3 Types Of Solar Panels For Rv Battery Charging

There are a few options when it comes to solar panels for Rv battery charging.

Most Rvs will have a 12v battery (or maybe several), with the bigger motorhomes sometimes having 24v batteries, and sometime higher voltage.

In this article, we discuss options for the 12v battery rvs (check yours is solar re-chargeable).

You can also read more about those options in the following buyer’s guides if you want to know more:

Let’s get to it …

 

3 Types Of Solar Panels For Rv Battery Charging

1) Fixed/Mounted Solar Panels

Fixed solar panels are rigid (they don’t bend), and they are usually mounted to the roof of the Rv permanently, or semi-permanently with some type of bracket.

They will be a mono-crystalline, or poly-crystalline solar panel in an aluminium frame.

As a guide, a 100 Watt mounted solar panel will usually have enough operating voltage (between 18-19 operating volts) to charge one 12v battery (which needs slightly more that 12 volts).

Most solar panel manufacturers will recommend using a solar controller (to protect the battery) with 3 or 4 stage charging.

Main Benefit – The upside to using a fixed solar panels is that they are generally a more cost efficient option (you get more output and value for money for the same price) than the other types of solar panels.

Read more about Fixed/Mounted Solar Panels here.

 

2) Flexible Solar Panels

Flexible solar panels can be just lightweight, or they can be lightweight and bendable i.e. they can curve up to a certain amount of degrees.

The bendable flexible solar panels are good for surfaces which are curved or uneven.

Flexible panels are made of a very thin laminate, and are frameless.

A 100 Watt flexible solar panel will usually have enough operating voltage (between 17-18 operating volts) to charge one 12v battery.

Most solar panel manufacturers will recommend using a solar controller with 3 or 4 stage charging.

These panels can usually be used on a range of surfaces including Rv’s, boats, yachts, vans, cars, cabins, home roofs & hung up on tents.

Main Benefit – can be installed temporarily and transferred to another surfaces quickly and easily. Very versatile and lightweight!

Read more about Flexible Solar Panels here.

 

3) Folding Solar Panels

Folding solar panels come in larger and smaller models.

  • Large Folding Solar Panels

The larger folding models are usually 80-120 Watts, fold out on the ground, and have a steel stand which props them up.

These models are usually used in conjunction with a solar controller to charge one 12v battery.

These models are usually quite expensive for the output/performance compared to a mounted panel.

Main Benefit – as easy to to setup and pack away as folding out and connecting the controller and cables/connectors up to the battery (this is assuming you’ve already assembled the panel out of the box properly). Portable.

 

  • Small Folding Solar Panels

Small folding solar panels ARE NOT used to charge 12v batteries as they usually don’t have enough output.

However, if you want to know more about them…

The smaller folding models are usually 6-30 Watts, and fold out to a compact size that can be carried around.

A 20 Watt model fro example can usually be used to charge small battery devices and USB devices like smartphones, tablets, radios, lights etc.

Small folding panels are so portable – they often have mounting points or attachments to attached to a backpack for backpacking, hiking, kayaking, biking and bike touring & more.

These panels are very durable and hard wearing, but lack the output of the above panels.

Main Benefit – can be carried around with you and charge small battery devices.

Read more about Folding Solar Panels here.

 

NOTES:

Always check your Rv manufacturer’s instructions for charging the battery/s, and solar panel manufacturer instructions for charging, before you consider a solar panel for your rv. This goes for other batteries like marine, ATV, and bike batteries too.

To charge devices that work on household or grid electricity, you will need a solar inverter.

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