RV boondock solar panels are the most inexpensive method of powering your RV when boondocking and if you have a cell phone battery charger you can get free energy for your lighting needs from the sun.
The idea behind this post is to show you how simple it is to be solar powered in your recreational vehicle, assuming that there is enough sun available (which there usually will be).
How much do RV solar panels cost for Boondocking?
The price of solar panels for recreational vehicles is a hotly debated issue, especially among RVer’s who want to go off the grid. I think that if you’re going to live in an RV and not be hooked up to any utility/grid power then it’s absolutely necessary to have some sort of alternative energy source.
RV solar panel kits can cost as little as $100 or as much as $1,000. It is entirely dependent on your energy requirements. When you’re just getting started, an RV solar panel starter kit can cost between $200 and $500.
You might as well enjoy all the comforts and conveniences of your home while boondocking.
Kits in this price range typically include a charge controller, solar cables, and one or two solar panels, making them an excellent starting point for those new to solar.
However, you will almost certainly require a generator to supplement your usage. Once you’ve determined how well the solar panels are performing for you, you may need to purchase additional panels.
5 Best Solar Panels For RV Boondocking
1. Renogy 400 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline
Renogy 400 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel is a good choice if you need to generate electricity from the sun. The solar panel was very easy to install and it can be placed on your roof or in your yard.
It will provide you with clean energy for up to thirty years. This product comes with an eighty-four percent efficiency rating, which ensures that it will give you maximum results when converting sunlight into useable energy.
Renogy 400 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel provides something no other solar panel has been able to offer before – long lasting modules that do not have any added selenium wafers or glue used during manufacturing, as well as excellent performance.
Your panel is covered by a warranty that lasts up to twenty years. The company offers great customer service, so you can be certain that any problems that arise with the product will be quickly and efficiently handled.
2. WECO-WORTHY Solar Power System for RV Off Grid 200w
WECO-WORTHY sells a 200-watt, 12-volt solar panel kit that is ideal for boondockers who do not require a lot of power. The kit includes two 100-watt panel, a 20-amp PWM charge controller, four Z-brackets for mounting, cabling, and solar connectors. It also includes a 2 x 20Ah lithium batteries and a 600 inverter.
3. Go Power! 130 Watt Portable Solar Kit
The 130 watt portable solar kit from Go Power! is ideal for RVers who do not want to install a roof-mounted solar system. With its adjustable legs and carrying case, the foldable, 130-watt panel is simple to store and deploy.
A 10 Amp PWM charge controller, cabling, and battery clamps are also included in the kit. The panel is covered by a 25-year warranty.
Because it is lightweight, foldable, and comes with a storage case, Go Power! is our choice for best portable RV solar kit. Furthermore, it can be used in conjunction with an existing rooftop system or as supplemental power.
What else could you ask for in a portable solar panel?
4. HQST 100W 12V Polycrystalline Solar Panel Kit
The HQST 100 Watt polycrystalline solar panel kit is an excellent RV solar panel starter kit. It comes with one 100-watt panel, a PWM charge controller, connector cables, and mounting Z-brackets.
The kit is available with either a 10A or a 20A charge controller, with the 20A charger cost slightly more.
This panels are easy to install It is durable and can withstand temperatures over -200ºC.
5. Renogy 175 Watt 12 Volt Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
This solar panel is flexible enough to be attached to flat surfaces – cars, boats, RVs etc. – without making any holes or compromising on the looks and design of your vehicle (or boat or RV).
They can even be mounted on a curved surface – they have tabs on each side that can be bent to make installation a breeze.
1 x 100 watt flexible monocrystalline solar panel and a 30A charge controller are included in this kit. On the back end of the panel, silicone structural adhesive can be used to install the panel.
This is our pick for the best flexible solar panel because Renogy is a reputable brand that will most likely assist you if there are any problems or warranty issues. It also has a lot of positive feedback on Amazon.
Do you really need solar panels for boondocking?
The unfortunate part is that depending on your RV, you may not be able to run everything in your rig for very long with just a generator.
The initial investment in solar panels will help when it comes to limiting the number of trips to town to stock up on fuel. So factor that into your initial costs too… especially if you’re living full-time in an RV and relying on boondocking as a primary source of power!
Boondocking isn’t something I’ve done much off, but I have done some camping far away from any type of civilization so we could hike without worrying about humans or wildlife. It was a blast! However, I didn’t rely on just one power source though (i.e. solar), I used a combination of solar and generator.
