Best Flexible Solar Panels for RVs in 2019 (Top 5 Reviews with Comparison)

When living the RV life, one thing that you always have to think about is power.

Since you aren’t always guaranteed to have an outlet to plug into, it’s necessary to bring as much energy as possible with you so that you can still use everything inside your mobile home.

Fortunately, solar technology has advanced to the point where you can attach flexible panels to the roof of your RV, saving you the headache of having to bring extra batteries wherever you go.

Today we’re going to look at some of the best solar panels, as well as go over how to determine your power needs, as well as how to utilize your power source as efficiently as possible.

Although you probably can’t become 100% self-sufficient, it’s about as close as you can get.

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGEPRODUCT
 SUAOKI Solar Charger 60W review1. SUAOKI Solar Charger 60W Portable Solar Panel
  • Durable construction
  • Folds for easy storage
  • Can be mounted if necessary
  • High-efficiency model
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 Genssi 4x 100W  review2. Genssi 4x 100W Mono Flexible
  • 100-watt output
  • Pre-drilled holes for easy mounting
  • High-efficiency design
  • Rugged and durable construction
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 ACOPOWER 120W review3. ACOPOWER 120W Portable Solar Panel
  • High-energy design
  • Portable and deployable
  • Folds for easy storage
  • Produces up to 120 watts
LEARN MORE
 ALLPOWERS Solar Panel review4. ALLPOWERS Solar Panel 100W 18V 12V
  • Highly efficient model
  • Produces 100 peak watts
  • Can bend up to 30 degrees
  • Durable construction
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 BougeRV 100W 18V Solar Panel review5. BougeRV 100W 18V Solar Panel
  • Durable design
  • Flexible for easy mounting
  • Ultra-thin unit takes up less space
  • 100 watts of power
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OUR TOP 5 PICKS

#1 SUAOKI Solar Charger 60W Portable

 SUAOKI Solar Charger 60W review

Specifications

Product Dimensions

11.5 x 2.9 x 7.1 inches

Item Weight

4.54 pounds

Manufacturer

SUAOKI

Features

  • Durable construction
  • Can be mounted if necessary
  • Suitable for sensitive electronics
  • Folds for easy storage
  • Delivers 60 watts of reliable power
  • Can be deployed anywhere

When comparing different solar panels for your RV, you will notice that there are mounted and portable versions. Each type provides its own benefits and drawbacks, but I would recommend both if you’re serious about utilizing solar power on the road. Let’s see what this panel can do.

60-Watt Output

Although 60 watts doesn’t seem like much when you look at your different appliances, it’s perfect for charging sensitive electronics like your phone, tablet, or laptop. Considering that most of us carry these devices on us at all times, having this kind of power is useful.

Another reason this panel is so reliable is that it provides 60 watts of energy consistently. Other models only have a peak rating, which means that you have to assume that you get less. That’s not the case here.

Foldable and Portable Design

Although you could mount this panel to your RV, it works so much better as a portable unit. It folds up into a case so that you can store and carry it much more easily, making it a suitable charging option wherever you are.

Also, the benefit of being portable is that you can deploy it where there is the most sunlight, making it even more reliable.

  • WHAT WE LIKE
  • WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
  • PROS/CONS OVERVIEW

Although this panel isn’t necessarily suited for charging your RV batteries, it’s a highly efficient option for making sure that your devices are fully charged at all times. Coupling this panel with other mounted options on your rig can give you greater flexibility overall.

Video

#2 Genssi 4x 100W Mono Flexible Photovoltaic

 Genssi 4x 100W  review

Specifications

Product Dimensions

40.2 x 1.2 x 26.4 inches

Item Weight

19 pounds

Manufacturer

GENSSI

Features

  • 100-watt output
  • Pre-drilled holes for easy mounting
  • Dissipates heat to work even better
  • High-efficiency design
  • Rugged and durable construction
  • Can withstand high winds and snowfall

Although this particular model is not flexible, it’s worth it to pay attention to “traditional” polycrystalline panels. These units are some of the most reliable and efficient options out there, so let’s see how it can help your RV.

Efficient Polycrystalline Material

Because you don’t have to worry about flexibility, rigid solar panels are generally higher efficiency than bendable models. Polycrystalline is not as high-quality as monocrystalline, but it still gets the job done well.

25-Year Limited Warranty

There’s a reason why flexible solar panels don’t have this kind of warranty on them - because they break down faster. ETFE film is easy to install, but it can rub off and wear out quicker. With this panel, you don’t have to worry about that for a long time.

