What is a Portable Solar Panel for an RV?
Finding portable solar panels for RVs in the market is a possible task. You can set it up for use and take them down as per need. Lightweight silicon panels and charge controllers are available in portable solar panels to store and generate electricity. You can use them for various functions and are simple to move and store.
Our Top-Rated Pick
In this review, one of our best portable solar panels for RV is Jackery SolarSaga 100W. This is because you can quickly move around with it in your RV. You can source it from amazon at a reasonable price.
Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline – What’s the Difference?
You’ll most likely see “monocrystalline panels” or “polycrystalline panels” when it comes to portable solar panels for camping.
The two most prevalent forms of solar energy receivers are monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. Both rely on silicon photovoltaic cells, the same material in computer chips. The arrangement of the silicon is the distinction between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells:
The construction of monocrystalline solar panels uses single silicon crystal for each solar PV cell. You can call these “mono solar panels” on occasion. Each PV cell comprises numerous silicon crystal pieces that fuse during manufacturing. You can also refer to them as “poly panels” or “multi-crystalline panels.”
The goal of both types of solar panels is to turn sunlight into power. Individual solar cells’ crystalline silicon structure, on the other hand, has an impact on their performance and appearance. You can use the form and color of a panel’s solar cells to determine its type.
Solar Panels Using Monocrystalline Crystals
You can identify monocrystalline solar panels with rounded edges and black PV cells. They create more kilowatt-hours of electricity than polycrystalline panels because they have a greater conversion efficiency. Monocrystalline panels will be more productive per square foot if you want to install a solar panel system but have limited space.
They are the most efficient solar panels, but they are also the most expensive due to single-crystal silicon cells’ more complex production process.
Solar Panels Using Polycrystalline Crystals
PV cells in polycrystalline solar panels are blue and have straight edges. They have a lower efficiency than monocrystalline cells. Therefore, more panels get the same amount of power. Polycrystalline panels are less expensive because of their more straightforward manufacturing method.
Polycrystalline panels are incredibly sturdy. However, they do not last as long as monocrystalline panels. High temperatures also affect them more, reducing their production on the hottest days.
Cost of Solar Panels
The key component that impacts cost is the silicon structure of each solar panel. Manufacturers can make polycrystalline panels by pouring molten silicon into square molds and then cutting the resulting wafers into individual cells.
To make single-crystal solar cells, on the other hand, the solidification of silicon must be precisely under control. Mono panels are more expensive due to the more complicated manufacturing process.
Here are a few factors to bear in mind when it comes to solar panel prices:
When comparing merely the panels, monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive.
Both solar panel types have the exact cost of inverters, wiring, electrical protections, racking, and labor.
You may obtain a higher return on your investment with monocrystalline panels because they are more efficient. Whether homeowners choose Mono or poly panels, they qualify for the federal solar tax credit.
Temperature Coefficient and Efficiency
Monocrystalline solar panels offer greater efficiency. This isn’t to say that polycrystalline solar panels aren’t good; high-quality polycrystalline solar panels are available. Here are a few more efficiency statistics:
- A higher-efficiency solar panel transforms a more significant percentage of sunlight into electricity.
- Polycrystalline panels have typical efficiencies of 20% as of 2021, whereas the best monocrystalline panels have efficiencies nearing 23%.
- Because polycrystalline panels have lower efficiency, you’ll need more of them to obtain a particular monthly kilowatt-hour output. When the temperature of a solar panel rises, its efficiency drops temporarily, but monocrystalline solar cells are less affected.
The temperature coefficient shows how much temperature affects solar panels. All solar panels are factory-tested under the same Standard Test Conditions (STC) to ensure a fair comparison.
Polycrystalline solar panels have greater temperature coefficients than monocrystalline solar panels, which means they lose more productivity as they heat up. However, as technology advances, both types of solar panels now have similar temperature coefficients. Solar panel efficiency isn’t a significant consideration if you have plenty of room.
