RV

The 7 Best RV Solar Panels & Kits Reviewed For 2018

Solar power perfectly complements RV travel and lifestyle. It’s a clean, quiet and eco-friendly source of power.

By outfitting your RV with solar panels, you can benefit from this free power source. A good installation allows you to charge your batteries independently and comes with low maintenance and a long lifespan.

We have reviewed the best RV solar panels and complete solar kits for RV use that include an inverter, batteries and everything you need for outfitting your RV with solar power for the first time.

For more of my top gear recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: RV TV Antennas, RV GPS, RV Air Conditioners.

Quick Answer: The 7 Top Rated RV Solar Panels & Kits

  1. WindyNation 100W Solar Panel Kit
  2. Renogy KIT-RV400D 400W 12V RV Solar Kit
  3. WindyNation 400 Watt Solar Kit
  4. HQST 100W 12V Solar Kit
  5. WindyNation Complete 400W RV Solar Panel Kit
  6. Allpowers SunPower 100W RV Solar Panel
  7. Go Power! Weekender SW Complete Solar Kit

Let get to it!

Best RV Solar Panels & Kits

 WindyNation 100W Solar Panel KitRenogy KIT-RV400D 400W RV Solar KitWindyNation 400 Watt Solar Kit
editors choice
Panel Output:100W 400W 400W
Charge Controller:20A30A30A
Battery:AGM Deep CycleNot includedAGM Deep Cycle
Avg Output:350Wh or 33Ah per day1,800 Wh or 160 Ah per day1,700Wh or 150Ah per day

RV Solar Panel Reviews

#1 WindyNation 100W Solar Panel Kit

WindyNation 100W Solar Panel Kit at a Glance:

  • Solar Panels: Polycrystalline, max 100W, 5.75A, 17.4V
  • Panel Weight & Dimensions: 6 lbs, 40″ x 26.4″ x 1.2″
  • Charge Controller: 20A, Pulse Width Modulated, protection from overload, short circuit and reverse polarity, for 3 x 100W 12V panels or 6 x 100W 24V
  • Battery: AGM Deep Cycle 12V 100Ah BattaMax
  • Average Output: 350Wh or 33Ah per day
  • Included: 1x 100W solar panel, P20L charge controller, 40’ 12 AWG solar cable, MC4 connectors, mounting hardware, AGM battery

The WindyNation 100W solar panel kit is a great starter kit and our editor’s choice. For a quite affordable price, you get everything you need to start harnessing the free and clean energy from the sun.

The manufacturer delivers a reliable and efficient solution for off-grid situations or backup power.

The included polycrystalline panel can deliver a maximum of 100 Watts. On an average day, total output will be around 350 Watt hours or 33 Ampere hours, depending on sunlight conditions.

The included P20L charge controller is a versatile high-quality unit. You can monitor amperage, Ampere hours, voltage, load draw and even temperature while charging.

Thanks to user settings, you can fine tune the charging and increase efficiency with custom values if you have a bit of knowledge. The controller can handle a total of three 100W 12V panels, meaning you can add two more, or use six 100W 24V panels.

The charge controller is compatible with lead acid, AGM, gel, and lithium batteries. An AGM deep cycle 12V 100Ah BattaMax battery is already included. With 40 ft of AWG solar cable, MC4 connectors and mounting hardware, you’re all set.

This RV solar kit is ideal for getting started with solar energy in your RV while allowing you to stay flexible and easily expand your installation with further panels later on. The Windynation is probably the best RV solar kit.


#2 Renogy KIT-RV400D 400W 12V RV Solar Kit

Renogy KIT-RV400D RV Solar Kit at a Glance:

  • Solar Panels: 4x monocrystalline panel, max 100W, 5.29A, 18.9V
  • Panel Weight & Dimensions: 5 lbs, 47″ x 21″ x 1.4″ (per panel)
  • Charge Controller: 30A, Pulse Width Modulated, compatible with 12V and 24V panels, protection from overload, overcharging, short circuit and reverse polarity
  • Battery: not included, controller can handle sealed, gel, and flooded batteries
  • Average Output: 1,800 Wh or 160 Ah per day
  • Included: 4x 100 W solar panel, Renogy Adventurer charge controller, 30’ 10 AWG MC4 adapter kit, 16’ 10 AWG tray cable, 3x branch connectors, 4x Z bracket mounting set

The Renogy Kit RV400D is the RV solar kit for you if you’re looking for efficient high energy output. Four 100W monocrystalline panels are already included to deliver power for your devices or to charge a battery.

