6 Best RV Solar Panels and Kits
Silent and fume-free electric power for your RV is what solar panel kits deliver. Check out these six top models and enhance your RV lifestyle.
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Solar electric power is one of the best things to happen to the RV world.
Here you’ll be introduced to six top RV solar kits that provide silent, low-cost, non-polluting power wherever your travels take you.
Expect to pay about $1.15 to $2.50 per watt for kits that include one or more photovoltaic panels, plus cables and a charge controller. Most kits also require you to buy one or more suitable lead-acid or AGM (absorbent glass mat) batteries at a cost of $100 to $400 depending on size. You may also need an inverter ($50 to $400) if you want to convert the DC battery power to 120-volt AC electricity that plug-in appliances can use. One top-rated kit you’ll discover here comes with everything you need in one complete package.
Best Expandable Solar RV Kit
If running a solar system to power electrical items in your RV is new to you, and you want to try it on a small scale, this 12-volt kit is ideal. The Renogy name has a superb track record in the field, and this kit comes with an oversized 30-amp charge controller. A charge controller is essential with every photovoltaic system that uses batteries. It governs the amount of power going to the battery so it lasts as long as possible.
With this kit, all you need to do is add a battery to enjoy DC power without firing up a generator. Add an inverter to the system if you need AC power to run small appliances and charging equipment. At 100 watts of peak output, this solar kit can recharge a 100-amp-hour battery from 50 percent discharged to 100 percent in six to eight hours. Not crazy-fast, but you can add additional panels later if you want a faster charge time. The basic 30-amp charge controller that comes with this kit offers room to expand your system. It can safely handle an additional 260 watts of solar panel output.
Best Basic Solar RV Kit
In addition to offering energy output that’s more than adequate for a small RV system, the solar panels in this 12-volt kit are physically flexible enough to conform to the curved roof of an RV for mounting. Each kit also comes with cables to connect the photovoltaic panels to the basic 20-amp charge controller, plus other cables to connect the charge controller and the battery. Although adequate, the charge controller that comes as part of the kit offers no capacity for additional photovoltaic panels if you want to add any for faster recharging times.
Best Large, Complete Solar RV Kit
This is a big, complete, 12-volt RV solar power kit that includes everything you need to get up and running. WindyNation has a long track record in the off-grid energy world, and this kit comes with four 100-watt photovoltaic panels.
The 1,500-watt inverter that’s also part of the kit is large enough to provide 120 volts of AC power for fairly high-draw items such as an electric kettle, a microwave or a clothes iron. If you want more peak power than this you’ll need a larger inverter. Although the charge controller that comes with this system has no excess capacity to accommodate additional panels, the 400 watts of peak solar power is large enough to satisfy most RVers.
Best Small Solar RV Kit
This kit includes everything you need to generate 12-volt DC and 120-volt AC power. Just add one or more batteries to the system and you’re ready to go. Although the inverter can only put out a maximum of 1,000 watts of AC power, the pure sine wave power output is clean and suitable for safely powering the most sensitive electronics.
(“Pure sine wave power output” refers to the quality and cleanliness of electrical output. Modified sine wave inverters cost less but can’t be used to power electronics.)
RV owners install systems like this to handle small electrical loads such as lighting, charging and small-scale cooling, leaving the big power demands to a gas-powered generator. The non-flexible solar panels come with mounting clips. And the charge controller has a particularly easy-to-read screen so you can easily monitor battery voltage and charge state.
Best Micro Solar RV Kit
This economical, compact kit has a great track record in the field. It’s made for people who want solar power only for small-draw applications such as charging phones and energizing a few LED lights. If you’ve already got decent generator support for your RV and just want something to provide basic power that’s silent and fume-free, this kit is worth a look.
The panel itself weighs only 10 pounds and measures a compact 26-1/2 in. x 21-3/4 in. x 1-1/2 in. Although you’ll need to buy and connect an inverter to your battery to get 120-volt AC power output, the charge controller itself has a USB port for direct charging of phones, lithium booster batteries and anything else that uses a USB cable.
Best Flexible Panel Solar RV Kit
This kit includes physically flexible solar panels that can be mounted on the curved roof of any RV. In addition to what’s included with the kit, you’ll need to add a battery to make this a functional system that delivers DC power. If you also want 120-volt AC power, you’ll need an inverter in your setup.
Any solar panel will only deliver its rated wattage output under ideal conditions, so gauge your expectations accordingly. The 200-watt panels in this kit can recharge a 200-amp-hour battery bank from 50 percent to 100 percent charged during a typical day of RV driving in sunny conditions. For what it’s worth, the Giosolar panels also come with a 25-year output warranty.