Today we’re checking out one of the most economical and green methods for powering your RV’s appliances and gadgets – solar power. We’ll be looking at the best RV solar panel kits on the market. We’ll give you plenty of options to choose from for rigging up the best solar power system to your own RV.
Let’s get right to our favorite products. In this list, we’ve included quite a bit of variety, because we know that not every RV owner has the same needs. Different RVs need different amounts of power to run their gadgets, and we’ve accounted for that here.
Consider your own needs, and read through our list to pick the best set-up for you:
1. BEST OVERALL: Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel Kit
Renogy is one of the most trusted names in solar panel equipment. This standard solar panel kit represents what they do best. It’s functional, efficient, durable, and comes with everything you need to get started.
This is a monocrystalline 100W (watt) solar panel kit, which is considered one of the most efficient types of panels for generating solar energy (more on this in our Buying Guide below). The solar cell efficiency for this panel is 21%.
This kit is designed for an output of 500 W per day, and you’ll have to weigh this against your energy usage. It’s capable of charging a 50Ah battery from 50% to full in 3 hours in ideal conditions (which, of course, you’ll rarely get). But even in less-than-ideal conditions, it’s quite the impressive panel.
The kit contains everything you need to get started. It has everything need for installation to your RV – tray cable, mounting Z-brackets, connectors, etc. We won’t say installation is easy, especially if you’re a beginner, but the kit has everything you need.
The kit also contains a 30A (amp) PMW negative grounding controller. The controller protects against overloading, overcharging/discharging, battery reversal, and short-circuit. The controller also allows you to expand your system up to 400W if you require more panels in the future.
The panel itself is highly durable and can stand up to the toughest weather conditions. The corrosion-resistant aluminum frame is designed for decades of outdoor use. Rain, snow, and sleet, you won’t have any worries here.
Of course, batteries are sold separately, but that’s the case with just about every solar panel kit on the market.
- Monocrystalline panels for maximum efficiency.
- Designed for an output of 500Wh per day.
- Can charge 50Ah battery from 50% to full in 3 hours.
- Controller provides protection against battery issues, and allows expansion of system up to 400W.
- Might not be enough power if you have extensive needs.
- Difficult to install (but that’s the case for pretty much any solar panel kit).
2. HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Panel
If all you’re looking for is a quality solar panel, then this is the product for you. Unlike many of the “kits” on our list, this is the bare bones panel option. This is ideal for connecting to your existing solar panel system (provided you have the charge controller and battery bank for it).
This is one of the best 100W panels on the market. A monocrystalline panel with high-efficiency solar cells to increase space efficiency, this panel is designed for an ideal output of 500Wh per day. The panel also has bypass diodes which helps its performance in shady or in low-light environments.
The panels are impressively durable, and will stand up to prolonged use on the roof of your RV. They are built with enhanced encapsulation material with sheet lamination to help protect against any weather conditions. The frame is aluminum and corrosion resistant for many years.
Overall, it’s a quality solar panel that we would highly recommend. If you’re looking to upgrade your RV’s solar set-up, then give this one a shot. Just make sure it’s compatible with your current set-up.
- Monocrystalline panel is highly efficient.
- Designed for 500Wh per day.
- Bypass diodes to enhance performance in low-light.
- Just a single panel, not ideal for a new set-up.
3. Renogy 4 Pack
If you’re looking to build a bigger solar set-up, or you own a larger RV, then you’ll probably want more panels and a larger solar panel system. This system is a trusted option from one of our favorite brands – Renogy.
This kit contains all you need for a solar panel system with an ideal output of 2000Wh per day. The monocrystalline panels are highly efficient (rated at 21% efficiency depending on sunlight). The bypass diodes help increase performance in low light.
The kit has all the Z-brackets, cables, and connectors you need. It even contains a cable entry housing unit, which is a compact unit to allow easy and aesthetic entry of the cables into your RV through the roof. If you’ve ever set up a solar panel system, you know how important it is to properly manage the wires, so it’s a pretty massive bonus that Renogy provides you the tools for this job.