Depending on conditions, you can expect an average output of 1,600 Watt hours or 80 Ampere hours per day. The efficiency of the high-grade solar cells is rated at 18.4%.

They perform well even in low-light, sub-optimal conditions. A bypass diode minimizes power drop caused by shade and clouds.

Thanks to corrosion-resistant aluminum frames, the mounted panels can withstand the elements for decades. High winds and even snow loads pose no problem.

The TPT back sheet ensures performance stays smooth even over time. The included cable junction box reliably keeps out particles and low pressure water jets.

The motorhome solar panel kit includes the Renogy Adventure 30A PWM charge controller which is compatible with sealed, gel, and flooded batteries of both 12V and 24V.

Charging is safe and quick with smart algorithms optimizing the process for each battery type.

The controller is designed for a flush wall mount. Negative grounding ensures safety and the unit is also equipped to protect from overcharging, overload, short circuit and reversed polarity.

The integrated LCD screen displays charging data, allows you to set parameters and analyze the readout of the embedded self-diagnostics. Take note that the controller is already maxed out with four 100W panels.

The Renogy solar kit delivers high-quality solar panels and reliable charging or energy for an array of appliances – the best solar panels for RV use where you have demanding setup and already have a battery or getting one separately.


#3 WindyNation 400 Watt Solar Kit

 

WindyNation 400 Watt Solar Kit at a Glance:

  • Solar Panels: 4x polycrystalline panel, max 100W, 5.75A, 17.4V
  • Panel Weight & Dimensions:6 lbs, 40″ x 26.4″ x 1.2″
  • Charge Controller: 30A, Pulse Width Modulated, P30L, protection from overload, short circuit, reverse polarity and battery overheat, for 4 x 100W 12V or 8 x 100W 24V panels
  • Battery: 4x AGM Deep Cycle 12V 100Ah BattaMax (400Ah total)
  • Average Output: 1,700Wh or 150Ah per day
  • Included: 4x 100W solar panel, P30L charge controller, 40’ 12 AWG solar cable, MC4 connectors, mounting hardware, 4x AGM battery, battery connect cables

If you like the WindyNation approach of a complete kit but our top selection doesn’t deliver enough power for your RV, this is the solar panel kit for you.

You’ll receive four 100W polycrystalline panels for a total of 400W. You can expect an average output of 1,700 Watt hours or 150 Ampere hours per day, as always it depends on the weather.

With the P30L charge controller, you can monitor charging on the LCD screen and adjust settings accordingly. Readouts include amperage, voltage, ampere hours, temperature and load draw.

The pulse width modulated (PWM) unit features smart charging for different batteries and will protect from overload, short circuit, reverse polarity or overheating batteries.

Note that the controller is maxed out with four 12V panels already, but can handle a total of eight 100W 24V panels. To allow you to store more energy, this RV solar charger kit includes four 100Ah AGM deep cycle batteries for a total of 400Ah.

You’ll find everything you need for installation, including battery interconnect cables, 40 ft of AWG solar cable, MC4 connectors and high-quality mounting hardware for the solar panels.

The WindyNation 400 Watt solar kit is the best RV solar system to get if you have higher energy demands and don’t have a battery bank installed in your RV.


#4 HQST 100W 12V Solar Kit

HQST 100W 12V Solar Kit at a Glance:

  • Solar Panels: Polycrystalline panel, max 100W, 5.62A, 17.8V
  • Panel Weight & Dimensions: 5 lbs, 40.5” x 26.7” x 1.4″
  • Charge Controller: 30A, Pulse Width Modulated, compatible with 12V and 24V panels, protection from overload, overcharging, short circuit and reverse polarity, up to 400W total
  • Battery: not included
  • Average Output: 500Wh or 40Ah per day
  • Included: 100W solar panel, charge controller, 2x 20’ 12 AWG solar cables, MC4 connectors, mounting hardware

The HQST 100W 12V solar panel kit is another starter set specifically designed for people new to solar with easy and convenient installation.