What Size Solar Panels Do You Need For Boondocking?
Getting right down to brass tacks, you want portable panels that are relatively powerful.
The one thing I don’t like about most of the small ones is that they top out at around 200w-300w and it’s not enough for full-time boondocking in my opinion (unless you’re steering clear away from civilization).
If you’re planning on staying at RV parks or public campgrounds, then these will be fine; but if you’re planning on getting off-grid, then having the ability to charge up all of your electronics without worrying about running out of juice will make life easier – especially if you have many more power-hungry devices.
What to consider when buying RV solar panels for boondocking
Before installing an RV solar panel system on your recreational vehicle, there are many parameters to consider. Do the panels produce enough electricity to power my RV lifestyle?
Have I calculated the total cost of a complete installation project including shipping costs and ordering necessary equipment for a successful installation?
Will the 5-year limited warranty provided by the manufacturer cover me if an array is damaged or fails prematurely?
The more questions you ask yourself before placing your order, the better off you’ll be in terms of customer service should issue arise down the road.
The higher the wattage per panel produces, generally speaking, the more electricity it will generate. For RV solar systems, this is often referred to as peak watt density.
To calculate the anticipated system output you just need to multiply your desired voltage by the number of watts per square foot (Wp) and then take that number and multiply it by 0.85 or 85%.
This gives you a realistic number of kilowatt hours (kWh) for daily energy consumption with a 20% loss from conversion inefficiencies during energy transfer.
For example: A group of four 100W solar panels contains 400W or 8.33 square feet of surface area.
Multiply the total number of watts by 0.85 and you get 7.2 kWh per day at peak efficiency when the sun is shining brightly (a very rare occurrence).
In reality, this design will produce around 10-12 kilowatt hours during a full sunny summer day.
A more realistic goal is to multiply your system size in kWh by 20% to account for energy loss while converting the direct current (DC) power generated from each panel into usable alternating current (AC) electricity inside your RV’s electrical system known as inverter technology.
For example: If you need a 15 kW portable solar array with an 85% peak efficiency rating, your system should be built using 4 or 5 panels.
This design will produce between 18-23 kWh every sunny Summer day.
Calculate what your ideal energy output is for a specific period and then consult with solar experts online to find reputable dealers who sell the equipment you’ll need at an affordable cost that won’t hurt your wallet if things go wrong down the road which is something no one wants to deal with when trying to enjoy their RV lifestyle.
Portable Or Fixed
For those who decide to go with portable solar panels as opposed to permanent roof-mounted ones, it’s important to track energy output and maintain high levels of battery charge in order to fully enjoy your RV lifestyle.
In order for an individual to become self-reliant and sustainable when off the grid, a tracking system should be considered as well as a battery bank that’s able to support long periods of power outages which occur throughout the year.
Solar Panel Size
The guiding principle in purchasing portable solar panels is how much energy can it produce in direct sunlight? Just because you own the latest and greatest RV solar technology doesn’t mean you can neglect properly sizing a solar panel system with enough capacity to recharge your batteries while supplying electricity to all electrical loads on board.
Purchasing a System for Maximum Efficiency When determining what size solar panel system you need, make sure not only that the panels will work on your roof but also that they’re sized correctly.
With many different manufacturers, there are three key measurements to pay attention to; the total number of watts a panel provides, volt/watt-hour (VWh), and percentage of efficiency.
One of the biggest issues that people run into when they choose to buy solar panels batteries is their failure to factor in the amount of money needed for the entire process.
The cost can be substantial due to all of the parts and labor required, not to mention any permits that might need to be obtained from local governments before construction can even start.
It’s also important to remember that while many people get lucky and find good deals while buying solar panels batteries, this isn’t always going to be possible since there are so many different variables involved in this type of purchase.
You may end up paying more than you expected if your search takes longer than planned or something unexpected pops up during the installation process.
How much will you save?
One thing that many people don’t realize when they’re deciding whether or not to buy solar panels for boondocking is the amount of money they can actually end up saving by making the right choice.
There are a wide variety of different factors involved in this type of a decision, including the size and quality of your system, as well as its construction style and location.
The more easily accessible sunlight a specific area has throughout the day, for example, the less likely it is that you’ll need to rely on grid-connected power sources to stay connected to civilization.
You may even be able to sell your excess electricity back into the main power grid if your system is large enough!