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These RV Solar Panel Kits Will Help Convert Your Camper in No Time

Using solar panels to provide at least some of your camper’s electricity can make for a peaceful, off-grid experience.

Without the need to hook up, daily driving, or noisy portable generators, you can keep your leisure batteries charged without paying for campgrounds and enjoy some of nature’s best boondocking locations.

A few components are needed to install a solar setup, so you have to shop around for the correct size parts and configure a suitable setup for your electrical demand.

Or you can make it easy and buy a solar panel kit, which includes all the parts you need.

With pre-configured solar panel kits, adding solar panels to RVs, campervans, and motorhomes has never been easier. 

But there are a few kits available, and this post will help you figure out which one is best for you. 

So what are the best solar panel kits for campervans, RVs, and motorhomes? Read on!

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Best RV Solar Panel Kits: Our Top Picks

Best Overall Solar Panel Kit

Renogy 200 Watt Solar Premium Kit

– Easily expandable later
– Quality MPPT controller

Best Solar Panel Kit for Large RVs and Motorhomes

Renogy 800W 12V/24V Monocrystalline Solar Premium Kit

– Ideal for large RVs
– Suitable for 12v or 24v systems

Best Portable RV Solar Panel Kits

Jackery Solar Generator 1000 (Jackery 1000 + 2 x SolarSaga 100W)

– Portable
– Battery included

Price Check

Best Solar Panel Kit for Small Campers

Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Premium Kit

– Budget-friendly
– Includes all mounting parts

Best Solar Panel Kit for Car Camping

Jackery Solar Generator 300 ( Jackery 300 + SolarSaga 100W)

– Ideal for tent or car camping
– Foldable solar panel

Best Flexible Solar Panel Kit for Campervans

Renogy 100 Watt Solar Flexible Kit

– Low profile, flexible panel
– Lightweight

Best Budget Solar RV Kit

Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Starter Kit

– Budget-friendly
– PWM charge controller

The Best RV Solar Panels Kits Reviewed

Renogy 200 Watt Solar Premium Kit

A 200-watt solar kit is an ideal size for a camper with modest energy demands. 

Depending on the amount of sunlight, it’s enough to run a small fridge, keep your lights and roof vent running and charge small devices. You’ll probably have enough power to run an inverter occasionally.

The Renogy 200w premium kit is our top pick of all the solar panel kits on our list. 

The kit includes 2 of Renogy’s monocrystalline panels for maximum efficiency. They’re lightweight, too, an important factor for vehicle handling.

The panels’ corrosion-resistant aluminum frames mean these things will last for years.

Of course, as you’d expect for a premium kit, it also includes a 20A MPPT charge controller so your battery bank can make the most of those top-of-the-line solar panels.

You get everything you need to install the kit, including mounting brackets to fit the panels to the camper’s roof, fuses, cables, and connectors for the panels. 

One of the major benefits of choosing Renogy solar panels is their 25 years warranty.

The kit doesn’t include a battery or an inverter. For a 200w solar setup, we recommend at least a 100ah battery bank.

The kit includes installation instructions, but look at our 200w solar panel wiring diagram if you need assistance with that.

Renogy New 200 Watt 12 Volt Solar Premium Kit

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Renogy 800W Monocrystalline Solar Premium Kit

People with larger motorhomes and RVs often have greater energy demands. Rather than allow that to confine you to campgrounds, a good size solar panel kit will allow you to enjoy boondocking and still keep the lights on.

Depending on the amount of sunlight, an 800w solar system could generate 240 – 256 amps per day with only 4 hours of peak sun.

That’s enough to power a TB, charge laptops and a coffee maker, and run a large, energy-efficient fridge. 

An 800w system gives you a good few days in reserve, depending on your usage and without other sources of recharging.

If you intend living in a camper in the winter months, 800w is complete luxury!

Like all Renogy’s premium kits, the 800w version includes their top-of-the-range monocrystalline solar panels, an MPPT solar charge controller, and all the fittings needed. 

We don’t forget their standard warranty either.

The kit doesn’t include a battery or an inverter. For an 800w solar setup, we recommend at least a 300ah battery bank. 

The kit includes installation instructions, but look at our 800w solar panel wiring diagram if you need assistance with that.

Renogy New 800 Watt 12 Volt Solar Premium Kit

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Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Solar Panel Kit (Jackery 1000 + 2 x SolarSaga 100W)

Portable solar generators, combined with solar panels, are a terrific way of getting the benefits of solar power without having a permanent installation on your roof.

We’ve written an entire post on portable solar generators, so we won’t go into all the details here. Specifically, the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Solar Panel Kit is a complete setup.

It has 2 x 100w folding solar panels and all other components, including the battery, integrated into the solar generators. 

