Portable solar panels are the best way to charge up your RV batteries while camping if you don’t want to mount panels on the roof of your camper, or if you want to strategically place your panels in the sun while having your RV in the shade. Or, if you have a delicate roof like on a bumper-bull, portable solar panels for travel trailers are a great solution.
They’re also a great option for tent camping if you have gear you need to keep charged on the go.
But how do you pick the best solar panel kits for your needs? Well, it depends on how you plan to store and travel with them, how many watts you need, and what your budget is.
In this post, we’ll be going over the best portable RV solar panels from different brands, and what you should be shopping for as you make your choice.
Portable Solar Basics
Here are some features you’ll need to consider about a portable rv solar panel setups before making your choice.
- Some come with carrying cases, some don’t.
- Most come with a built in charge controller, with varying degrees of quality.
- Some solar panel brands have great customer support if something goes wrong or if you panel stops charging. This is an important factor to consider if you’re not solar savvy yourself.
- Most are rigid panels, but you can also get flexible solar panels and use them as a portable solar panel option.
- Most come in 100 watt configurations, and we wouldn’t really recommend anything below this, as you want to be sure the effort of carrying around and putting out your r v solar panels pays off.
Portable Solar Panel Reviews: Our Top Picks
Our methodology for picking the best portable solar panels is simple: the brand must be a high quality panel with good reviews, it must have a charge controller included because we are discussing solar for RVs after all (unless the panel is flexible), and it must have an appropriate dollar per watt price for the quality offered.
We’ve also broken down our top portable solar panels by wattage, because your cargo space may be different depending on what type of camper you have or how many batteries you need to keep charged exclusively on solar power.
The most popular portable solar panel brands are definitely Zamp solar, Renogy, and Go-Power, but we have included a variety of options to suit your price point.
Best 100 Watt Portable Solar Panels:
-Renogy 100 watt: https://amzn.to/2ZuDLbE
-Zamp 140 watt: https://amzn.to/3etvAR9
-TP Solar: https://amzn.to/3gQyiBI
-Eco-Worthy: https://amzn.to/3fw5JZZ $178
-Gopower 130 watt: https://amzn.to/2Dz1hLQ
Best 200 Watt Portable Solar Panels:
-Renogy 200 watt: https://amzn.to/30fOPZo
-Zamp 230 watt: https://amzn.to/2WzDCSr
Best flexible solar panels:
Comes in 50, 100, 150, and 175 watt versions
What is the best portable RV solar panel?
If you don’t want to comparison shop and simply want to know what’s the best portable panel for any travel trailer or camper, we recommend the Renogy panels as the best mix of quality and value. If money is no object, go with the Zamp panels.
Benefits of Portable Solar Panels
- You can move the panel anytime to be directly in the sun, even if your RV is in the shade.
- You can angle the panel to line up perfectly with the sun, which is perfect for lower winter sun angles, when rooftop panels will naturally absorb less power for your batteries.
- You can supplement your solar system as needed, without having to mount additional panels on your RV roof.
- You can use them in any camping situation, since they aren’t attached to a specific RV, so whether you’re tent camping or taking the RV out, they can be used.
- They don’t require any involved setup or drilling of holes in your roof to be used.
There are some CONS as well – namely that you have to transport them, set them up, and break them down every time you’re setting up or taking down camp. You also have to be careful that they don’t get knocked over by the wind, or run over by a car. But, that comes alongside the benefits as well! If you need to supplement your solar power and don’t mind the setup and takedown, portable solar panel kits are a great option for you.
Portable Solar FAQs
How many solar panels do you need for your RV?
The number of watts you need really depends on your power needs. If you’re just charging a phone or couple of other small things, 100 watts could be plenty. If you’re trying to keep your RV batteries charged, the general rule of thumb is to have twice the wattage of your batteries amp hours. So if you have 100 AH of batteries, you should be good to go with 200 AH of panels. Keep in mind this is a very general recommendation and it depends on how much sun you can get each day and how much power you’re using during the day and overnight. A battery monitor will help you decide if your current panels in your solar system are sufficient!
What can a portable solar panel power?
They can power anything from your phone to your RV solar system, depending on what type of connectors the panel has. We recommend simply plugging them into your RV house batteries and then charging up any devices with your actual RV instead of worrying about what the panels can power directly, unless you’re simply using it on a camping trip or road trip without a rig.
How long do portable solar panels last?
Rigid models are known to last longer than flexible models, and the higher quality you get, the longer they’ll last. But generally, they won’t stop producing power unless something on them breaks – whether that’s a charge controller or the panel glass itself (and even with the glass broken, it will still produce power.) This is the importance of choosing a panel brand with great customer service, because if your panel stops working, they’ll be willing to walk you through troubleshooting steps, sometimes down to soldering new diodes in if you’re comfortable with that kind of troubleshooting.
Are folding solar panels any good?
Yes! Folding solar panels are just as good as roof-mounted solar panels. They just have a hinge that allows them to fold up into a suitcase style for easier transport. Some people are known to remove these hinges and roof mount them when they no longer want the feature of portability, so you can rest assured that rigid foldable solar panels are just as high quality as regular ones.
When picking solar panels for RVs, what do you think you would prefer – roof mounted or portable solar panel kits? They each have their pros and cons. Sound off in the comments on what you prefer to charge your batteries with!