Wednesday, July 10, 2024

How Much Are Solar Panels For A Van

Kkbol Portable Solar Led Light Bulb Rechargeable Solar Lamp

EASY OFF-GRID SOLAR INSTALL in a VAN | Van Build Series 2.0

When it comes to outdoor solar lighting, the KK.BOL Portable Solar Led Light Bulb is a must to have in multiples. Its efficient, its handy, its super easy to charge and illuminates any space you need for a 5-hour period when fully charged.

It charges itself with USB, so theres an array of charging methods you can use. You can do it on your laptop while working, you can use your power bank, you can use a normal USB charger or you can connect it directly to your solar panel.

It comes with its own photovoltaic solar panel and a built-in lithium battery, which makes it not only durable, but also very low power consuming.

Its also built with a very handy hook, making it very easy to transport and ideal for almost any kind of circumstance. You can mount it almost anywhere you need illumination from, making it perfect for van life, outdoor nights and even for hiking at late hours.

Its important to notice that it is not waterproof, but for its price, you really couldnt ask for more. If you plan on living in your RV or van and like to camp or hike buying a couple of these bulbs will make your life a lot easier.

Pros & Benefits:

You Wont Drain Your Vans Batteries

Some people rely on the batteries in their van as a power source for appliances and gadgets. This can be costly as van batteries used like this will wear out faster.

Theres also the danger of being stranded when the battery fails to power your van for a drive. Instead of drawing power from your van batteries, the solar panels and overall system ensures you have backup power when your vans batteries fail.

What Kind Of Solar Panels Do You Want On Your Camper Van Or Rv

You may have seen large solar panels installed on homes or by power stations. However, those arent the only kind available to camper vans and RVs, Parked in Paradise reports.

Panels come in a variety of sizes and arrangements. Some are small and flexible enough to lean against your windshield. Others are rigid, with enough surface area that they have to be installed on the roof. That doesnt mean you cant mix-and-match panels, though. For example, you can have a few small portable panels to recharge a phone, while a large fixed one helps power the rest of the RV.

All camper van and RV solar panels work on the same principles, RVShare explains. Sunlight hitting the panel generates an electrical current that charges a battery. However, the panels themselves can feature one of three designs: mono-crystalline, poly-crystalline, and amorphous. The most popular is poly-crystalline, The Dyrt reports, because its only slightly less efficient than mono-crystalline but significantly cheaper. It also takes up significantly less space than an amorphous panel.

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Best Flexible Solar Panels For A Camper

There are a number of brands that make flexible solar panels specifically for campers. Commonly, these panels can bend up to 30 degrees making them a good choice for curved surfaces like teardrop trailers or boats.

They are also lightweight and are much easier to install than rigid panels.

For the best flexible panels, we recommend ALLPOWERS, Renogy and Suaoki brands. They share many of the same features including a decent warranty, high efficiency, and resistance to extreme weather.

Check Price

Portable Solar Panels & Solar Suitcases

How to Install Van Solar Panels Yourself

Portable solar panels are used as either standalone units or a portable solar briefcase that you store in your vehicle and then pull out while youre at camp.

These are an excellent choice if your are looking to get a small amount of power like charging phones or a laptop at a campsite.

Pros of Portable Panels:

  • Portable Solar SuitcaseEasier and cheaper for those who dont have the means to do more custom work.
  • Can position to get the best lighting, opening up options for where you park your van as well.
  • Less evidence of living in your vehicle when they are put away
  • Easier for a wide range of vehicles
  • Can harvest sun while your vehicle is parked in the shade

Cons of Portable Panels:

  • Need to set up each time youre at camp
  • Takes up space inside the van when traveling, especially anything above 200W
  • Wont be able to charge with solar when running errands
  • Not great for city dwelling

Cons of Portable Panels:

  • Need to set up each time youre at camp
  • Takes up space inside the van when traveling, especially anything above 200W
  • Wont be able to charge with solar when running errands
  • Not great for city dwelling

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Rv Solar Panel Kit With Inverter And Battery


  • High solar cell efficiency : Monocrystalline 21%


  • EL tested solar modules no hot-spot heating guaranteed
  • Corrosion-resistant aluminum frame for extended outdoor use, allowing the panels to last for decades
  • TPT back sheet ensures smooth performance over a long period of time
  • IP65 rated junction box provides complete protection against environmental particles and low pressure water jets


  • Sealed, Gel Flooded and Lithium charging algorithm ready
  • 4-Stage battery charging process for a rapid, efficient, and safe battery charging


  • The Renogy Wanderer is equipped with multiple electronic protections overcharging, overload, short-circuit and reversed polarity
  • Pre-drilled holes on the back of the panel allow for fast and secure mounting


  • With the Renogy Wanderer Li 30A PWM Charge Controller, you can expand your system up to a maximum of 400W. The Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Expansion Kit Expansion Kit is the perfect solution for future expansion

Solar Panel Cost Van: Prices & Data 2021

As of Dec 2021, the average cost of solar panels in Van is$2.49 per watt making a typical 6000 watt solar system$11,052 after claiming the 26% federal solar tax credit now available.

