Best Off Grid Solar Kits That Wont Break The Bank
Modern solar power systems are both more advanced and more affordable than ever before.
For tiny home enthusiasts, full-time RVers, or van dwellers, they represent one of the best ways to provide power while off-grid.
Where many people stumble is pairing panels, a charge controller, and all those pesky cables and connectors.
Thankfully, theres a solution.
Solar panel kits take all the guesswork out of your small-scale solar system by pairing the most efficient panels together with just the right accessories to maximize their potential.
We picked out five of the best solar panel kits available and gave them a thorough review to make choosing your favorite even easier.
For those who want a quick overview, below is our comparison table:
If youre looking for an efficient, affordable, and moderately sized solar panel kit to power your off-grid setup, I love this one from Renogy.
At 400 watts, its a great option to power an energy-efficient setup in your off-grid cabin, tiny house, RV, or van.
And while it doesnt provide nearly enough power to be able to power multiple appliances, it can easily power phones, laptops, cameras, basic LED lighting, and even a small appliance like a DC refrigerator.
It includes everything you need to mount and wire your system to a battery bank, including highly efficient panels, their latest 40A MPPT charge controller, and all the mounting brackets and wires you need for a basic installation.
Are Portable Solar Panels Waterproof
Most portable solar panels are water or weather-resistantmeaning they should not be submerged underwater but can be left outside in light rain. However, that doesnt mean that every portable panel should be left outside permanently. Check with the manufacturer to ensure the panel will meet your needs.
Renogy 100w Solar Kit
Quick Look: 100w Foldable Monocrystalline Solar Panel. Comes with 20A PWM charge controller. Compatible with seven different types of battery. Durable and portable.
One of the best things about these 100W solar kits is that many of them are very portable, like this model from Renogy. This panel is foldable and comes with a convenient carrying case so you can have solar power on the go.
Not only is the case convenient, but its durable too, just like the rest of this solar kit. The panel itself is waterproof and the frame is made out of corrosion-resistant aluminum, making this a great choice for your boat, RV, cabin, or caravan.
The included PWM charge controller comes with an easy to read LCD screen and is designed to protect your solar battery from overcharging, short-circuiting, or back charging. This system is compatible with seven different types of batteries including lithium, flooded, and gel batteries.
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Its Sustainable And Renewable
Solar energy is extraordinarily sustainable as an energy source. While the amount of energy available varies by location, the sun is an unlimited source of energy for all practical purposes.
Every second, the sun produces up to 384.6 septillion watts of energy. It is an immensely powerful, virtually never-ending source .
It shines every day, and even heavy cloud cover cant stop a sufficiently large solar grid from producing enough energy to meet demands.
Things To Consider When Buying A Solar Panel Kit
There are several factors to consider when selecting the best solar panel kit for your particular requirements:
- Load or Device Size work out the amperage and wattage you will need to fulfill your load requirements
- Weather Conditions consider the weather and climate where you are and choose one that is best suited to cope with those conditions.
- Voltage calculate the maximum output voltage of your solar panels and make sure that it is suitable for your batteries, solar charge controller and inverter.
- Where will it be consider the voltage drop you will experience depending on the distance between your panels and the solar charge controller/battery bank.
- Safety and Monitoring Features lookout for added safety featured and the monitoring information the kit can provide you. This is closely linked to the type of solar charge controller provided and is a very useful feature.
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Best Diy Solar Panel Kits Pricing And Reviews
Solar panel kits can be used for a number of applications and are becoming more popular as the cost of solar panels has declined by more than 70% in the last decade. The most common use for solar kits are RV travelling, camping, boating and small off-grid cabins, as solar is a more attractive alternative to loud and smelly diesel generators or additional batteries.
These kits can also be used for a small building on your property that needs power, such as a barn or parking garage. Running electricity to these buildings can be expensive, particularly if all you need to power are a few light bulbs and small appliances. If you own a cabin that has a greater electricity demand and is off of the grid due to geographical reasons then a solar kit can be an excellent option.
There are also DIY solar kits for full-size homes that have a larger electricity load . These kits come with the same top of the line panels and inverters that you would get from a professional installer. People enjoy the thrill that comes from disconnecting from the grid or having back-up power. DIY solar can also generate energy savings depending on where you live and reduce the overall installation cost relative to a professional installation if you have the expertise to install the system.
How Often Do You Go Off
If youre boondocking and regularly camping in areas with no electric hookups, then we suggest that you get mounted panels with a monocrystalline solar cell. You only have to install them once and never worry about their maintenance. Mounted solar systems are rigid and can handle all kinds of weather conditions and low-pressure water jets.
