best solar panels for rv

The Best Solar Panels For Your RV

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Solar panels are the next big thing when it comes to a reliable source of power for RVs.  Aside from being cost-efficient, solar panels are environment-friendly and sustainable compared to the commonly used gas-powered generators. Opting for a solar panel system will not give you a more efficient and reliable power source, but also save you a ton of money in the long run. With that being said, its time to know what is the best solar panel for RV available in the market so you can start making your own solar panel system. 

Comparison Chart

The Best Solar Panels For Your RV 1

Renogy Solar Panel Kit RV400D

The Best Solar Panels For Your RV 2

WindyNation 400W Solar Panel Kit

The Best Solar Panels For Your RV 3

All Power Sun Power 100W RV Solar Panel

The Best Solar Panels For Your RV 4

HQST 100W Polycrystalline Solar Panel

Detailed Review of the Best Solar Panels For RV

Renogy Solar Panel Kit RV 400D

Best solar panel for RV

Product Highlight

Widely considered as the best solar panel for RV available in the market, the Renology Solar Panel Kit RV 400D features an aluminum frame built for durability, as well as a notable high power output. One panel can produce up to 500 watt-hours daily under favorable conditions with its high-grade solar cells. Aside from this, it also features a bypass diode that greatly minimizes power drop when the weather turns a bit shady or cloudy. 

The Good

When it comes to reliable and durable solar panels, Renology is widely considered as one of the top-performing brands in the industry. And this Renology Solar Panel Kit RV 400D features all the brand’s best qualities. It is built with top-quality and heavy-duty parts, making it highly durable and resilient to changing and extreme weather conditions.  

The Bad

Considering all its features as well as top-notch performance, it takes a lot to afford the Renology RV 400D. This makes it ideal for full-time RV users only, and not for leisure RV owners to make the purchase worth it. 

PROS

  • Quiet and clean operation 
  • Durable and weather-resistant 
  • Strong and corrosion-resistant aluminum frame 
  • Safe-charging feature 
  • Good warranty 

CONS

  • Extremely expensive 
  • Cables are a bit short for some users 
  • Heavy compared to other models 
  • A bit difficult to handle and install for beginners 

WindyNation 400W Solar Panel Kit

Best solar panel for RV

Product Highlight

The WindyNation 400W Solar Panel Kit is known for its ease of use and beginner-friendly installation process and interface. It is an amazing starter kit that would provide you with high power output, as well as impressive durability. The WindyNation’s polycrystalline solar panel offers a maximum of 100 watts and provides a total output capability of roughly 350 watt-hours under favorable weather conditions.

The Good

Aside from its highly cost-efficient performance, the WindyNation 400W Solar Panel Kit includes all of the necessary components needed to build your own solar panel system for your RV. The kit includes a 40-feet solar cable, several MC4 connectors, all the necessary mounting brackets, an external battery temperature sensor, and a charge controller. 

PROS

  • Can be used on a wide range of applications 
  • Compatible with lead-acid, AGM gel, and lithium-type batteries 
  • Includes external battery temperature sensor 
  • Versatile and flexible construction 
  • Clear LCD screen display for the system data 
  • Quiet and clean operation 
  • Water-resistant build 
  • Easy to install 

CONS

  • Lower watt-hours of charge compared to other models 
  • Relatively high price 
  • Does not include battery in the kit 

All Powers Sun Power 100W RV Solar Panel

Best solar panel for RV

Product Highlight

The All Powers Sun Poer 100W RV solar panel is unique for its flexible and bendable build, making it more versatile and ideal for installation on rounded roofs, as well as angled and uneven surfaces. Aside from its versatility and flexibility, the All Powers Sun Power solar panel is also built with an ultra-resistant coating that lets it weather elements and snow of 50 psf and 112 psf, as well as 1” hail impact gunning at 52 mph.

The Good

Aside from being extremely flexible, the All Powers Sun Power 100W solar panel also performs extremely well. It consists of monocrystalline panels that work at 23.5% efficiency, even in low light conditions. This model is perfectly ideal for temporary and portable installation and gives you the freedom that bulky solar panel models in the market cannot.

The Bad

Logically, the downside of not having a solid construction for a bendable solar panel is that the flexible material used may be frail and can easily get damaged. As for the All Power Sun Power solar panel, issues on the durability of the plastic back sheet persist, as well as apparent diminishing efficiency and overall performance once the surface gets damaged. 

PROS

  • Lightweight and portable built 
  • Can be used on a wide range of applications 
  • Easy installation process with its pre-drilled mounting holes 
  • Relatively powerful output capability 
  • Cheap

CONS

  • Issues with the product’s durability 
  • Issues with the product’s durability 
  • Quickly degrading performance over time 

HQST Polycrystalline 100W Solar Panel

Best solar panel for RV

Product Highlight

The HQST Polycrystalline 100W Solar Panel is an amazing entry-level model for beginners looking for a system that is easy and convenient to use and install. Perfect for RV users searching for a reliable power source for an off-grid lifestyle, the HQST Solar Panel is compatible with 12V and 24V applications, which are powerful enough to power a variety of appliances and electronic devices in your RV. Furthermore, it offers an average output capacity at 500 watt-hours daily, as well as a fast-charging feature that can charge a 50 AH battery to 50% within 3 hours at optimum sunlight.

