Are you constantly on a cross-country road trip; In need of the best solar panel for your vans? If yes, you are in the right place.
On the other hand, maybe you’re just looking for a way to make your RV more eco-friendly. If that’s the case, then you’ve come to the right post.
This post will provide you with all of the essential information to assist you in purchasing the best. I mean, a high-quality solar panel for your exciting trips even at your budget.
This PowerVersity buying guide is a pick of the top 5 best solar panels for vans. The best is discussed last – starting with the 5th on top of the list.
To help you decide which solar panel to get, I strongly recommend that you take the time to read through the 5 best solar panels for vans discussed.
Overview; Best Solar Panels for Vans
The solar panel system concept has gained tremendous popularity. In the past, these systems were typically used at home to power electronic home appliances on top of the roof.
However, in today’s world, this system now works on transportation systems that include vans. Hence, making the solar panel system a great way to generate and easily electricity.
Thereby turning your van into an off-grid camper.
How a Solar Panel System Works
Solar panels, also called photovoltaic (PV) modules, are the collection of photovoltaic cells built in a frame for installation.
The photovoltaic cells of the solar panel have two layers of a semi-conductive material. This material produces silicon mixed with other elements to create an electrical field between the top and bottom layers of the cell.
However, the top silicon layer is mixed with phosphorous, which adds extra electrons and gives the layer a negative charge while the bottom layer receives boron. Hence, decreasing the number of electrons and producing a positive charge.
Moreover, when a photon from the sun strikes on one of these electrons, the electric field pulls the electron out of the silicon.
Therefore, the energy is absorbed by metal plates on the sides of solar cells and transferred to wires to be used as regular electricity.
It is time to look at the different types of solar panel systems.
Different Types of Solar Panel Systems
The three main types of solar panels include; monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film solar panels.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels (Mono-SI)
These solar panels consist of 40 monocrystalline solar cells, which are made out of pure silicon. Likewise, they are the oldest type of solar panel and the most developed too.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels (Multi-crystalline)
These are more recently developed models. However, they are growing quickly in popularity and efficiency.
Also, just like monocrystalline cells, polycrystalline cells are made from silicon. The difference is that polycrystalline cells are made from fragments of the silicon crystal melted together.
Thin-film Solar Panels
These solar panels are new developments in the solar panel industry. Moreover, they aren’t always made from silicon.
They can also be made from various materials, including cadmium telluride (CdTe), amorphous silicon (a-Si), and Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS).
Moreover, it is easy to identify them by their thin appearance. Hence, making these panels nearly 350 times thinner than those that use silicon wafers.
Above all, these are the various types of solar panels. However, you need more than just solar panels to generate electricity for your van.
Other components make up a complete solar panel system, and that’s what we’ll be looking at next.
Components of Solar Power System for Vans
Important components you’ll need to set up a solar panel system for your van include:
These devices convert the DC electricity from a battery bank into usable AC power that comes out of your 110v outlets as electricity.
Inverters come in two main types, such as pure sine inverters and the modified sine inverters. The pure sine inverters are more efficient and can run any equipment that fits within their power range.
However, they’re expensive, but they’ll give you a constant supply of energy. On the other hand, modified sine wave inverters consume more energy and may not be compatible with some appliances. However, they are more affordable.
The capacity of a battery is measured in amp-hours(ah), which is a unit of measurement for how much electricity it can store.
The two types of batteries include AGM batteries and Lithium batteries. However, choosing a good battery depends on how much power your devices will draw and the wattage of your solar panels.
This involves several wires, such as positive and negative wires running from the solar panels to the charge controller. As well as wires from the charge controller to the battery bank.
Also, there is the fuse block to each battery and the battery bank to the inverter. In all, keeping the wires neat will help to prevent excessive loosening of wires in your van.
This device transforms the voltage and current from the solar panels into a usable charge for the battery. Hence, it protects your batteries from overcharging, improving their longevity.
There are two types of solar charge controllers: PWM or pulse width modulation and MPPT or maximum power point tracking.
An MPPT charge controller harnesses the maximum energy coming into your panels, so your batteries get maximum input, while the PWM requires your solar panels to be wired in parallel.