  • WHAT WE LIKE
  • WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
  • PROS/CONS OVERVIEW

Assuming that you have room for this model on your RV, you will appreciate how reliable and efficient it is. I like that it can withstand almost all weather and that it will retain its energy output for decades.

#3 ACOPOWER 120W Portable Solar Panel

 ACOPOWER 120W review

Specifications

Product Dimensions

23.7 x 18.2 x 1.9 inches

Item Weight

8.95 pounds

Manufacturer

ACOPOWER

Features

  • High-energy design
  • Folds for easy storage
  • Produces up to 120 watts
  • Portable and deployable
  • Monocrystalline panel
  • Folding feet for ground deployment

Next, we have another folding panel that is designed for portable deployment. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more industrial that can charge your RV batteries, this model is going to be a better option. Let’s see what it can do.

120-Watt Output

Overall, when comparing different solar panels, the wattage is going to be one of the most crucial elements to consider. In this case, a peak delivery of 120 watts is more than sufficient for most charging needs.

That being said, you have to realize that this number is based on maximum sunlight, so if you’re in a cloudy area or it’s winter, then you won’t be able to get the same amount of power.

Fortunately, this panel comes with a meter gauge to tell you how much energy you’re producing so that you can plan accordingly.

Folding Design

Although this is another portable solar panel, one feature that makes it a little easier to use is the fact that it comes with folding feet. This way, you can prop it up outside and collect sunlight that much easier. I don’t recommend mounting this unit.

  • WHAT WE LIKE
  • WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
  • PROS/CONS OVERVIEW

When looking at portable solar panels, this is one of the most powerful. I also like that it comes with alligator clips so that you can charge your battery directly if necessary.

Video

#4 ALLPOWERS Solar Panel 100W 18V 12V

 ALLPOWERS Solar Panel review

Specifications

Product Dimensions

42.6 x 21.5 x 1 inches

Item Weight

5.65 pounds

Manufacturer

ALLPOWERS

Features

  • Highly efficient model
  • Durable construction
  • Can be mounted easily
  • Produces 100 peak watts
  • Water-resistant paneling
  • Lightweight model

Although having a portable solar panel is good for when you need some extra juice to power your devices, mounting one to the roof is a surefire way to keep your battery bank at full capacity. Let’s see how this flexible panel from AllPowers can help you.

23.5% Efficiency

At first glance, this number doesn’t seem all that great. However, when you consider that the best solar panels in the world can’t crack above 30%, then it puts things into perspective.

The efficiency rating of a panel can make a substantial difference. The higher the number, the more reliable it is, particularly when sunlight is affected by the weather. Overall, this is one of the better options out there.

Flexible Material

Because RV roofs are not usually 100% flat, putting rigid glass panels on your rig isn’t usually feasible. Instead, you can bend this model up to 30 degrees, making it ideal for almost any RVer out there.

  • WHAT WE LIKE
  • WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
  • PROS/CONS OVERVIEW

When looking at mountable solar panels, I like that this one is lightweight yet durable. I also appreciate that it has a high-efficiency rating, meaning that you can count on more watts than average.

Video

#5 BougeRV 100W 18V Solar Panel

 BougeRV 100W 18V Solar Panel review

Specifications

Product Dimensions

41.3 x 21.3 x 0.1 inches

Item Weight

6.7 pounds

Manufacturer

BougeRV

Features

  • Ultra-thin unit takes up less space
  • Durable design
  • EFE film is highly efficient
  • Flexible for easy mounting
  • 100 watts of power
  • Lightweight material

Another thing to pay attention to when comparing different solar panels is the type of material used in the construction. Rigid models use crystals to capture the sun's rays, whereas flexible ones like this utilize ETFE film, which is both efficient and less expensive.

Reverse Current Drain Protection

Although this issue is not really prevalent with most portable solar panels, it’s worth highlighting so that you’re aware of it. At night, when solar panels are not producing energy, they may be draining small amounts of electricity from your batteries.

To help prevent this, the panel comes with a regulator that keeps it from drawing power when the sun goes down.

Ultra Thin and Lightweight Model

 If you’re looking for a solar panel that won’t take up much space and will merge fluidly to your RV’s roof, then this is going to be an excellent choice. This is one of the thinnest units you can find anywhere.
  • WHAT WE LIKE
  • WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
  • PROS/CONS OVERVIEW

Overall, this is a decent panel that is easy to mount to your RV. I like that it’s mostly weatherproof so that it will last longer, and that it can be connected easily to your battery bank.