Installing more polycrystalline panels to compensate for the lower efficiency is not a problem because they are less expensive. Installing more panels is not an option when space is restricted; thus, monocrystalline panels will maximize electricity generation in the existing space.
Appearance and Durability
Silicon structure influences solar cells’ appearance, which dictates how they interact with sunlight and how human eyesight perceives. Monocrystalline cells are black due to their single-crystal design, whereas polycrystalline cells are blue.
Both types of solar panels have a long lifespan and, in many circumstances, a payback period of less than five years. Solar manufacturers typically provide a 25-year warranty on electricity production, although some brands now offer a 30-year warranty.
The Advantages of Portable Solar Panels for RVs
The use of portable solar panels for RVs has several benefits. Let’s have a look at some of the advantages they provide.
- There is no need for installation. You don’t have to get up on the roof to use portable solar panels for RVs.
- There’s no need to get up on your RV’s roof for installation or cleaning with portable solar panels. A portable solar panel does not require any installation. There are no holes in your RV’s roof that you need to dig for mounting hardware or running wires to the charge controller. There’s no need to go up on the top at all.
- Portable RV panels do not require installation; position them in the sun and connect them.
- One of the best things about portable RV solar panels is that you can move them to wherever the sun shines brightest. When the sun moves, you may quickly shift the panels to follow it to continue to capture the sun’s energy.
- In fact, on a hot day, you may park your RV in the shade and use your portable RV solar panel system in the sun. You either have to park your rig in the sun with panels mounted, or you’re not getting the most out of it.
- RV solar panels enable you to park the vehicle in the shade. You may park your RV in the shade on a hot day while leaving your solar panels out in the sun with portable solar panels.
- USB ports may be available for charging devices directly. Some RV solar panels come with built-in USB connectors, allowing you to charge your electronics right from the panel. This is useful for charging a phone or tablet while the panel is also charging the battery bank in your RV.
- Availability of a solar panel that folds up and charges a phone through USB. Some solar panels include USB connectors to directly charge small electronics such as cell phones and tablets. You can easily connect to a solar generator to create a small power station.
- To avoid dealing with batteries and a charge controller, you can frequently connect portable solar panels directly to a compact solar generator (a portable device incorporating a battery for storing power and commonly a tiny inverter for powering a 120V AC outlet).
- Instead of constructing a whole electrical system, many people who travel in self-built RVs buy a solar generator and portable solar panels.
- Charging many items and appliances with a solar generator. Depending on its capability, the solar generator can power laptop computers, tiny gaming devices, lights, a television, a CPAP machine, and a small 12V refrigerator.
- Larger solar generators can power more power-hungry equipment like hairdryers, microwave ovens, and other large appliances.
What are the Drawbacks of Portable RV Solar Panels
What are the drawbacks of using portable solar panel systems for RVs? While portable solar panels have numerous benefits, there are a few drawbacks to consider before purchasing portable solar panels for your RV;
Portable solar panels are, on average, more expensive than solar panels that you fix. This is a cost that some people are willing to bear in exchange for a system that they can buy and use right away without worrying about the complications that come with a more intricate setup.
It Has The Potential to Be Heavy
When it comes to portable solar panels, keep in mind that you’ll be moving them in and out of your rig regularly and from place to location to take advantage of the sun. Some portable solar panels can be heavy, so keep that in mind while shopping for the best portable solar panel for RV. Some little solar panels don’t weigh much at all.
Setup/Breakdown at Each Location
When you use portable solar panels for your RV, you must dismantle and store your solar array every time you move. You must set them up anew when you arrive at a new location. This may not be a massive concern for some people, but it may be a hardship and a deal-breaker for others.
Storage and Transportation of The Panel Can Be Difficult
A portable solar panel kit that is solid and has support legs is one such kind. Rigid portable solar panels can be heavy, and you must set up, deflate, and store them again when not in use.
You’ll also need a place to keep your panels while they’re not in use (for example, when you’re traveling). Depending on the type of portable panels you purchase, this may take up a lot of room.
