was quite disappointed to see this product didn’t have the most durable aluminum frame for its foldable legs. A few customers noted this issue within their reviews, which caught my eye as a potential problem for buyers. But it’s one capable person who can quickly fix using self tappers to ensure a higher durability level.
Portable Solar Panel for RV Buyer’s Guide
Choosing the perfect portable solar panels isn’t as hard as it seems. Understanding certain factors will make this task much easier than you anticipated. I’m going to discuss these factors in detail to ensure you can make a smart and responsible choice.
The first factor to concern yourself with is usage. In other words, you need to decide what your portable solar panel kits will be used for during your trips. What you intend to use them for could change your search parameters significantly.
For instance, the RV portable solar panels usually have around 100 watts. Installing these products shouldn’t be much of a problem. It will consist of setting up a few wires. However, portable solar panels are also generally connected to lead-acid batteries that will recharge over an extended period.
This attachment will require rig owners to pick out the proper charge controller and battery pack, as well. These products will be necessary to meet your off-grid power needs and fully charge the energy storage devices.
As a result, people looking to charge their rig batteries using portable solar panels might want to buy solar panel kits with these devices included. It would make your life much easier and reduce the need for any additional product research.
A portable solar panel’s weight is another vital factor for rig owners. I’d suggest getting something light for easier storage and comfortability. This aspect comes into play much more for people looking to do some hiking.
In this situation, it’s crucial to buy an ultra-lightweight solar panel. It’ll make carrying them along with you much less taxing and stressful. Hikers could also benefit from buying lightweight solar chargers or folding solar panels with USB ports.
As you might expect, these devices can vary when it comes to price. Rig owners should build a budget based on their needs to determine what works for them. These budgets must remain realistic.
For instance, rig owners who want a portable panel with a higher efficiency rate will need higher budget ranges than people looking for a standard option. It’s the only way to ensure these resources can be beneficial toward your search.
These realistic budgets will then make this entire process easier by limiting your choices down to a more manageable level. You’ll be picking from options capable of meeting your needs rather than all the choices on Amazon.
The efficiency of these portable solar panels is an essential piece when looking to buy one. Each model’s efficiency value will refer to the energy conversion rate from solar energy into DC power.
If your panel’s efficiency rate is higher, it means your chosen model will be smaller and still produce the same power output as larger options. It ends up being something a buyer would not cut corners with when deciding what portable solar panel is the right fit.
You might not want to spend less money on an option with less efficiency. This factor truly is one of the most vital parts of what makes specific solar panels the best. After all, higher efficiency means the product has less surface area, lower weight, and high quality results. What more could a rig owner possibly want?
Permanently installed solar panels are known for being a little fragile because of their placement at a single site. However, portable models don’t have this luxury. These devices need to be durable and tough for various reasons.
One of the main reasons is rig owners will be traveling with these products from place to place. As a result, there are a lot more opportunities for damage to occur. This reality alone should convey a sense of these devices needing to be more durable.
I’d suggest paying close attention to each option’s quality when choosing one. Look for models with a long-lasting reputation by examining their constructions, cables, clamps, and connections. Honestly, every part of your portable solar panel kit will need to be rugged enough to handle the RVing lifestyle.
An easy way to determine how each product will hold up is reading through their customer reviews. These resources should make it clear what option can handle being transported from place to place. You can use these reviews to separate subpar options from top-tier choices.
It also helps that people who feel slighted by their purchases often write long negative reviews about what made them disappoint at the product. Any smart buyer will use these adverse experiences to ensure they aren’t writing one of these reviews in the future.
Portable Solar Panel FAQs
This FAQ section will attempt to cover and answer any topic not discussed in our buying guide. It should help focus the search on a few models capable of meeting your solar needs. Let’s get started and make sure you end up picking a suitable option.
What is the best portable RV solar panel?
I can’t provide the right answer to this question because I don’t know your specific needs. But if any of the options reviewed above meet what you’re looking for feature-wise, I would suggest buying one of them.
Who is this for?
Buyers need to understand what portable solar panels are before deciding whether these devices are necessary for them. The first thing to know is solar technology has become much more popular over these last couple of decades.
This popularity has caused more solar products to be developed and improved. One of the most valuable improvements has been portability. At first, solar panels were heavy and bulky. Their constructions were made to ensure installing them was easy, but moving them was always a chore.
But modern technology has improved and made portable solar panels possible. These devices are capable of offering electricity out in the wilderness quickly and conveniently. They offer these benefits by being extremely lightweight and not requiring much storage space.
In most cases, you can even store them in your backpack, bike, or vehicle. It also helps that these products are simple to use and disassemble. Most of them have folding capabilities to ensure the utmost convenience when getting them ready for use.