Video

BUYER'S GUIDE

How Much Solar Should Your RV Have?

Answering this question is going to vary based on a variety of factors, but the most vital is how much energy you’ll be using in your rig. While you won’t be able to run entirely off of solar power, you can determine a sufficient amount based on the kind of appliances that you have.

The first thing to do will be to conduct an energy audit of your mobile home to calculate how much electricity you use on a regular basis. Let’s go over how to do that.

Conducting an Energy Audit

One of the easiest ways to figure out your energy needs for your RV is to pay attention to the appliances you have in your rig. To do that, you can look at the manual or the sticker attached to it.

You’ll notice that electricity is labeled in a few different ways - watts, amps, and voltage. Let’s break down each one.

Watts - the energy produced by your source (i.e., your batteries)

Amps - the flow of energy from the source

Volts - the amount of resistance in an electrical system

To break it down even further, think of it like this. Amps determine how much power you’re going to get, and volts are how you can convert that energy into watts. Thus, converting amps into wattage goes like this:

Number of Amps x Number of Volts = Wattage

If you’re drawing 10 amps from your batteries and you’re using a 120-volt system, then you can produce up to 1,200 watts.

So, when you calculate the total number of watts used by your appliances and machinery in your RV, then you can determine how many amps you need as a result.

For example, if you require 2,200 watts total, and you know that you’re using a 110-volt system, then you need to produce at least 20 amps at any given time. I would suggest going a little over that though just so that you have a buffer.

Sizing Your Charge Controller

The first question you’ll invariably ask here is “what is a charge controller?” Simply put, this is a device that prevents your batteries from getting overcharged by your solar panels. If too much power goes into the cell, then it could cause it to break down.

Because you want to be able to regulate the power going from a panel to the battery, you need to pick the right size controller for your system. A good formula to follow is this:

The number of panels x wattage output, divide that by the voltage of your batteries and then add 25% for cold weather. Also, be sure to round up so that you get even more of a buffer.

So, for example, let’s say that you have three panels that give you 100 watts each. That’s 300 watts, divided by a 12-volt battery (25 amps). Adding in 25% gives you 31.25, so you should round up to 32 (or higher) for your charge controller.

Sizing Your RV Flexible Panel Array

One challenge that you’ll discover when installing solar panels onto your rig is that you have limited space to do it. The first obvious choice is the roof, but you can also install panels onto the sides of your mobile home as well.

The downside of installing them on one side is that you limit the amount of solar energy you can get, but it offers more real estate, so it may be a suitable solution if you need more power.

Overall, the best way to size your panel array is to determine how many of them you need to keep your batteries charged regularly. Also, keep in mind that your alternator from the engine is already charging them, so if you drive most of the time, you probably don’t need that many panels.

Once you get your total number of watts necessary, then try to find panels that offer as many watts as possible. Keep in mind, however, that peak wattage is almost never going to happen, so you have to plan on only getting about 70% of that.

So, for example, if you find a panel that delivers 150 peak watts, you can expect to receive 105 of them in reality. Even though you may get a little more than that, it’s always better to be conservative with your estimates.

If you need 800 watts to power your batteries, then four of those panels will be ideal. However, depending on the available space on your RV, as well as the cost per panel, you may or may not be able to get all four of them.

How Many Amp-Hours Is Your Battery Bank?

Another thing to consider is the number of amp hours that you have total in your battery bank. Experts recommend only utilizing about half of that number to extend battery life, so keep that in mind when calculating your needs.

When looking at amp hours, you’ll notice that they can vary based on the number of volts. Deep-cycle batteries (like the ones you use for appliances) will have several hundred amp hours, so let’s say that your current bank delivers 800 amp-hours. Based on the recommendation, you should only plan on using 400 of them.

This estimate will help you determine how much power you have at any given time, as well as how much energy you should be using to recharge those batteries.

CONCLUSION

Because solar panels are all about efficiency and reliability, I highly recommend the SUAOKI model. Although it only produces 60 watts of peak power, it’s one of the most reliable and easy to use panels on the market.

This panel has a high-efficiency design, so you can utilize it for a variety of needs, particularly for electronics. Having a few of these on your rig will keep you well-powered for years to come.

Best Flexible Solar Panels for RVs in 2019 (Top 5 Reviews with Comparison)
5 (100%) 3 votes