The kit also comes loaded with Renogy’s Adventurer Flush Mount Charge Controller. It’s a very effective charge controller, and it can be easily mounted to the interior wall of your RV for easy monitoring of operating information, and control of parameter settings. The controller has self-diagnostics and electronic protection functions against all common issues.
Overall, it’s another high-quality kit from Renogy, and we’d fully recommend it if you require this much power.
- Adventurer Charge Controller is intuitive and efficient.
- System rated for 2000Wh per day with efficient monocrystalline panels.
- Everything you need to set up, mount system, and manage cables.
- First, check that you need this much power.
4. ACOPOWER 500 Watts Kit
Here’s a 500 Watt kit from ACOPOWER, another top name in solar kits. This kit contains 5 100W solar panels.
These are polycrystalline solar panels, unlike the monocrystalline panels we’ve examined so far. Although polycrystalline is slightly less efficient than monocrystalline, it doesn’t make a huge difference, and they are still high-quality panels.
This kit has everything you need to get started. Just use the parts, and follow the detailed instruction manual to get your RV rigged up and ready to go.
We particularly like the MPPT Charge Controller. It uses negative grounding design, and automatically detects 12V or 24V DC battery systems. It has a tracking efficiency of 99.5%, and a conversion efficiency of 98%. Basically, it ensures that power is transferred to your batteries efficiently and effectively. It even has an LCD display for easy monitoring and control.
Overall, it’s a quality system you can trust. ACOPOWER even includes a 25-year transferable power output warranty on the panels, and a 1-year warranty on all other components.
- High-efficiency, durable panels.
- Effective MPPT charge controller.
- All the components you need to get set up.
- Great price for 500W.
- Polycrystalline tends to be slightly less efficient than monocrystalline.
5. BEST BUDGET: Renogy 800 Watt Kit
While we’re going up in size, we might as well talk about our best budget choice – the Renogy 800 Watt kit. It takes our best budget choice because it’s simply one of the largest kits available, and you get cost savings by buying it all in one place.
That being said, definitely be sure you require this many panels. After all, you won’t be saving money if you are buying more than you need, or you don’t have the battery bank to store this much power!
But if you do require this many panels, then this is an excellent choice. It comes from Renogy, which is a trusted brand that we really like (if that wasn’t already obvious by now).
This kit includes 8 high-efficiency monocrystalline panels, all rated at 21% efficiency. The whole package is 800 watts, and is designed for those with extensive solar needs.
The system provides 4-stage battery charging for rapid battery charging. It’s designed to be hooked up to two 12V batteries.
And as with the other Renogy kits that we examined above, this is a full kit that has everything you need. It has all the tools for installation and cable management, a 60A charge controller, an inline fuse and fuse components, and more. This system even includes Renogy’s Bluetooth module, for wireless monitoring and control over the system.
It’s among the most extensive solar panel kits available. If you’re looking to build a big set-up, then you can’t go wrong here.
- 800-watt kit for extensive electricity needs.
- High-efficiency monocrystalline panels.
- Includes everything you need to set-up and operate system.
- Be sure you have a big enough battery bank – might be more power than you need.
- Only a good budget choice if you need a kit this big.
6. WindyNation 200 Watt Kit
Here’s another solar panel kit from another brand we really like – WindyNation. This kit provides up to 200 watts of renewable power to your RV.
This kit is efficient and effective. In ideal conditions, it can produce up to 820 Watt-Hours or 75 Amp hours of charge per day. Pretty impressive! And if you want to expand it, the included charge controller can handle an additional 100W panel on a 12V system (300W total), and an additional four panels on a 12V system (600W total).
This kit also has everything you need for proper mounting and installation. We really like the charge controller, as it includes an LCD display with all relevant operation information.
Perhaps the best part about this kit is that there are multiple purchase options available. You can even choose options that includes one or two 12V 100 aH batteries. If you’re looking for a full set-up, these are the options you should consider. It takes a lot of the busy work out of building your kit, as you purchase it all in one place from a reputable supplier.
