The benefit of using the best portable solar panels for RV is that you don’t need to install them on the roof. Therefore, in the future, you can use them in situations that don’t require you to take your RV.
If you have been using a gasoline camping generator, you will be happy to know that with solar panels, you will not have to tolerate the nasty noise. In addition, you will do Mother Nature one good turn. Of course, it does not make sense to go dry camping with your RV only for you to have a generator with nasty emissions.
What to Consider In the Best Portable Solar Panels for RV
In this section, we are going to look at the most important factors to consider when choosing portable solar panels for RV batteries. There are so many of them in the market. Therefore, you might need a little help when choosing one. Just consider the following factors:
It goes without saying that higher wattage is better than low. Therefore, although we have reviewed 50-watt panels here, for such, you might have to buy several of them. Therefore, the best wattage to start with for your RV solar panel would be at least 160 watts.
However, this is just a guideline. Therefore, consider your power needs. For instance, running a fridge, lighting up in your RV and running a television might require at least 200 watts. However, running the lights alone needs a 100-Watt solar panel.
In addition, higher wattage solar panels ten charge the RV batteries better even on cloudy days. Of course, on overcast days, the charging will be affected.
The best portable panels come in the briefcase design. That way, when you are done using one, you can just fold it up and stash it away safely in a small space. RV life is a bit squeezed since there is not all that much space. Therefore, you need a foldable solar panel that takes as minimal space as possible.
Another thing to consider about the design is how you will install the solar panels. For instance, some come with folding kickstands. Therefore, they require no installation. On the other hand, some do not have this built-in stand. Therefore, only buy such when you are ready to install them on the roof of your RV, campervan or boat.
If you get the roof-mounted solar panels for campervans and RVs, the initial installation will be a bit hard. However, after that, it is going to be a free run for you since you just need to keep an eye on them. Such installations are permanent.
Another design consideration is the type. For instance, flexible solar panels install more easily on the curved roofs of vans and RVs than rigid ones. However, rigid ones are more popular and readily available. Besides, they are cheaper.
There are basically two main technologies for harvesting solar. One of them is polycrystalline and such panels have a blue color. Secondly, we have monocrystalline technology and such panels are black in color. The main difference between the two is that mono panels are more efficient and they harvest more sunshine. In addition, they convert more than 22% of all the sunshine landing on them and that is high.
On the other hand, polycrystalline solar panels have a lower conversion rate of between 17 and 20%. Therefore, a poly will take longer than a mono to charge an RV battery full.
Also find out whether it comes with an advanced charge controller, if possible, a waterproof one with an LCD.
Price and Warranty
Reading through the reviews for portable solar panels, you will see that some are quite costly. However, looking at the price alone does not help because the features should be equal to the cost. Therefore, always consider the features first. For example, a 200-Watt solar panel should cost more than a 100-Watt one.
In addition, some panels come as a kit, which means they come with a charge controller and all the needed installation hardware. For example, RV roof installation panels can come with Z brackets, screws, cables and other accessories. In addition, the manufacturer also pre-drills installation holes at the back of the panel. Of course, for all these extras, you will pay.
Check out for a warranty of at least 12 months. That is an indication of the confidence of the manufacturer in their product.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before stepping into the world of RV solar panels, many people have many unanswered questions. Therefore, here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
Must I use a charge controller?
Yes, you must. In addition, it plays a very important role in keeping your solar power operation safe. For instance, it regulates the amount of charge going to the battery. Once the right voltage is reached, it stops sending power to the battery. Therefore, this prevents overcharging and eliminates the risk of fire.
Mostly, controllers come in two types. The first one is the multi-power point tracking controller. It is highly efficient at more than 90%. Secondly, we have the pulse width modulated controllers that reduce the power coming from the solar to what the battery needs. They are less efficient but they cost less.
A charge controller can also show you when the battery reaches the right voltage so that you can switch off the charging.
How do portable solar panels work?
First, you need to install the solar panel and its accessories, including connecting it to the charge controller. Secondly, the panel starts converting the solar energy to power, which is carried to the controller. Thirdly, depending on your settings, the controller allows the power to go to the RV battery. When the right voltage is attained, it prevents more power from going to the battery to avoid overcharging.