The main benefit of this setup is its portability. And you can recharge the generator from a mains supply if your camping trip turns into a wet weekend! 

jackery 1000 solar panel kit

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Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Premium Kit

If you’re on a tight budget or have a small camper, the Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Premium Kit is a perfect addition to your campervan electrical system.

As you’d expect from Renogy’s premium kits, it also includes an MPPT charge controller and monocrystalline solar panels. The 20A controller means you can easily add another panel or two later.

A 100w solar system probably isn’t enough to keep you living in a van year-round without extra charging from either shore power or while you drive, but it’s a good start.

With a few hours of peak sun, you can probably generate and store enough power to recharge a couple of small devices, run your roof vent during the night to stop condensation, keep a composting toilet’s fan running 24/7 and switch on a few LED lights inside the campervan.

You get everything you need to install the kit, including mounting brackets to fit the panels to the camper’s roof, fuses, cables, and connectors for the panels. 

The kit doesn’t include a battery or an inverter. For a 100w solar setup, we recommend at least a 50ah battery bank. 

If you intended to extend the system later or want to top up from other sources, you’re probably better off buying a larger battery bank.

Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Premium Kit

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Jackery Solar Generator 300 ( Jackery 300 + SolarSaga 100W)

The Jackery Solar Generator 300 Kit is the only other complete setup on the list. No need to buy a separate battery and no need for complex electrical installations. 

Simply plug the portable solar panel into the solar generator, and you’re good to go. 

This small generator (or, more accurately, power station) is ideal for car campers and won’t take up much storage space.

Jackery Solar Generator 300 (Jackery 300 + SolarSaga 100W)

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Renogy 100 Watt Solar Flexible Kit

Full disclosure here: we’re not big fans of flexible solar panels. Their low profile makes them great for stealth camping on campervans, but in our experience, they’re just not that efficient.

They perform best if they have a slight gap below them to allow air to circulate. We had flexible panels (although they were a much cheaper brand than Renogy), and they lasted a year. We were far from impressed.

However, if you have limited flat space on your roof, flexible panels are better than nothing. And by investing in a good brand like Renogy, you can probably avoid the problems we experienced.

The Renogy 100 Watt Solar Flexible Kit includes a PWM charge controller, keeping its overall costs down. But, we don’t recommend buying these kits if you intend to expand on them later.

You’ll be better off with one of the premium kits that include an MPPT charge controller.

Renogy 100 Watt Solar Flexible Kit

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Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Starter Kit

While Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Starter Kit includes a PWM charge controller instead of an MPPT controller, it’s still a worthy contender. It’s the most budget-friendly kit on the list. 

If you’re just beginning to explore the advantages a solar system can provide in your camper, this kit might be just what you’re looking for. 

For less than $200, you get everything you need, install it and charge your battery. It includes the compact 100w monocrystalline panel, so you’re not losing quality there. 

Plus, if you want to expand later, you can always invest in a new MPPT charge controller at the same time. That way, you haven’t forked out loads of cash on a system you may not use.

Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Starter Kit

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The Best Brands

We recommend using well-known brands like Renogy or Jackery. There are less well-known brands available too, but they don’t all have the same track record. 

There tends to be little price difference, so we think it’s worth opting for the more established brand.

A couple of other brands to look out for are:

  • Goal Zero – their Nomad range consists of micro solar panel kits, ideal for hikers and campers with small energy demands.
  • WindyNation – this US-based company manufacturers components for wind and solar power generation. Their solar panel kits are of good quality at affordable prices.

How Much Does a Solar Panel Kit Cost?

Kit prices vary based on wattage and included components. 

Budget-friendly starter kits cost less than $200, like the Renogy 100w starter kit. You may need to add in the cost of a battery and possibly an inverter, too. 

If these small kits provide you with everything you need in the long term, then they’re a great option. 

But, if you expect to expand the system later, we recommend choosing the kits with the best solar panels (monocrystalline, rigid panels) and an MPPT controller.

An equivalent small kit that you can easily expand later, like the Renogy 100w premium kit, costs less than $300. It may seem like a significantly higher price, but it makes better financial sense in the long term.

If your energy demands are more significant, and you want to spend more time off-grid, the larger kits like the Renogy 800W premium kit cost a little over $1500. 

For this, though, you’re getting plenty of solar energy and a top-of-the-range charge controller for the most efficient battery charging.

Why Choose a Solar Panel Kit?

The most significant advantage of buying a kit rather than individual components is convenience.

You can be confident everything included is sized as a complete configuration, so your only decision is what size to buy. 

Kits usually include wiring instructions, too, making installation a little easier for novices.

How Much Electricity Do You Need?

Off-grid living means you can only use the electricity you can generate and store. If you use more than you can generate, your batteries will eventually flatten. 

Solar panel kits and their components can be expensive, so it’s more frugal to buy a size only to accommodate your needs.

