Solar panels are a popular option for powering recreational vehicles (RVs) because they provide a clean, renewable source of electricity that can be used to run appliances, charge batteries, and power electronics while on the road. There are two main types of solar panels that are commonly used on RVs: roof-mounted solar panels and portable solar panels.
In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of roof-mounted RV solar panels and portable solar panels to help you decide which option is best for your needs. We will discuss factors such as cost, installation, efficiency, and convenience to help you make an informed decision about which type of solar panel is right for your RV.
If you want to know whether your RV needs solar panels, you can check out our previous blog post.
Is Using Solar Energy for RV & Motorhomes practical in Canada?
Using solar energy for RVs and motorhomes can be practical in Canada, as long as you have a reliable and well-maintained solar panel system. Solar panels can provide a source of electricity for powering various appliances and electronics in your RV. They can help reduce your reliance on campground electrical hookups or a portable generator.
There are a few factors to consider when determining whether solar energy is practical for your RV or motorhome in Canada:
- Climate: Some areas of Canada, such as Southern Ontario and parts of the Prairie provinces, as well as the eastern part like Quebec have high levels of solar radiation and can support large-scale solar energy projects. The potential for solar energy in Quebec is significant, and the use of solar energy is expected to increase in the coming years as the technology becomes more affordable and efficient. It's also worth noting that Quebec has a strong renewable energy sector, with a number of large hydroelectric dams that provide a significant portion of the province's electricity. Other areas, such as Northern Canada, may have lower levels of solar radiation and may be less suitable for solar energy generation.
- Solar panel efficiency: The efficiency of your solar panels can affect how much solar energy you can generate. Higher-efficiency panels can produce more electricity with the same amount of sunlight.
- Battery storage: A good battery storage system is essential for storing the electricity generated by your solar panels so that it is available when you need it.
- Energy needs: The amount of solar energy you need will depend on your RV or motorhome's energy needs and the appliances and electronics you want to power.
Overall, using solar energy for RVs and motorhomes can be a practical and cost-effective way to generate electricity in Canada, as long as you have a reliable solar panel system and a good battery storage system.
Roof-Mounted Solar Panels for RVs
Roof-mounted solar panels for RVs are solar panels that are permanently installed on the roof of the RV. They are typically mounted using brackets or a mounting system specifically designed for RVs. They are connected to the RV's electrical system to provide a constant source of power.
RV roof-mounted solar panels work by converting sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic (PV) cells. The PV cells can be made of monocrystalline, silicon, or other materials that are designed to absorb photons of light and convert them into electrons, which generate an electrical current.
The electrical current is then sent to a solar inverter, which converts the current from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), which is the type of electricity that is used in most homes and RVs. The AC electricity is then sent to a Solar charge controller, which regulates the flow of electricity to ensure that the batteries are charged properly and that the electrical system of the RV is not overloaded.
The Solar charge controller also prevents the batteries from being overcharged, which can damage them and reduce their lifespan. The electricity generated by the solar panels can be used to power appliances, charge batteries, and power electronics in the RV.
Portable Solar Panels
Portable solar panels for RVs are solar panels that are designed to be portable and can be easily moved from one location to another. They are typically smaller and lighter than roof-mounted solar panels and are often mounted on a stand or frame that can be set up on the ground or a table. Portable solar panels can be used to charge batteries, power small appliances, and charge electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops.
Portable solar panels are a convenient and versatile way to generate electricity, particularly for people who are on the go or who do not have access to a permanent power source. One of the main advantages of portable solar panels is their flexibility. They can be used in a variety of settings, including on a camping trip, at a festival, or during an emergency. They can also be a good option for people who live in areas where it is difficult to install permanent solar panels, such as renters or people who live in apartments.
These types of solar panels are generally easy to set up and use, and they do not require professional installation. They are also relatively inexpensive compared to roof-mounted solar panels, which makes them a good option for people who are on a budget.
However, it's important to note that portable solar panels may not be as efficient as permanent panels at generating electricity, and they may not be suitable for running larger appliances or charging multiple batteries.
Pros & Cons: RVs’ Rooftop Solar Panels compared to Portable ones
Pros of using roof-mounted solar panels for RVs:
Efficient: Roof-mounted solar panels are generally larger and more powerful than portable solar panels, which means they can generate more electricity. This makes them a good choice for running larger appliances and charging batteries more quickly.
Reliable: Roof-mounted solar panels are more durable and long-lasting than portable solar panels, which means they can provide a reliable source of power for years to come.
No setup is required: Since roof-mounted solar panels are permanently installed, there is no need to set them up or take them down each time you use them. This can be convenient for people who use their RVs frequently.