How much solar power will be enough for my RV?
Largely, this depends on your usage as well as your needs. For example, if you want to watch television in the RV, you will need more solar power than a person who just needs to run the lights.
Basically, we figure that a 200 Watt solar can enable you to do a lot of things with the generated solar power. However, you can also do a calculation of the appliances that you will be running. That way, you can choose the panel with the correct wattage.
If you need 50Amp-hour a day, only a 200-Watt panel can give you that, and this will also depend on how bright the day was. However, if you need a panel to charge your mobile devices and run some LED lights, even a 50-Watt panel can help you.
Are solar panels worth it on an RV?
Indeed they are. However, it is important that you do not base all of your RV operations on solar energy alone. Just use solar panels as supplementary power. Besides, the weather affects how they work. In overcast weather, which means most of the winter, they might not charge the RV battery to full capacity.
Portable RV Solar Panels Reviews
This is where the rubber meets the road. What should you buy and what should you avoid? The market is full of portable camping solar panels. Therefore, you will be spoilt for choice. However, while variety is good, it can be confusing for a first-time buyer. So, here goes …
1. Renogy 100W Portable Solar Panels for RV
This is a foldable solar panel from Renogy, which is one of the most renowned names in the solar industry. On the same note, these are actually 2 pieces of solar panels with each capable of generating an output of 50W. In addition, this suitcase solar panel has more features.
First, this is a monocrystalline panel, as you will be able to tell from the black color. Therefore, you are assured of a conversion rate that’s higher than 22%. In the same line, charging your RV battery will be fast, especially on hot days.
Second, this Renogy panel comes with a built-in kickstand, which stays hidden when you are not using it. However, when you decide to use it, it props the panel at a good angle. Therefore, it is able to capture more sunshine.
Third, among other accessories, you will get a 20A charge controller. Therefore, you will know that your battery is protected from overload, overcharge, short circuit, surge and other ills. However, note that the option to buy with a controller will cost more, but it will be worth it. Besides, you could try the packages with a 10A controller, or without.
The only disadvantage that you will get with this Renogy 100 Watt panel is the cost. Some people find it too high even if the features justify it.
- The kickstand and the panel frame are made of aluminum
- Has a nice carrying case for safety
- Captures more sunshine at an angle
- Available in a few packages at different prices
- A bit on the heavy side at 11.6kg
When you buy this solar panel, you can also get more cable to give you more flexibility in placement. In addition, adding a cable length of about 30 feet does not cause too much voltage drop.
2. Newpowa 100W Portable RV Solar Panel
You will notice the blue color of the solar panel, which is different from the black color of all of the other products we have reviewed here. The reason is that this is a polycrystalline panel. The conversion rate and the price are definitely a bit lower, but it is still worth it.
First, you can choose the option with one panel or with two panels. However, this review is for a panel and its Z-brackets for mounting. With these brackets, you can mount this panel on a boat, RV, campervan and other spaces.
The materials used to make this solar panel are high quality. For instance, the frame is an anodized aluminum frame. Therefore, it is corrosion-resistant. In addition, it is waterproof and mildewproof. On the same note, the back sheet is high quality TPT. You might want to try the Newpowa 100 Watt Panel for outdoor use.
This is a high efficiency panel. However, as we know, the posted Wattage is never correct. In fact, it is a theoretical wattage under laboratory conditions. Therefore, with this polycrystalline panel, you can get about 80 Watts.
There is a serious downside to this solar RV panel. For instance, you have to order the cables that go from the solar to the charge controller separately. In addition, Newpowa does not make this information very clear.
- Sold at an affordable price
- Comes with all installation hardware including brackets and screws
- Good output for a polycrystalline panel
- It keeps a 100Ah deep cycle battery charged all the time
- If there is shade on even a small part of the panel, the output reduces greatly
The output for the Newpowa polycrystalline solar panel has a fair output when you use it correctly. Therefore, it will keep your RV battery fully charged all the time.
