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RV Portable Solar Panels—A Deep Dive

If you are a nomad traveler across the world, then rv portable solar panels are all you need for your energy independence. It gives you the flexibility to roam anywhere and anytime without worrying about your energy needs. Choosing the right RV portable solar panel is not an easy feast. It requires a lot of technical consideration and knowledge to select the right RV portable solar panel. 

This article briefly explains everything you need to know about RV portable solar panels. It also outlines the list of the best RV portable solar panels and the factors that need to be considered when choosing a portable solar panel for an RV.

Let’s dive into an RV portable solar panel without any further delay.   

1. What are RV portable solar panels

RV portable solar panels are electrical devices that convert solar energy into electrical energy to power RVs. Unlike roof-mounted RV solar panels, these panels are portable. You can fold them in the kit when not used. Moreover, once you need them, you can bring them out of your RV, put them under the sun, and connect them to the battery. You don’t need to permanently install them on the roof of a motorhome or travel trailer.

2. How do portable solar panels work for RV

RV portable solar panels work exactly the same way as general solar panels. The solar panels convert the sun energy into electrical energy, which is used to power up the RV. These solar panels are made up of small units called cells. These cells are made up of semiconductors that have a free electron in their valence shell.

When the sun rays fall on these atoms having a valence electron, it excites them, and they jump into the inter-atomic conductive region. The electric field then moves these free electrons to a conductive metal plate that collects them and transfers them into wires. Wow!!! You have electricity now.   

These panels are connected to the controller. The controller is then attached to the battery that is used to store the energy in electrical form. The energy produced by the panels is Direct Current (DC) electricity that needs to be converted into Alternating Current (AC) before feeding it to the electrical appliances. Therefore, RVers use inverters to convert DC into AC.  

It flows like this.

Sun —> Solar panels Controller —> Battery—-> Inverter —> Electrical Appliances in RV

3. What are the different kinds of RV portable solar panels

Like normal solar panels, RV portable solar panels are broadly categorized into three main groups based on the type of materials used in the construction of solar panels.

  1. Mono-crystalline—These are solar panels made up of one single crystal
  2. Poly-crystalline—These are solar panels made up of multiple crystals
  3. Amorphous—These are solar panels made up of are made from non-crystalline silicon—amorphous silicon material.   

4. How many watt solar panels do I need for RV

There is no specific answer to this question. The amount of power (watt) needed for an RV depends upon the power requirements of the RV. You can use online calculators to calculate your power requirements. Generally, 200-watt solar panel is used in the RV as it is sufficient to light up your RV and run essential electrical appliances.

You can manually determine the power requirement in two different ways.

Firstly, you can look at the power requirement mentioned on the appliances. Remember that your solar panel output power should be greater than that.

Secondly, if the appliance’s power requirement is not mentioned, you can calculate it by using the watt formula  (watts = amps X volts). Look at the appliance’s instruction manual and find the operating voltage and the amount of current it draws for operation. Once you find the required voltage and current, multiply them to find the power requirement of that appliance.

Lastly, ensure that your solar panels’ total output is greater than your RVs total power requirements.

rv portable solar panel

5. What will a 200-watt solar panel run in an RV?

Generally, a 200-watt RV portable solar panel is enough to run your RV; however, the exact amount of power required may vary from person to person as it depends on what you are using in your RV. Hence, this article briefly outlines what you can do with a 200-watt RV portable solar panel. Following is the list of things that you can do with a 200-watt RV portable solar panel.

  1. Run a dorm fridge (12V refrigerator)
  2. Switch on LEDs
  3. Watch TV
  4. Run a ceiling fan
  5. Use Laptop
  6. Charge Smartphones
  7. Other small electrical appliances.

Simply speaking, with a 200-watt solar panel, you can use all those electrical appliances that consume not more than 140-150 watts of power. You can not use a toaster, microwave oven, or use iron with a 200-watt solar panel. For that, you need more panels. So, check your electrical appliance’s power (watt) requirement before you use it.   

6. What are the best RV portable solar panels?

This depends on your requirements. Multiple things go into identifying the best RV portable solar panels, such as space, efficiency, cost, and durability. If space is the major issue, then poly-crystalline solar panels are the best option. They occupy almost half of the space as amorphous solar panels and produce slightly less energy than monocrystalline solar panels.

In contrast, amorphous solar panels are the cheapest but have the highest efficiency. Similarly, monocrystalline is the best in low-light conditions but is expensive. So, choosing the best RV portable solar panels depends on which character is the most important for you.   

Following are some of the best RV portable solar panels.

  • pashbull portable solar panel 100w
  • Renogy 200 Watt Eclipse
  • Goal Zero NOMAD 100
  • BioLite SolarPanel 10+
  • Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Starter Kit
  • Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Suitcase

7. What factors need to be considered when choosing a portable solar panel for an RV

If you are planning to buy a portable solar panel for your RV, then watts, weight cord length, and efficiency rating are the four most important things that you must consider before choosing your solar panels.

Watt: This is very important information that you need to consider. It tells you how much electrical power output it provides. So, choose panels according to your energy requirements.

Weight: As you move around, you have to load and unload your RV portable solar panel quite often. Therefore, it is important to consider your solar panels’ weight before buying them. 

Chord Length: It is also important to consider while buying RV portable solar panels. You need long cords if you want to park your car in the shade and put your panels under the sun. So, choose it according to your needs.

Efficiency rating: How much power output your panel provides is also important to consider. Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency—more than 20%.

RV portable solar panels provide clean, green energy and independence for campers, hikers, and RVers. Whether you are on a road trip, beach gateway, or camping trip, free yourself from energy worries by using RV portable solar panels.    

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