What to Consider when Buying RV Solar Panels

RVs are a great way to enjoy exploring all the beauty and majesty our country has to offer, and RV solar panels are one of the best ways to make that experience more affordable. RV panels are a cost-efficient way of creating electricity needed to power appliances, lighting and even air conditioning.

Using normal car batteries to run these types of power hungry devices would require near constant use of the RV's electrical system and generator, which would result in a lot of wasted diesel or gasoline.  Solar power allows these devices to be used in the RV for next to nothing. However, before you rush out and buy solar panels for your recreational vehicle, there a few things you should consider.

RV Solar Panel Efficiency

Although many RVs are large and spacious, they are still much smaller than your home. Therefore, when trying to choose solar panels for your RV, you should use panels that use as little space as possible while providing a large amount of electrical output. With solar RV panels, the efficiency of a panel is usually determined to be the amount of solar energy that is actually converted into electricity.

To make efficiency ratings easier to understand, this efficiency rate is usually reflected as a percentage amount. The higher the efficiency percentage, the more efficient the panels are and the more electricity they produce. When considering the efficiency of solar panels that are used in RVs, there are three primary types that are used:

  • Amorphous RV Panels - Amorphous solar panels are the least expensive; however, they are also the least efficient. In most cases, amorphous solar panels have an output efficiency of about 7%.
  • Polycrystalline Panels - Polycrystalline RVs solar panels can produce efficiency ratings as high as 15%. This means that a polycrystalline solar panel can produce the same amount of electricity as an  amorphous panel that is twice its size.
  • Mono-Crystalline Solar Panels - Mono-crystalline solar panels are only slightly more efficient than polycrystalline panels and have an overall efficiency rating of about 16%.

As you can see, there's not much difference between polycrystalline mono-crystalline solar panels when it comes to efficiency. So, try to purchase either one of these types of panels if your budget permits. Using more efficient panels will also usually allow you to save on installation costs.

Buy Solar Panels with Higher Wattage Cells

The electrical output of solar panels is referred to in the number of watts each cell of the panel produces. The higher the wattage, the more productive the cell and solar panel is. Although buying high-efficiency solar panels with higher wattage ratings will usually result in more electrical output, installation of the panels can also be an issue. So, look for solar panels that have high wattage ratings for both angled and flat installations.

Consider How Much Power You Really Need

If you're only looking for a solar panel installation that is powerful enough to recharge your RVs battery, there are many inexpensive solar power kits available. On the other hand, more robust solar panel systems offer an alternative power source for almost all electrical equipment in your RV.

If you are unsure of the amount of solar power you will need, start small and purchase a two-panel set. You can always add panels as they are needed to increase the amount of electricity produced by the system.