There are 2 types of portable solar panels for rv batteries that make sense as charging options.
The first being flexible/bendable solar panels, and the second being folding solar panels.
Flexible solar panels are lightweight frameless thin laminate, and are sometimes bendable (up to around 30 degrees) to fit to curved and uneven surfaces.
Large folding solar panels (not to be mixed up with small folding solar panels) on the other hand are heavier, and consist of solar panels that fold out with a steel stand.
We already outlined these portable solar panel types in 3 types of solar panels for rv batteries.
But, below we will do a direct comparison of the portable types to help you decide which is best for you.
2 Types Of Portable Solar Panels For Rv Batteries – Flexible vs. Folding Solar Panels
Specifically, rv batteries are usually 12 volt re-chargeable batteries.
So, when choosing solar panels for these batteries, the panels need to have enough output (watts and voltage) to re-charge the battery to capacity on any given day.
We wrote an informational guide on what size solar panels and how many you might need to do this.
Let’s look at the portable solar panel options you have…
Flexible Solar Panels
Read more about these solar panels in our short guide on flexible solar panels for rv’s.
What’s Good About Flexible Solar Panels?
Can bend usually up to a 30 degree arc – good for uneven or curved surfaces
Can be permanently, or temporarily installed – you could even use zip ties for temporary installation that wont leave marks or holes
Can be hung up on a tent
Good for a numbers of environments and applications – rv’s, cabins, cars, vans, boats, yachts, and anywhere essentially that will fit the panel/s
100 Watt models are available
Come with a number of resistant ratings for water, snow, hail, heat and more
What Are The Drawbacks?
Because they are made of thin laminate, they are more vulnerable to rough and sharp objects than say a rigid or folding solar panel
They vary in quality and price
Bubbling of the plastic can sometimes be an issue on lower quality panels
Folding Solar Panels
Read more about these solar panels in our short guide on folding solar panels for rv’s.
Note that for an Rv battery, a large folding panel is a realistic option, whilst small folding solar panels are more for small handheld devices like smartphones, tablets, radio, lights etc.
What’s Good About Large Folding Solar Panels?
Extremely easy to set up next to an Rv, and pack away and store in your Rv
Self supporting – no installation necessary. Only connections necessary to solar controller and battery
Good for a number of batteries – car, ATV, boat battery, Rv + more
120 Watt models are available
Not as vulnerable to sharp and rough objects as a flexible solar panel
Will fold, unlike a flexible solar panel which can only bend/curve
What Are The Drawbacks?
Not as light as a flexible solar panel
Portable, but can only be folded out on the ground, and not hung up like a flexible solar panel
Can fold, but not bend. Bending may be better in some instances for solar panel use