It is fit for 12V and 24V arrays and a variety of applications off-grid, including water pumps, lights, RVs, and small appliances. An average output would be 500 Watt hours per day, or 40 Ampere hours.

You can expect to charge a 50Ah battery from 50% to full in 3 hours, depending on sunlight conditions.

The included pulse width modulated charge controller is rated for 30A and automatically recognizes a system voltage of 12V or 24V. It features overload and overcharge protection, smart charging and can handle a total of 400W.

This means you could upgrade your installation with three additional and identical 100W panels.

The kit does not include a battery nor battery cables; but it’s great for charging an existing 12V deep cycle battery, for example with 50Ah, 100Ah or 125Ah.

With a power inverter, you can use appliances and charge or power electronic devices. The HQST RV solar panels are an inexpensive solution if you want to start experimenting with solar power for your RV.


#5 WindyNation Complete Solar Panel Kit with Inverter

WindyNation Complete 400W RV Solar Panel Kit at a Glance:

  • Solar Panel: 4x polycrystalline panel, max 100W, 5.75 Amps, 17.4V
  • Panel Weight & Dimensions: 6 lbs, 40″ x 26.4″ x 1.2″
  • Charge Controller: 30A, Pulse Width Modulated, P30L, protection from overload, short circuit, reverse polarity, and battery overheat, for 4 x 100W 12V panels or 8 x 100W 24V
  • Battery: not included, but kit is also available with a 300Ah or 400Ah 12V battery
  • Average Output: 1,600Wh or 135Ah per day
  • Included: 4x 100W solar panel, P30L charge controller, 1500W VertaMax power inverter, 40’ 12 AWG solar cable, MC4 connectors, mounting hardware, battery/inverter connect cables

The WindyNation Complete 400W RV solar panel kit is a full-scale solution for your mobile off-grid power needs.

It includes a 1500W power inverter needed to run appliances off a 12V battery, and you can add a 300Ah or 400Ah 12V battery to the kit when ordering (not included by default).

Depending on sunlight, the motorhome solar panels average output will be 1,600 Watt hours or 135 Ampere hours per day.

Since charging a battery with solar power only makes sense if you can run your electronics and appliances, this solar kit is the one for you if you don’t own a power inverter already.

The 1500W VertaMax unit inverts 12V DC power to 120V AC power with a modified sine wave output. It features a peak surge power of up to 3000W, which is important to have when powering devices that draw more when you turn them on.

The inverter has all the necessary safety requirements, such as battery, short circuit and overload protection, an internal fuse, cooling and temperature protection.

The included P30L charge controller will reliably charge your deep cycle batteries, and the bundle has everything else you need to get started, including cables, connectors and mounting hardware.

With the option to add batteries, this one of the best RV solar panel kits and a versatile model.


#6 Allpowers SunPower 100W RV Solar Panel

 

Allpowers SunPower 100W RV Solar Panel at a Glance:

  • Solar Panels: Monocrystalline panel, max 100W, 5.56A, 18V
  • Panel Weight & Dimensions: 7lbs, 41″ x 21″ x 0.09″
  • Charge Controller: not included
  • Battery: not included
  • Average Output: 500Wh or 55Ah per day
  • Included: 100W solar panel, manual

The Allpowers SunPower solar panel is unique because it is the only model in our selection that is bendable. This makes it ideal for installation on uneven surfaces, at an angle or on a rounded roof, for example on a trailer.

The panel can be curved to a maximum of 30°. Four metal reinforced holes make mounting straightforward and easy on your RV, trailer, cabin, car or tent.

Thanks to a frameless design, the panel only weighs 4.7lbs and is therefore suited for situations where regular panels are too heavy.

Yet you need not worry about durability: the semi-flexible unit is ultra-resistant to the elements and stress with an air and snow resistance of 50psf and 113psf as well as a 1” hail impact at 52mph. The cable junction box is sealed and waterproof.

