Installing a reliable RV solar battery charger on your motorhome’s roof is the best option if you like boondocking in remote locations or if you just don’t want to be reliant on the power outlets at busy RV campsites.
In this manner, you can power your rig’s electronics and charge your batteries.
These devices will also maintain the health of your priceless batteries.
Due to the complexities, looking for the best solar-powered battery charger for RVs might be frightening.
However, we will make the process as simple as we can.
Take a look at our hand-picked selection of the top solar panels for camper batteries for long off-grid stays; no matter what your power needs or budget are, there is something here for you.
We also go over everything a novice needs to know about camper solar battery charger so they may make an educated choice if you are unfamiliar with this new technology.
Discover the many kinds of solar battery chargers, the requirements to consider, a list of reputable sources, and the solutions to commonly asked issues.
Table of Contents
- Best Solar Charger For RV Battery of 2023
- #1. ACOPOWER 120W Portable Foldable Suitcase
- #2. ECO-WORTHY Battery Charger
- #3. Battery Tender Solar Battery Charger
- #4. Sunway SWS-C2W001 12V Solar Battery Trickle Charger
- #5. SUNER POWER Solar Battery Charger & Maintainer
- #6. DOKIO Folding Solar Panel Kit
- #7. WindyNation 100Watts Solar Panel RV Kit
- #8. SOLPERK Solar Car Battery Charger and Maintainer
- #9. POWOXI Solar Battery Charger 12 Volt 10W Solar Panel Kit
- #10. Renogy 200 Watt Eclipse
- RV Solar Battery Chargers: The Basics
- Buying Guidelines For The Best RV Solar Battery Charger
- What Amount Of Solar Energy Do I Need?
- How Long Will It Take For My RV Battery To Be Charged By Solar Panels?
- Do Solar Panels Still Function When It Is Cloudy?
- How Can I Make The Most Of My Solar Panels?
- Do Solar Panels Function During the Winter?
- Are Solar Panels More Effective Than Generators?
- Do I Need A Solar Charge Controller And What Is It?
- Does a Charge Controller Charge My Batteries Differently Than My RV’s Built-In Converter Charger?
- How Should A Solar Panel Be Connected To My RV Battery?
- How Can I Tell If My RV Battery Is Fully Charged? Percentage?
- How Low Can I Discharge My RV Battery Without Risking Safety?
- Which 12V Battery for RVs Is The Best?
- Parallel versus Series
- What Are The Differences Between Poly And Mono Solar Panel Types?
- If I Have Solar Panels, Can I Use The Electrical Outlets In My RV?
Best Solar Charger For RV Battery of 2023
Here are the top RV solar battery charger kits available today in terms of effectiveness, power production, robustness, and cost-effectiveness.
Whether you merely need a starter kit for little power usage or a bigger system to power a huge camper, there is something for everyone.
#1. ACOPOWER 120W Portable Foldable Suitcase
Starting with the smallest panel on the list for today.
The 60W Acopower.
It is a 60W solar panel, as the name suggests, composed of two effective monocrystalline 30W panels.
Additionally, a 10A solar charge controller is included to prevent overcharging of your 12V RV batteries.
The most portable panel to handle in terms of weight is the 60W configuration.
Unless you pick one of the flexible, foldable types, portable 100W solar panel chargers aren’t very lightweight.
Therefore, the Acopower 60W offers a nice balance of mobility and effective solar charging.
While not waterproof, the solar charge controller on this device won’t suffer the same type of degradation as foldable solar panels if left outdoors for a long period of time.
The solar panel is simple to put up and tilt toward the sun thanks to an included kickstand, which is what you should do in the morning and evening to receive a decent charge even when the sun is low in the sky.
Since the sun won’t be directly overhead when you go camping in the winter, this is also quite useful.
To keep the solar panels safe while you’re on the go, Acopower also provides a carrying bag.
It is simple to move about and pack into storage thanks to the built-in handle.
If your RV camper or trailer has a Zamp solar port, you will need an MC4 to SAE adaptor to connect this solar panel to it.
If it has a Furrion solar port or quick-connect, you will need an MC4 to 2 Pin adapter.
Acopower has begun including a built-in bypass into its mobile solar chargers.
This enables you to connect the panel directly to a solar generator or power station, such as the Acopower 150Wh, and skip the solar charge controller (click to view on Amazon).
You connect the positive and negative terminals of your battery to the Acopower 60W using the included alligator clips.
To safeguard the charge controller and your batteries, these wires are fused.
Overall, this 60W panel is an excellent option for campers searching for a simple solution to keep their RV batteries fully charged while boondocking since it has several positive attributes.
You can go dry camping for all of eternity if you just use your water pump, 12V TV, lights, and fans.
- Mobile and foldable
- Integrated bypass for solar power systems
- Built-in kickstand
- Charge controller 10A
- Include a carrying case
- Panels with a single crystal
- As opposed to flexible solar panels, heavy
#2. ECO-WORTHY Battery Charger
The ECO-WORTHY Battery Charger, which offers one of the best solar panels for RV campers’ batteries, is yet another Eco-Worthy charger on our list.
A trickle charger is included in the kit, which preserves and extends battery life without overcharging it.
It is safe to leave the device hooked into the Cig connection all the time since it is designed with an internal blocking diode to prevent electricity from reversing in your battery.
It is made of weatherproof polycarbonate, which is strong and long-lasting, and may be used outside in all weather.
Additionally, when left in standby mode, the batteries that this charger powers may last for a few weeks or perhaps a month.
The nice aspect is that it can also be used to trickling vehicle batteries and USB solar chargers.
- Simple to use
- Not capable of reverse charging.
- Unaffected by the elements.
- There are unclear installation instructions.
#3. Battery Tender Solar Battery Charger
One of the greatest solar panels for campers’ RV batteries is the Battery Tender Solar Battery Charger.
