The great thing about an RV is that it gives you the freedom to travel and to hit the road without having to stop. Anywhere can be your home and you can travel without limits – it doesn’t matter if you find a hotel in time or if you need a toilet break!
That way, an RV enables the kind of travel and adventure that you could otherwise only dream of. It lets you see the world and really go wherever the wind takes you.
And on top of this, an RV allows people to travel who otherwise would not be able to at all. One of the best examples of this is new parents. Travelling with a young child is immensely difficult and introduces a hot of new challenges that previously wouldn’t exist. Using an RV, many of these are mitigated. You can carry all the supplies you need to look after your child and you can stop at any time should you need to.
And by looking at the best RV solar panels, you’re only taking this one step further: you’re providing yourself with limitless energy on the road to power your appliances in an eco-friendly way and without draining your RV battery.
With the best RV solar panels, your guests will be able to watch TV, browse the web and top up their phones… even play their games consoles – all without bringing your vehicle to a halt.
RVs are perfect for adding solar panels. They are constantly exposed to the elements, constantly on the move and perpetually soaking up the sun’s rays. And installing a large solar panel on an RV is considerably easier and less invasive than doing the same thing on your home roof.
In this way, you can also think of this as a great way to gain energy that you can then use back home. A campervan provides plenty of space to store a solar generator or just a few solar batteries and this way you can use some of the energy you save up when you get back home!
When we think of renewable energy and travel, we often think of electric cars. But using an RV solar panel is an entirely different strategy that is no less game-changing or money saving!
The Best RV Solar Panels on the Market
We’ve seen some of the benefits of RV solar panels, so now let’s take a look at the best RV solar panels on the market right now.
Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline
We’re kicking off our RV solar panel reviews with this option from Renogy. It offers a very generous 100 watts, which is more than enough to power at least a few different devices at once (12 volt battery charging). It can also be wired into a series with other panels, in order to provide extra charging. It’s also a very smart looking unit that is nicely made and that should stand up to wind, snow and more.
Not only that, but the product comes with a generous 25 year warranty, making it a solid choice for anyone that wants to give their RV a little extra power!
Renogy 200 Watts 12 Volts
This is simply a more powerful version of the previous model. Of course, it is also more expensive but it will give you a decent amount of power very quickly. Great efficiency, corrosion resistant aluminum, a frame for outdoor use when not being used as an RV solar panel and more all make this a great option.
It also comes in a 300 and 400W version.
WindyNation 100 Watt Solar Panel Off-Grid RV Boat Kit
This is another positive RV solar panel review! This model from WindyNation is once more, well made, smartly designed, linkable and comes with a variety of extra cables and accessories. Best of all is the included charge controller which can handle multiple panels and gives you easy control through an LCD display.
This is not just intended for use as an RV solar panel but is also suitable for boats, cabins, homes and more. A great versatile, well-built and high quality product for all your solar energy needs.
And with 100 Watts of power, it’s no slouch either!
ECO-WORTHY 20W 12V Solar Panel Kit
This is a slightly different option for those looking for solar power on a budget. It’s considerably smaller but at 20W, it is also considerably weaker – though it will still output 12V for charging your phones and other devices. Despite it’s more diminutive nature though, it is still very nicely made and still comes with a controller and a lengthy 2M extension cable. All this means that you can conveniently charge devices from anywhere in the vehicle.
At this low price and with minimal installation, it’s easy to start enjoying the benefits of a solar charger without needing to break the bank. It’s also well made and promises a 20-year lifespan with similarly hardy materials as other products on this list.
HQST 100 Watt 12Volt Off-Grid Polycrystalline
This is not an RV solar panel in the same sense as some others on this list: it does not attach to your roof.
However, for those that intend on taking long breaks, something like this foldable solar panel is ideal. You can simply pull up somewhere and make camp, then get out your panel in order to soak up some rays and charge your devices. Pair this with a powerbank and you have an ideal solution.
It has a charge controller and a handy foldable stand for optimal sunlight exposure.
Deep Cells: RV Batteries
You may be wondering why you would need to use a solar panel when you could just use the battery that comes in your RV. Doesn’t this work just like a car battery and get charged as you drive?
