Best Solar Panels for Campervans

Solar panels for campervans are becoming more popular than ever, as crowds of adventurers seek sustainable solutions to power their RVs and vans on long-distance road trips.

In light of the covid-19 pandemic, van life road trips allow you to get off the beaten (crowded) path and discover untouched natural wonders, reconnect with friends and relive the ‘Good ol’ days’.

The question is, what are the best solar panels to fit on your van or RV?

The aim of this article is to answer all your questions and shed some more light on the best solar panels for campervans!

Foreward
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What Is A Campervan Solar Panel?

Seems, like a simple enough question right? I mean what makes a campervan solar panel different from your home setup?

Well, first and foremost, RVs and vans alike require much less energy to power the onboard appliances when compared to a household solar system.

The simple reason being you have much less equipment in a van than you do in a house. Additionally, even if you had these major appliances in your campervan, the surface area available to mount large solar panels is much less than the roof of your home.

Campervan solar panels come in 3 main forms: rigid, portable, and flexible.

  • Rigid solar panels: These are generally fixed permanently onto the roof of your van. The solar cells are encased in various materials such as glass and are surrounded by a protective aluminum frame.
  • Portable solar panels: These are usually made quite small and lightweight, enabling you to carry the panel with you on day hikes or backpacking trips. Usually, these panels include a built-in charge controller allowing you to charge various devices directly from the panel.
  • Flexible solar panels: These are some of the newest forms of solar panel technology and are made from ultra-thin silicon wafers giving the panel complete flexibility in movement. They feel sort of like vinyl and are ideal for marine applications.

In summary: What is a campervan solar panel?

A durable monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or amorphous solar panel that can be mounted onto your campervan and power all your necessary appliances.


What Are The Best Solar Panels For Campervans?

If you plan to go on prolonged off-grid adventures you want to be able to rely on your solar panels.

The best solar panels are the ones that are able to power your appliances efficiently/effectively.

Below we have listed the best solar panel brands for campervans:

 1. HQST 100 Watt Monocrystalline 12V Solar Panel

Solar panels
Main Features:
  • Compact Design 
  • High-Efficiency Solar Panel
  • Corrosion-resistant aluminum frame for better longevity

View on Amazon

Pros
  • Lightweight (9.92 lbs)
  • Portable
  • Space-efficient
  • Long lifespan and very robust build
Cons
  • Solar Panel Only
  • Needs mounting Z-bracket

2. Renogy Flexible Monocrystalline Marine Solar Panel

Solar panels for campervans
Main Features:
  • Weighs 70% less than conventional panels
  • 0.1 inch thick.
  • Robust
  • This solar panel can be flexed to a maximum of 248 degrees which makes it easier to transport and install.

View on Amazon

Pros
  • Perfect for marine & RV use
  • Ultra-Portable
  • Ultra-Compact Design
  • Maintains solar panel resilience despite being lightweight and flexible
  • Waterproof: IP 68
  • Multiple solar power ratings are available
Cons
  • Unconventional mounting procedure
  • Adhesive instead of brackets
  • Mixed reviews on post-purchase technical support
  • Solar Panel ONLY

3. Renogy Flexible Kit with 100W Monocrystalline Panel

Solar panels for RV
Main Features:
  • Weighs 70% less than conventional panels
  • 0.1 inch thick. 95% thinner than traditional marine solar panels
  • Robust
  • This solar panel can be flexed to a maximum of 248 degrees which makes it easier to transport and install
  • With waterproof charge controller

View on Amazon

Pros
  • Ultra-Portable
  • Waterproof: IP 68
  • Perfect for marine use
  • Ultra-Compact Design
  • Maintains solar panel resilience despite being lightweight and flexible
Cons
  • Unconventional mounting procedure
  • Adhesive instead of brackets
  • Mixed reviews on post-purchase technical support
  • No battery
  • No inverter

4. Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Off Grid Solar Premium Kit