3. Goal Zero 100W Portable Solar Panels for RV
The rugged nature and design of the Goal Zero Boulder Briefcase RV Solar Charger endear it to many people. In addition, it is the kind of solar panel that you leave exposed in all weather conditions. But first, see its conditions.
The foldable design of this solar panel is such that when you fold it, it becomes a briefcase, with a nice carry handle. It is a bit heavy at almost 12.5kg, but then, it is an RV solar panel. Therefore, the most important thing is that it folds into a smaller size so it is easy to transport and store.
The technology is monocrystalline. Therefore, the conversion rate is high and it keeps your RV battery charged full all the time. However, it is important that you keep it in direct sunshine.
Installation is not a requirement because it comes with a kickstand. In addition, it props it at an angle, something that contributes to the panel collecting more sunshine. In addition, both the kickstand and the solar panel frame material are durable and rustproof.
There are many more features. However, this product also has a flip side. For example, it works with Goal Zero charging stations.
- Professional grade quality materials
- Sells with a 24-month warranty
- Converts a lot of sunshine landing on it
- The briefcase style is easy to carry
- It is quite costly
This is easily the best portable solar charger for RV battery because of its rugged nature. The features and durability justify the price.
4. ROCKPALS 100W Foldable RV Solar Panel Charger
Rockpals is the home of portable outdoor lighting solutions. Therefore, it makes sense that they would have a good RV solar charger. In the same line, they bring us the RP082 Solar for RV batteries. Keep reading as we see its features.
When choosing a good solar panel for RV camping, it is best to pick the top-rated ones such as RockPals. You might spend a lot, but since you can now be able to camp in free campsites without amenities, you will save money. However, you need a high conversion rate, say 23%. Of course, the Rockpals RP082 is a high conversion monocrystalline panel.
Another thing that you want in a solar panel for RV camping is the ability to charge your devices. Indeed, Rockpals takes care of this because they have integrated 1 QC 3.0 USB Port and 1 USB C Output. In addition, these charging ports can charge your smartphone or tablet at 4 times the speed of regular ports.
Finally, when you get this solar panel, you do not need to buy a Rockpals battery or solar station. In the same line, this panel is compatible with many solar stations from different brand names. Therefore, if you already have one at home, you can ask the seller if the panel can charge it.
There are so many good things to write home about this folding solar panel for RV. However, at first, the output might be too much for your solar station. Therefore, you can fold two of the panels to see what it will do with the other two.
- Has a kickstand to prop it at an angle
- Comes with DC adapter and connectors
- Has high-speed USB charging ports for devices
- Charges well even when there are clouds
- The Oxford cloth in the back might start showing signs of UV deterioration with time
- The junction box can allow water in so keep it dry
This is a combination of 4 solar panels and on a bright day, they charge really fast. Therefore, to protect your power station, you need to buy a meter so that you don’t have to charge blindly.
5. Go Power! 130W Portable Folding Solar Kit for RV
Go Power! is literally true to its name. You can travel with the panel easily thanks to its portable design. Therefore, if you are looking for a folding panel that you can use in your RV, try this one.
First, this is a 130 Watt solar panel. Therefore, before you order it, you need to know that it is going to meet your RV battery charging needs. It also comes with a 10A charge controller among other features.
This solar kit is not only the folding type, but it is also sold with a high quality carry case. Therefore, after you are done using it at the campsite, you can pack it up for its protection.
This is a pack of two solar panels that give you a collective 130 Watts. In addition, they are in black color, which mostly means that they are monocrystalline. Therefore, they have a high conversion rate.
Lastly, these panels have aluminum frames. In addition, they are sealed completely so that water cannot get under the panel. Therefore, even if your dry camping adventure becomes rainy, you need not worry.
In spite of the many good things going for these panels, they have one major downside. They are too expensive. The amount that you spend on them could buy you three or four panels from other brands.
- Nice carrying case for security and safety
- Has a nice kickstand to prop them up
- Comes with a high quality solar plug adapter
- Good quality frame and panel
- Too heavy at almost 13kg
- The price is too steep
These are costly 12 volt solar panels for camping. However, they are designed to last up to 25 years. Therefore, you will get good value for money.
