Harnessing the sun’s energy for RV camping can be a game-changer for your adventures, offering greater independence and flexibility on the road. With the best RV solar panels, you can maintain your freedom while minimizing your impact on the environment.
Without the noise and pollution of a gas-powered generator, solar panels on your RV provide a peaceful and sustainable alternative for powering up.
But sorting through all the options can be confusing, so we’ve put together this guide to help you find the perfect panel setup for your rig.
Here are the best RV solar panels on the market to make your camping more enjoyable and environmentally friendly.
How Does An RV Solar Panel Work?
Solar panels are made up of individual “solar cells”, and these cells are responsible for converting sunlight into energy(electricity) which can be used to run the devices and appliances inside your RV.
The process starts when the sunlight hits the solar panels which then creates an electric current. Electric current passes through the charge controller which regulates the amount of current that goes into the battery.
Direct current( DC) electricity charges the battery and by using an inverter DC is converted to AC power. AC is the type of electricity that runs several appliances inside your RVs.
What To Look For When Buying Solar Panels For RV?
Picking out the best solar panels for your rigs is easy if you know what to look for. Here are the most important factors to consider so you only get the best and most efficient solar panels for your RVs.
- Weight and size– Choosing the correct size and weight of solar panels would depend on where you would secure them and what type of RVs you own. You don’t want to get something that’s too big and heavy for your RVs to take.
- Amount of power you need- To buy the right solar panel, you should know first how much power you will be needing.
Here is an example to help you determine how much power each appliance will consume; Let’s say you have one TV that consumes 80 watts, let’s assume that you use your TV 3 hours a day. 80 Watts x 3hours= 240 W/Hour is your daily consumption.
- Efficiency– See what type of solar panel that best suits your RVs. If you’ve money to spare and got limited roof space then a monocrystalline panel would be great. If you’re on a tight budget then go for amorphous or polycrystalline panels.
- Durability– Since solar panels are used outdoors, they are more prone to aging and wearing out. Choose a solar panel that made of high quality materials so you can use them for longer period of time.
- Voltage– Most RV solar panel kits run on 12V, 24V and 48V inputs which can be matched easily by using the solar panel in parallel and series configurations.
What Type Of Solar Panels Are Best For RV?
Here are the three types of solar panels and their characteristics that differentiate them from one another.
- Monocrystalline Solar Panels– It is the oldest and most developed type of solar panel. They are considered to be the best RV solar panels and the most efficient because each solar cell is made from pure silicone using the Czochralski method. Monocrystalline cells also appear black due to how the sun interacts with pure silicone. Since it’s the purest, it is the most efficient and occupies less space. They are also more tolerant of higher temperatures and low light. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most expensive of the three.
- Polycrystalline Solar Panels– Poly Panels are a newer development, each polycrystalline cell is made from fragments of the silicon crystal melted together. Each polycrystalline cell appears bluish due to how sunlight reflects on the crystal.
- Amorphous (Thin Film) Solar Panels- The least expensive and least efficient type of solar panel. They are not always made of silicone and are made from a variety of materials or a photovoltaic substance that is applied to a substrate like glass.
Are Solar Panels Worth It On An RV?
Solar panels can be pricey but it’s definitely worth the investment. Here are some of the benefits of owning an RV solar panel.
- Freedom to travel: having a solar panel installed in your RVs allows you to travel anywhere you want with hookups or no hookups.
- Cost-effective: Unlike RV generators, Solar panels don’t need special maintenance and fuel to run efficiently, all you need is sunlight and you’re good to go.
- Clean and quiet: It does not burn fuel which can be harmful to the planet, and is not run by loud motors.
- They extend the life of your RV batteries: Solar panels increase RV battery life from 50% to 75% longer.
Picking out the best RV solar panel can be challenging, especially for first-time RVers and solar panel users.
But now that you’re informed of the important things about choosing the right solar panels, here are our top recommendations to narrow down your choices.
RV Solar Panel Installation
When it comes to the installation of RV solar panels you have two options, you can spend some cash and let the pros do it for you or you can do it yourself, ‘coz why not.
Installing an RV solar panel can be overwhelming especially for newbies, so here’s a great video to help you in installing your new investment.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
The average lifespan of a solar panel is about 25-30 years. After decades of use, they will still be functional but expect that electricity production may decrease beyond their normal and guaranteed production output.
Can Solar Panel Charge Without Direct Sunlight?
Yes, Solar panels will charge without direct sunlight, as long as there is natural daylight. The solar panel will still work under a shade but expect that it will work at a lesser capacity.
Is My Solar Panel Weatherproof?
Solar Panels are made waterproof since they are used outdoors where rain is always a possibility. Although they are not weatherproof, manufacturers add varying levels of weatherproofing included in their solar panel kits like the brackets and controller.
Can You Run An RV Air Conditioner On Solar Power?
With a big enough solar panel and a few electrical system upgrades, Yes it is possible to run an RV AC with a solar panel.
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Now that we’re on the topic of powering up your RV camper, you might also want to check out our guide to the best RV Battery on the market.
If you love RV living and finally decide to do it full-time, this beginner’s guide to full-time RV living will surely help.