What other 5-W panel with a three-step automated microprocessor controller and an integrated battery tender could be a better 12V solar battery charger, after all? The charger, which has a total output capacity of 12V nominal voltage and a tiny, space-saving design that weighs only 3 lbs, is ideal even for a small RV.
The panel is entirely spark-proof, exceptionally weather-resistant, and able to withstand the hottest and coldest temperatures.
Last but not least, it is secured against reverse polarity, so you won’t have to be concerned about overcharging and depleting the life of your batteries after charging them for more than 24 hours.
- Lightweight, small, and simple to install.
- Spark-proof and resistant to the elements.
- Shielded against reverse charge.
- Thinner chord
#4. Sunway SWS-C2W001 12V Solar Battery Trickle Charger
The Sunway SWS-C2W001 has a 4.3 star rating overall from approximately 4,000 customers on Amazon alone, making it without a doubt one of the most popular camper solar battery chargers available.
This is a tried-and-true 12 volt battery maintainer with four types and capacities ranging from 1.5W for small cars and RVs to 8W for a variety of uses.
This amorphous solar system has ultra transparent PV glass covering it, making it more effective and allowing it to function efficiently even on overcast days, according to hundreds of customer evaluations.
Deep cycle batteries are charged consistently and without the threat of overcharging.
Along with a blue flashing LED charge indicator for simple monitoring, it also has an integrated blocking diode to prevent reverse charging.
When a solar battery charger is demonstrated to endure for many years in the future, its affordability increases.
It can endure prolonged exposure to the outdoors and all the physical shocks on the open road thanks to the sturdy ABS plastic casing.
The manufacturer cautions that although this charger can tolerate splashes, it is not completely waterproof and should not be left outdoors during inclement weather.
However, several customers have really used this charger on their boats and RVs and left it outdoors continuously in all types of weather, including heavy storms, without any issues and with very little maintenance.
Another major benefit is the solar battery charger’s simple and adaptable installation.
It may be placed to the dashboard or windshield.
The compact 2.4-meter length cable allows for easy cigarette lighter or battery connection.
Crocodile clips are also included.
For extra setup choices, the package also includes suction cups.
- Flexible arrangements
- Long-lasting design
- Backward discharge prevention
- Several concerns regarding missing accessories
- Several reports about deformation after prolonged outdoor exposure
#5. SUNER POWER Solar Battery Charger & Maintainer
Another great solar charger for RV batteries that enables you to charge your RV battery anywhere there is sunshine is the SUNER POWER Solar Battery Charger & Maintainer.
There are several functions packed into one multipurpose charger, one of which is the ability to stop your batteries from deteriorating naturally even when you aren’t using it.
In essence, it converts light energy into deep-cell batteries that power your RV, and it can even endure extreme weather, so it will last you a very long time.
Furthermore, it won’t become worn out if you keep it outdoors or in your vehicle.
Additionally, the larger spectrum of sunlight is absorbed by its fuller and more effective panel.
A blocking reverse diode prevents your battery from overcharging or draining if it is plugged in for an extended period of time.
- Includes cigarette cables.
- Reverse defense.
- Portability and lightness.
- Low maintenance and simple to install.
- Absence of a USB port.
#6. DOKIO Folding Solar Panel Kit
One of the best solar chargers for RV batteries is the DOKIO Folding Solar Panel Kit.
Even though it weighs a substantial 6 lbs, it’s a fantastic semi-permanent solution that can be easily folded up, carried, and put up anyplace.
The sleek, ultra-thin charger is simple to store and has two USB connections for charging smaller gadgets.
In addition, the gadget safeguards your devices against short circuits, reverse polarity, reverse currents, and overcharging while also showing you the battery %.
Along with five different DC plug clips, a crocodile clip, and a JY60 short connection, it also includes all connectors and wires.
Additionally, this one genuinely produces the 100 watts it says in addition to having a waterproof and mildew-resistant exterior!
- Cables and accessories are included.
- Elegant and slim.
- Lightly weighty.
#7. WindyNation 100Watts Solar Panel RV Kit
The WindyNation Solar Panel Kit is a fantastic expanding solar charger for RV batteries.
If your needs change over time, the 100 W polycrystalline solar panel may be expanded to four panels.
The LCD controller screen’s choices and capabilities, which include all data on power use for tracking and evaluating the effectiveness of the panel or panels, are very popular with RVers.
Everything is shown, including amp-hours, voltage, and amperage as well as the temperature and current DC load draw.
Even better if you’re camping in really hot climates, it has a battery temperature sensor.
Depending on how much sunshine is available, the system offers an average charge of 33 amp-hours each day.
Overall, this is a really dependable system that is also quite simple to install and set up.
- Simple installation guidelines.
- Flexible system.
- Dependable operation.
- May call for a fuse system.
#8. SOLPERK Solar Car Battery Charger and Maintainer
The SOLPERK Solar Car Battery Charger and Maintainer is at the top of the list of available solar chargers for RV batteries.
This premium solar panel makes use of crystalline silicon, which effectively absorbs sunlight and transforms it into electrical energy.
The battery not only works with any 12V batteries, but it also features a built-in blocking diode that guards against short circuits and discharges.
So the battery is entirely safe, and it even increases and lengthens its lifetime.
The battery charger also includes a sturdy ABS flame-retardant and waterproof cover.
Therefore, this device may be utilized both indoors and outside.
And last, installation is also pretty simple.
- Really effective
- Strong and durable.
- Honestly, none.
#9. POWOXI Solar Battery Charger 12 Volt 10W Solar Panel Kit
The POWOXI 10W RV solar charger is a good option if you don’t want a high-wattage solar kit.
Although you don’t get much in the way of watts for roughly $40, this very effective polycrystalline can provide more useful power in dimly lit environments.
