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Best solar panels for RVs

Go green on the go

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    parked rv with solar panels on roof

    Living on the road and off the grid is appealing to many, but it involves a lot more than just selling your home and powering off your phone. To get an RV ready for solar use, there’s quite a bit of work (and a surprising amount of math) to be done. When buying solar panels for your RV, it’s important to consider how much energy you use, how much sun there will be at any given time and your budget.

    There are high-end solutions out there that cost thousands of dollars, as well as more moderate ones that — with a little DIY and some math skills — can save you quite a bit of money. To help you find the right solar energy fit, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best options available today.

    • Best starter kit: Renogy 200-Watt 12-Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel Starter Kit
    • Best splurge kit: ACOPower Solar Panel Kit
    • Best foldable solar panel: EF EcoFlow 220-Watt Bifacial Foldable Solar Panel
    • Best briefcase solar panel: Renogy 200-Watt 12-Volt Portable Solar Panel
    • Most efficient panel: SunPower Portable Solar Panel
    • Easiest installation: Topsolar Solar Panel Kit
    Renogy Solar Panel Starter KitACOPower Solar Panel KitEF EcoFlow Foldable Solar PanelRenogy Portable Solar PanelSunPower Portable Solar PanelTopsolar Solar Panel Kit
    Amazon rating*4.6 stars4.6 stars4.6 stars4.5 stars4.2 stars4.5 stars
    Number of Amazon Reviews*1,1832261,55086736582
    Price*$234.74$1,264.99$549$327.72$155$129.99
    Total kit wattage200 watts800 watts220 watts200 watts100 watts100 watts
    Efficiency22%Unclear22%-23%23%22%-25%23%
    Dimensions47.3 x 21.3 x 1.4 inches42 x 28.5 x 32 inches32.3 x 72 x 1 inches35.6 x 25.9 x 3.1 inches45.9 x 21.9 x 0.8 inches43.44 x 21.25 x 2.25 inches
    *As of publishing

    Compare our top 6 solar panels for RVs

    We chose the top solar panels for RVs by comparing popular options on Amazon and looking at features like wattage, output, size, price and reviews.

    renogy solar panel starter kit
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    Renogy 200-Watt 12-Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel Starter Kit
    • Amazon rating*: 4.6
    • Wattage: 200 watts
    • Efficiency rating: 22%
    • Dimensions: 47.3 x 21.3 x 1.4 inches

    Buy on Amazon

    This Renogy solar panel starter kit produces an average of 1,000 watt-hours of electricity per day (with five hours of direct sunlight). Its cell efficiency can reach up to 22%, and it’s compatible with four battery types. The kit includes everything you need to build a new system, including a charge controller, cables, Z-brackets and pre-drilled holes. You can also purchase additional Renogy solar panels to reach up to 400 watts of power.

    This kit comes with full mounting hardware, meaning you don’t have to buy anything separate when it comes to installation. If you’re looking for a ready-to-install system, this one hits most of your needs.
    You may end up paying more for this system than you would if you bought everything separately. If cost — not convenience — is your main concern, a different route might make sense.
    Most Amazon reviews for this kit are positive, and many reviewers said this starter kit was easy to use and install. With the included mounting system and simple setup, it seems like a good introduction for those just starting out. Some reviewers had issues with the company’s customer service department, saying it’s hard to contact someone who can help if issues arise. Others ended up purchasing a different charge controller they liked better than the one included.

    acopower solar panel kit
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    ACOPower Solar Panel Kit
    • Amazon rating*: 4.6
    • Wattage: 800 watts
    • Efficiency rating: Unclear
    • Dimensions: 42 x 28.5 x 32 inches

    Buy on Amazon

    With 800 watts of power, the ACOPower Solar Panel Kit is best for those who know they need more juice to power their RV with solar. According to the company, in the right sunlight it can provide 3,840 watt-hours of charge per day. The kit includes eight 100-watt polycrystalline solar panels, a DC to AC power inverter and one solar charge controller, plus all necessary cables and mounting brackets.