As you can guess, these qualities have made portable solar panels a popular product in the RVing community. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a hiker, camper, motorhome owner, or a general traveler: these products are a blessing to have on your trips.
Polycrystalline vs. Monocrystalline solar panels
The most common types of solar panels for travel trailers are polycrystalline and monocrystalline. So a logical question rig owners often ask is, what’s the difference between these two options?
Well, the primary difference concerns their respective constructions. For example, polycrystalline solar panels are built from silicone shards, which are molded together.
This design makes them much less expensive to manufacture and cheaper to buy. As a result, there will be plenty of inexpensive polycrystalline options for RV Harbor Freight or Amazon buyers.
Meanwhile, monocrystalline solar panels are made from one silicon crystal. This streamlined construction offers better performance quality but a higher product cost. It makes users ponder the old question of whether they put more value on affordability or efficiency.
I find myself more than willing to spend a little extra on high-quality products. So I often choose monocrystalline types when buying regular or suitcase solar panels for RV. But it’s easy to see how someone would see it differently and select a more affordable polycrystalline option.
What will a 200 watt solar panel run?
200w portable solar panels are more versatile and valuable than most RV owners realize. A high-quality one can run a long list of appliances, ranging from LCD TVs to laptops. So it shouldn’t have any issue handling the needs of a smaller camper or motorhome.
An example is the DOKIO 220 Watts 12 V Monocrystalline RV Foldable Solar Panel. It’s one of the more convenient and reliable mobile solar panels for rig owners. I would have no worries about it powering my rig and its devices.
What are the different types of portable solar panels for RV?
Like with most products, portable solar panels come in a few different types. The two main ones are crystalline solar panels and thin-film solar panels. I’ll discuss both below to ensure you have a solid grasp of what kind fits your needs.
Crystalline Solar Panels
Crystalline panels tend to be the popular type among rig owners as they’re known for being active and efficient solar energy collectors. These models have a larger surface area than the other types, which allows them to absorb more light.
Rig owners should always ensure these devices get direct and intense sunlight to get the best results. Due to this, usage in the summer months would be wise with a crystalline portable solar panel.
It’s also worth noting crystalline options are further separated into two different types: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline solar panels consist of purer silicon crystal, which helps them produce a higher power output.
Therefore, a smaller monocrystalline option could easily offer enough power for your devices and rig. But their purer material does make them more expensive. However, they end up being more durable, too, which could make them more cost-effective.
Meanwhile, polycrystalline solar panels aren’t made out of silicon. These devices instead consist of a combination of various materials. This construction makes them have a somewhat blue exterior rather than the common monocrystalline black one.
You can also expect a polycrystalline solar panel to produce less power than monocrystalline options. On the positive side, these models do cost less, making them a good fit for bargain buyers.
Thin-film Solar Panels
Our last type, thin-film solar panels, is often a consideration for people wanting a quick replacement. These products are ideal for this role because they’re the cheapest type available. Their lower costs come from them being made out of a component mixture, including gallium, indium, selenide, and cooper.
It’s a useful construction because it makes them more flexible and can help in various situations. I should also note that their lower cost doesn’t make them ineffective. These panels tend to be more sensitive than the other types.
As a result, they can absorb and detect the slightest bit of light even in undesired overcast weather. This benefit makes them an ideal fit for people traveling within darker places with colder climates.
But these types do have a huge downfall when it comes to durability. Their construction will mean these devices will quickly deteriorate over time. It’s something that even happens faster when exposed to harsher environments.
How does an RV portable solar panel work?
As I mentioned earlier, solar power has become a growing trend in our society. It was first used by people who wanted to live cleaner and lessen their carbon footprints. But recently, the new solar power technology has been noticed by those who consider themselves technology junkies.
This solar power has become such a popular commodity because it allows us to use energy that surrounds our society daily. You then utilize this power to live a much cleaner and more environment-friendly lifestyle that helps save our planet.
But how do these solar panels offer these benefits? Well, solar panels are made of many small solar cells that can absorb light. These cells are known as photovoltaic cells. They offer the ability to convert energy coming from the sun into usable energy for our solar panels.
In other words, they can absorb photons and utilize them to create electricity that can run or charge our devices. Photovoltaic cells can do this because they’re made of two semiconductive material pieces with opposite charges.
You can then expect these opposite charges to produce an electric field. After this electric field is produced, the photovoltaic cells are laid out directly under the sunlight. These cells will then absorb photons and generate electrons.
The electrons will be gathered at either end of those cells by its metal plates, then transferred to your solar panels via a wire. It’s through this process that these panels can create usable solar power for our rigs and devices.