Thanks to its industrial quality, impact-resistant ABS casing and low iron toughened glass, this polycrystalline solar panel is waterproof and built to survive both severe hot and low temperatures.
The manufacturer’s 12-month guarantee and lifetime technical assistance ought to say a lot about the dependability and toughness of this product.
Everything you need for simple and adaptable plug-and-play mounting is included in the kit, including a 10W solar panel with an 8.2ft cable, alligator clips with 1.6ft cables for direct battery terminal connection and 1.6ft cables for cigarette lighter socket charging, as well as 4 strong suction cups for additional setup options.
A built-in blocking diode to stop reverse discharge and an indication light are additional useful features.
- High performance
- Flexible and trouble-free installation
- Few people have complained about plastic housing fractures.
#10. Renogy 200 Watt Eclipse
The larger sibling of the Renogy Eclipse 100W panel kit comes last.
There are two 100W monocrystalline panels in this 200W system.
high quality and effectiveness.
The waterproof Voyager charge controller is the same one we previously saw on the Eclipse 100W.
It contains temperature and battery voltage sensors for convenient monitoring, and it will tell you the battery voltage and how many amps you are now feeding into your battery.
The panels themselves lock with latches when folded for simple carrying and secure storage, and it comes with a tough carrying box to preserve the panels during transit.
The panels are further protected by plastic guards on the edges, which will also receive the most damage if the panels ever fall over.
The container weighs just 36 lbs thanks to an aluminum frame and stand.
With the same wattage, a lot lighter than the Acopower above.
To maintain a high level of charging efficiency throughout the morning, day, and night, the movable legs make it simple to follow the sun.
With the 10 feet of bundled cable and the alligator clips that are provided, connecting the charge controller to your RV battery is simple.
My best choice for portable solar panels this year is the Renogy 200 Watt Eclipse.
It includes everything you need in a plug-and-play solution to maintain a healthy level of charge in your RV batteries for the duration of the day.
The perfect solar system includes an inverter, a 100ah AGM battery, and solar panels.
You may always create your own system if the cost seems excessive.
It’s not as difficult as it may seem, and I’ll assist you with building one below.
- Flexible stand
- Waterproof 4-stage charging 20A charge controller
- Voltage and temperature sensor
- Ten feet of wire
- Dependable carrying bag
- Sturdy handle
- Panels with a single crystal
- For this price, an extension cable should be included.
RV Solar Battery Chargers: The Basics
What is it?
Three options exist for charging your RV battery: using shore power at your residence or the campsite, topping it up with an RV generator, or installing solar panels on the roof of your RV to generate energy from sunshine.
With this third technique, as long as you have access to some sunlight, you may still meet your power needs during lengthy off-grid stays without a power outlet or generator.
The use of solar-powered battery chargers for RVs has grown in popularity, particularly among full-time travelers, much as with residential applications.
Additionally to being environmentally friendly, utilizing an RV solar battery charger enables you to power all electrical components within your RV when you don’t have access to shore power, such as the lights, air conditioner, water heater, and appliances.
How it work?
#1. Solar Cells
The flat sheets with silicone crystals enclosed in glass are solar panels.
The cells in the panels capture the solar energy that strikes their surface and use it to power themselves.
The photons from the sunshine dislodge the electrons from their atoms in the solar panels, generating an electric field that drives the passage of an electrical current.
#2. Charger Manager
Electricity is now being produced, but the battery cannot easily take it.
This is due to the fact that the battery in your equipment needs a certain optimum voltage and current to charge properly.
The solar charge controller steps in at this point, converting the produced power into a form that the battery can use.
While bigger installations often employ independent or standalone-unit charger controllers, small RV solar charger products on the market frequently include built-in charge controllers.
You can still power your motorhome when there isn’t any sunshine since your RV battery will store the energy that was converted from sunlight for usage at night.
The charge controller will be alerted when the energy reserves have been depleted and will know when more solar energy is required to replenish the battery.
As its name implies, the charge controller’s primary function is to regulate or control the solar energy input.
The battery may be overcharged and incur damage if there is too much sunshine, therefore to avoid this, the charge controller measures the battery voltage and reduces the output from the solar panels to a safe level.
By optimizing the current that the solar panels provide, the charge controller also reduces the amount of time needed to charge or boosts charging efficiency.
With the aid of a charge controller, an RV solar battery charger transforms solar energy into electricity that can be used by the battery, but not immediately by your RV’s appliances.
Your RV battery stores 12 volt direct current (DC) power, while 120 volt alternating current (AC) electricity is used by equipment like TVs, laptops, microwaves, and fans.
The RV inverter, which converts DC power for AC purposes, enters the picture at this point.
Just make sure it is rated to handle your regular electrical loads when you choose an RV inverter to use in your solar-powered battery charger for RV.
Recommended reading: Best RV Battery for the Money in 2023
RV Solar Battery Charger Advantages
#1. Creates Opportunity for Travel
You may reduce your reliance on the availability of power outlets at conventional campsites by using a solar-powered battery charger for RVs.
Additionally, you won’t have to move that large, hefty generator.
This implies that you may go to remote locations off the usual route and yet take use of all the electrical comforts within your RV while maintaining a charged battery.
This also means that those who like solitude may avoid the bustling, loud park that is crammed with other RVs and instead fully appreciate nature.
#2. An Investment Over Time
If you’re still debating whether to make the initial purchase, keep in mind that a solar trickle charger for an RV will serve you well for many years to come.
There are no mechanical moving components in solar panels that may break down and need to be replaced.
The solar panels on your motorhome’s roof will surely raise its market value should you decide to stop traveling and sell it.
#3. Increases Battery Life
The lead-acid batteries in your RV would lose life if there were constant deep discharges.