    This kit includes several items and produces a high wattage, making it easy to get the power you need without having to purchase too many separate things. The company also offers a 25-year transferable power output warranty on the panels and a one-year warranty on the rest of the components.
    The company isn’t particularly transparent about the efficiency rating for this kit, which is a big factor to consider when comparing options.
    A number of customers on Amazon were surprised by the output and value of these solar panels, saying they hit all the marks (if not exceeded them) in terms of expectations. Those who needed customer service support said the company is helpful and easy to contact. Some negative reviews said the system weighs much more than expected, so that’s something to consider.

    ef ecoflow solar panel
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    EF EcoFlow 220-Watt Bifacial Foldable Solar Panel
    • Amazon rating*: 4.6
    • Wattage: 220 watts
    • Efficiency rating: 22% to 23%
    • Dimensions: 32.3 x 72 x 1 inches

    Buy on Amazon

    This EcoFlow bifacial solar panel is foldable and compact and weighs just under 21 pounds, so you can pack and carry it around as needed. With a 220-watt front and a 155-watt rear solar panel, it can produce up to an extra 25% of solar energy for your RV. The foldable panel comes with an adjustable kickstand case that lets you position the panel for optimal sunlight.

    With this panel, you can still use solar power to charge your RV without having to park the vehicle in direct sunlight. This can help your systems run more efficiently. It also has an efficiency of up to 23%, making it one of the most efficient on our list.
    This system is a little more expensive than other models of similar style. You may consider another brand if cost is your top concern.
    Quite a few Amazon reviewers said this foldable solar panel is easy to use and move around as needed without taking up roof space. One reviewer mentioned that, depending on location (like on a sandy beach), the system may be hard to set up in an efficient way, but they implied that this isn’t something that hinders everyday use. Several reviewers who contacted customer service said the team is helpful and accommodating when required.

    renogy portable solar panel
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    Renogy 200-Watt 12-Volt Portable Solar Panel
    • Amazon rating*: 4.5
    • Wattage: 200 watts
    • Efficiency rating: 23%
    • Dimensions: 35.6 x 25.9 x 3.1 inches

    Buy on Amazon

    This Renogy 200-watt portable panel kit includes a 200-watt solar suitcase, a 20-amp waterproof Voyager charge controller and alligator clips to connect to multiple 12-volt batteries. Made from grade A+ monocrystalline solar cells, this foldable panel offers enhanced cell performance and a long service life. The foldable briefcase design makes it easy to carry, and an adjustable kickstand helps you ensure the right angle for sunshine.

    For those looking for a flexible, hard-working solar panel solution that can fit several different usage scenarios, this is a solid option.
    If you plan on using this often for the same vehicle, it’s likely more cost- and energy-effective to consider a more permanent solution — as long as your budget allows for it.
    Many Amazon reviewers noted that this system is easy to set up and take down, making it a good solution for those on the road often. Plus, it’s often described as sturdy and durable, qualities that mobile people need from their portable solar panels. Customers said there are a few learning curves required, like figuring out the right angle for the panels and how to properly connect it, but that once you get the hang of it, it’s a good solution.

    sunpower portable solar panel
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    SunPower Portable Solar Panel
    • Amazon rating*: 4.2
    • Wattage: 100 watts
    • Efficiency rating: 22% to 25%
    • Dimensions: 45.9 x 21.9 x 0.8 inches

    Buy on Amazon

    The SunPower Portable Solar Panel is made with high-efficiency monocrystalline prime solar cells, resulting in the highest (25%) maximum efficiency on our list. It’s lightweight at 4.4 pounds and can bend up to 30 degrees. The built-in MC4 cable connectors make it easy to plug in and out of a solar generator. These panels are backed by a five-year power and two-year product warranty.