The monocrystalline 100W panel delivers an outstanding efficiency of 23.5% and performs well even in low light conditions.

A diode in the junction box protects the panel from reverse polarity and safety features include short circuit and surge protection. The Allpowers SunPower solar panel is ideal for flexible or temporary installation and for building your own solar charging station.

You’ll need cables, a charge controller and a battery, if you don’t have these already. The Sunpower is in my opinion the best RV solar panel.


#7 Go Power! Weekender Complete Solar System

Go Power! Weekender SW Complete Solar Kit at a Glance:

  • Solar Panels: Monocrystalline panel, max 160W, 8.6A, 18.6 V
  • Panel Weight & Dimensions: 32 lbs, 59.1″ x 26.3″ x 1.57″
  • Charge Controller: 30A, Pulse Width Modulated, multi battery option, 4-stage charging, flush wall mount, LCD screen
  • Battery: not included, min 200Ah recommended
  • Average Output: 800Wh or 50Ah per day
  • Included: 160W solar panel, PWM-30 charge controller, 1500W pure sine wave power inverter, inverter remote and install kit, switching kit, 50’ MC4 10 AWG solar cable, mounting hardware

The Go Power! Weekender Complete RV solar kit is another solution with everything you need to hook up solar power to charge a deep cycle battery and draw power from it with an inverter.

As the name suggests, it is ideal for long weekend trips where you want to power a TV and other appliances. Always depending on circumstances, expected output is 800 Watt hours or 50 Ampere hours per day.

The large monocrystalline solar panel has an efficiency of 16.4% and delivers up to 160W. You can add two more identical panels for a total of 480W, if needed. The anodized aluminum frame allows for stable and safe mounting on your RV roof.

The charge controller can handle multiple batteries and comes with 30A 4-stage smart charging. It is intended for a flush wall mount and will provide a charging readout on the integrated LCD screen.

Although the kit does not come with a battery, it is ready to run appliances off battery power thanks to the included 1500W industrial power inverter.

The RV solar charger delivers a pure sine wave output of AC and comes with an install kit and a switching kit to easily toggle between shore and solar power.

The system will easily integrate with your vehicle’s stock power converter. The inverter delivers 100V to 120V at 1500W from 12V DC power with a surge rating of 2000W. A battery is not included, and Go Power! Recommends at least a 200Ah battery bank.

The Go Power! Weekender is one of the best solar panels for RVs to start charging and powering electricity hungry devices and appliances, with the option of enhancing it all the way to 480W of solar power.


RV Solar Panel & Solar Kit Comparison Table

Solar Panel KitPanel OutputCharge ControllerBatteryAvg OutputRating
WindyNation 100W Solar Panel Kit100W20AAGM Deep Cycle350Wh or 33Ah per day4.4 / 5.0
Renogy 400W RV Solar Kit400W30ANot included1,800 Wh or 160 Ah per day5.0 / 5.0
WindyNation 400 Watt Solar Kit400W30AAGM Deep Cycle1,700Wh or 150Ah per day4.2 / 5.0
HQST 100W 12V Solar Kit100W30ANot included500Wh or 40Ah per day4.5 / 5.0
WindyNation Complete Solar Panel Kit400W30ANot included1,600Wh or 135Ah per day3.8 / 5.0
Allpowers SunPower RV Solar Panel100WNot includedNot included500Wh or 55Ah per day4.1 / 5.0
Go Power! Weekender Solar System160W30ANot included800Wh or 50Ah per day4.3 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best RV Solar Panel Kit

The best RV solar panel installation depends on your vehicle, your energy needs and what hardware and power you already have in your RV. In order to make an informed decision, pay attention to the following key characteristics.

best rv solar kit

Solar Panels

Motorhome solar panels allow you to capture energy from sunlight. With higher-grade cells, you’ll get more efficiency and therefore more output, even on days where sunlight is less than ideal.

Panels typically operate around a 15% efficiency rating, but advanced models push that beyond 20%. Solar cells are constructed from silicon, with purity and construction influencing the output rate.