The first thing to recognize here is that charging appliances while you drive is not the same as not having an impact on the environment! You’re still using more fuel to power the car if devices are leaching off the power and that means you’re costing money and harming the environment.
Note too that RVs generally use deep cell batteries. These work very differently from car batteries. While they last longer without a charge, they also don’t have quite the same ‘kick’ as many car batteries. They can react differently when charging multiple devices.
And finally, your RV battery simply may not be able to take the strain of charging multiple phones, multiple laptops, music and more.
Benefits of RV Holidays
But why choose a campervan holiday at all, and what is it about a campervan holiday that makes it so appealing?
The great thing about a campervan holiday first of all is that it enables you to go on holiday much more cheaply than you otherwise would be able to. Even if you count the cost of the campervan and the RV solar panel (the initial investment) on top of the fuel, this will eventually end up paying for itself. Let’s look for a second at why that’s the case. First of all, to go on a holiday somewhere you need transport and this would mean fuel or it would mean plane tickets. Next, you would need accommodation and that would likely be very expensive and particularly if you needed lots of rooms.
However, with RV rental you don’t need to worry about this at all because the campervan is both the transport and where you will be staying. On top of this though you will also find that you save money in other ways too – for instance you will save yourself the cost of eating out – because you’ll have your own kitchenette and that means that you don’t need to pay for lots of expensive meals. And if you consider using an RV solar panel, then you’ll also be able to earn back some money by saving energy and using it to charge a battery.
But it’s not all about saving money. It’s also about the freedom of being able to decide exactly where you go and when. And it’s about being able to take everything you want with you – all your home creature comforts. Forget sharing a toilet in a crowded hostel or on a plane and forget having to make small talk with some stranger sat next to you.
And RVs have the added benefit of allowing you to spend more quality time with family in close quarters. This alone can make it worth the investment and especially when you remove a lot of the distractions of everyday life. This is truly being off the grid, exploring the world and being closer to those you love!
Checks to Make and Things to Take on Your RV Journeys
If you take an RV and add the best RV solar panels, then you have a recipe for being able to hit the road and stay gone for as long as you wish. In theory, you’d never have to head home!
But while this is very exciting, it also means you need to do some real planning. As well as looking at the RV solar panel reviews above, consider these other tools to bring and things to check.
Checks to Make:
It is very important when driving on any long journey to check certain things about your vehicle. Here are the main ones that apply equally to your RV:
- Water – Make sure that your radiator has water and your windscreen wipers have both water and soap product to be able to clean the glass if you need to while you’re driving.
- Oil – Make sure that your car has enough oil by using the dip stick – you should know how to do this.
- Fuel – before you go on your journey make sure to top up with petrol so that you won’t have to stop later or won’t get caught out unable to find any in time.
- Lights – It’s a good idea to check your headlights and brake lights/indicators before setting off so that you know other cars can see you properly on the road.
- Tires – Make sure you have your tires filled up at the recommended air pressure and likewise make sure that you have a spare tire with you.
Things to Take
The longer you are gone for the more important it is to have supplies. Likewise, some of these can come in very handy in the case of a breakdown.
- De-icer – Very useful if you are spending the night in your vehicle to make sure you can leave when you intend to in the morning and can see through your windshield to drive safely.
- Jack – This is important for being able to get under the car/change the tire if you should have to.
- Supplies – You will want to take lots of supplies so that you can enjoy your stay at the campsite or wherever you may park. However you should also ensure you have some left over supplies in case you break down and get caught out. Water is of the utmost importance.
- Petrol tank – This is useful if you run out and need to make a trip to the petrol station to fuel up, something that can very realistically happen if you are exploring with your trailer.
- Power bank – Why do you need a power bank if you already have an RV solar panel? Simple: because the panel may not come with a battery and sometimes the sun will go behind the clouds. Keep a power bank charging while you drive and this way you will never be stuck without juice.
- Phone – You should always have a phone on you to call for help in case of emergencies. Make sure that this has a list of useful numbers pre-programmed in too. The good news is that you can charge this up wherever you are thanks to your RV solar panels!
- Legal documents – It’s best to always have these in your car in case you are pulled over, or in case you have an accident and need to swap details.