- Option to purchase batteries with the kit.
- Can handle additional panels if you’re looking to expand.
- Can produce up to 820 Watt Hours per day.
- Quite pricy.
7. BEST PREMIUM: Renogy 100W 12V Extremely Flexible Panel
Our best premium option comes from (no surprise) Renogy. This is simply one of the most high-functioning solar panels on the market. It’s not a full kit, but it’s a premium panel to add to your existing system, or to get started on the right foot.
What’s first evident about this product is that it bends! In fact, it’s designed to be ultra-lightweight (weighs 70% less than a standard panel), ultra-portable, and bends up to 248 degrees. All-in-all, this makes it very durable, and easy to move and install. No worries about weighing down your RV with a heavy roof set-up.
But all that wouldn’t mean much if it wasn’t a capable solar panel, and it definitely is. This 100W monocrystalline panel transfers energy quickly and efficiently. It can be hooked up to your existing setup, or used to start new setup.
This is also a great panel if you’re concerned with aesthetics. It’s ultra-thin, and barely even noticeable on the roof of your RV. So, if you don’t want to distract from the look of your sleek new RV, this is the panel for that.
The panel can withstand winds up to 2400 Pa and snow loads up to 5400 Pa.
- Very lightweight, thin, and portable.
- Monocrystalline design efficiently transfers energy.
- Can withstand heavy snow and winds.
- More expensive than a standard solar panel.
8. TP-Solar Foldable Solar Panel Kit
In keeping with the portability theme, here’s another solar panel that was designed with this in mind. These foldable panels are ideal for an RV setup, but also for general use and portability. This is a 100W solar panel kit that can be folded up and taken with you almost anywhere you go.
It’s a high-quality solar panel with monocrystalline design. And although the focus was on portability, don’t let that distract you from its effectiveness. This thing is as efficient as some of the top panels on our list.
This kit is designed for use with a 12V battery, and is relatively easy to install. It’s probably not the type of panel you’d put on your roof, but it’s definitely possible. It might be a better panel to keep inside the RV is you ever need some additional power while you’re setting up camp.
The panel is impressively durable. It’s fully laminated, and made with high-quality ETFE materials. It’s designed for any-and-all weather conditions, including sleet, snow, and heavy rain. TP-Solar claims this product will last up to 15 years.
Overall, a good panel, but probably not the best for a rooftop setup. But if you need some portable power on-the-go, then we’d highly recommend it.
- Highly portable with its folding design.
- High quality monocrystalline panel.
- Weather resistant and durable.
- Quite expensive.
- Not ideal for rooftop setup.
Now that we’re through our product reviews, you might find yourself a little overwhelmed. Solar panel companies have become very advanced, and it may be difficult to pick among all the quality options on the market. In this section, we’ll present you with more info to help make your decision.
We intend on giving you everything you need to pick the best solar panel for your own RV.
How Does a Solar Panel Work?
Let’s start with the basics. Understanding how solar panels actually work will provide you with the base knowledge to compare every product offering on the market.
As you surely know already, solar panels (also called solar photovoltaic devices) convert sunlight into electricity and power. This electricity can be used to power numerous appliances and electronic devices.
In an RV solar setup, the solar panel is typically attached to the roof, where it gets the most direct sunlight. The solar panel collects energy, and transfers it down into the RV through wiring. Needless to say, the more panels you set up, the more power you can create.
But a panel isn’t all you need. There are other important devices which are necessary to actually use the solar panels to power your devices.
The first accessory you need is a charge controller. The controller is attached to the solar panel, and transmits the power from the panels to the battery bank in the RV (which stores the power for use). A charge controller helps to regulate the power being received by the panels, to prevent overcharging the batteries, and other common issues.
You will also require an inverter if you wish to use this power to run your devices in the RV. The solar panels create DC power, and the inverter turns it into AC power, which is what is used to power household devices and appliances.