    SunPower is an industry leader in solar panels, so its products and customer service are reliable and reputable. If you’re anxious about buying from Amazon, this may be a good introductory panel.
    This company usually sells directly from its site, so Amazon doesn’t have a complete list of its panel options. It may be worth reviewing the company’s site or calling a representative directly to learn more.
    While there aren’t a ton of reviews on Amazon, most are positive, with reviewers reporting that the panels are easy to install and that they charge well and work well. Some reviewers say customer service is lacking, though this could be because communication is through Amazon rather than SunPower. Reviewers recommend not handling the panels frequently — they’re reportedly not super-durable — but if they’re mounted on a roof, this probably won’t be an issue.

    topsolar solar panel kit
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    Topsolar Solar Panel Kit
    • Amazon rating*: 4.5
    • Wattage: 100 watts
    • Efficiency rating: 23%
    • Dimensions: 43.44 x 21.25 x 2.25 inches

    Buy on Amazon

    The Topsolar Solar Panel Kit is equipped with a bracket that adjusts the mounting angle for better sunlight reception, and it can be mounted on the ground, on wood or on a wall. The built-in overcharge and overload protection keeps your RV and its electric hardware safe. It produces 100 watts of power and has an efficiency rating of 23%. At only $129.99, this option offers quite a bang for your buck.

    While other designs are mounted flat with glue or require holes drilled for all four corners, the Topsolar Solar Panel Kit has a bracket with an adjustable angle for easy installation and maximum efficiency.
    Topsolar doesn’t sell additional panels you can add to your system to maximize output. If you expect to need more panels for your system, another option may be better.
    The most common positive theme in Amazon reviews is ease of installation. A number of customers said they had to change out cords or controllers to get maximum input, and some mentioned that their package arrived damaged, which is always a risk when ordering online.

    *Amazon ratings are accurate as of publishing.

    How much do solar panels for RVs cost?

    In general, you should expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $650 for one solar panel, depending on the efficiency of the system and what material it’s made from. And, more than likely, you’ll need at least two panels — if not five or six — to fully go solar.

    Keep in mind that the total amount you spend on an RV solar energy system can vary greatly depending on several factors, including the efficiency ratings of your panels, the amount of energy you expect to use, available sunlight and the type of installation you require.

    Efficiency

    Kami Turky, the founder of Solar Energy Hackers, an online resource for solar information, explained that solar panel efficiency is a measure of how good the solar panel is at converting sunlight into electricity. “A higher efficiency means more power from less sun and space, which is ideal for RVs because they don't have a lot of space, and you want your solar panels to charge your batteries faster, so you can hit the road,” Turky said.

    Each solar panel has its own efficiency rating, which expresses how much of the sun’s rays it can convert into electricity. The higher the rating, the more it can convert in a smaller amount of square footage, and the fewer panels you’ll need for your system.

    Energy requirements

    You’ll also need to know how much energy you expect to use. Most RV solar panels are between 100 and 400 watts each.

    Installation type

    You can either install the solar panels yourself or pay a company to do it as part of their package. If you go the do-it-yourself route, you’ll need to purchase a mounting kit, cables, alligator clips and other equipment.

    What to consider when buying solar panels for your RV

    While efficiency and energy capabilities are important factors, there are other considerations when you’re purchasing solar panels for your RV.

    • Weight: Regular solar panels weigh approximately 40 pounds, while portable ones usually weigh less than 10 pounds. If your RV has weight restrictions, this is a big factor to consider. The added weight will also mean lower gas mileage.
    • System voltage: Most RV owners can get by with a traditional 12-volt system that meets their AC/DC needs. For those with greater energy demands, a 24-volt system may be better (but will come at a higher price).
    • Building quality: The three main types of solar panels available are monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film solar panels. Monocrystalline is the most efficient and is made from one silicon source. Polycrystalline panels are made of different types of silicon and are still efficient, but they are a little cheaper than monocrystalline. Thin-film panels are thin pieces of conductive material on a plate of plastic or glass. They’re the most affordable but least efficient option.

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      FAQ

      What other equipment will I need to use solar in my RV?

      In addition to the solar panels, you’ll need a charge controller to help prevent overcharging your system, solar batteries for energy storage and an inverter. You may consider getting a battery monitor as well to alert you to the status of your battery.

      How many solar panels do I need to run an RV?

      How many solar panels you need depends on many factors, including the wattage of the panels, how much sun you get and how much energy you use. It might be anywhere from one to seven panels.

      What are the most efficient RV solar panels?

      Most RV solar panels on this list hover around 22% efficiency. Some of SunPower’s solar panels have a maximum efficiency rating of 25%, making them the most efficient we found.


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