Top 10 Best Solar Panels for RV Use

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the best solar panels for rv use
RVing is all about getting off the grid and into the great outdoors without anything to hold you back. What better way to accomplish that and do your part to keep the environment clean for future generations than by ditching that noisy, polluting, gas-powered generator for a new solar-powered rig? We know that getting started with solar can be complicated and daunting enough in its own right with figuring out all the different parts and components you need to get your rig up and running. This is without even considering the wide variety of offerings and options available on the market, a number which seems to grow by the day. To help you in your quest to go solar, we’ve narrowed the hundreds of selections down to our 10 Best Solar Panels for RV Use, which provides a cross-section of the options available today.

Comparison Table

Best Solar Panels for RV Use FAQ

Before we get into our list of the 10 Best Solar Panels for RV Use, let’s take a look at some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that we get about the best solar panels for RV use.

1. Are Bendable or Rigid Solar Panels More Durable?

The answer is really that it depends on your usage. Bendable solar panels offer the benefits of being flexible, meaning they won’t shatter like glass panels, and being incredibly light and thin, which means they are easily transported from location to location. On the other hand, some rigid solar panels feature anti-corrosive aluminum frames and tempered glass making them incredibly strong and capable of withstanding high winds and snow weight.

2. How Much Power Do I Need from My RV’s Solar Panel?

This answer can vary widely based on a number of factors, including the size of your RV, the number of electronic appliances you run, and the number of people staying in your RV. For many smaller RVs with small, energy-efficient appliances, a 100-watt panel will prove sufficient. If you are unsure, you can buy a system with upgradable capacity, beginning with a 100-watt panel and adding more later, as needed. Many of the 100-watt solar starter kits on our list of 10 Best Solar Panels for RV Use are upgradeable to a maximum capacity of 400 watts with the purchase of additional panels. 

3. Why Is Solar Better than Using a Gas-Powered Generator?

There are a number of reasons to ditch that old, dirty gas-powered generator and join the solar revolution. Solar is cleaner, quieter, cheaper to operate, and better for the environment than a gas-powered generator. And with each new generation of solar panels, the gap between the power output of solar and gas-powered generators continues to narrow, as does the price differential.

4. If I Switch to Solar, Will I Be Left without Power When the Sun Doesn’t Shine?

Some people resist switching to solar because they’re afraid they’ll be left without power when the sun doesn’t shine. First, solar panels charge large-capacity batteries that are then used to power your RV during bad weather or at night. Second, many users choose to keep their gas-powered generators on-hand as an additional backup power supply, if necessary.

How We Reviewed

solar panels

Image source: Unsplash

When it comes to solar panels, there are a variety of important criteria to compare. In compiling our 10 Best Solar Panels for RV Use, we considered power output, size, weight, durability, materials, versatility, ease of installation, ease of use, reliability, compatibility, and, of course, price.

What We Reviewed

  • Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar
  • WindyNation 100 Watt Solar Panel
  • HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel
  • Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar
  • Go Power! Weekender SW Complete Solar and Inverter System
  • Suaoki 100W 18V 12V Solar Panel
  • ALLPOWERS Solar Panel
  • ACOPOWER UV11007GD 100W Foldable Solar Panel
  • Newpowa 2 Piece 100W Polycrystalline Photovoltaic PV Solar Panel
  • Renogy KIT-RV400D Solar Panel
  • Includes 100W Solar Panel + 30A PWM Negative ground Charge Controller + MC4...
  • Monocrystalline solar cell efficiency: 21%;The Charge controller has been upgraded...
  • With the Renogy wanderer 30A PWM charge Controller, you can expand your system up to...

Last update on 2019-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API Details

Features

This solar start kit from Renogy features a 100W, 12V monocrystalline solar panels along with the Renogy Wanderer, a 30A PWM charge controller that can handle up to 400W (requires additional panels that must be purchased separately) and which can be used for a variety of off-the-grid purposes. The package also comes with an 8-foot 10AWG tray cable, which connects the charge controller and battery, and a Renogy 20-foot 10AWG MC4 adapter kit.

PROS

  • Features the Wanderer, Renogy’s new 30A PWM NegativeGround charge controller
  • Expandable up to 400W
  • Ideal output of 500Wh per day, as configured
  • Includes 8-foot 10AWG tray cable that connects the Wanderer charge controller to the battery
  • Relatively inexpensive

CONS

  • The 100W output may not be sufficient for some users
  • Upgrading to higher wattage requires purchasing extra solar panels

Warranty

Renogy offers a warranty based on power output, guaranteeing at least 95% power output for 5 years; at least 90% power output for 10 years; and at least 80% power output for 25 years.

  • The kit includes: (1) 100 Watt WindyNation Solar Panel, 30-Amp (user adjustable)...
  • Designed for RVs, cabins, homes, boats, back-up and remote power use
  • Kit will provide on average 350 Watt Hours (Wh) or 33 Amp hours of charge per day...