Advantages and disadvantages of using portable RV solar panels
Before buying a portable solar panel, it’d be wise to understand the benefits and disadvantages these products offer users. I’ll discuss both sides to ensure anyone reading our article will know whether buying one is a good option for them.
The most apparent benefit of portable solar panels is that these products run on solar power. It’s a power resource, which is renewable and endless. As a result, you’ll never have to worry about running out of energy supply because the sun isn’t going away anytime soon.
Many solar system users love using these panels because it saves them money in the long run. After all, they don’t have to worry about spending money on extra gas for their RV. You can instead allow your panel to soak in the sunlight, and there will be enough electricity for a couple of hours.
As any RVer knows, camping in new places doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll have a reliable power source. A portable solar panel ensures you don’t have to worry about this problem. It will be usable wherever, as long as there’s sunlight.
Off-the-grid campers love using solar panels because they don’t have to rely on the local electrical grid. Instead, these rig owners can use their panels to generate the power needs for their RV and onboard devices. It’s an effective way to ensure boondocking or off-the-grid living isn’t a complete hassle.
Portable solar panels are much more convenient when it comes to portability. It shouldn’t be shocking considering their name, but it’s still worth mentioning. This high-level of portability comes from their lightweight constructions.
These lightweight constructions ensure moving them isn’t trouble. It’s why hikers and outdoor campers love these panels. After all, these devices don’t have to be used for your rig exclusively.
Using portable solar panels is an eco-friendly solution to meet your power needs. In fact, solar energy doesn’t produce any greenhouse gases or utilize any other resources. It keeps the Earth healthy rather than making things worse.
- Only Usable During the Day
The main criticism of solar energy is users need the sun to gather and store energy. Due to this, using solar panels at night or during the winter months isn’t as effective. This issue means solar energy users will need to recharge their devices and electronics during daylight.
Rig owners who want a constant supply will need to purchase a solar battery. It’ll be able to store excess electricity for future usage. Therefore, it’ll provide the required solar energy when the sun is taking a nap.
The initial payment for a portable solar panel is quite expensive. Its recent popularity has caused a spike in prices, which can be intimidating at first. You’ll have to weigh whether this initial cost is worth the benefits these devices offer down the road.
How many watt solar panel do I need for RV?
Most portable solar panel kits are made to merely top-up your rig’s battery. But larger ones do exist with the capability of meeting a rig owner’s daily power needs. Therefore, a person has to determine their electricity needs, which will answer what wattage is necessary.
Can a 100 watt solar panel run a refrigerator?
In most cases, a 12V camping style fridge will work perfectly when running by a 100 watt solar panel, which is equipped with a proper solar controller. But it can vary and ends up depending on your fridge’s size.
How to install?
Setting up a portable solar panel isn’t difficult. These products will come with battery clips that offer a simple, straightforward connection to your rig’s battery in many situations. The best options will even come pre-wired and contain a pre-installed controller to make matters easier.
But I’d still advise looking at your product’s manual to check for specific directions. You never know when these resources might offer a tip to ensure the best results. The manufacturer’s website might have some insight into this process worth viewing, as well.
How to use?
Using portable solar panels might seem a little complicated at first. But the process is relatively easy when it comes down to it. As with the installation, it’s a simple matter of following the directions within its manual.
Once you’ve assembled the product, set it up in an area with lots of sun, and connect the cords to your camper, RV, or other devices. It’ll then gather solar energy and become the reliable power source you were hoping for when buying it.
Any care and maintenance tips?
Maintaining and caring for a portable solar panel is straightforward. Many of them are even considered maintenance-free. Honestly, I would advise against buying one that does need regular upkeep. It’s just a hassle no rig owner should have to deal with on their trips.
In any case, the main actions required to keep your device in good shape is making sure you don’t drop it and dusting the solar panel surface. Keeping dust away from the solar panel will ensure you get the best charging results possible.
After reading our article, finding the best portable solar panels for RVs shouldn’t be challenging. We even provided a few examples of the top models on today’s market to ensure you have a useful starting point.
It’s now your job to decide what features and other aspects are required in the best model for your needs. From there, it’s a simple task of finding an option capable of meeting all these requirements without exceeding your budget.
If you run into any more trouble finding this perfect option, let me know in our comment section. I’ll make sure to answer each post as quickly as possible. Thanks for reading!
Hi, I am Dane Heldt, a full-time RVer since 2016. I am always passionate about building and joining an RV community where people share their love for RV lives. This blog is a dream of mine, as I can finally share my experiences to help people who want to start living differently. So, feel free to reach out to me!