It is best for lead acid batteries to be charged slowly and steadily throughout the day, therefore having a reliable solar battery charger for RV placed correctly will guarantee this.
We are all aware of the high cost of RV batteries as well as the potential for being stuck in the middle of nowhere if your battery dies.
Additionally, a charge controller would be included in the top RV solar battery charger devices, ensuring that your priceless battery is never overcharged.
Overcharging is not a good idea since it shortens battery life, causes overheating and reduces charging efficiency.
The charge controller ensures that the system will simply feed the battery with the appropriate amount of current to maintain it at full charge, i.e.
trickle charging, after the battery has attained a suitable level of charge.
These devices are also known as solar trickle chargers for RV batteries for this reason.
These systems are completely silent, in contrast to a generator’s loud noise, allowing you to peacefully enjoy nature without disturbing any nearby creatures.
#5. Greener Travel
Additionally, employing solar battery chargers for RVs is obviously advantageous for the environment.
Solar panels don’t use fossil fuels and don’t emit any pollutants.
It is completely sustainable and clean.
A solar-powered battery charger for an RV normally runs at 12 volts and less than 30 amps, making it fundamentally safe.
There is very little danger of electrical issues developing that might result in fire risks or electrocution.
You can readily get solar panels from several sources, both online and offline, since they are currently employed for a variety of purposes.
You may construct a unique solution for your camping requirements from a variety of options.
Additionally, you may depend on a wealth of evaluations and installation guide videos.
In general, the price of a solar panel ranges from $50 to $300, depending on the panel’s size, effectiveness, and durability.
Generally speaking, the larger the panel, the more energy it can generate at any one moment to charge and run your RV.
Related Also: 15 Best Trickle Chargers For RV Battery of 2023
RV Solar Battery Charger Types
You may choose one of three kinds of RV solar battery charger systems depending on your power needs:
#1. Solar Battery Tenders for RVs
Your RV’s battery is “tended” to by a solar battery tender.
To prevent overly deep discharges, which are bad for the battery’s health, it provides the least amount of electricity possible to keep the battery charged.
The primary objective of these smaller battery tenders is to prevent the scenario when you are gone from your RV for some time and return to discover the battery entirely dead.
These tenders are used to keep the battery charged while you’re not looking, as opposed to bigger RV solar battery charger systems that may act as your main power source to power your whole vehicle.
#2. Portable Solar Power Systems
Typically, these all-inclusive kits include with everything you need for installation.
The motorhome’s lights and other electrical equipment may be powered by them since they are bigger than the tenders and can handle basic electrical requirements.
A kit like this may or may not be strong enough to run power-hungry air conditioners or heaters depending on their watt range.
Unlike the built-in systems below, these portable systems are simple to remove.
There are also kits available that are portable enough to utilize outside of your RV.
Some of them are even made to be attached to a backpack for adaptable camping uses.
Portable camper solar battery chargers have grown in popularity as a result of their versatility and now come in three varieties:
- Monocrystalline panels: In terms of electricity output, monocrystalline panels are the most costly but also the most efficient. The fact that each panel is manufactured from a single, huge silicon crystal contributes to the fact that they can power your RV even in low-light conditions, as opposed to other solar systems that normally only do so during the five to six hours of peak sunshine each day.
- Polycrystalline panels: Unlike their monocrystalline counterparts, these panels are constructed from several silicon blocks rather than a single silicon crystal. They are less efficient than monocrystalline solar panels due to their structure, but they are still popular due to their lower cost and more flexible installation options.
- Amorphous panels: Silicon is stretched out over a big bed to create this kind of thin-film panel. They are versatile due to their structure, which opens up additional installation choices. Amorphous solar panels are still extensively utilized because of their low cost even though they may take up as much as three times as much area as the other two varieties.
#3. Huge Internal Solar Systems
Larger systems, as opposed to tenders and portable kits, are integrated inside RVs and include solar panels, charge controllers, and intricate cabling.
They’re not for beginners.
These systems may create extra power in addition to charging your RV batteries, acting as your main power source and supplying energy to all of your equipment, including the air conditioner, heater, oven, and vacuum cleaner.
Recommended reading: 7 Best RV Battery Disconnect Switches of 2023
Buying Guidelines For The Best RV Solar Battery Charger
Your power requirements, such as whether you just want a solar battery charger to top up the RV battery to maintain it healthy or something as a major power source for your power-hungry motorhome, will determine the best solar panel to charge RV batteries.
#1. Solar-Cell Performance
The efficiency in %, which is a key characteristic for an RV solar battery charger, is important.
It determines how much of the solar energy that an RV solar panel collects can be transformed by the cells of the panel into useful power.
The more effective a solar panel is at doing its work, the fewer panels you will need to power your rig.
This is determined by the efficiency rating of a solar panel.
Currently available solar panels typically range in efficiency from 15% to 18%, however a few have slightly higher ratings.
This figure is rather low because, as you may recall, solar panels can only generate electricity when direct sunlight strikes their surface, not diffuse light or indirect sunlight that is reflected off of objects.
#2. Price, Wattage and Capacity
The smallest battery trickle chargers, small-size systems, medium-size systems, and large-size systems may be classified according to their size:
10 to 50 Watt Trickle Chargers: If you don’t intend to camp out but still want a charger to keep your battery charged and one that does it continuously at a low current, all you need is a 10 to 50 Watt solar battery charger.
The 12 volt battery in your RV may be charged to the ideal level with a 10 watt solar charger.
Although all three types of solar charging systems—tenders, portable kits, and built-in systems—can trickle charge your RV battery, buying something larger than you actually need will reduce the return on your investment because the cost of a camper solar battery charger rises as its ability to generate power does.
50-100 Watt Chargers for Light Use: These compact solar systems can power energy-saving LED lights, telephones, and small devices during the day and charge the battery at night.