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Potential Of Solar Resource At Location
The potential of solar resources striking a particular surface on Earth is defined by insolation. It is the solar energy per unit area for a particular time. Understanding the potential of solar energy for a particular location is essential for designing and installation of solar energy systems. As a general rule of thumb, locations near the Earths equator have high insolation levels compared to locations further north or south of the equator.
A device known as a pyranometer is generally used by professional solar installers to get detailed solar insolation levels of sight. One other way to get an idea about the potential of solar radiation in your location Global Solar Atlas can be used which can also be explored to get an idea about solar energy output from your site.
Type Of Solar Inverter Required
Solar panels generate direct current or DC and it is not used in our homes or businesses. DC can charge up batteries directly or equipment requiring DC to operate. To convert DC to alternating current or AC, inverters are used.
There are two types of inverters in the market as string inverter and micro-inverter. A string inverter is connected to an array of solar panels and converts DC to AC which is supplied ahead. A micro-inverter is attached to each solar panel which converts DC to AC.
The life of the string inverter is less compared to the micro-inverter but is also cheaper than the latter. The inverter is the second most essential component of the solar system after solar panels and should be carefully chosen. The efficiency and life of the solar system also depend on the inverter which also plays a crucial role when the solar system is tied to the grid.
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Best Premium: Windynation Solar Panel Kit With Batteries
This is a high-quality solar panel kit. But theres one important detail that separates it from the rest it comes with a battery! In fact, there are several buying options for this product, some that come with multiple batteries, and some that also contain inverters. Because of this, it takes our best premium option.
This kit contains 3 100W solar panels , a 30-amp charge controller, all necessary connectors and cables, a DC to AC power inverter, and 2 100aH AGM batteries. It truly is an all-in-one kit.
But the package is only as good as the components themselves, and were happy to report that all components are high-quality, functional, and efficient. In fact, WindyNation is one of the most trusted names in solar products.
The solar panels themselves are made with polycrystalline design. Poly is known to be slightly less efficient than monocrystalline, but the difference isnt too dramatic. Poly panels are also cheaper, so you save money in this regard.
This is the perfect kit if you want everything you need to build a 12V off-the-grid system. Its a little unclear why so few kits contain batteries, so its refreshing to find a high-quality kit that actually does. If youre new to solar power, or just looking for a convenient buy, then this is the kit to go for.
- All-in-one kit includes batteries and inverter.
- All components made with high-quality design.
- Cost savings by buying everything at once.
What Customers Are Saying
Happy customers liked this panels affordability and craftsmanship. One customer said that the output was impressive considering the panels compact size. A few disappointed customers said that the solar panel they received didnt match the specifications advertised on the Amazon listing.
Renogy Monocrystalline Solar Panel
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Picking A Solar Energy Provider: How Do I Choose The Right Installer
Your installer is one of the most important factors of your solar installation! When you choose a solar installer, you should review their certifications, licenses, track record and reputation in the market. You should also be aware that a recent report by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory revealed that large national solar companies charge more than their small counterparts for the same or lesser quality equipment. The recommendation from NRELs report: shop around and consider local companies.
A great installer, like those on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, will also use subcontractors sparingly and warranty their workmanship. Most importantly, a good installer will be an effective partner ready to help you go solar. All of the installers you meet on EnergySage have been pre-vetted and meet our standards for all these variables. Whichever installer you use, dont be afraid to ask questions throughout the installation process.
This post originally appeared on Mother Earth News.
Best Small Manufacturer: Mission Solar
The residential solar space is dominated by big tech and electronics companies like LG, Panasonic and even Tesla. For some homeowners, though, theres something appealing about going with a smaller, more niche brand. And if thats the boat youre in, then were happy to recommend Mission Solar.
These panels are made in the San Antonio, Texas, area, which makes them some of the best U.S.-made products in the solar field. The technical specs are all on point, and the company pulls some robust customer satisfaction numbers, too. Keep Mission Solar on your radar as you seek the best solar panels for home use.
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How Often Do Youve Overcast Days
If youre camping in locations with heavy cloud coverage, the good idea is to get solar panels that work well in low-light conditions. A portable solar panel is an ideal choice for those who frequently park their RVs in the shade. You can easily transport and install it in a place where the sun is shining.
The Cost Of Solar Panels Is Constantly Dropping
A decade ago, a standard 6kW solar systems cost was more than the average cost of an RV. But the cost of per watt solar energy has significantly plummeted in the last ten years. Thanks to the advancements in technology, solar panels and the associated hardware like controllers and inverters are witnessing a constant decline in prices.