Solar panels for Rv
Main Features:
  • Premium MPPT charge controller
  • Comes with a fuse
  • Rapid, efficient, and safe battery charging
  • Waterproof panel and cables: IP67 
  • IP65 rated junction box 
  • High-efficiency solar cells
  • El tested solar modules; no hot-spot heating Corrosion-Resistant aluminum frame

View on Amazon

Pros
  • Best for systems with batteries
  • Fast-charging
  • Built to last
  • Emphasis on safety and longevity 
  • Remote control and monitoring via Bluetooth app
  • Great value for buyers who appreciate monitoring and fast-charging features
Cons
  • No battery
  • No inverter
  • A bit expensive ($2.83 per watt)
  • Mixed reviews on post-purchase technical support

5. ECO-WORTHY 25 Watts 12V Waterproof Solar Panel

Main Features:
  • Easy to install
  • Best for off-grid applications

View on Amazon

Pros
  • Buyers like that this product’s plug-and-play feature
  • Most buyers think it is a good buy
Cons
  • Some customers have issues with wires and charge controllers. They aren’t as reliable as advertised.

6. Newpowa 30W Watts 12V Mono Solar Panel

solar panel for camper
Main Features:
  • Waterproof: IP67
  • Plug and Play Anderson connectors
  • Easy install thanks to pre-drilled mounting holes

View on Amazon

Pros
  • Perfect for boats: corrosion-resistant aluminum frame
  • Waterproof panels 
  • Great value for money
  • Robust and built to last
Cons
  • Lacks battery and inverter
  • Compatible with specific mounting brackets

7. Newpowa 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel

solar panel for van
Main Features:
  • Easy install thanks to pre-drilled mounting holes
  • More compact new design
  • Higher efficiency solar cells
  • Includes “Z” brackets and stainless steel hardware screws

View on Amazon

Pros
  • Great customer satisfaction
  • Easy to install
  • Great value for money
  • Outstanding charging power
  • Reliable post-purchase tech support
Cons
  • Lacks, charge controller battery and inverter
  • No indication of waterproof solar panels

8. ECO-WORTHY Complete Solar Panel Kit

solar panel for rv
Main Features:
  • 21% High solar cell efficiency
  • Corrosion-resistant aluminum frame for outdoor use, allowing the panels to last for decades as well as withstand high winds and snow loads
  • Complete solar panel kit
  • Pure sine wave inverter with LCD display 
  • 1-year warranty
  • 24/7 technical support team

View on Amazon

Pros
  • An excellent choice to explore all the essential components of a solar system. 
  • Complete accessories and easy installation
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • The entire kit will be shipped in several packages 
  • There is a chance of logistic and shipping problems
  • There is a chance of receiving defective products

What Size Solar Panel Do I Need For My Campervan?

The size of a solar panel generally correlates with the total watt output of your solar panel.

Knowing what size solar panel you need all depends on what appliances you need to power and how much space you have in or on your campervan to mount said panel.

Step 1Measure The Size Of Your Vans Roof

The first step will be to measure the roof of your campervan.

By doing this, you know exactly how much space you have available to dedicate to your solar panels and how much space you have to dedicate to storage such as spare tires, rims, and jerry cans.


Step 2 – Work Out Your Total Energy Usage

In order to determine what size solar panel you’ll need, you need to figure out what sort of energy you require.

To do this you’ll need to do a complete energy audit of your appliances.

Now, this does take some upfront work, to begin with. However, it will give you peace of mind knowing your exact energy requirements.

We have a dedicated article highlighting how to calculate how many solar panels you may need, based on your vehicle’s energy consumption. You can read that article here.

With that being said we do recommend making a table like the one below which outlines all the appliances you use in your RV or campervan, their wattage, and the number of hours each is used for.