Fridges, laptops, TVs, air conditioners, and heaters cannot be powered by these systems.
In a nutshell, they are best suited for compact and basic Class B minivans.
100-600 Watt Chargers – Medium Use: You will need at least a medium-sized solar battery charger for RV that is capable of 100 Watt if you want to power TVs, laptops, fridges, ovens, or cooling/heating systems.
According to the usual rule of thumb, you would want at least two 100-watt panels, or 200 watts in total, if you own anything other than a Class B minivan.
The most popular or standard size for solar battery chargers nowadays is the 100-watt panel, therefore campers often ask questions like “How many 100W panels do I need for my power demand? ”
Keep in mind that you will require an inverter for light AC applications like operating TVs or computers.
You could need to combine your solar charger with a generator as a backup, which is often done, depending on your power requirements and if you frequently use many appliances at once.
Should you need a generator, the solar system will considerably reduce the strain on it.
A high duty RV solar battery charger with a capacity of up to 4,000 Watt is required if you often use many appliances at once or if you have a large Class A or Class C motorhome with plenty of luxuries.
As a general rule, boondockers who often spend extended periods of time off the grid want a system with 1,800 watts or more.
You won’t need a generator to run everything you need, including the air conditioner, thanks to such a strong system.
These high-use solar systems always come with an inverter for AC applications, unlike the smaller chargers.
They are thus perfect for boondockers who like spending a lot of time in the bush.
#3. The RV Battery’s Capacity
Although the aforementioned part just serves as a general reference, you may estimate the least watts your solar battery charger would need to fully charge your RV battery using the battery’s complete capacity.
A 12 volt battery’s capacity is determined by its amp-hour rating, or the number of amps of power it can provide for 20 hours of continuous operation at a useable current of 10.5 volts or higher.
An RV battery, for instance, has a 100AH, or amp-hour, rating.
A capacity of 5 amps per hour is obtained by dividing this amount by 20 (the normal 20 hours of total usable time, or any other number stated by the manufacturer).
You would need a solar charger that can produce at least 12 volts * 5 amps (60 watts), assuming we are charging this battery at 12 volts and 5 amps.
Get one panel that is at least 100 watts in order to be safe.
* Additional information on picking the ideal solar panel size for your requirements:
If you want to be more precise, the best approach to choose the ideal size of an RV solar battery charger is to tally up all of the electrical demands of the appliances you would probably use simultaneously, then get a system that can at least handle that power demand.
A 100 watt panel, which is the most popular in today’s market, can create around 6 amps per hour of peak sun, or approximately 30 ampere hours per day.
In the meanwhile, if you were boondocking, you would want at least 80 amps per day.
The voltage and current requirements of an appliance are listed on its nameplate.
For instance, the majority of commercial RV refrigerators are rated for 1 amp to 6 amps per hour.
You may calculate the ampere hours by multiplying this amount by 24 hours and the appliance’s running cycle, represented as a percentage.
For instance, a refrigerator that draws 6 amps per hour and has a 40% cycle would use 57.6 amps per day of electricity (6 amps x 24 hours x 40%).
#4. Your RV’s Type of Battery
Lead Acid Batteries: Lead acid batteries‘ lifetime will be limited if they are designed to sustain severe discharges, including flooded, gel, and AGM batteries.
If you don’t want your lead acid batteries to die too soon, it’s crucial to charge them every day.
Since a small solar system will charge the batteries too slowly if your RV has this kind of battery, you will need a big solar system.
RVers who enjoy occasional boondocking often combine their solar battery charger with a generator to guarantee enough charging capacity.
Lithium Batteries: Despite being more expensive than lead acid batteries, lithium batteries last longer, don’t need daily recharging, and can endure deeper discharges without suffering harm.
In light of this, you may not need a generator as a backup plan, and based on your power requirements, you could be able to acquire a lower-size RV solar battery charger.
#5. Size and Weight
When camping, portability is still another crucial consideration.
Make sure your RV and any towing vehicle, if any, can withstand the additional weight of any RV solar battery charger kits you will be moving around without any harm to your motorhome.
The solar panels must not protrude from your RV rooftop.
Related Also: 8 Best RV Battery Boxes of 2023
What Amount Of Solar Energy Do I Need?
Knowing the energy requirements of the appliances we use on a daily basis will help us determine how many solar panels we need to install.
Something like the Poniie PN2000 Plug-in Kilowatt Electricity Usage Monitor is something I advise purchasing.
This allows you to plug in your appliances and determine precisely how many watts they use.
However, because of its low maximum power, you shouldn’t plug your RV in and turn on the air conditioner.
Make a table with every appliance that needs energy in the trailer after you know the wattage.
If we convert those watts into amps, it will be simpler to determine how long an appliance can operate on the 12V battery.
The amps are calculated by dividing the wattage by 12.
For instance, a 900-watt microwave takes 75 amps per hour to operate (900/12).
Consider a 12V battery with a 100AH capacity.
If you have 100AH batteries and wish to operate the microwave using an inverter, you should be able to do so for at least an hour before the battery runs out since we can fit 75 in 100 at least once.
However, an inverter takes some amps and energy when it converts DC to AC, so don’t expect the microwave to operate for 1.3 hours simply because 75 can fit in 100 1.3 times.
Overestimating an appliance’s amp use is preferable than underestimating it.
We need to know if the appliance is a 12V or 120V item so that we can determine the amps without having to use an energy use meter.
We can write down the amps shown on the pump without modifying them if it runs on 12V, like the water pump in your RV.
If it’s 120V, like with a laptop charger, we’ll increase the amps by 10 to account for this.
A 120V device rated at 2 amps would thus need 2*10=20 amps.
No matter whether it’s a 12V or 120V, if it says “watts,” we’ll just divide it by 12 like we did with the microwave in the example before.