It’s not difficult to pack a compact folding solar panel for vacation. On the other hand, larger rigid panels must go somewhere, depending on your rig’s size. They could take up your entire basement storage or even your RV’s hallway. So, while buying a portable solar system, think about how you’ll transport the panels.
Portable solar panels are easy to steal, especially when you aren’t around. When they leave camp to walk or explore, many people dismantle their portable solar system and store the panels, pointing to the issue of setup/breakdown for use. This means that your RV’s home battery bank isn’t charging when you’re away.
If you leave your solar panels out in the open, you should know that someone may steal them. Of course, it depends on where you’re camping. However, portable solar panels are in high demand and are costly to replace.
What are the Best Portable Solar Panels for RVs?
- JackerySolarSaga 100W: Best Portable Solar Panel
- Renogy200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline: Best Portable Foldable
- TWELSEAVAN: Best Portable Solar Panel for Power Station
- BLUETTI SP200: Portable Foldable Solar Panel Power Backup
- DOKIO110w 18v: Portable Foldable Solar Panel kit
Our RV Deep Cycle Battery Shopping Guide
If you’re looking for the best portable solar panels for RV, you’ve come to the right place.
You will find a wealth of information available when looking for the best portable solar panels for RV. Watts, weight, and cable length are the three major ones you should pay attention to.
A solar panel’s wattage indicates how much electricity it generates. Because we all use electricity in different ways, the amount of watts we require is unique to each of us. The majority of panels have between 100 and 200 watts of power.
If you only use 12V lights and a restroom fan for an hour every day, 100 watts will suffice. However, if you plan to use a 12V television every day, you should choose a wattage of around 200.
You’ll have to load and unload your portable panels if you travel around a lot. Weight may be one of the essential aspects for you, depending on your age, physical strength, and how you organize your storage. Camper solar panels should be medium weight for portability reasons.
The length of the cords on portable solar panels varies. If you park your RV in the shade rather than in the sun, you may want to consider obtaining a longer cable.
Deep cycle batteries deliver a burst of early energy and retain a steady charge level (your car battery is an excellent example). Their design discharges the majority of their capacity. The quality of your deep cycle battery is essential if you plan on running an application for a lengthy period.
In recent years, lithium-ion batteries have been a popular deep cycle battery alternative for marine watercraft, RVs, lights, and other applications. It’s the apparent pick because of its slim profile, quick charging speed, and long battery life. Keep the following lithium-ion parameters in mind when choosing a deep cycle battery.
Size and Weight
If you plan to utilize your deep cycle battery on a watercraft or RV, where you’ll need to power numerous distinct electrical applications for extended periods, weight and size are critical factors.
Compared to its lead-acid equivalent, a lithium-ion deep cycle battery is lightweight and energy-dense. A lighter, smaller battery gives you more options when it comes to your application’s overall weight and balance.
While lithium-ion is smaller and lighter than lead-acid, its excellent energy efficiency means it performs just as well (if not better) at a fraction of the size.
Unpacking the Best Solar Panels for RVs This Year
JackerySolarSaga 100W: Best Portable Solar Panel
Amazon’s Choice Award for “100w solar panel portable”
Dimensions: LxWxH 22.83 x 19.69 x 2.36 inches (57.9 x 50 x 5.9 centimeters)
Weight: 5.5 pounds (2.4 kilograms)
Style: SolarSaga 100
Connector type: USB
About This Item
- The easy setup included with a kickstand: The Solar Saga 100 comes with two kickstands that can function on any flat surface. You can start soaking energy from the sun for your Jackery power station in just a few seconds. The TPE rubber grip makes it easy to carry anywhere when going off the grid.
- Higher energy conversion rate: The solar panel, which has monocrystalline silicon solar cells cover, uses multi-layered cell technology to generate energy from sunlight. It also performs better than other standard panels, with a conversion efficiency of 23%.