Automatic Charging Relay (ACR)
This is a small device that is attached to the vehicle’s alternator. This device allows the alternator to charge your batteries while you are driving.
It is time to see essential reasons why you should get a solar panel for your van.
Important Reasons to Get a Solar Panel for Your Van.
These are some important reasons why you should consider getting a solar panel for your van.
- Firstly, having a solar panel system will give you the ability to charge your electrical devices and applieance through out your trips. As a result, you can you can cook, watch TV, use your phone, and other gadgets without having to worry about power supplyin while using clean and renewable energy from the sun.
- A solar panel does not require the use of any fuel to operate; all you have to do is wire the panels together and mount them to the roof of your van, and they will begin to work efficiently.
- Using the solar panel will give you access to clean and renewable energy. Unlike grid electricity or generators.
- Solar panels are capable of harvesting some of the sun’s energy, even in cloudy or partially shaded conditions. Hence, if you have enough battery storage, it should be able to last for a number of days without charging the batteries at all.
Top Picks of the 5 Best Solar Panels for Vans
5100W 12V Monocrystalline Panel; Topsolar Panel
“Topsolar Panel for Vans” starts my list of the five best solar panels for vans.
Firstly, this is a 100 watts, 12v monocrystalline solar panel perfect for home or off-the-grid living. Hence, making it a suitable alternative power supply system for your van.
Likewise, it is built with highly efficient monocrystalline solar cells. Monocrystalline solar cells are known to have the highest efficiency level of up to 15-20%.
Also, they consume less space and have a life span of up to 25 years. Hence getting this solar panel system will give you value for your money as it offers maximum efficiency and durability.
Furthermore, this solar system is designed with strong tempered glass and an aluminum frame to enhance its durability. Hence, making it fit for outdoor uses as it can withstand wind, snow, and corrosion(rustiness).
Likewise, the junction box is built to withstand rain and dust as it is made with IP-65 waterproof material. This product comes with 100W solar panel kits.
These kits include 4pcs Z mounting brackets and 1 pair of red and black solar cable. Also, the solar panels have already drilled mounting holes. Consequently making mounting and setting up this device quite easy.
Similarly, the “Topsolar Solar Panel” is a versatile device. It can be used for various DC applications, such as caravans, RVs, cars, boats, greenhouses, maritime, dry camping, garden watering, and many other things.
This product offers a 20A charge controller with a PWM function. This helps to protect your solar panel system from damage due to overcharge, over-voltage, discharge, or short circuit.
Lastly, this solar system power capacity is expandable up to a maximum of 400W 12V system or 800W 24V system. Consequently, making it is one of the best solar panel systems you can get for your van.
Specification for Topsolar Solar Panel
- Dimensions: 45.6x 20x 1.37 inch
- Weight: 15.84 lbs
- Voltage: (Vmp):23V
- Current: (Imp): 4.3A
410W Solar Panel; SOLPERK Solar Panel for Van
At number 4 on my list of the best solar panels for vans is “SOLPERK Solar Panel System.”
This solar panel offers impressive features, such as its 360-degree rotating functions. With this feature, this panel can be adjusted to any angle to absorb light.
Moreso, it is designed with ultra-high photoelectric conversion rates. Thereby increasing its ability to convert solar power into electricity for maximum efficiency.
Also, this device is made with durable wind and rainproof aluminum alloy frames. However, it is advised that you don’t immerse this solar panel system into water.
In addition, two crocodile clips are included in this panel kit for you to use to connect it to positive and negative terminals of the battery for charging and maintenance.
Aside from using this panel for your van, you can also use it in motorcycles, ships, recreational vehicles, trailers, electric sports, snowmobiles, and other things.
Moreover, this device functions as a solar battery charger and maintainer. Hence, it can charge and maintain various 12V batteries such as Wet, Gel, MF, EFB, and AGM.
Overall, this solar panel system is easy to install. It has a simple plug-and-play interface and automatic maintenance features.
Specification for SOLPERK Solar Panel; Best Solar Panels for Vans
- Dimensions:13.4 x 9.8 x 0.7 inches
- Weight:3.67 pounds
- Watts: 10W
3200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar; Renogy Solar
In my list of the best solar panels for vans, “Renogy Solar for Van” ranks 3rd.
