RV (recreational vehicles) demand is massive in today’s market. It is the go-to option for flexible traveling and accommodation with specialized living quarters. The market size of RV was USD 55.28 billion in 2020 and is estimated to reach USD 87.89 billion with a CAGR of 6.7% between 2021-2028 period.
Also, today’s eco-friendly-conscious consumers are highly concerned about sustainable energy solutions. Hence, the demand for RVs equipped with solar panels has become a major preference. Sustainable energy, like solar energy, doesn’t emit carbon which is harmful to the atmosphere, leading to global warming. Therefore, the demand for portable solar panels for RV has increased worldwide. It has become a cost-effective and environment-friendly way of traveling and camping. Let’s have an overall outlook on portable solar panels for RVs.
What Are Portable Solar Panels for RV?
Portable solar panels are small-sized and easy-to-install panels equipped with photovoltaic cells. It captures and converts solar energy into electrical energy. The portable panels are connected to the battery for storing solar energy. Further, the energy can be used for powering up devices.
Portable solar panels are different from traditional solar panels. Traditional panels are made up of rigid aluminum cases and tempered glass. Its overall design makes it heavy and less portable. At the same time, portable solar panels are flexible and made up of monocrystalline cells and laminate. Moreover, it is an ideal choice for RVs compared to traditional panels.
With the help of photovoltaic cells, portable solar panels convert the solar power obtained from the sun into direct current (electricity). Then, the electrical energy powers up the battery of the RV.
Advantages and disadvantages of using portable solar panels for RVs
Portable solar panels let you travel and camp in an eco-friendly manner. Moreover, your vehicle will remain charged for the entire day. It also offers enhanced flexibility for parking your RV. You can move anywhere with these solar panels, which are easy to carry. Adding this to your RV is quite reasonable because it lacks installation. It will be a greater advantage to enjoy the benefits of solar energy at a lower cost.
However, portable solar panels also have disadvantages. It is less reliable compared to other panels. In case of adverse weather conditions, it will result in less energy production. Solar energy is well-known as clean energy, but it is not completely clean. And the suitcase-style portable panels are bulky to carry. You can check out the portable solar panels for RV reviews from various sites to know the pros and cons in detail.
Choosing the Right Portable Solar Panel for Your RV
Before choosing a portable solar panel for your RV, you must consider some basic factors.
- RV Size
The size of your vehicle is a major consideration. Not all RV sizes are similar. Some of them may have specialized needs based on the battery storage capacity of the vehicle.
- Energy Requirement
On average, an RV needs 120 watts of energy. It also depends on your energy usage. Most solar panels come in between 100 and 400 watts of power for RVs. Also, estimate the daily power consumption of your RV.
- Panel Weight
Consider the solar panel’s weight before you purchase it. It should be lifted comfortably and carried around easily.
- Weather Conditions
Portable panels have less light exposure on cloudy days. No doubt, the panels will work but at a reduced energy rate. So, you must check out the weather conditions of your region.
General specifications of portable solar panels
The small portable solar panels can generate up to 5 to 50 watts, while the larger portable panels will generate more than 100 watts. It also produces about 5 to 6 amps of current in direct sunlight. Most portable solar panels are available with 100W. And the maximum current rating is 5.5-6A. Moreover, the maximum voltage rating is 17 to 18V.
Installation and maintenance tips:
- As the RV needs to move several places, ensure the hardware is tightly fixed to the RV’s roof. Temperature also varies in different regions, which can lead to the contraction and expansion of solar panels’ screws.
- You must check the battery fluid level every three months. In case the fluid level is low, you can use pure distilled water to level it up.
- Regularly check the wiring near the battery. When the battery starts producing an acidic mist, it can affect the terminals and connections, which results in corrosion.
- Remember that modern charging controllers can easily wear out with time. So, you need to confirm during installation that the wire connections are secure and safe. At times, loose connections can heat up the system and create resistance.
- You don’t have to worry about dirt and debris with portable solar panels. But, it is better to prefer cleaning the panels once a year.
- The most optimum direction to place your solar panels is between the south and west. The solar panels will receive maximum sunlight throughout the day at this location.
5 Portable solar panels for RV
Here are your top picks for portable solar panels for RVs.
Jackery is one of the best choices for portable solar panels for RV camping. It is made up of Monocrystalline Silicon with higher efficiency. It has a higher energy conversion rate with multi-layered cell technology. The panel can generate 23% more compared to conventional panels. The product is durable and splash-proof and compatible with Jackery Explorer 300, 500, 1000, and 1500 power stations. It is an ideal choice for off-grid camping, weighing 10.33 lbs.
The EcoFlow 160W solar panel is foldable and weighs just 15.4 lbs. It is waterproof and seamless, which makes it an ideal option for outdoor activities like hiking and camping. It has a maximum conversion efficiency of 21 to 22%. Moreover, it has a Kickstand Case, which protects the panels during transportation.
The Rockpals 100W Portable Solar Panel is made up of monocrystalline silicon. It weighs 81.6 ounces with a high efficiency of 21.5 to 23.5%. The panels are compatible with solar generators. It comes with 5V USB devices, including smartphones and tablets, GPS, digital cameras, etc. Moreover, it is water-resistant and highly durable. It is equipped with smart charging technology to speed up charging.
The Bluetti 120W solar panel offers excellent power, which is perfect for RVs. It comes with the highest efficiency rating of 23.5 %. It can be perfectly inclined towards the sun with its four adjustable kickstands. It is durable and splashproof with advanced laminated technology and ETFE material.
This is an exceptional and complete solar panel kit that includes a 100W solar suitcase, alligator clips, a 20A waterproof charge controller, and a cell efficiency of 22%. It is compatible with 12V batteries. It offers excellent performance in low-light conditions.
Portable solar panels for RVs are greatly beneficial, especially for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, running small business outlets and frequent travel. It will save you money which you spend on fuel. As we discussed earlier, it is small in size and easy to carry, which won’t take up much space. Portable solar panels require effortless maintenance. Moreover, you can easily transfer it to a new RV. With these potential benefits, you can enjoy your trips, camps, and activities with your RV. Therefore, it will be a great investment with longer effects.
1. How can I optimize my RV energy usage when using a portable solar panel?
You can optimize your RV energy usage with a portable solar panel by placing the panels at an optimal angle (45 degrees) and horizontal direction to capture solar energy. This can lead to maximum efficiency. Keep the panels clean to prevent the cells from damaging. You can also increase efficiency by monitoring the solar panel output.
2. What are some future trends and innovations in portable solar panels for RVs?
Expansion of portable solar panels to continue in the coming years. The future improvements will focus on the effective reduction of energy costs and improvement in environmental footprint. The brands come up with future innovations to make it more energy efficient and reliable to last for decades.