This is lower than the average price of residential solar power systems across the United States which is currently $3.00 per watt.

Installed Van solar system cost by:

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Basic Misconception Of Solar Power

But before we get to calculating your van solar power size requirements, its critical to go over one common misconception regarding solar power.

You might be thinking that the size of your solar system is derived from the total power consumption of all the electrical devices you have in your camper van.

The answer? Yes & No

Yes: The more power demanding your devices, the larger the solar wattage system youll need.

No: Solar panel size is not DIRECTLY derived from the power draw of your electrical devices.

Important To Understand: It is your house batteries that power your electrical devices. Therefore, it is your battery bank that should be sized to meet your power demands. Your solar panels simply recharge your batteries. It may not seem like it, but there is a slight difference here.

Renogy 200w Solar Kit

Basic Solar Parts Needed for a DIY Camper Van or RV Solar Install

Were just going to come out and say it now the Renogy 200w Solar Power Premium Kit is by far the best bang-for-your buck product you can get if you want high quality and affordability.Besides having a massive 98% efficiency rating and up to 25-year warranty, the kit also comes with everything you need to get set up for off-grid living.Because we love this kit so much we managed to get an exclusive 10% off discount for VLT readers too! Just use the code vanlifetheory at checkout on the Renogy site.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase a product we recommend using the links in this article, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. We promise to use this pocket money to buy lots of coffee and fuel for the campervan to keep us enjoying #VanLife for just a little longer. We appreciate your support, and only recommend products we know and trust. Thank you friends!

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Ways To Charge Your Sprinter Vans Battery Bank

Hopefully by now, you have an idea of the type of battery and size of your bank that you want in your Sprinter Van. Now were going to talk about how you charge that battery bank. There are three main ways you can charge your battery bank.

  • Shore power no matter how many solar panels you have on the roof, you still want the ability to plug-in. Its never a bad idea to top of your batteries off using shore power when the opportunity arises. Or say you get caught in a blizzard for a few days and youre running low on power due to your heater and lack of sun. Its a nice safety net to be able to plug-in at a friends house.
  • Solar panels if you have a fridge and other appliances that have a constant draw on your batteries, having solar panels allows you to stay off the grid longer. The solar panels harness the power from the sun, and then a wire runs to the batteries where the power is stored. My solar panels are made by Bend-based Zamp solar, the same company that made the solar panels on my first Sprinter Van. Ill talk more about how to determine how much solar power to have in the next section.
  • Types Of Electrical Current

    There are two types of electrical current in van conversions, alternating current and direct current:

    • Direct current: current funneled directly from the solar panels. Powers 12V appliances and feeds into 12V batteries. Direct current flows one direction and requires positive and negative terminus.
    • Alternating current: current used in houses to power 120V appliances and outlets. You need alternating current to charge phones and laptops, or power hair dryers and microwaves. Alternating current pushes electrons back and forth

    You can find many components online as 12V. Our Dometic electric cooler, MaxxAir fan, potlights, and light switches all operate on 12V. However, we also have two regular three-prong outlets, and one 4-port USB outlet, that require alternating current. For converting direct current from the sun to alternating current for your appliances youll need an inverter.

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    Using Flexible Solar Panels On A Stealth Camper Van

    If youre trying to build a stealth camper van, any panels mounted to your roof are going to be a giveaway that someone is living in a van.

    There are various ways disguise this with roof racks and flush-mounted flexible panels.

    When youre living in a van, hiding yourself has as much to do with your location as it does how your van looks. In neighborhoods that are wary of the homeless, just having a vehicle above a certain height will get the cops called on you.

    Other areas of cities have full Class C RVs parked in broad daylight and no one blinks an eye.

    This is all to say that we dont think that its worth sacrificing a lot of effort and resources trying to hide your solar as you may be thinking. If you have solar panels, hiding them helps in only a small percentage of situations.

    Folding Or Briefcase Solar Panels

    Mounting (Affordable) Solar Panels on the Camper Van ...