This also uses monocrystalline solar cells offering up to 21% output and input efficiency. It can supply a maximum of 1000W of power daily. Likewise, it can fully charge a 50Ah battery from 50% in 1hr 30minutes.
However, its input and output efficiency all depends on the availability and intensity of the sunlight.
This solar panel comes with unique tools such as two Renogy 100W 12V Poly/ Mono Solar Panels and one 30A PWM Wanderer Charge Controller.
All thanks to the Renogy wanderer 30A PWM charge controller, this solar power system’s capacity can be expanded up to a maximum of 400W.
Similarly, it also offers one 20ft 10AWG Solar Panel Connectors Adaptor Kit, one 8ft 10AWG Tray Cable, one set of Solar Panels branch connectors, and two sets of Z-brackets.
Thereby giving you all you need to set up your solar panel system and start enjoying, clean/efficient alternative power supply on your off-the-grid living/road trips.
A corrosion-resistant aluminum frame also comes with this device. This makes this solar system suitable for long-term outdoor use and enhances its durability.
Overall, The panel is great for off-grid applications, such as RVs, trailers, boats, sheds, and cabins. As a result, it will provide many benefits, including quiet power production and grid independence.
Specification for Renogy Solar Panel
- Dimensions :47.3 x 21.3 x 1.4 inches
- Weight:36.6 pounds
- Watts: 200w
2Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel
“Renogy solar panel for vans” comes in 2nd on my list of top solar panels for vans.
This item has some appealing features. Firstly, this panel is ideal for applications needing a small footprint, making it a popular choice for people who own RVs, campers, and similar vehicles.
Secondly, this solar system allows for easy installation/mounting as it comes with pre-drilled holes. Also, it has a wide variety of applications, as it can be for different indoor and outdoor purposes.
It is also built to last as it is designed with several durable materials and components. For instance, it has a positive output tolerance of 0-3%. Also, it can withstand heavy impact, wind, and snow loads.
Likewise, it comes equipped with an IP-65 rated junction box having Male&Female connector leads. Consequently making it relatively easy to connect to a controller or expand to other panels.
Overall, this is a versatile, durable, and highly efficient solar panel system.
Specification for Renogy Solar Panel
- Maximum Power: 100W
- Maximum System Voltage: 600V DC (UL)
- Optimum Operating Voltage (Vmp): 18.6V
- Open-Circuit Voltage: 22.3V
- Optimum Operating Current: 5.38A
- Short-Circuit Current: 5.86A
- Operating Temperature: -40°F to 176°F
1Amazon choice; Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel
“Jackery solar panel for a van” is my number 1 top pick for the best solar panels for vans.
This is an incredibly lightweight, compact, and foldable solar panel. Thereby making it easy to carry about.
It is also designed with monocrystalline silicon solar cells that offer high conversion efficiency of up to 23%. Thereby enabling faster input(charging) and power output rate.
It also comes with a kickstand that allows you to place this solar panel at an angle to harness energy from sunlight easily. Thereby enabling an efficient charging process.
More importantly, the device’s IP65 splash-proof features will protect it from water splashes. However, it is not rain-proof. Hence do not leave it under the rain or soak it in water.
This solar panel system has an ETFE-laminated casing strong enough to extend the solar panel’s life and enhance its durability.
Overall, it is FCC and ROHS Certified. Likewise, it offers over power protection, surge protection, short current protection.
Specification for Jackery Solar Panel
- Watts: 60W
- Dimensions:22 x 18.5 x 2.5 inches
- Weight:3.3 pounds
Wrapping up on the 5 Best Solar Panel for Vans
There you have it! The best solar panels for a van. Hence you can start making your plans to purchase any of these amazing high-quality solar panels for your vans.
Each of these solar panels comes with the functionality you need in a good panel for your van. Moreso, they come with unique features you may need to get the most value for your money.
Therefore, you can pick the solar panel that best meets your budget and specific needs.
However, “Jackery Solar Panel for van,” my number one choice, stands out as the best and flexible solar panel.
So, click the buy from Amazon button to get it.
I hope you found this PowerVersity pick helpful?
If you found it helpful, kindly share your thoughts with the “Leave a Reply” form found towards the end of this page.
Finally, to read more guides like this, visit our Electricity and Renewables page.