Benefits of Solar Panels & Kits for RV
The benefits of solar panels for your RV should be pretty clear at this point. They’re a cost-efficient, practical way to generate electricity for your RV. And once you have the components installed, the power generation is free!
Solar panels may not be able to power all of your RV needs, but they’ll still work great as a supplemental source of power to save you money on your power generation over time.
Plus, it’s a decision that you can truly feel good about. “Green” choices are all the rage these days, but solar remains one of the best things you can do for the environment. You’ve got all that roof space on your RV, might as well use it!
Types of Solar Panels & Kits for RV
There are three major types of solar panels – monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous.
If you read through our buyer’s guide, you’ll have noticed that most of the solar panels we examined were monocrystalline. That’s because this is considered the most efficient material for generating power. Polycrystalline panels are not quite as efficient, but they’re generally quite a bit cheaper.
Amorphous solar panels have been designed to be as thin as possible for maximum portability. That being said, they are noticeably less efficient than the other two panels. Because of this, they aren’t very ideal for RVs, and we didn’t include any on our list.
Key Features to Consider in Choosing a Solar Panel System
How Much Power Do I Need?
Perhaps your most important consideration when buying a solar panel system is how much power you actually need. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question, as it really depends on your usage habits. RVs are notorious for their ability to be decked out with the latest gadgets and appliances, so the answer could be very different among different people.
Either way, you have to not only consider the amount of power generated by your solar panels, but the amount that can be stored by your batteries. After all, there’s no use generating all that power if it can’t be stored.
For this reason, we recommend you start small, and increase the solar panel system as your needs expand. It’s better to under buy than over buy.
Wattage of Panels
In considering how much power can be generated with your solar panels, the best thing to consider is wattage. Wattage refers to the electrical current that can be generated by your panels, and helps you understand how many appliances can be powered at once. More wattage, more appliances and devices can be powered in your RV.
Also, be sure that you have the voltage necessary to support the wattage on the panels.
Ease of Set-Up
Solar panels for RVs need to be assembled so that they’re part of your power generating system. They need to be mounted, and connected to the charge controller, inverter, and battery bank. A quality kit will have everything you need to get this set up. It will come with tools for mounting, organizing cables, running cables through the roof, etc. Many kits on our list include exactly that.
If you’re putting panels on the roof of your RV, they need to be durable. They need to stand up to wind, rain, snow, sleet, and everything in between. Luckily, pretty much any reputable solar panel built for this purpose will be very durable. Typically, they’ll use some sort of lamination, as well as a frame that is resistant to corrosion. You can rest assured that any panel on our list above can stand up to the elements.
Of course, solar panels need sun. Therefore, if you live in a climate that gets less sun (looking at you Pacific Northwest) then you might need more panels or more efficient panels to run your RV. It’s an unfortunate reality of this type of power. This is also true of different types of year. For example, the panels charge a lot more efficiently in the summer, when the sun is out for longer.
Conclusion + Top Pick
Thanks so much for reading through our comprehensive guide to RV solar panel technology. We hope this article has given you a comprehensive understanding of the best products on the market, as well as the knowledge to make the best choice for yourself.
That being said, our top pick is the Renogy solar panel. Renogy makes some of the best solar products on the market. No matter which of their kits you purchase, you have everything you need to get set up for a reliable solar system in your RV. The most important part is evaluating your usage requirements, so that you can pick the best Renogy kit for your personal consumption.
Thanks for reading, and for more information on solar products, be sure to check back regularly.
As a bonus, let’s check out a few of the most frequently asked questions about RV solar panels.
How much power do I need?
The answer, unfortunately, is it depends. RVs are very versatile vehicles, and they can be decked out with a wide range of technology and appliances. Your best bet is to actually use your RV, and build your solar set up as you go. A typical RV user might use roughly 20-30 kWh a day, but it can be vastly different than this.
Is my solar panel waterproof?
Yes! The RV panels on our list are all highly weatherproofed for years of use. Any reputable solar panel designed for an RV will be weatherproofed and durable.