While the upfront cost may still seem a lot initially, the investment will likely pay off in a few years. Based on these reasons, RV solar setup is definitely worth the investment.
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Are Solar Panels For An Rv Worth It
One of the biggest concerns when camping or boondocking is access to electric power. While some campgrounds have electric hookups, some of the most breathtaking locations either dont provide access to power sources or limit their use. With solar power, you no longer need to worry about power as long as the sun is shining.
Solar power is a popular option among RVers for many reasons. Below, we share some of them.
Best Solar Panels Ranked By Materials Warranty
A solar panels materials warranty protects against equipment failure due to environmental factors or manufacturing defects. Based only on the longest materials warranties available from solar companies, here are the best solar panel manufacturers:
Best solar panels by material warranty
|Aptos Solar Technology
As shown above, all of the top solar panel manufacturers ranked by materials warranty offer the same length of warranty, setting this tier of companies apart. For reference, the industry standard for panel materials warranties is 10 years.
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Windynation 100 Watt Solar Panel Kit
My buddy uses a few of theseWindyNation 100 watt solar panels for his cabin in the woods, and he says that they can produce up to 350 watt hours of power per day on a GOOD day.
However, most of the time its a lot less than that.
These panels come with a solar controller included but the overall construction feels a little cheap.
Its also polycrystalline, though they dont make that obvious when you buy it. A typical polycrystalline panel is blue however they use black panel image on the sales pages!
This is weird!
Best Overall: Renogy 100w
What We DidntLike
- Charge controller should be handled with care. Its a bit fragile
- Doesnt include a battery like other solar panel kits in the same price range, which increases the initial investment
- Only one end of the wires are marked as + and -. Remembering which wire is which can be difficult if you dont differentiate them somehow
This is a great solar panel for anyone new to the solar energy world. Its ideal for small spaces like cabins, sheds, RVs, or boats and includes everything you need to for an easy installation .
Though this may be a negative compared to other options that do include a battery, that doesnt mean that this isnt a decent kit.
This solar panel kit supports 3 types of batteries: lithium batteries, lead-acid batteries, and gel batteries. Its a durable solar panel for harsh outdoor conditions and can withstand high winds and heavy snow loads .
It also comes with an impressive 5-year warranty should anything happen to your solar panel kit.
On a more technical note, the power output of the panel is 100W to be used with a 12Volt battery that can be increased with more solar panels. It comes with a Renogy 30A PWM negative ground Wanderer charge controller to expand your system to a maximum of 400W if needed.
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What Are The Best Off
Choosing the best off-grid system to buy can be a challenging task.
Consumers looking to purchase an off-grid system are faced with an overwhelming amount of choice. This is because:
- Off-grid systems are the sum of many parts: Every off-grid solar power system is the sum of many components. They are comprised of solar panels, batteries, charge controllers, inverters, wiring, and racking and mounting
- There are many solar brands out there: For each type of solar equipment – solar panels, solar inverters, solar batteries, etc. – there are many manufacturers
- Theres lots of room for customization: Solar systems are completely modular, so each component can be swapped for a different size or different brand
Luckily for you, we here at SolarReviews have researched the market and narrowed down your options for you. In this blog, we share our picks for the best off-grid solar systems for every need.
Editorial note: This is an unbiased review we have no financial ties with any of the companies mentioned, nor do we earn money from affiliate advertising. The content of this blog is based on research and information available at the time of writing.
Best Solar Kit For A Larger Home
Larger homes may use more electricity, but they also have more room on the roof for a more expansive solar panel system. This solar panel kit with Enphase Ensemble Backup Power is a top pick featuring 10kW of efficient solar panels and 20kWh of battery backup. This system produces enough energy to take a big chunk out of those hefty electric bills and provides AC power to run lights, the refrigerator, and small appliances during a power outage.
Our rating: 5/5. This solar panel kit includes all the fixings plus battery backup, so we give this five stars.
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Newpowa 210w Solar Panel For Greenhouse
For larger area coverage, this can be an optimal choice. Unlike polycrystalline solar panels, it is bigger in dimension and therefore a bit bulky to carry and set up. However, this ensures better solar cell efficiency.
Like most other panels, Newpowa also provides maximum protection from water, snow, and winds. Therefore, you can expect a long-lasting service.
The standard package comes with a junction box and MC4 cables for connection. Setting this greenhouse panel is also trouble-free.
The best thing about Newpowa is its warranty. For example, Newpowa 21oW offers a huge warranty of 25 years. What more can we expect than this?