The Good

If you’re just starting to work your way for a solar panel system, the HQST Polycrystalline 100W Solar Panel is an excellent choice as its easy to use, hassle-free to install, and is highly durable and reliable. It is built with anti-reflective, high transparency, and low iron tempered glass for better resistance and reinforced with corrosion-resistant aluminum frame that can withstand can extreme weather conditions. 

The Bad

While the HQST Polycrystalline 100W Solar Panel seems to be the perfect entry-level solar panel system, users still experienced some faults and inconvenience. Aside from notably large and heavy compared to other models, the HQST 100 W Polycrystalline does not include all the necessary mounting components and tools, as well as offers limited options for customization with its non-removable connectors. 

PROS

  • No hot-spot heating 
  • Reliable power source even in low light 
  • Wide range of application and purpose 
  • Durable and weather-resistant materials 

CONS

  • Does not include necessary mounting stands and brackets 
  • Non-removable connectors and short cables 
  • Relatively large and heavy 

How Solar Panel System Works?

If we try to define solar panel as simple as we could, it is easy to say that solar panels are devices that harness solar energy from the sun and converts it into electrical energy. But how does this happen exactly in the context of your trailer or motorhome? Let’s go into details:

  • A solar panel system for an RV is relatively smaller compared to home systems. However, the setup consists of the same components.
  • The setup includes solar panels, a charge controller, solar batteries, and an inverter.  
  • Each component serves an important role in the whole system: solar panels capture solar energy, the charge controller serves as a gatekeeper that prevents the storage system from overcharging, the solar batteries are used to store the energy, and the inverter converts DC electricity to AC electricity to make it compatible and ready to be used.
  • Each part can be bought separately, but there are also set kits available in the market.

Installing a Solar Panel System in your RV

Installing a reliable solar panel system in an RV is a popular option for a lot of off-grid RV users and those looking for a cheaper and greener alternative for the commonly used gas-powered generators. However, the installation process for a solar panel system is a tad bit more complex and complicated compared to other power sources. While there is no actually one way to do it, here a general step-by-step guide on how to install the best solar panel for your RV.

  • Plan a layout for your solar panel system by measuring your RV’s roof to see how much space is usable for the system. Keep note of the numbers and try several mock-ups on paper and see which setup would best fit. Using these measurements, you can see how many solar panels you can fit on your RV, as well as how you are going to put them all together.
  • For a more accurate perspective, you can have some paper cutouts of the size of your solar panel and lay them on the roof of your RV. By doing so, you can see not only how many solar panels will fit but also where you can exactly put them.
  • One more thing to consider when deciding on how many solar panels to include is your average electric consumption. To know this you have several options, you can have an expert do it for you, you can go to an online application and have it do it, or you can compute yourself manually. Once you see the estimate of your monthly electric consumption, you’ll know how many solar panels to include in your plan.
  • When planning your layout, also keep in mind that the control box should be by the driver’s side for easier access.
  • Once you have your layout set, it’s time to prepare all the other components and materials needed in the system. Prepare all necessary wiring and have the charge controller, solar batteries, and inverter ready for installation. We recommend including a battery monitor in the system so that you’ll see if you’re battery is charging at all.
  • After fixing all the parts to its place, run the system and see if you’re all good to go.

Tips for Solar Panel System Maintenance and Care

To ensure that you get the most out of your chose best solar panel for RV, you have to learn how to handle, care, and maintain your solar panel system properly. So to keep your solar panels working at its most efficient, here are some tips on how to care and maintain all of the parts of your solar panel system. 

Solar panel

Maintaining your solar panels is relatively easy. All you have to do is clean the panels as often as you could. The principle behind it is simple; solar panels work by harvesting energy from the sun using silicon cells, and having dirt and debris cover the panels would decrease its performance. However, keep in mind not to use any type of abrasive cleaner as it may damage the solar panel’s anti-reflective coating.

Solar charge controller system

Solar charge controllers need to be greased once in a while. But to further care for your charge controllers, check on its wiring often. Keep an eye on the connection of the wiring and make sure that there are no loose ends. If you notice that your wires get loose so often, have it checked by a mechanic.

Another prevalent issue when it comes to charge controllers is corrosion. This is the accumulation of white powdery substance that indicates either a poor connection in your wirings or a failing component in your system. In case you see this problem on your charge controller, have your RV serviced immediately to avoid any further complications.

Solar battery

As for solar batteries, maintenance and care differ from each battery type. But generally, you can check the status of your batteries by inspecting for loose cables and signs of corrosion and have them serviced by an expert. However, for flooded batteries that have liquid inside, always check the water level of your batteries and remember not to over-fill but rather make them equal.

Conclusion

Here’s the thing: there are several things to learn and consider when you’re choosing the best solar panel for your RV. While each product holds some strengths and weaknesses, it is best to choose a solar panel that is most appropriate for your RV lifestyle and electric consumption to make sure that your solar panel system would provide you with the most effective and efficient power supply. 

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