Find the best solar panel for RVs, campers, or motorhomes
Residential solar has risen in popularity and affordability in recent years, so it’s little surprise that the solar industry has adapted to meet the needs of consumers on the road. Solar panels can also provide clean electricity for RVs, campers, and motorhomes.
By pairing solar panels with your RV or camper, you can power your road trips with renewable energy. What’s more, using solar energy to power your RV can lead to substantial cost savings and can even allow you to live off the grid.
Curious about the best solar panels for RVs? Here’s an in-depth look at how you can use solar for your RV or camper and which panels are the best fit for your energy needs.
Best RV solar panels 2021
Following is a comparison of the best solar panels for RVs available this year:
|Renogy Flexible Solar Panel||100 watts||$190||Very flexible, easy to install, and weather-proof||Solar battery and battery charger sold separately|
|WindyNation Solar Panel||100 watts||$78||Affordable and includes several mounting options||Heavier than its competitors|
|AllPowers Bendable Solar Panel||100 watts||$210||Lightweight, flexible, and good for tight spaces||More expensive than alternative options|
|Eco-Worthy Solar Panel||100 watts||$118||Easy installation and built-in protection from short circuits||May require purchasing additional extension cables|
|HQST Solar Panel||100 watts||$78||Affordable and ideal for low-light areas||Heavier than other panels|
What are the best RV solar panels?
Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Flexible Solar Panel
The Renogy 100 Watt Flexible Solar Panel is ideal for the roof of an RV or camper and is capable of flexing up to 248 degrees. It only weighs 4.2 pounds and can withstand extreme wind, rain, and snow. This Renogy solar panel costs approximately $190 and comes with a warranty of 5 years at 95 percent efficiency, followed by 10 years at 90 percent efficiency and 25 years at 80 percent efficiency.
WindyNation 100 Watt Solar Panel
WindyNation’s 100-Watt solar panel offers the potential to live off the grid and is an ideal option for those living in remote areas. This solar panel costs around $78 and weighs 18 pounds, making it a cheaper (albeit heavier) alternative to the Renogy model. The WindyNation solar panel has a warranty of 95 percent power for 5 years, 90 percent power for 10 years, and 80 percent power for 25 years.
AllPowers 100 Watt Bendable Solar Panel
The AllPowers 100 Watt Bendable Solar Panel is another flexible option that is best for tight-fitting or small spaces. The plastic backing on this panel can be bent up to 30 degrees and weighs less than 5 pounds, making it easy to transport, install, or remove. The AllPowers solar panel also includes an 18-month guarantee and costs about $210.
Eco-Worthy 100 Watt Solar Panel
The Eco-Worthy solar panel is another option for off-the-grid living or travel. It comes with pre-drilled holes for quick and easy installation. This solar panel kit also includes brackets, an A/LCD display, and an extension cable. This option includes built-in protection from short-circuits, open-circuits, and electrical overloads. All in, this solar panel kit costs about $118. Eco-Worthy also offers a similar solar panel kit with 195 watts of capacity priced at $232.
HQST 100 Watt Solar Panel
This solar panel is especially efficient in lower-light environments such as campsites or cloudier areas. HQST’s solar options also work well in harsh weather conditions. With a price of about $78, the HQST solar panel is a cheaper option for RVs and campers even though it matches the 100-watt capacity of some of its more expensive competitors.
How do RV solar panels work?
RV solar panels work the same as residential solar panels. The panels capture the sun’s energy, convert it into electricity, and that electricity powers your RV.
There are a few differences between solar panels for RVs and panels for homes. For starters, many solar manufacturers offer panels that are portable, can easily be taken down, and that can be mounted on the roof of an RV or camper.
Another key difference is the average system size. While a home solar system can be large enough to power an entire residence, RVs have the limitation of size. Many RVs can only accommodate a solar system large enough to power a few appliances or devices. Your RV or camper will only be able to fit a few panels on the roof, so spacing could be an issue if you want to completely power your RV with solar.
Solar panels for RVs can be especially appealing to camping aficionados or travelers who like to spend time in remote locations. While many campsites offer electrical hookups, RV solar can free you from the worry of being tied to the grid.
How much do RV solar panels cost?
RV solar panels cost between $75 and $1,000, depending on the model, size, and brand. Solar panel kits tend to cost more because they include many of the necessary components that are sold separately from individual panels.
The cost of RV solar panels really depends on your energy needs. If you only need to power a few appliances during the occasional camping trip, you could spend as little as $75 on a cheaper RV solar panel with lower capacity.
If you are on the road consistently or need a high-capacity option to power your RV for longer, a solar kit may be a better solution. Solar panel kits normally include one or two panels, a charge controller, and solar cables. Many solar panel kits range in cost from $200 to $500 – although there are also more expensive options that include solar batteries as well.
Do I need solar panels for my RV?
The answer to this question depends largely on your energy needs. Many RV owners may not “need” to power their vehicle with solar panels, but choose to invest in solar to lower energy costs in the long run. Over time, solar panels can reduce how much you pay for electricity in your RV, camper, or motorhome.
What’s more, travelers, campers, and residents living in remote locations can lower their dependence on the electric grid with solar panels. For the average consumer, two to three RV solar panels will provide enough energy to power small appliances. You’ll need to invest in additional panels or solar batteries if you want to live completely off the grid in your RV.
So, are RV solar panels worth the cost? Solar panels for RVs are an affordable way to invest in green energy without breaking the bank. It’s important to research a panel’s capacity to make sure it will work for your energy consumption habits. But for RV-dwellers, travelers, or campers, solar panels are likely worth the low upfront cost.
Factors to consider for RV solar systems
There are several factors to keep in mind when shopping for the best RV solar panels. Here are some of the most important considerations to think about.
- Your energy needs. RV solar panels are normally lower in capacity because they are smaller and more lightweight. This makes them easier to install and move around. The average RV or camper uses about 20 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power each day. Make sure that you consider the solar panel’s capacity and how much energy you consume every day before you make your decision. Need help pinpointing your monthly energy consumption? The SaveOnEnergy usage calculator can help with that.
- Solar kits. Many solar companies offer kits, which include solar panel(s), cables, and charge controllers. Some kits also include solar batteries, which can help increase the amount of electricity you can use over time. Solar kits are normally more expensive than individual panels, but could be worth the extra cost if you need the included components.
- Ease of installation. For travelers or campers who are on the go often, investing in solar panels with easy installation features can save a lot of time and hassle. Many RV solar panels come with pre-drilled installation holes or are extra lightweight to make setup easy.
- Panel cost. Of course, the cost of RV solar panels varies depending on capacity, size, and other factors. When shopping for a solar panel, remember to factor in the cost of any other components that you will need to install the system. This could include solar batteries, chargers, or cables. And if you want to power more than a few small appliances, you’ll need to invest in multiple panels or a solar panel with more wattage, which could drive up the cost.