You should never run a battery down to 0% when dealing with amp hours and batteries.
The majority of deep cycle batteries should only be charged up to 50% before being recharged to avoid reducing their lifespan.
In that regard, lithium batteries excel and may often be discharged to 20% without suffering damage.
To be sure, find out what the battery’s manufacturer suggests.
Never use more than 50AH of a 100AH deep cycle battery, for instance, before recharging it.
As long as we have access to the Battery Reserve Capacity, we can determine how many amp hours your battery contains even if you are unsure.
The battery label may sometimes include this number; if not, there should be a model number.
You may be able to discover the Reserve Capacity (RC) in the specs if you Google that number and locate the precise battery on the manufacturer’s website or at a shop.
Find the Reserve Capacity number that indicates minutes @ 25 amps if there are several Reserve Capacity numbers.
We’re going to divide that amount by 2.4 to determine our next step.
Therefore, if the battery’s reserve capacity (RC) is listed as 120 minutes at 25 amps in the specs, we’ll divide 120 by 2.4 to get 50.
In other words, it is a 50AH battery.
Let’s imagine we want to watch TV in the RV and we have a TV with a 60 watt power consumption label on the back.
To get the amps, we’ll first divide it by 12: 60/12=5 amps per hour.
Let’s check how many hours we can watch TV if we know that we have a 100AH battery and that we can safely use 50AH of it.
10 is equivalent to 50 (the maximum number of amp hours we can use in our battery) divided by 5 (the maximum number of amps our TV can consume in an hour).
10 hours of TV viewing, then, I suppose.
Unfortunately, as I previously said, an inverter’s conversion of DC (the electricity from our 12V battery) into AC isn’t 100% efficient (household plug, what our tv uses).
Assuming 80% efficiency is more reasonable.
The result of multiplying 10 by 0.8 (equivalent to 80% efficiency) is 8 hours.
So what have we learnt from all of this? If we use an inverter with an efficiency of 80%, we can watch a 60W TV for 8 hours on a 50AH battery.
We cannot use the 120V TV without an inverter unless we are plugged into shore power or a generator.
Without an inverter, 12V TVs may be connected directly to the battery.
Before you spend a lot of money on solar panels, I advise making an investment in a large battery.
For rainy days, the more energy we can save and utilize, the better.
Let’s look at the chart I created for my requirements now that we have a basic concept of amp hours:
|Appliance||Amps||Quantity||Hours per day||Total AMP Hours|
|AMP Hours Required a day:||103.3|
Calculating the total amp hours in the column on the far right requires multiplying the amps by the number of hours in a day.
The computation, for the first 4W bulb in the table, is 0.3*10*2=6.
I’ve calculated that I require 103.3 amp hours per day to live comfortably in the RV.
I’m going to require a battery with at least 206.6AH of capacity (103.3*2) if I don’t have a lithium battery and wish to maintain my batteries at 50% or above.
I can get 112.5 useful amp hours if I purchase the NP6-225Ah 6V 225Ah AGM 2pcs and connect them in series to make them 12V.
Reverting to the first query, how much solar power do I require? In ideal sunshine, a decent 100W solar panel like the Newpowa 100 Watt Monocrystalline produces between 5 and 5.82 amps.
We now need to know how many hours of sunlight we get, so here is a chart showing the average daily sunlight hours for the lower 48 states.
It usually takes five hours where I am, in Utah.
My solar panel would produce 25 amps (5*5) if I had one solar panel drawing 5 amps for 5 hours every day.
But as we determined above, I must produce at least 103 amps each day.
Let’s suppose I have four 400W solar panels.
They should be able to provide my batteries with 20 amps per hour (5*4), and if they get 5 hours of sunlight each day (20*5), that amounts to 100 amps.
a little bit nearer to what I need.
Since my solar charge controller and inverter aren’t completely efficient, I’ll install a fifth panel.
I will produce 125 amps per day and 25 amps per hour in this method.
When you depend on solar power, there will always be overcast days when I won’t be able to add another 125 amps to my battery.
I’ll be less harmed by the clouds if I have more than I need.
To sum up, with excellent sunlight, five 100W panels will generate 125 amps per day to charge my 225AH battery, of which 112.5 are safe to use before my battery drops below 50%.
I’d better pray there aren’t any overcast days if I consume 100 amps each day.
It would be wise to charge my batteries on the final sunny day and just use approximately 20-30 amps a day if the prediction is for rain for the following four days so I don’t run out of energy before the sun returns.
I’ll address this issue concerning how long it takes to charge an RV battery using solar power in the section below.
How much power my panels can really produce depends on a number of variables.
How Long Will It Take For My RV Battery To Be Charged By Solar Panels?
Let’s list a few of the variables that affect how long it will take to solar-charge your RV battery:
- Battery Size: The size of the battery, measured in amp hours, determines how long it will take to charge your particular 12V battery.
- Solar Panels: The quantity and effectiveness of your solar panels will affect how long it takes to fully charge your battery.
- Charge Controller: Possessing either a PWM or MPPT charge controller, please? When circumstances are harsher, such as early in the morning or late in the afternoon or during the winter, MPPT is more effective and will draw in more amps.
- Weather: In overcast conditions, a solar panel with a 5 amp rating could only produce 0.5 amps. Because you won’t get 365 days of sunshine every year, it might be dangerous to base your calculations on ideal circumstances. The season winter or summer also factors. In the winter, the sun sets later, making it more difficult for the solar panels to produce their maximum amperage.
Keep in mind that these elements will affect how long it takes to charge your RV batteries.
But let’s make a ballpark estimate.
Let’s suppose that my setup is as follows:
- Battery 100AH 12V
- 200W 12V Parallel-Wired Solar Panels
My batteries are at 50% when I get up in the morning, and I set my solar panels in the sun at 10 am.