ApplianceWatt (W)Hour usage per day (h)Daily Consumption (Wh)
Small Fridge4024960
Microwave8000.5400
Plasma TV2004800
Cellphones (x3)542108
LED Bulbs (x8)805400
Laptop (x3)30041200
Coffee Maker10000.15150
Water Purifier60160
Blender5000.150
Water Heater14400.5720
Total Daily Consumption (Wh)4,848

The amount of Wh used greatly depends on whether the campervan uses propane for cooking/heat or electricity. Our example uses propane, but you can update your table accordingly.


Step 3 – Decide On A Solar Panel For Your Van

Based on your energy requirements you can now decide on the best solar panel for your campervan.

Let’s assume your energy usage requires you to install 400 watts worth of solar.

You’ll want to decide on the most efficient solar panel in terms of maximum wattage + spatial requirements.

For example, perhaps one 400-watt solar panel takes up less space than 4 x 100-watt solar panels (which is usually the case).

How Do You Fit Solar Panels To A Campervan?


How Should My Solar Panel Wiring System Look For My Campervan?

Understanding how your van’s solar panel wiring should be set up does take some practical knowledge.

Understanding the terms is a start, so below I’ll touch base on the most popular items used in the majority of solar panel systems.

Charge Controller

This device is a voltage and/or current regulator and insures that your campervans solar panels do not overcharge your batteries.

Inverter

If you want to power any home appliances in your campervan you will need to include an inverter in your setup. These electrical devices convert the DC (direct current) from your batteries into AC (alternating current).

Blade Fuse Box

These little devices serve as your solar system’s electrical switchboard. It receives power from your battery and distributes it appropriately amongst your appliances. They are very convenient as they hold all your fuses in one spot, which makes blown fuses easy to identify and change.

Breakers

Breakers are automated electrical switches designed to protect your circuit by interrupting the electrical flow in your circuit. Breakers are triggered by excess current from an overload or short circuit. These little guys can prevent a fire from forming in your van so I recommend including them in your solar panel electrical system.


AWG Wire

For those of you not residing in the United States of America, AWG wire may seem like a foreign concept. AWG simply stands for American Wire Guage and is the standard unit of measurement i.e. diameter of electrical conductors. In my own country, we refer to the wire diameter in millimeters squared (m2). Therefore, in my upcoming solar panel wiring schematic, you can use the following cross-reference to get the appropriate AWG sizing of your wires.


Solar Panel Wiring Blueprint For RV/Campervan

Our in-house senior electrical engineer created a dedicated solar panel wiring schematic for campervans. You can use this blueprint to assist you in installing a DIY solar system on your van:

RV Solar Panel Blueprint

$8,99
Are you ready to equip your RV with solar power? Our in-house senior electrical engineer designed the perfect blueprint for you to use.

How Much Are Solar Panels For Campervans?

Solar panels for campervans vary greatly in cost.

There are, however, certain characteristics that affect solar panel pricing from the get-go, regardless of the actual brand.

  • Monocrystalline – Solar panels made from monocrystalline solar cells are much more efficient than polycrystalline solar panels. This along with their manufacturing process make mono solar panels quite a bit more expensive.
  • Flexibility – Again the higher price tags here are a result of the manufacturing process being more labor intensive.
  • Watts – The total wattage of your solar panel has the biggest effect on the price tag. It goes without saying that the higher the wattage, the more material (silicon) is required, the result = a higher price tag.

Below we’ve created a spreadsheet that indicates the average costs of monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.

Panel Type50 Watt100 Watt200 Watt300 Watt
Polycrystalline35 USD60 USD110 USD150 USD
Monocrystalline75 USD125 USD300 USD330 USD
Average cost of solar panels for campervans

Kyle Browning

Kyle Browning

Kyle is a researcher and content specialist at Climatebiz. He has a strong interest in green technology, particularly in photovoltaic systems. Kyle believes in a future where everyone has affordable access to renewable energy, regardless of their race, religion, or social status. This ideology led Kyle to found Climatebiz - with the goal to provide free information for anyone, anytime. You can follow Kyle on Twitter at @kylebrwng

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