Monocrystalline Panels:  Use purified silicon and are more effective and more costly.

Polycrystalline Panels: Panels have a less pure crystalline structure, which reduces cost but also efficiency.

If sunlight hours are limited for you, choose a high-grade panel. Also consider the mounting space available and if you will want to upgrade your installation in the future.

Chances are, solar panels will fight for space with other hardware on your RV roof, such as an antenna or air conditioner, so plan wisely. The lightest panel is the Allpower SunPower panel, which is also flexible.

Charge Controller

Solar panels don’t produce energy at a steady rate, so you need a charge controller as an interface to your batteries.

This device prevents both batteries as well as panels from damage an regulates the charge according to the battery’s state. All kits we’ve reviewed that come with a controller use a form of smart charging called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM).

This type of controller automatically regulates the speed and width of the pulses. The result is that depleted batteries get charged quickly. For the last bit, the controller will switch to fully top of the battery and effectively maintain charge level.

RV solar kit charge controllers also serve to provide a readout and allow you to manually adjust settings.

Battery

If you don’t have a deep cycle battery in your RV already and want to use solar power, you’ll need one. That way you can store the generated power for later use.

Solar panels can work with 12V or 24V batteries.

A motorhome typically has a 12V battery or two 6V batteries wired in series. Capacity is measured in Ampere hours. A 100Ah battery can provide 100A for one hour, or 1A for 100 hours.

However, no battery should be fully discharged as it can cause permanent damage. So in an ideal installation, your solar panels can provide enough energy to recharge your batteries to keep them above the maximum discharge percentage.

If you keep using more energy than your solar panels provide, you will ultimately deplete your batteries unless you can add shore power or a generator to keep them level.

The 3 Different Types of RV Deep Cycle Batteries:

Flood/Wet Batteries: These can provide high peak draw and withstand deeper discharge cycles, but are prone to corrosion and therefore require maintenance. They need to be cycled often. A flood cell battery contains lead plates in battery acid.

Gel Batteries: Instead of a liquid, these use a silica gel between plates. Gel batteries are more difficult to charge and therefore not compatible with all charge controllers. They are more expensive and don’t perform so well in a rapid discharge situation.

AGM Batteries: AGM is short for absorbed gas mat. These batteries feature a glass plate inside and are not prone to spillage. They can be used in many situations and are a preferred option for RV deep cycle batteries. They withstand rapid discharge down to around 60% and can be brought back up quickly.

Power Inverter

Energy stored in your 12V batteries is only accessible as direct current (DC). Most of the devices and appliances you want to use run on 110V AC (alternating current).

A power inverter is the converter you need. They are rated in Watt: a 1500W inverter is sufficient to operate smaller appliances around 10A AC current, such as a TV, a coffee maker, a laptop, lamps etc.

For more current, you need a more powerful inverter. The more power you draw, the quicker the battery will deplete.

Power consumption

It can be confusing to calculate how much power you need and how long you can run which device. Remember the basics: the capacity of your batteries (measured in Ah) determines how much power you’ll have stored.

The output of your solar panels will tell you how quickly you can recharge these batteries from the sun. The capacity of your power inverter (measured in W) does not need to match you panels but should be adequate for your batteries and your power consumption.

See also FAQs below.

FAQs about RV Solar Panels

Q: How do I calculate how much energy I need?

A: Power is physics and math. To keep things basic, we’ll use these definitions:

  • Watt is electric power (Ampere divided by Volts)
  • Volt or voltage is electric potential or electric potential difference (Watt divided by Ampere)
  • Ampere is electric current (Watt divided by voltage)

In electricity, Watt doesn’t need to be converted between currents, but when changing from AC to DC or the other way round, you need to convert. To convert AC Ampere to DC, you multiply by ten: 10A AC is 100A DC. To convert DC Ampere to AC, divide by ten. 100A DC is 10A AC.

Let’s say you have a TV which runs at 110V AC and is rated 90W. This tell us that it draws about 0.81A AC. Converted to DC current, that’s 8.1A DC.