The sun stays out until 3 pm, giving my panels five hours of exposure.
My panels produce a total of 10 amps every hour, or 50 amps after five hours, at a rate of 5 amps per panel, per hour.
I required 50 amps to recharge my 100AH battery since it was only 50% charged, and I successfully obtained that amount.
As a result, five hours were needed to fully recharge my battery from 50%.
Though the actual world isn’t flawless, it still involves more variables than just the solar panel and battery size.
To account for inefficiency and the several charging phases that regulate how quickly the battery charges, I suggest increasing the charging time by an hour or two.
Batteries self-discharge more quickly in hot weather than in cold weather, which will also be taken into account when estimating charging times.
On the other hand, the overall battery capacity is decreased when the batteries are cold and at low temperatures.
In colder climates, an AGM battery’s capacity might vary significantly.
Do Solar Panels Still Function When It Is Cloudy?
When in the year is this? A MPPT charge controller, do you have one?
Do your solar panels face the sun when it is hidden by clouds? Are your high-quality, monocrystalline solar panels?
It is more likely that an MPPT charge controller will be used if it is overcast outside.
You may sometimes produce no electricity at all if the sky is really overcast.
How Can I Make The Most Of My Solar Panels?
- Keep them clean: if they are on your roof, don’t forget to do so. You may just need to clean your batteries with some glass cleaner if a storm suddenly makes it harder to charge them.
- Angle: This is crucial, especially in the cold. Your panels should be angled to face the sun.
- Kind of charge controller: Use of an MPPT charge controller will often result in more amperage production when the sun is weaker. such as in the early mornings and late afternoons, throughout the winter, and on gloomy days.
- Monitor your system: You can find out what uses the most amps by keeping an eye on your system. Try several angles with your panels to find which one works best in the winter or late in the day.
Do Solar Panels Function During the Winter?
They do, but with less hours from a sun that is lower in the horizon, your panels will have a tougher time producing electricity.
To increase the amount of amps you can produce each day, tilt your panels and use an MPPT charge controller.
Are Solar Panels More Effective Than Generators?
better on your pocketbook? No.
environmental benefit? Yes, in the long term.
Purchasing a solar system is a way to reduce your environmental impact.
When you generate your own clean energy, you’ll feel better and your camping experience will be more tranquil since you won’t have to put up with a noisy generator (unless your neighbor has one).
It is a simple reality that purchasing a generator is far less expensive even if you must pay for gas or propane than investing in solar panels.
Hopefully, this will improve in the future so that solar power systems can more effectively compete on price.
Do I Need A Solar Charge Controller And What Is It?
You do really need one.
Your batteries‘ voltage will be regulated by a charge controller to prevent overcharging.
A solar panel may be 12 volts, but when the sun is out, it often produces 16 to 20 volts.
Your battery might be harmed if a solar charge controller isn’t there to manage the voltage entering it.
A useful feature of solar charge controllers is their ability to stop reverse current flow.
Without them, energy can even wastefully flow back from solar panels to the battery.
When the charge controller detects solar panel voltage, the circuit is opened.
When there is no gain, the circuit is closed.
There are several types of charge controllers, but PWM and MPPT are the most common types when it comes to solar.
PWM (also known as pulse width modulation) is less efficient than MPPT, with a 70–80% efficiency range.
PWM controllers will securely charge your battery and prevent overcharging by converting the power from your panel to 12 volts.
Maximum Power Point Tracking, or MPPT, is more expensive than PWM but more effective, with efficiencies of 90–98%.
Instead of squandering the extra power that PWM controllers do, MPPT controllers convert it into amperage.
They also enable cables to carry greater voltages, which minimizes power loss.
Is the expense justifiable for the extra 10–20% efficiency? I contend that it is dependent on the size of your solar system.
Since the 20% increase would be a significant gain in amps per hour if you had solar panels that are worth 1000W, it would be worthwhile.
Because MPPT runs up to 80 amps and PWM controllers are only available in capacities up to 60 amps, it can be your only choice if you have a particularly large system.
Spend that money on a second solar panel or a larger battery if you just have one 100W solar panel.
There is no need to make any further purchases since each of the portable solar panel kits we examined in this article today already includes PWM charge controllers.
Three or four stage charging is a characteristic that solar charge controllers often include.
These are many phases that charge your battery in certain ways to extend its life and safeguard it.
It’s crucial to adjust these phases’ parameters according on the kind of battery you have.
To be able to select the proper settings to keep your battery charged properly, if your charge controller is capable of 4-stage charging, you need study the manuals for both the charge controller and the battery.
The four most typical phases are:
- Bulk: Frequently, the first phase of charging your battery. The bulk stage works to pump as much amperage as it can into your batteries when they are below 80% charged, the sun is shining on your panels, or a generator is running.
- Absorb: The absorb stage is activated when a battery is around 80% charged. Your solar panels’ amperage will now decrease and the batteries will maintain a preprogrammed voltage. Energy produced by the panels during the bulk step is retained thanks to the absorption stage. The battery is completely charged after the absorption phase is over.
- Float: After the charge is finished, we go on to this step. Now that the voltage has been reduced even further, it is crucial to specify this number for your battery.
- Equalization: The equalization stage’s objective is to evenly charge each battery cell to its precise charge, which is essentially a controlled overcharge.
Does a Charge Controller Charge My Batteries Differently Than My RV’s Built-In Converter Charger?
Your RV’s converter is probably a “dumb” charger with only one stage, the bulk stage.
Your battery won’t be charged to 100% capacity and won’t go through the further phases that may extend its lifespan.
For information on the number of stages your particular converter has, see the handbook that came with your RV.
If the converter is just one stage and you are spending money on large batteries, it could be a good idea to improve it.
Nowadays, a lot of inverters include an integrated smart converter charger with three or four stages of charging.