    If you are not keen on attaching a panel to your van permanently then a folding or briefcase type solar panel is a great option to consider. There are some pros and cons to consider. They allow you to place the panel in direct sunlight, whilst keeping your van parked in the shade and they can also be turned through the day to track the sun to ensure maximum efficiency. they are also easy to install into your van set-up as some come with built in controllers and simply require you to connect them to the battery so ease of use is to be considered.

    On the negative side, they do take up valuable storage space whilst your are travelling and you will need to factor the set-up of the panel into your camp routine. If you are wild camping then this may not be possible and then you have to accommodate the panel in the van overnight where space is even more of a premium. Also as they are detached from the van you should consider potential theft and one other factor to consider is the type of camping you do. If like me you will be using the van to pop out during the day to local attractions etc then you will have to disconnect the panel and nothing will be charging your batteries while you are parked up for the day in the local town with the fridge on.

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    Windynation Solar Panel Kits

    WindyNation is more popular with the RV community. What we like most about their solar kits is that they come with battery upgrades. This ensures that all of your components are designed to work together without having to worry about incompatible components.

    While their solar kits do not allow you to upgrade the charge controller, we think the kits are a great value for someone new to solar and the easiest way to get your system up and running.

    Our Favorite Flexible And Rigid Solar Panels For Van & Rv

    Our Favorite Flexible Solar Panel

    Renogy 175 watt 12v Flexible Monocrystalline Panel

    Flexible solar panels are easier to install, lighter weight, and stealthier. They are pricier at about $1.60 per watt, and about 9% larger. If we did our conversion again, we would go for these flexible panels. Reports are that flexible panels can have very short lifespans in very hot areas. This is because they can overheat since there is no airflow due to their flush mounting. In milder areas lifespan is 5-10 years. BUT, they still have a 25-year power output warranty.

    Check Hightecs 200w panels and more options at their eBay store

    Rigid solar panels are cheaper than flexible panels and may have a longer life span. Our recommendation of these panels by Hightec Solar might be off the beaten track. Their pricing is about $0.92/watt compared to about $1.30/watt from Renogy. While they are not a name brand, they have over 14,000 positive feedback on eBay , and offer a 25 year warranty. We are very happy with the panels, they are sturdy and output the advertised power. The shipment arrived safely in a few days. We were stoked to come across this deal, and are happy to recommend them.

    Update: Two years after purchase, and the panels are still producing strong!

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    How We Picked And Tested

    Choosing a solar panel to use in your vehicle can be confusing. This is especially the case for those who are newbies to the world of solar energy. That is why we came up with a list of the top solar panels to use in your vehicle. Here is how we picked, analyzed, and tested what we believe to be the best solar panels for vans.

    • Solar Panel Efficiency

    The principal function of a solar panel is to generate electric current by absorbing sunlight. We recognize the fact that there are solar panels that absorb sunlight a lot more efficiently than others. That is why we had to evaluate the efficiency of the solar panels to make sure that you will get the maximum energy output for your vans appliances.

    We know that high-quality solar panels have an efficiency rating of 20 to 23 percent. Good quality solar panels can have an efficiency of between 15 and 18 percent. This is good enough. As such, we set our parameters to include only solar panels that have at least a 15 percent efficiency rating.

    • Wattage

    What is the use of installing a solar panel in your van if it cannot deliver the much-needed energy to power your devices? While the final power output of the solar panel will depend on your intended use, we know that a solar panel with higher wattage will deliver more power to more devices in the vehicle.

    • Ease of Installation
    • Included Accessories
    • Price

    What Are The Best Solar Panels On Campervans

    How much Power | VanLife Solar Panel and Battery SETUP on a VW Campervan

    Campervan owners have two choices on their solar panels.

    The first choice is the more stable solar panels latched or screwed on the campervans roof itself.

    This allows you to charge the batteries while driving.

    However, as campervan roofs are normally too small to allow for 100% solar panel energy, these need to be supplemented with either gas generators or portable solar panels.

    This is also the go-to option for campervan owners with pop up tents.

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    Photonic Universe 300 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel

    As efficient as they are, this particular solar panel is light enough to be placed on most campervans without ruining the roof.

    At 300 watts, this solar panel can save you some money by using a single panel instead of multiple ones.

    The thing can also save you more space.

    In fact, this can meet 50% of our prescribed minimum energy needed for running electronics in 100% solar energy.

    Total Watts For Your Solar Array

    Its critical that the total wattage of your solar panel array is able to sustain your daily energy usage. But how many watts is enough?

    100-watts? 300-watts? More?

    That answer is entirely dependent on how much electric power you require to power and charge all your electronic devices .

    In general, unless youre running a bare bones electrical system, we would recommend at least 200-300W worth of solar panels.

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