- Durable and splash-proof: The ETFE-laminated case is tough enough to help the solar panel last longer. It’s water-resistant to IP65, so it’ll keep you safe from splashes (Do not place it under the rain or soak it in water). The pocket’s zippers may keep the power wires while concealing the power port.
- This solar panel is compatible with the Jackery Explorer 300/500/1000/1500 power station (available separately), making it suitable for off-grid camping and power outages. Solar Saga 100 has one USB-C (5V, 3A) and one USB-A (5V, 2.4A) output connection for charging two small devices simultaneously.
What We Like
- Charging is quite efficient.
- Looks professional and appealing.
- Has a foldable design.
- Has USB ports inside the kickstand
What We Don’t Like
- It’s more expensive than the competition, but not as much as Goal Zero.
- It does not have an inbuilt battery bank.
- It is not waterproof.
Renogy200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline: Best Portable Foldable
Amazon’s Choice Award for “renogy 200-watt solar panel”
Dimensions: LxWxH 32.5 x 26.4 x 2.8 inches (82.5 x 67 x 7 Centimeters)
Weight: 39 pounds (17.7 kilograms)
Included components: Renogy 200 Watt 12 V Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Suitcase, Renogy Voyager – 20A Negative-Ground Waterproof PWM ControllerRenogy 200 Watt 12 V Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Suitcase, Renogy Voyager – 20A Negative-Ground Waterproof PWM Controller
About This Item
- Has an aluminum stand with adjustable height and corrosion resistance. The heavy-duty handle and latches ensure longevity.
- Contains a casing for protection. Gel, sealed, lithium and flooded batteries are all compatible.
- Has a charge controller with an LCD for operating data and information.
- Overcharge protection is available with a 20A built-in solar charging controller, which reduces fire risk.
- Positive-ground charge controller for RVs, boats, trailers, and other vehicles. The low-voltage technology eliminates the risk of electric shock.
- Components included: 1200W Mono folding Solar Suitcase Panel, 1200A Voyager PWM Charge Controller, with 1Alligator Clips.
What We Like
- It is durable.
- Very reliable.
- It has a good performance.
- It is waterproof.
What We Don’t Like
- It is heavy and large, making it hard to carry around.
TWELSEAVAN: Portable Solar Panel for Power Station
Amazon’s Choice Award for “120w solar panel”
Total USB ports: 4
Wattage: 120 watts
Compatible devices: Tablets, cameras, cellular phones
Connectivity technology: USB
Connector type: USB
About This Item
- High conversion efficiency: High-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells, with efficiencies of up to 23% convert more solar power into usable energy. This increases power generation even when the panel size isn’t much more extensive than typical solar panels.
- High compatibility: is a term used to describe a product’s ability to work with other products.
- Compatible with Jackery/EF ECO FLOW/Rockpals/BALDR/FlashFish/BLUETTI EB70/EB55 and most portable power stations. Includes a variety of connectors, 1DC5521-to-MC4 cable, 2DC5521-to-Anderson cable, 3DC5521-to-5521 cable, and 410 DC connectors.
- Smart charging technology with 4 ports: 1*DC port (18V/6.6A max), 1*USB port (5V/2.1A), 1*USB QC3.0 port (5V3A/9V2.5A/12V2A 24W max), 1* USB-C PD port (5V3A 9V3A/12V3A/15V3A/20V3A, 60W max), the built-in smart IC chip intelligently identifies your device. It automatically adjusts the optimal current, charging compatible devices 4 times.
- Highly portable: Ultra-small in measurement and weight. It features a rubber handle for convenient transport, four metal reinforced mounting holes, and four adjustable kickstands for easy installation or angle modification.
- High durability and guarantee: To boost its outdoor durability, a solar panel with an industrial-strength PET polymer as the surface is an ultra-durable and waterproof polyester canvas. It is suitable for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, and picnics. TWELSEAVAN offers a 24-month warranty, a 90-day money-back guarantee, and courteous customer assistance for the rest of your life.
What We Like
- Extremely long-lasting.
- There are four ports and ten DC connectors to choose from.
- It has four adjustable kickstands.