Last update on 2019-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API Details

Features

This solar starter kit from WindyNation is particularly outfitted for use on an RV or boat. It includes a 100W WindyNation solar panel, a 30-amp WindyNation P30L solar charger controller with LCD display and battery temperature sensor, MC4 connectors/adapters, solar-panel mounting hardware, and 40 feet of UL-listed 12 AWG solar cable.

PROS

  • WindyNation P30L solar charger controller features user-adjustable settings
  • LCD screen displays amperage, voltage, amp-hours, temperature, and DC load draw
  • Upgradeable 400W (via four 100W panels, available separately)
  • Specifically tailored for RVs, boats, and cabins
  • Includes everything you need to install solar panels on your home or vehicle

CONS

  • Provides up to 350Wh (Watt Hours) per day, less than other 100W panels on our list

Warranty

WindyNation includes a 2-year warranty on parts and labor.

  • Anti-reflective, high transparency, low iron-tempered glass with enhanced stiffness...
  • Pre-drilled holes on the back of the panel allow for fast mounting and securing....
  • High module conversion efficiency. Ideal output: 500Wh per day (depending on the...

Last update on 2019-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API Details

Features

Unlike some of the other configurations that made our list of best solar panels for RV use, this offering from HQST does not come with a solar charger controller. However, for just the panels, this leaves plenty of money for you to select your own controller, allowing you to customize your own setup based on your needs and budget.

PROS

  • Compatible with a variety of mounting systems, including tilt mounts, pole mounts, and z-brackets
  • “A la carte” solar panels allow you to customize your own setup by adding your choice of controller, mounts, etc.
  • Corrosion-resistant aluminum frame
  • Built to last for decades

CONS

  • Some users may prefer to purchase an all-in-one solar starter kit that comes with everything they’ll need
  • Depending on what controller, mounts, and other accessories you select to go with this solar panel, it could end up being more expensive than the solar starter kits

Warranty

The HQST 100W solar panel comes with a 25-year power output warranty and a 5-year material and workmanship warranty.

  • Negative Grounding controller with battery reversed, overloading, short-circuit and...
  • The Charge controller has been upgraded to Renogy' S New 30A PWM Negative-Ground...
  • With the Renogy wanderer 30A PWM charge Controller, you can expand your system up to...

Last update on 2019-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API Details

Features

This 200-watt solar starter kit from Renogy features essentially the same specs as the 100-watt version, but it comes with two 100-watt solar panels as opposed to one. It features the same Renogy 30A PWM negative-ground charge controller known as the Renogy Wanderer, and, with a 100-watt Renogy solar panel available for purchase on Amazon separately, one could just as easily purchase a 100-watt Renogy starter kit now and add an additional 100-watt panel later if needed.

PROS

  • Ideal output of 1000Wh (Watt Hours) per day
  • Includes everything you’ll need, from solar panels to controller to mounting brackets to an 8-foot 10AWG tray cable
  • Negative-ground charger allows a variety of off-the-grid applications

CONS

  • 10AWG tray cable is less than the 12AWG tray cable in some other kits
  • 200-watt solar starter kit does not offer much, if any, savings over buying the 100-watt starter kit then purchasing a separate 100-watt panel

Warranty

Renogy offers a warranty based on power output, guaranteeing at least 95% power output for 5 years; at least 90% power output for 10 years; and at least 80% power output for 25 years.

  • Complete kit includes everything you need to hook up solar and inverter system
  • No fuel, no maintenance and no noise
  • Completely green power solution

Last update on 2019-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API Details

Features

This solar kit from Go Power! includes not only a 160-watt solar panel and 30-amp PWM controller, it also features a complete 1500-watt inverter system, making it ready to power your AC appliances, from a TV to a microwave. All you need to add is the battery, and you’ll have power 24/7 without the need for a noisy, polluting gas-powered generator.

PROS

  • Includes everything you need, including an inverter to power your AC appliances
  • 160-watt panel comes standard
  • Powerful 1500-watt inverter

CONS

  • Many multiples as expensive as other starter kits on our list
  • Some users may want to select their own inverter separately, or may not need one

Warranty

Go Power! provides a 25-year warranty on power output.

  • SUNPOWER SOLAR CELL: Suaoki utilizes SunPower Solar Cell with a higher-than-average...
  • SUPERIOR DURABILITY: the water resistant semi-flexible solar panel is ultra durable...
  • BENDABLE PANEL: the panel can be gently flexed to follow a smooth curve of 30 degrees...

Last update on 2019-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API Details

Features

This ultra-thin, flexible 100-watt solar panel from Suaoki is perfect for areas where traditional, rigid solar panels made of glass and aluminum just won’t fit. Remarkably, these bendable panels are only 0.1-inches thick and weigh under 5 pounds.

PROS

  • Ultralight, ultra-thin, bendable solar panels
  • Fit areas where rigid panels won’t
  • Flexible, resilient design is incredibly durable

CONS

  • Includes solar panel only
  • Expensive for just the solar panel
  • Same price as some 100-watt solar kits that include controller and other mounting accessories

Warranty

Suaoki provides a 12-month warranty from date of purchase.

