Best RV Solar Kits Reviews
Solar Panels for RVs are a fantastic way to try solar energy for the first time and begin your own journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle. In what follows, we’ve put together reviews for the best RV solar kits out there, which we’ve graded in terms of quality, ease-of-use, and cost.
Renogy 100W Flexible Solar Panel
Although this solar panel by Renogy does not come in a complete kit, we mention it in our top best solar panels for RVs due to its extraordinary flexibility and versatility. Unlike other solar panels, this model can be mounted on a curved roof, which greatly extends its applicability.
Renogy’s flexible solar panel features a standard PV input of 100W, but it is ultra-lightweight and therefore very easy to carry and install. When laid flat on its surface, it is only a tenth of an inch tall, which is no less than 95% thinner than standard solar panels. Its lamination is barely noticeable.
In spite of its shape, however, this 100W monocrystalline solar panel by Renogy is built to withstand severe weather, including harsh winds and heavy snow loads. Thanks to its extreme flexibility, you can use it to power up appliances while camping, travelling in your RV, sailing a yacht, and much more.
- Flexible 100W monocrystalline solar panel that can be installed on curved surfaces
- Ultra-lightweight and easy to carry
- 95% Thinner than standard solar panels
- Not sold in a kit
- The edges are quite sharp, so it must be handled with care
Are Solar Panels for RVs Worth the Investment?
One thing everyone says about solar energy is that it’s more expensive than traditional electricity. Is this really the case and, if so, are RV solar kits worth the investment?
The advantages of RV solar kits include:
- Cost efficiency. It’s true that even though the cost of solar panels has decreased by more than 70% over the past decade alone, they are still slightly more expensive to buy and install than an electric generator. However, once the initial investment is out of the way, you will save money long-term on your electricity and gas bills.
- Solar energy is clean and renewable so you don’t have to worry about fumes or fire hazards. What’s more, you can enjoy more freedom with your RV because you don’t have to stop at campsites or RV parks to recharge your batteries and appliances. You can do it all on the go.
- Low maintenance. Most RV solar kits are user-friendly and very easy to install. You’ll likely need only a couple of hours when you first set up your solar system and only a few minutes to start it up in the future. If installed properly, these panels require minimal maintenance and will last for up to 10 years.
The drawbacks of solar panels for RVs:
- The initial investment. To purchase one of the best RV solar kits out there, you’ll have to invest up to $500, which is slightly more than the cost of a traditional electric generator.
- A little tech-savviness may be required. Solar panels for RVs are generally very easy to install and use, but before you buy anything, you’ll probably want to become more familiar with the way solar power works and what it can do in terms of your specific energy consumption. It’s nothing too sophisticated, but it does take a little time and consideration.
How to Properly Assess the Best RV Solar Kit
Most reviews for RV solar kits include plenty of technical details, which can be intimidating at first. Below, we’ve put together a checklist that can help you accurately assess any of the best solar panels for RVs.
PV input and energy conversion
PV (or photovoltaic) input refers to how much energy a solar panel can absorb from sunlight. The higher this number, the faster you will be able to recharge your solar batteries. Equally important, however, is the energy conversion rate of a solar panel. Even if two panels share the same PV input, the panel with a higher energy conversion rate will require less space on your roof and charge batteries faster. For an RV, you should consider only solar kits with a minimum PV input of 100W and an energy conversion rating of at least 15%.
Durability and temperature coefficients
RVs see all kinds of weather so your RV solar panels should be built to withstand extensive outdoor exposure. Look for kits that are designed with durable components, corrosive-resistant frames, as well as weather-proof connectors for rain and snow. You’ll also want to make sure that the solar panel you choose has a small temperature coefficient, which tells you that it will remain effective even during extreme heat.
Charge controllers, inverters, and other components
Solar panels are sold both on their own and as part of kits. Our recommendation is to purchase sets rather than stand-alone panels (unless you are looking to extend an existing kit), primarily because, when you buy the various components together, the cost tends to be lower and the compatibility between them, ensured. For a complete kit, you need one or more solar panels, a charge controller, an inverter, as well as connecting cables and mounting equipment.
Monitoring and equipment warranty
To properly maintain your RV solar kit, you must be able to monitor its PV input and usage. Many of the best RV solar kits can be monitored using the in-built LCD screen on their charge controllers or a Bluetooth connection with a phone or similar device. Since solar panels for RVs are an investment that should last for upwards of 10 years, you’ll also want to make sure that the producer you buy from offers extensive warranty for the equipment and that this guarantee is bankable. Last, but not least, consider that, at a future point in time, you might feel the need to expand your RV solar kit with additional solar panels for faster charging times. Plan for this event by double-checking whether the kit of your choice can be extended and for what cost.
Switching to solar energy can change the way you travel with your RV for the better, not only for the environment, but also for yourself. For this to be the case, however, take some time to estimate your energy needs so that what you buy is enough to power your devices and appliances on the go. Then, browse through and assess some of the best RV solar kits on the market, but don’t forget to apply the criteria above in order to arrive at an optimal purchase.