Whether you are an avid RV enthusiast or a part-time weekender, solar panels are a beautiful convenience that can add safety and security to your road trips. It’s a great investment to create electricity on the road no matter where your RV takes you.
The installation process is little to be desired, but it opens up more opportunities for you to return to nature and save money on energy whether you are on the move or parked for the night. It’s also better for the environment.
The cost for a solar panel system even for an RV can reach upwards of $3,000. While this isn’t anywhere close to the cost of putting solar panels on a house, it’s still a hefty upfront cost. It’s an investment and, if it is not utilized properly, is a waste of money.
The good news is that RV solar panels systems can be eligible for a federal solar tax credit. Although, if you are heavily relying on this credit, make sure you and your RV specifically are eligible and act fast as tax credits for solar panels are hastily disappearing.
With increased demand and popularity of #vanlife, there are tons of options out there to choose from. But no need to get too overwhelmed searching for the best RV solar panels. Once you evaluate these important factors, your decision will be more clear and you’ll be able to pick out something that works for your needs.
Top RV Solar Panels
How much power do you consume in your RV?
The unit of measurement AH (amp-hours) is a formula that plays a big role in how many panels you need. The formula to find AH is:
By dividing kilowatts per hour by volts, you reach the number of amp-hours. If the AH rating level is low, the amount of power you need is also low. If it is high, however, you are going to need to put in more solar panels to get the power you need.
But knowing your average output based on the appliances you use in your RV will be necessary to evaluate energy efficiency when comparing the output of RV solar panels.
What type of RV solar panels are you looking for?
Polycrystalline: Mostly used for recreational vehicles, these are made from many blocks of silicon and a small amount of crystalline. It produces less power than monocrystalline panels, but not by much.
Monocrystalline: One of the more effective types as it has a higher charge output and powerful enough to supply energy even in low light conditions.
Amorphous: Also known as thin-film panels, these are made from spreading silicon on a large surface. This type is less costly to make, however it needs more roof space and produces the lowest power output.
What other parts do you need?
Besides the panels themselves, you also need to assess what you are committing to based on the hardware parts you have or don’t have. Some RV solar panel kits include a variation or all of these three key components:
- Charge Controller: This will take the unsteady power generated from the sun and regulate the power received by your RV’s batteries.
- Battery: Solar panels can work with either 12V or 24V deep cycle batteries.
- Power Inverter: Batteries typically run on direct current (DC) so you’ll need a power converter as you likely need to convert DC to alternating current to operate most of your appliances.
Are the solar panels compact and portable?
When it comes to solar panels for an RV, the more portable the better. It’s easier to install and transport if need be. It’s also important to measure the roof of your RV, along with the placement of other items such as air conditioners and antennas to make sure it will fit.
Are they reliable and strong against hard conditions?
Given the fact that you’re going to be driving and parked outside, sometimes in locations with different weather patterns, you want to factor that in when assessing RV solar panels. Are they waterproof? Corrosion-resistant? UV protected? You want to see if these are key features listed in a product to ensure it’s ready for anything.
Now that you have the necessary key information, you’re ready to assess the best RV solar panels below. Choose the one that is most beneficial for you – then you can go back to soaking up the open road (and it’s free solar energy) in no time!