  • SunPower Solar Cell:The SunPower cell is made from US, up to 23.5% efficiency,...
  • Supior Durability: The water resistant semi-flexible solar SunPower panel is far more...
  • Bendable Panel: The plastic back sheet can be curved to a maximum 30 degree arc and...

Last update on 2019-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API Details

Features

These bendable solar panels from ALLPOWERS are less expensive than some other bendable panels on our list of Best Solar Panels for RV Use, making them an option for budget-conscious buyers who would like the benefits of flexible panels.

PROS

  • Bendable to a maximum 30-degree arc
  • Less expensive than other 100-watt bendable solar panels on our list
  • Pre-drilled for quick, easy mounting
  • Ideal for non-permanent installations like boats, RVs, and seasonal cabins

CONS

  • Includes solar panel only; must purchase other components separatel

Warranty

The ALLPOWERS bendable solar panel comes with an 18-month warranty.

  • Portable Solar Panel Kit: 2 pieces of foldable 50W high efficiency Grade A...
  • Capable Solar Panel Kit:charge generators with MC4 connectors, charge 12V Car or...
  • Portable and Easy Setup: with pre-installed stands, the PV kit does not need separate...

Last update on 2019-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API Details

Features

This foldable 100-watt solar panel from ACOPOWER actually features two 50-watt panels that fold down for easier storage, making for greater portability and storage between temporary uses. It even comes with a protective suitcase, making it the ultimate portable, temporary solar rig.

PROS

  • Foldable design for maximum portability
  • Includes protective suitcase for solar panels
  • Comes with controller
  • Attached stands means no need for separate mounting brackets

CONS

  • Additional solar panel can be attached but with a maximum of 40 watts
  • 33 pound of solar panel is much heavier than bendable solar panels, which weigh under 5 pounds
  • More expensive than even the 100-watt bendable panels
  • Attached stands mean that this rig is not made for permanent setups

Warranty

ACOPOWER includes an 18-month workmanship warranty and a 25-year warranty on power output.

  • Maximum power (Pmax): 100W
  • Voltage at Pmax (Vmp):17.2V
  • Current at Pmax (Imp): 5.81A

Last update on 2019-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API Details

Features

The Newpowa two-piece 100-watt solar panels feature two separate 50-watt panels. They do not come with a controller or mounting brackets, which must be purchased separately.

PROS

  • High-quality design
  • Using two smaller 50-watt panels rather than one larger 100-watt panel increases versatility when it comes to configuring panels
  • Diodes are pre-installed in the junction box

CONS

  • More expensive than most other 100-watt panels on our list of Best Solar Panels for RV Use, including bendable panels
  • All other accessories, including the controller and mounting brackets, must be purchased separately

Warranty

Newpowa includes a transferable 25-year warranty on power output.

  • Designed for off-grid solar panel system, Caravan, RV, boat, Green house Solar panel...
  • Advanced encapsulation material with multilayered sheet laminations to enhance cell...
  • Corrosion-resistant aluminum frame for extended outdoor use, allowing the panels to...

Last update on 2019-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API Details

Features

For those who need maximum power, Renogy offers this 400-watt solar starter with the Adventurer 30A PWM flush-mount charge controller. The panels feature corrosion-resistant aluminum frames that are designed for four-season use in all conditions, including high winds and snow.

PROS

  • Delivers 4 times the power of 100-watt solar starter kits
  • Includes everything you’ll need to install your kit and panels on your RV
  • The ultimate solar power rig for your RV when it comes to wattage
  • Designed to last for years, if not decades, and to withstand all kinds of weather conditions

CONS

  • About 4 times the price of comparable 100W solar starter kits
  • Some users may prefer to create their own custom setups rather than purchase pre-packaged kits

Warranty

Renogy offers a warranty based on power output, guaranteeing at least 95% power output for 5 years; at least 90% power output for 10 years; and at least 80% power output for 25 years.

The Verdict

solar panels

Image source: Unsplash

When it comes to determining the best solar panels for RV use, a lot depends on your needs, usage, and budget. If a 100-watt panel simply won’t suffice, we recommend the Renogy KIT-400D, with its highly durable 400-watt setup that includes four 100-watt panels and Renogy’s Adventurer charge controller.

However, if you already have a controller and other accessories, and you’re simply looking to add more wattage, you would probably prefer one of the standalone solar panels that made our list of 10 Best Solar Panels for RV Use.

Bendable solar panels, while a bit more expensive than some of the rigid glass models on our list, are incredibly light, thin, durable, and easy-to-install, making them a great option if you plan to use your panels in multiple locations, such as on your RV, boat, and cabin.

Whichever setup is right for you, you can’t go wrong with any of our 10 Best Solar Panels for RV Use. Any of these high-quality, reliable solar rigs will have you off-the-grid for years to come using free, clean power right from the sun, without the need for noisy, smelly, and polluting gas-powered generators.

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