Professional installation: Roof-mounted solar panels should be installed by a professional electrician, which can provide peace of mind and ensure that the panels are installed correctly and safely.
Cons of using roof-mounted solar panels for RVs:
Cost: Roof-mounted solar panels can be more expensive upfront than portable solar panels, which may not be feasible for everyone.
Complex installation: Roof-mounted solar panels require professional installation, which can add to the cost of the panels and may not be practical for everyone.
Limited placement options: Roof-mounted solar panels can only be installed on the roof of the RV, which means they may not be suitable for people who have limited space on their RV's roof.
Fixed location: Roof-mounted solar panels are fixed in place on the roof of the RV, which means they cannot be moved or repositioned to follow the sun.
Potential for damage: Roof-mounted solar panels are exposed to the elements and may be prone to damage from wind, hail, or other weather events. This can be a concern for people who use their RVs in areas with harsh weather conditions.
Best RV Rooftop & Portable Solar Panels
It can be overwhelming to shop for a solar panel for your RV because there are so many different brands and options available. Each brand may offer different features, warranties, and price points, making it difficult to compare and choose the best one for your needs.
In this section, we will introduce the top two RV solar panels based on our solar energy experts' opinions at Volts Energies in Canada. In this way, you can narrow down your options and find a solar panel that is suitable for your RV and your needs.
The SunPower 100W Flexible Solar Panel is a thin, lightweight solar panel that is designed to be flexible and able to conform to curved surfaces. It is made with SunPower's high-efficiency solar cells, which are known for their ability to capture more sunlight and convert it into electricity than standard solar cells.
This SunPower solar panel is also coated with a durable, weather-resistant material that is designed to withstand harsh outdoor conditions. Some benefits of the SunPower 100W Flexible Solar Panel include:
- High efficiency: The panel's high-efficiency solar cells can capture more sunlight and convert it into electricity, which means they can generate more power than a standard solar panel of the same size.
- Lightweight and flexible: The panel is thin and flexible, which makes it easy to transport and install. It can be used as a portable solar panel or mounted on curved surfaces, such as the roof of an RV, boat, or van.
On the other hand, some potential downsides of the SunPower 100W Flexible Solar Panel include the following:
- The panel can be used to power a wide range of devices, including smartphones, laptops, and small appliances. It can also be used to charge batteries and power electronics.
- This panel may be more expensive than other panels, however, SunPower is a well-known brand and is known for producing high-quality, efficient solar panels, but this reputation comes at a cost. It's worth noting that the SunPower panel is known for its high efficiency and durability, which may make it a good value in the long run.
Overall, the SunPower 100W Flexible Solar Panel is a high-quality panel that is known for its efficiency and durability. It is a good option for people who need a flexible, lightweight solar panel that can generate a reliable source of power.
The Volts 200W monocrystalline solar panel is a high-capacity solar panel that is designed to generate a large amount of electricity. It is made with monocrystalline solar cells, which are known for their high efficiency and ability to capture a large amount of sunlight. The panel has a power output of 200 watts, which makes it a good option for powering large appliances and charging batteries quickly.
Some benefits of the Volts Energies 200W Mono Solar Panel include:
- High power output: With a power output of 200 watts, the panel is capable of generating a large amount of electricity, which makes it a good choice for powering large appliances and charging batteries quickly.
- Versatile: The panel can be used to power a wide range of devices, including appliances, electronics, and batteries. It can be used in a variety of settings, including on an RV, boat, or home.
- Durable: The panel is made with high-quality materials and is designed to withstand harsh outdoor conditions, such as rain, snow, and extreme temperatures.
- Design: The length of this solar panel has been designed in order to fit the width of the vehicle, and made the installation in your RV or camper van easier for you.
Overall, the Volts 200W Mono crystalline solar panel is a high-capacity panel that is capable of generating a large amount of electricity. It is a good option for people who need a reliable source of power for large appliances and electronics.
In conclusion, roof-mounted RV solar panels and portable solar panels are both viable options for generating electricity for recreational vehicles. Roof-mounted solar panels are larger and more powerful than portable panels, which makes them a good choice for running larger appliances and charging batteries quickly. They are also more durable and long-lasting than portable panels, which makes them a good choice for people who use their RVs frequently.
Portable solar panels are more flexible and convenient than roof-mounted panels, as they can be easily transported and set up anywhere that has access to sunlight. They are also generally more affordable than roof-mounted panels, which makes them a good choice for people who are on a budget.
Ultimately, the choice between roof-mounted and portable solar panels depends on your specific needs and budget. It's important to carefully consider the pros and cons of each option and choose the one that is best for you. If you still have any questions or concerns, contact us, and our solar energy experts at Volts Energies in Canada are ready to assist you.