And if you buy a kit too small, it could be as wasteful as buying one too big.

Knowing how much electricity you need is the first step in sizing your complete setup. We have an RV solar calculator to help you size your system. 

Even if you only plan to add a small solar capability, we encourage you to use the calculator to figure out your base usage. 

It will also provide details of how much solar panel power, battery storage, and size charge controller you need. 

It’s essential to buy a kit where all the components are at least as big as those calculated.

RV Solar Panel Kit Buying Guide

It’s important to consider what components are included in a kit before you buy it. Here, we’ll take a look at the features to look out for.

We have a lot of articles about DIY campervan solar systems and detailed posts about every component. We’ve linked to them throughout this post so if you want to delve into more detail, just click through.

What’s Included in a Solar Panel Kit?

Most solar panel kits include everything you need to generate renewable energy from the sun. 

  • Solar panel(s)
  • Solar charge controller
  • Mounts
  • Fuse
  • Cabling & MC4 connectors

Because many camper conversions already have a battery bank installed, more often than not, solar panel kits don’t include the battery. 

If you want to use your solar set up to run any household AC appliances, for example, charging a laptop, you’ll also need an inverter. These are rarely included in solar panel kits.

We’ve included a recommended size of battery and inverter for each solar panel kit we’ve reviewed. But it’s important to size your inverter to meet your needs. You can read more about inverters here and use this inverter calculator to buy the correct size.

The portable solar panel kits on our list include a solar generator, like the Jackery Solar Generator 300 kit. Despite its name, the solar generator is, in effect, a battery bank incorporating the charge controller and inverter.  

You can learn more about portable solar generators here.

Solar Panels

Not all solar panels are made equal. 

Firstly, choose between flexible and rigid panels. 

Flexible panels can be molded more easily to non-flat surfaces, making them a good option for boats and more rounded camper roofs. They’re much easier to install too. That said, in our experience, flexible panels aren’t nearly as robust or efficient as rigid panels.

Rigid panels provide a better permanent and long-term solution than flexible panels. Once fitted, they should be good for years. 

Then there are three types of a solar cell to choose from:

  1. Monocrystalline
  2. Polycrystalline 
  3. Thin-film aka amorphous
three types of portable solar panel technology

Solar panels are rated based on standard test conditions and therefore benchmarked against each other. This means that a 100-watt solar panel is the same as another 100-watt solar panel in identical conditions.

So how does the technology make any difference?

Monocrystalline panels are the most efficient. They are more durable and not as sensitive to high temperatures as polycrystalline or thin-film panels. Though they’re most efficient, they’re also the most expensive. 

Polycrystalline solar panels aren’t as efficient as monocrystalline solar cells, but they’re still quite common. Polycrystalline panels are more budget-friendly, but they tend to have a shorter lifespan.

Thin film is a type of solar cell where the photovoltaic material is printed onto the panel. The panel doesn’t need to be a rigid surface. Instead, they can be applied to fabric or plastic, so quite flexible. They have a shorter lifespan than the other types of solar cells, though, and a lower efficiency rating. This means they need to be physically larger to produce the same energy as polycrystalline or monocrystalline panels. 

Because roof and storage space is limited in campers, we only recommend monocrystalline solar panels. 

They allow you to capture as much energy as possible for their footprint, which we think is more beneficial than saving a bit of money. 

If you’re on a budget, start with a small but expandable kit so you can add more panels later.

Read more: Campervan Solar Panels | A Complete Guide

Solar Charge Controller

How to select a solar charge controller for an RV or campervan

There are two types of solar charge controllers: PWM charge controllers and MPPT charge controllers. If you want to deep dive into their detail, check out our article explaining everything you need to know about solar charge controllers

To summarise, though, a PWM controller is less efficient than an MPPT controller. A 100w panel paired with an MPPT solar charge controller could provide 30% more power than paired with a PWM controller.

A PWM controller costs less than an MPPT solar charge controller, though, and by a fair margin. For example, a PWM controller capable of handing a 200w panel costs around $70 compared to an equivalent MPPT controller costing around $160.

If you depend on efficiently charging your battery bank, we recommend a kit with an MPPT controller, like any of Renogy’s premium kits. 

Tips

  • We recommend getting the best bang for your buck by buying the most efficient components. This means choosing an MPPT controller and monocrystalline solar panels.
  • If your kit includes multiple panels, consider whether it’s best to wire them in series or parallel. In our experience, we get more energy from a series configuration, but you can use our calculator to see what would best suit your setup.
  • Some RV solar panel kits don’t include the battery or inverter. Make sure to budget for your batteries and any inverter you may need.

If you don’t want the hassle of fitting panels on your roof or don’t have the roof space available, portable solar panels provide an ideal solution.

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