6. ACOPOWER 100W Portable Solar Panel Kit
ACOPOWER is the one-stop center for all things solar. Therefore, they bring you many foldable panels. In addition, they also have solar generators and batteries in their collection. Therefore, if you would like your solar charging panels and batteries to be from the same brand name, try ACOPOWER. But first, see the features of this 100W solar panel kit.
First, by design, these are actually two solar panels making one folding unit. At the same time, each panel has a rating of 50 Watts. In addition, they are widely compatible with different battery types which include Gel, Lithium-ion, Crystal, Flooded, Calcium and LTO to name a few.
Second, this is a kit, which means that it comes with everything that you need to start harnessing solar energy. For instance, there are MC-4 connectors that connect to the battery in your RV. In addition, you can always contact ACOPOWER to find out what types of connectors you need.
Third, in the panels themselves, there is a 20A charge controller. It is integrated into the design of the panels. Therefore, you will be happy to know that your RV battery has protection against surge, overcharge and overload.
There are many more features that this solar panel comes with. However, everything has a flip side and this one is not any different. For instance, it can be hard to install for first-timers because it does not come with instructions for use.
- The solar panel is expandable, by just adding another solar without a controller
- It is an advanced version of the first ACOPOWER panel without an LCD charge controller
- The carry case keeps the panels safe during travel and storage
- Charges well even in overcast days
- Compact build and design for durability
- The price is steep
- The waterproof rating could be better
If you are looking for a solar panel that will charge your RV battery fast even on overcast fall days, you might want to try the ACOPOWER. The price is a bit high but if you get value for the money, it is good.
7. ALLPOWERS 50W Portable Solar Panels for RV
This list would not be complete without including one or two flexible solar panels for RV. Therefore, we bring you the ALLPOWERS flexible solar panel charger. It has a small output at 60 Watts but that can be enough to keep your RV’s deep cycle battery charged.
First, this is a bendable solar panel. Therefore, you can flex it to a 30-degree arc, making it easy to install on the roof of your RV, campervan, boat or other.
Secondly, the manufacturer uses high quality material to make this panel. Therefore, it is durable, waterproof and it also resists dust. Therefore, you are assured that it will last a long time.
From the black color of the panel, you can tell that it is a monocrystalline type. Therefore, it is highly efficient and has a conversion rate of 23.5%. Granted, this is the laboratory stats, so it will never really get to that. However, even a 21% conversion rate is good.
This is a lightweight model since it weighs slightly more than 1kg. Therefore, you can carry it to power your devices when hiking, backpacking or camping in a remote place.
The one thing that you might not like with this panel is that the wires come out at the top. Therefore, running them to their destination can be hard.
- Sells at an affordable price
- Comes with an 18-month guarantee
- The back sheet is flexible
- Versatility in use – boats, RV, cabins and other spaces
- The manufacturer says you cannot expose it to rain, so it might not be possible to use it on a boat
A flexible solar charger for RV looks sleeker and more stylish than the regular straight models. In addition, it installs nicely on curved surfaces.
8. DOKIO 160W Portable Portable Solar Panels for RV
Dokio is not a new name when it comes to portable outdoor lighting solutions. In addition, they make many types of solar panels, some 60W, and some 120W and now, they have this 160 Watt one. Keep reading to see its features first.
The first and perhaps the most obvious feature is that this solar panel is foldable. Therefore, when you are done with your dry camping adventure, you can pack it up small. In addition, it is not going to occupy too much space in your RV or campervan. On the same note, when folded up, you can carry it with a comfortable carry handle.
Mostly, we are used to having huge solar panels for higher outputs. However, this is a small and lightweight model, yet it is able to give 160 Watts. On the same note, it is only 0.9 inches thick and has a weight of 9 pounds only. Therefore, you can agree that solar panels do not get as portable as this.