Watching TV for one hour would consume 8.1Ah – on a 100Ah battery, you could watch about 12 hours before the battery would be depleted.

If you factor in that you should not deplete your battery more than 60% and therefore only 40% of the 100Ah are available, that time gets reduced to a little less than 5 hours.

When you go over the appliances and devices, their power and how much Ampere they draw while considering how long want to use them each day, you can draw up a plan of how much power you’ll consume.

You should match the size of your battery bank accordingly. As an example: you’ll be drawing 120Ah per day and have a 400Ah battery. You solar panels can deliver 160Ah per day, depending on conditions.

As long as there is sufficient sunlight, you’ll be able to charge back up what you use.

Q: Do I have to install a battery?

A: If you don’t have a power bank or battery in your RV or motorhome yet, you’ll need one to store the energy your solar panels deliver.

Solar energy is not reliable and steady enough to simply hook up your appliances directly to the panels as you’ll experience outages. A battery ensures you can draw electricity at night.

Q: What type of panel is most efficient?

A: Monocrystalline panels are more efficient than polycrystalline panels, yet they are more costly. In your installation, you also have to pay attention to the charge controller so it doesn’t become a bottleneck.

With four panels and a maximum of 5A each, your charge controller needs to be able to handle the combined output, i.e. 20A, otherwise you’re wasting energy.

This is why charge controller will specify a limit as to how many solar panels you can add to an installation.

Q: Do I require additional hardware?

A: That depends on what you have already installed in your RV and which solar kit you choose. In our selection, we’ve specified what exactly is included and what you’ll need.

If you’re new to solar power and off-grid electricity, a complete set might be best for you. If you already have batteries and a power inverter, a smaller set or just panels will be enough.

Additional hardware required could also be a switching kit to make it easier to go back and forth between shore and solar power.

Q: What does a typical installation include?

A: To harness solar power, a typical installation includes solar panels which you’ll mount on the roof of your RV, a charge controller which handles the output, a battery or power bank to store the energy

You will also need a power inverter to allow you to run AC appliances of the DC battery current.

Q: Can I run an air conditioner with solar power?

A: You cannot hook up an RV air conditioner directly to solar panels. Air conditioners typically have a power of around 2000W and draw a lot of current and even more when being powered on.

You’d need a high-performance power inverter of at least 3000W and more surge power to run an air conditioner off a DC battery.

How to Install an RV Solar Kit


Conclusion

Powering your RV with solar panels and batteries allows you off-grid freedom and independence. It’s a quiet, low maintenance power source that doesn’t require any fuel.

It’s nearly ideal if you’re traveling in sunny climates and have an existing battery bank or want to install one. Installation is fairly easy and straightforward, and the only drawbacks are the initial setup cost and the fact that output depends on the weather.

We hope that you’ll find our guide useful in determining your energy consumption so that you can choose the best RV solar panel kit for your needs.

Best Brands of RV Solar Panels

Best RV Solar Panel Brands

There are quite a few manufactures of solar panels for use on RV. We’ll breifly cover some of the best here:

Windynation: They cater to the DIY community and focus on making small wind & solar generators.

Renology: The largest manufacture of solar panels on our list. They make solar panels for a wide range of applications and have an excellent selection of RV solar panels.

HQST: They specialize in solar panel for off-grid solar solutions with affordable products for the DIY community.

Allpowers: A relative newcomer, Allpowers founded in 2008, is a professional manufacturer of high conversion efficiency solar cells and portable solar chargers.

Notice: Outside Pursuits is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees sold through by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Amazon offers a small commission on products sold through their affiliate links. Each of your purchases via our Amazon affiliate links supports our efforts to bring you the best possible product reviews at no additional cost to you. We appreciate your support here at OutsidePursuits.com

Jakob Straub

Jakob Straub lives in Barcelona, Spain, where he works as a freelance writer and author. He covers topics ranging from travel and outdoor to literature or software and technology. Jakob is addicted to climbing and splits his time between bouldering at the gym and exploring the crags of the Catalan countryside. He also enjoys long hikes in mountains or on the Costa Brava and is a rookie surfer on the Mediterranean shores.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close
Close