What We Don’t Like
- Kickstands are flimsy and small.
- Waterproofing is not very good.
BLUETTI SP200: Portable Foldable Solar Panel Power Backup
Weight: 14.3 pounds (6.5 kilograms)
Dimensions: 23.07 x 22.2 x 3 inches (58.5 x 56.3 x 7.6 Centimeters)
Size: SP200 200W
Material: Monocrystalline Silicon
Wattage: 200 watts
About This Item
- BLUETTI SP200 is a 200-watt monocrystalline solar panel with a high conversion efficiency of up to 23.5 percent, significantly more significant than a standard solar panel generator/charger. In low-light circumstances, the BLUETTI SP200 outperforms comparably rated polycrystalline solar panels by a factor of 95, and it exceeds the market average by a factor of ten.
- Durable and splash-proof: Made with innovative laminated technology and a long-lasting ETFE substance on the surface, this product is more durable and scratch-resistant. It’s water-resistant to IP65, so it’ll keep you safe from splashes (Do not place it under the rain or soak it in water).
- BLUETTI SP200 200W foldable solar panel with MC**4 connector can work with most solar generators on the market, including BLUETTI solar generators (AC200 Max/ AC200P/ EB55/ EB70/ EB240/ EB150/ AC50S/ EP500).
- Portable and foldable: The BLUETTI SP200 is easy to travel and install, with a folded size of 20.7 x 20.5 inches (52.5 x 52.07 centimeters) and a weight of only 14.3 pounds (6.49 kilograms).
- Tips: We recommend pairing BLUETTI solar panels with BLUETTI solar generators for the greatest results.
What We Like
- It is of premium quality.
- You can use the panels independently or hang them on the side.
- It is easy to transport.
- The 200 watts output is sufficient for most applications.
What We Don’t Like
- Has less output compatibility with phones and other devices.
DOKIO110w 18v: Portable Foldable Solar Panel kit
Amazon’s Choice Award for “dokio 110w 18v portable foldable
Dimensions: LxWxH 27.95 x 13.78 x 0.2 inches (70.9 x 35 x 0.5 centimeters)
Weight: 6 pounds (2.7 kilograms)
Connector type: USB
About This Item
- It is lightweight and ultrathin to move around with it. This 110W solar panel is only 0.5 inches (1.2 centimeters) thick and weighs only 6 ounces (2.7 kilograms), making it easier to transport, hang, and remove.
- Foldable dimension: 21 x 20 x 1 inch (54 x 50 x 2.4 centimeters), making it easier to transport, hang, and remove.
- Perfect choice for outdoor and emergency use: 9.85 feet (3 meters) of cable from panel to controller. It can power most power stations (Jackery, Goal Zero, Ecoflow, Paxcess) and 12V batteries (AGM, LiFePo4, Deep cycle batteries), RV, boat, trailer, truck, puma, camping, van, and emergency power.
- Smart PWM charging. Contains a complete kit that works right out of the box. Intelligent protects reverse polarity, overcharging, short-circuiting, and reverse current.
- USB ports with a 5V 2A output for charging phones and other USB devices are inbuilt. You do not require the PWM controller if you use the inbuilt MPPT Power Station.
- Affordable with high conversion efficiency: Even though the panel is smaller than a standard model, high efficiency monocrystalline solar cells provide greater power efficiency.
What We Like
- Extremely adaptable.
- Exceptional longevity and performance.
- The lightweight design makes installation and transportation easy.
- Weatherproof design.
What We Don’t Like
- Inefficient in some ways.
FAQs on Portable RV Solar Panels
What Size Solar Panel Do I Need For My RV?
In terms of your batteries, If you have a single 12V battery with a capacity of 100 AH, you’ll need at least 300 watts of solar panels. You need to have at least 400 watts of solar panels with two 12V batteries or two 6-golf cart volt batteries with 200-250 AH.