This is a monocrystalline solar panel. Therefore, you can expect a higher conversion rate than you would get from polycrystalline panels. In addition, the mismatch loss is so low it is not even noticeable. Therefore, even on overcast days, the solar panel will still charge your RV battery.
Despite all the good things about this solar panel, there are still some things that the manufacturer could improve. For instance, you can only hang the panel by the eyelets. There is no way to prop it on the ground at an angle.
- The price is fair for 160 Watts
- The high conversion rate makes it possible to charge even on cloudy days
- It comes with a charger controller
- The fabric part of the panels is mildewproofed and waterproof
- Durability issues especially on the eyelets part
This is a pretty small and lightweight solar panel that you can carry even when you are going hiking without too much strain. In addition, you can mount it on your car, RV, boat or any other space.
9. Zamp Solar Legacy Series 230W Portable Solar Panel Kit
Zamp Solars are somehow more expensive than most other brands. Therefore, before you buy one, you want to know whether its features justify the price. On that note, keep reading to see the features of the Zamp Solar Legacy Series.
First, this is a high wattage solar panel with a rating of 230 Watts. Well, we know that the output will never get to that. However, even if you can get at least 180 Watts, that is fair enough.
Secondly, this panel comes with an integrated charger controller. Therefore, when you are charging the RV battery, it has protection from surges, overload, short circuits and overcharge. Indeed, protection from overcharging is even more important because it removes the risk of fire.
By design, this is a foldable panel, so it is actually two panels combined to give you a total of 230 Watts. However, when you fold it, it packs slimmer than most other models in the market. In addition, it comes with a carry case, which is easier to store and transport.
Finally, this solar battery charger for RV comes with a small but effective kickstand. Therefore, you can prop it up at an angle to capture more sunshine.
The only disadvantage that you might get with these solar panels is that if the weather is overcast, the charging speed will be below.
- Comes almost ready to use – just unfold, prop and connect to the battery
- 230 Watts is a lot of power for your RV
- Made in the USA so return for US customers is easier
- The integrated charge controller is a good idea
- Warranty of 25 years covering output
- It is heavy so you cannot use it for hiking
Charging RV batteries with solar panels is easy once you have the right product. To make your dry camping experience better, you might want to try the Zamp brand name.
10. SereneLife 100W Portable Solar Panel Kit for RV
On their website, SereneLife says that they want to bring you comfort in your daily life. In the same line, they make many outdoor products. Therefore, it is not surprising that they have this portable solar panel for car, van, RV, boat and other uses.
When you invest in a pricey solar panel, you want the assurance that it will be a one-off investment for a long time. Indeed, this SereneLife solar charger is. It comes with high quality material. Therefore, if you install it on the nose of your boat, you can leave it there for the entire sailing expedition.
When you order the panel, it comes with everything that you need to install it and start using it. For instance, it comes with a 30A charge controller, which also has an LCD screen to display important stats. In addition, it comes with an aluminum frame, which does not sustain scratches.
This panel comes with everything that you need to install it. For instance, it comes with mounting brackets. In addition, it has ready holes on the back for mounting. Finally, all the cables that you need are in the package. This also includes an aviation connector and ring terminal.
The one disadvantage that this portable solar panel for campervans and RV comes with is that it has short wires from the panels. Therefore, the flexibility to place it where you wish is a bit limited.
- Comes in a foam box for safe storage and transportation
- The Wattage rating is 200, which is quite high
- Sells everything that you need for its installation
- High efficiency since it is a monocrystalline
- Despite having USB ports, the solar panel only works with a battery
This solar panel for RV battery charging delivers more charge in a shorter time than the 100 Watt ones. Therefore, it will keep your RV batteries charged even on overcast days.
Conclusion and Recommendation
By choosing to use the best portable solar panels for your RV, you have done Mother Nature a huge turn. Therefore, you are contributing to making the world a better place than you found it.
Once again, here, the Renogy 100-Watt foldable solar panel wins. It is compatible with many solar power stations. In addition, it is easy to install since it comes with a kickstand. Besides, it gives a hassle-free operation without any need for maintenance.
Since it has a capacity of 100W, you may need to buy two to get enough power to run many things in your RV.