How Should A Solar Panel Be Connected To My RV Battery?
A solar charge controller will be attached to your battery, and the charge controller will be connected to your solar panel.
You may read more about the necessity for and function of a charge controller above.
Both “permanent” and temporary connections may be made between the charge controller and the battery.
Standard ring terminals are the more durable option since bolts will be positioned on top to secure and connect the terminals.
Alligator clips, which are similar to the clamps you have undoubtedly seen on jumper wires, are a temporary solution.
Alligator clips are the best option for connecting portable solar panels since they make it so simple.
Ring terminals are a preferable option if your RV has solar panels on the roof and you don’t need to detach your wires every other day.
Keep in mind that RED is POSITIVE when connecting any cords to the battery of your RV.
Negative color is BLACK.
How Can I Tell If My RV Battery Is Fully Charged? Percentage?
Manufacturers truly fall short when it comes to assisting you in keeping track of your RV batteries.
The premium brands are beginning to improve, but the majority of trailers come with a monitoring screen that ranges from 0 to 25 to 50 to 100%.
Click a button, and we’ll alert you.
The issue is that this figure is completely inaccurate.
On certain versions, a panel with functionality on some solar charge controllers may display the battery voltage.
Sadly, even these aren’t entirely accurate.
A battery monitoring system is the most effective approach to determine your battery’s level of charge.
A shunt connected to the battery is used to do it.
The Victron BMV-700 Battery Monitor is a well-liked choice.
The monitor may be installed in your RV, and after you’ve selected how much total amp hours make up your battery bank, it will provide you with a percentage.
Additionally, it will display the voltage and the number of amps you are now using.
Here are some basic recommendations for a 12V AGM and wet cell batteries based on voltages and their related state of charge percentages if you do know the voltage and think it’s reasonably correct.
This is just a general recommendation, as is usually the case with general information; for the best recommendations for your particular 12V battery, consult the handbook or get in touch with the battery manufacturer.
How Low Can I Discharge My RV Battery Without Risking Safety?
Depending on the battery type, there are different safe depths of drain and useful amp hours.
We should never travel with flooded cell batteries that are less than 50% charged since they are often placed in RVs and trailers.
You probably already know that lithium batteries can typically be discharged all the way down to 20% without running the danger of harming them if you’ve gone out and purchased some.
If you reduce the power to 10%, would the batteries be fully destroyed?
No, although it’s a good idea to avoid discharging lithium batteries below 50% or 20% if you want them to survive longer and you don’t want to have to purchase new batteries every year.
Again, these are broad recommendations; to find out the precise recommended safe discharge voltage and % for yours, consult the handbook or get in touch with the battery manufacturer.
Which 12V Battery for RVs Is The Best?
I suggest viewing this short (less than ten minutes) video on the many lead-acid battery types often found in RVs and what each one performs well and poorly.
Lithium batteries, which are more common but are significantly more expensive than flooded, AGM, and cell batteries, are not discussed in the video.
It may be worth the expense if you want to live in your RV full-time.
I suggest getting your 12V lithium batteries from dependable suppliers like Battle Born or Renogy.
These two are both “drop-and-replacement,” which means that installing them on RVs is quite simple.
However, you should confirm that the converter charger in your RV is compatible with lithium batteries.
Parallel versus Series
Batteries and solar panels may both be connected in parallel or series.
Make sure the wire you select is thick enough to withstand the additional amperage and voltage when combining several panels.
The positive wire from one panel is linked to the negative wire from the next in a series connection.
Each positive wire in a parallel connection is independent of each negative wire and comes together at a location known as a Mc4 Y branch.
What impact does it thus have? The voltage will increase in series while the amps remain constant.
In other words, two 12V solar panels that produce 18V and 5 amps each will produce 36V and 5 amps when connected in series.
The voltage in the parallel connection remains constant as the amps increase.
Consequently, our two 12V solar panels that are each producing 5 amps would still produce 18V but at 10 amps.
Which one ought to you use then? It depends on the kind and capacity of the solar charge controller you have.
You must ascertain what your particular charge controller can take and what is safe to connect since certain charge controllers can’t handle more than 10A (120W input).
What Are The Differences Between Poly And Mono Solar Panel Types?
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline both have advantages and disadvantages.
Although more costly than polycrystalline, monocrystalline panels are more efficient.
15-20% as opposed to poly 13-16% on average.
Additionally, monocrystalline panels need less area to produce the same amount of electricity as polycrystalline ones, making them more space-efficient.
Polycrystalline panels are less expensive to produce, which results in reduced costs for you.
They may perform somewhat poorer in high temperatures and don’t tolerate heat as well as monocrystalline materials.
I suggest monocrystalline solar panels due to their dependability and effectiveness.
If I Have Solar Panels, Can I Use The Electrical Outlets In My RV?
Your RV’s outlets must be receiving electricity from someplace in order for you to utilize them.
Your outlets get electricity from shore power if you are linked to it.
Since your outlets need 120V AC power and solar panels create 12V DC electricity for your batteries, they cannot directly provide power to your outlets.
We will need an inverter to utilize the power that the solar panels have produced for our batteries.
When connected to your AC panel, an inverter converts DC into AC and may power your AC outlets.
Choosing the best solar charger might be a difficult challenge.
You should decide what you will use it for and start there to make it simpler for you to understand.
Do you need to maintain a number of demanding gadgets happy while operating a mobile office? Or do you worry that you won’t have a fully charged phone when you go on a weekend trip?
The solutions with less watts will be less costly and often less effective.
The efficiency of the panels normally increases with increasing power.
The only restriction is how much money you’re prepared to pay, however.
We concentrated on the leading rivals and put them to the test.
Some products perform better than others, and better products don’t always come with greater prices.
As you look about for your new solar charger, we hope that our extensive testing and evaluations of these items will be helpful to you.