You should have at least 600 watts of solar panels if you have four 12V batteries or four 6 volt golf cart batteries with 400-600 AH. These suggestions come from the fact that a 100-watt solar panel can create 30 AH of battery charge in five to nine hours of sun exposure. The standard solar panel found on most RVs has a power rating of 150 to 200 watts.
Which Appliances Can You Run on a 100 Watt Solar Panel?
To begin with, it is rare to use a solar panel to power a device or an appliance (unless the RV solar panel kit has USB inputs to run small devices).
The solar panel provides energy/electricity to your battery bank (through a charge controller), which you can use to power your devices and appliances. So, the actual question is how quickly (and how efficiently) a 100 Watt solar panel can recharge your battery bank while you’re using it.
With that in mind, we can make some generalizations. Still, the true answer will be dependent on several factors, including the nature of your electrical system/battery bank, the devices you’re operating, how long you run them, how much sun the panels receive, and a variety of other factors.
If you have a 100 Watt portable solar panel, your battery bank will charge enough. This will be able to power modest, low-power-draw devices for varying durations of time, such as mobile phones, RV lights, tablets, small battery packs, and even your water pump. You will be sure of enough solar power for camping with no worries.
What Can I Run on a 200 Watt Solar Panel?
A 200 Watt solar panel will charge your battery bank sufficiently to operate all of the above (for longer). If you have an inverter, you’ll be able to run small appliances like a coffee machine and a hairdryer (though not for extended periods).
How Do I Connect a Portable Solar Panel To My RV?
- Determine your power needs: 200 to 400 watts of producing solar cell panels are usually sufficient (assuming the sun shines). While basic power needs, such as LED lighting, propane refrigerator electronics, and radio, would require at least 200 watts. You’ll need closer to 400 watts if you add a television, more lighting, and other electrical needs. You can more precisely determine your requirements by comparing the solar cells’ power output.
- Learn system design fundamentals: Solar cells are out in the sun soaking in the rays. The power is sent to a charge controller in your RV via wires. The wires from the charge controller to your coach batteries are then connected. It’s that easy, except for a few fuses to protect your RV’s electrical system.
- Select the components of the system: This is where you strike a balance between cost and performance. You can build a 200-watt system for less than $300.This is basically for higher-efficiency components while keeping the price under $400.
- Assembling and installing: keep this in mind when you are ready to work because your final goal is to keep it simple and easy to use. First and foremost, you intend to make the solar panels as easy to handle as possible, given their size. “The dimensions may make them difficult to transport. Buy a couple of piano hinges from a local hardware store, drill several small holes in the aluminum frame of the panels, and install the hinges. This makes storing the panels simple and then folding them open for use. To keep the panels together during storage, use a nylon luggage strap. You can put a handle and a latch on the aluminum frame to increase convenience in keeping the panels closed for storage. (Note that drilling holes in the frame may violate the manufacturer’s guarantee on the solar panel).
Are Portable Solar Panels Worth It?
Portable solar panels may be worth the cost for you, depending on what you want to power and how you use your RV. The only way to go for an RV lifestyle is to install a complete solar array and power system.
However, if you’re only an occasional RVer, don’t have enough space on your roof to install solar panels, prefer to park your rig in the shade and place your solar panels in the sun – or simply want to dip your toes into the solar waters with a ready-to-go kit – portable solar panels could be the perfect fit for you.
You’ll need several other components in addition to solar panels to complete your RV solar panel system, including:
The charge controller safeguards the storage system from overcharging by converting solar energy from DC to AC power. The solar battery is a device that stores the energy generated by the sun. These parts are frequently part of the solar panel packages, ideal for first-time solar installers.
You can buy these things individually if you already have solar panels that you want to use. Although installing home solar panels on your RV is conceivable, it may not be an easy task.
Because these panels are more extensive and take up more roof space than RV-specific panels, you might not have enough space on top of your vehicle. Also, the voltage of residential panels might not be compatible with the rest of your RV solar power system.
Our best solar panel for RV, the JackerySolarSaga 100W, is available on the market. Check it out for use in your RV.