5 Best RV Solar Panel Brands
The decision to add solar panels to your RV or trailer can open up tremendous new opportunities for travel and camping.
But if you’re unfamiliar with the market, it can be challenging to know which RV solar panel brands are the right ones for you and which aren’t worth the cost.
We’re exploring some of the top manufacturers to help you build a solar power system that’ll truly shine.
Let’s get started!
What Are RV Solar Panels?
Generally speaking, solar panels refer to any technology that captures the sun’s energy and converts it into usable electricity. RV solar panels refer to particular types of solar panels specifically designed for use in mobile setups for RVs.
In contrast to traditional solar panels, they’re usually lighter, which allows you to mount them discreetly on the RV or place them on a moveable stand on the ground.
Their smaller size also reflects the lower power usage of most RVs compared to typical homes.
Types of RV Solar Panels
There are three primary types of RV solar panels, each with its own strengths and drawbacks. Here’s what you need to know when comparing them.
Monocrystalline solar panels are the “premium” solar panel type. They offer the highest electricity generation efficiency of all varieties by using a single silicon wafer that makes up the panel. However, this also comes with a premium price tag.
Monocrystalline solar panels are generally the most expensive of the three types.
Rather than one single silicon crystal, polycrystalline solar panels are made up of many smaller silicon wafers, which are melted down to form the panel.
This gives them their characteristic deep blue hue. They offer less efficient generation of power, but also a lower price. This makes them accessible to a larger group of potential solar users, including those on a budget.
While monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels use hard, rigid materials, thin-film solar cells can bend and flex. This also significantly decreases the weight of each panel.
Together, these two advantages provide more flexibility in where you can mount these panels. Unfortunately, thin-film solar panels also tend to have shorter lifespans than traditional ones due to the stress placed on the cells from any bending or flexing.
What Are the Benefits of Buying the Best RV Solar Panel Brands?
Regardless of which brand you choose, investing in solar energy for your RV is a worthwhile expense for frequent or full-time RVers.
Solar panels provide you with a free, clean, renewable source of energy that can expand your camping options. Imagine a few extra days boondocking in a beautiful location while still enjoying the comforts of electricity.
Plus, even those camping on the grid will enjoy the safety of knowing they’ll have their power covered during outages or other issues.
Don’t skimp when it comes to picking RV solar panel brands. Investing in the best brands offers a variety of benefits. Spending a bit more on top brands makes sense, especially if you want the best and most efficient electricity generation.
You’ll also worry less knowing you’ve purchased panels from a manufacturer known for quality.
The company will probably offer a solid warranty if things go wrong. You’ll spend far more in the long run maintaining and replacing bargain panels compared to simply investing in a quality system from the start.
Pro Tip: Solar panels are a big investment, so make sure to avoid these RV Solar Mistakes That Are Seriously Problematic.
Which Type of Solar Panel Is Best for RVs?
Deciding which type of solar panel is best for you will require some thought about your RV and plans for using them. If you’re mounting your solar panels permanently onto your RV or trailer, then you may want to opt for thin-film panels.
These can conform to the shape of just about every part of almost any RV. This allows you to add your panels without adding additional height or items that could catch branches or other obstructions. Rigid panels can also sit on your RV, provided you can secure them properly.
However, other RVers choose to set up freestanding panels at each campsite. In this case, you have your choice of all three styles. If you’re looking for efficiency, buy a monocrystalline panel.
You should purchase a polycrystalline version if you need to operate on a tight budget. If weight is your main concern, opt for thin-film panels.
5 Best RV Solar Panel Brands
Some RV solar panels brands simply stand above the rest. Here’s a closer look at your top options.
About: Renogy began as a project of Louisiana State University students in 2010 but has since grown into one of the most respected RV solar panel brands.
The company manufactures a variety of monocrystalline panels between 50W and 320W, both rigid and flexible. Some rigid panels come equipped with hardware to allow them to stand freely and fold up into a suitcase for easy setup and storage on the go.
Price Range: Small, low wattage panels start as low as the $75 range, with most between $100 and $300 per panel.
Renogy also sells convenient all-in-one solar kits that range from around $200 for a 100W system to nearly $800 for 400W kits specially designed for RVs.
About: As you might be able to tell from its name, WindyNation also manufactures wind power technology in addition to its high-quality solar panels.
The clean energy company designs products with a specific focus on the DIY community. WindyNation offers both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels, as well as thin-film varieties of each, all at 100W.
Price Range: Rigid monocrystalline panels start at $90, while monocrystalline thin-film panels cost approximately $130. Single polycrystalline panels cost $83 each.
WindyNation’s polycrystalline kits start in the mid $100s for small, single-panel systems and range up to near $800 for larger or complex systems. Kits with inverters can cost up to $1,000 more than those without.
#3. Go Power!
About: Go Power! is part of the well-known Dometic family of products, providing an extra focus to its RV-related solar panels. Over the past 25 years, the Canadian company has become one of the biggest names in the RV solar industry, and you may find many pre-installed solar systems on newer RVs that come from Go.
The company’s monocrystalline panels are available in both rigid and thin-film and range from as little as 10W to up to 200.
Price Range: Go Power! primarily sells its equipment in comprehensive solar kits. These start in the $700-$800 range for basic systems and can stretch well into the $3,000-$4,000 range.
About: HQST stands for “high-quality solar technology,” and the company lives up to its name. It’s a relative newcomer to the solar industry, only founded in 2015. HQST offers both rigid and thin-film monocrystalline panels, as well as rigid polycrystalline panels.
They range from as small as 10W up to 100W.
Price Range: One of the most budget-friendly manufacturers among the top RV solar panel brands, lower wattage panels from HQST start in the $25-$35 range.
Larger 100W panels cost $70-$300 for rigid monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels, while thin-film monocrystalline panels cost $99 each. Comprehensive solar kits range from less than $50 to nearly $400, depending on the features and wattage.
About: Ontario, Canada’s Newpowa is not only a manufacturer of premium solar panels but also promotes itself as a major player in the industry’s research and development efforts.
Newpowa offers panels ranging from 5W to 200W in 6, 12, or 24V configurations. You can get both rigid and flexible panels, as well as both monocrystalline and polycrystalline styles.
Price Range: Rigid, low wattage panels from Newpowa start at under $20. However, most typical rigid panels from 75W to 120W cost between $75 and $140 each.
Complete kits designed specifically for RVs and boats start as low as $165 and range up to more than $1,000.
Pro Tip: Want more solar panel options for your RV? Check out these 5 Best RV Solar Panels (Plus How to Pick the Right Ones).
Are the Best RV Solar Panel Brands Worth It?
It’s true that to buy equipment from the top RV solar panel brands, you’ll need to spend a bit more than you would if you went to a budget manufacturer.
But the difference is relatively small when you consider the overall cost of a solar panel system for your RV.
Plus, you’ll know you have the best technology powering your green, renewable electrical system for years to come! Do you have a solar setup for your RV?
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5 Best RV Solar Panel Brands - VanLifeAdvisors
Saturday 4th of December 2021
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