It’s called a recreational vehicle (RV), but those who live the life know that some activities that go into the RV lifestyle are anything but fun. One of those is the constant search for electrical power. For those that frequent RV parks, it may not be as big a problem, but for those that are off-the-grid or nearly off-the-grid, it’s a constant challenge. That’s why solar power is an important part of the adventure RV routine and why at least one solar RV battery charger can be so critical.
A solar RV battery charger can provide power when off-the-grid to keep starting and accessory batteries keeping up with the demands of all the electrical devices that are part of RV life.
When it comes to a solar charger, there are many form factors available for any solar RV battery charger, but they all have three things in common. One or more solar panels, a solar charge controller, and some way to connect the charger to the batteries that need charging.
Another common challenge of RV life is the constant attempt to find a place for everything. Limited space may mean leaving non-essential items at home. Almost everything you take with you has to be portable and stowable so that it doesn’t fly around during travel. Everything also needs to be easily deployed or stowed at the site, so it’s fast to setup and tear down.
RV solar panels can be affixed to the RV itself or portable and stowable for deployment at the site. Attaching one or more solar panels and the controller to the RV can be costly as it requires a lot of thought about how to secure the setup and keep it damage-free while traveling. It also means that as technology changes, solar panels become more efficient, and you want to update your setup, it will require removal of the old setup and reinstallation of the new panels and controller.
A better choice is to maintain a portable solar charger setup with portable solar panels that is stowable and can be deployed anywhere it’s needed on the site; even far away from the RV to charge remote batteries.
Something else to consider is power. In the case of RV batteries, they have different requirements than starting batteries that rarely have a low charge. RV batteries experience heavy use and need to be constantly recharged rather than just maintained.
That means that you want the recovery period from low charge to fully-charged for use to be as short as possible. That’s usually not a problem when you’re on the grid, because you have plenty of electrical power to run a powerful standard battery charger that can quickly replenish the power in your batteries.
It’s a different story when standard electrical power is not available. One solution is obviously to carry a gas generator to take the place of a standard power source and you may need to carry one anyway. The problem is that it needs fuel is flammable, heavy and takes up space.
A portable solar charger needs no fuel, so it’s safer, better for the environment, and only contributes its own weight to the weight of the RV.
The modern, eco-friendly, efficient choice is to also carry a portable solar RV battery charger to take up some of the slack without the need to carry fuel. The trouble is that the cost of solar power is still relatively high and so to get the kind of power you need to get the fastest charging means spending more money. How much power you need depends on your specific situation, but a popular power capability seems to be around a 100 watt solar panel.
The question is which one to buy? First, make sure you’re looking for one of the complete RV solar panel kits. Often solar panels are sold alone without the charge controller. Make sure the setup you’re buying has a solar charge controller included. Don’t connect a 12V solar panel directly to your batteries without protection from overcharging.
Looking for other solar battery chargers? Be sure and see our other articles about some of the best:
Next, one person’s portable is another person’s nightmare, so make sure the setup is truly portable. A lot of kits are simply a solar panel, charge controller and cables. For larger power setups, solar panels will be larger and more difficult to stow away. The best choice for a solar powered battery charger is a foldable model that reduces to half its size or less making it much easier to find a place for it on the RV.
Just having a 100W solar panel, for example, doesn’t mean you will get the full power from the panel. Bright sun and the right angle are important, which means you need sunshine and you need to angle the panel in the right direction. With most kits, since you only get a panel, that means finding something to lean the panel against that happens to face in the right general direction. Some kits come with angled mounting brackets, but their designed to be fixed mounted and may not work at all if you try to use the panel unmounted. The best is to get a kit that has an adjustable stand that you can use virtually anywhere to face the panel in the right direction at the right angle. Better yet, if the stand is built into the panel, it will make it even more portable.
We searched forums, retail sites, customer review sites, and manufacturer sites to find a 100-watt solar RV battery charger with the characteristics we wanted that was both very popular and highly rated.
Take a look at our choice and see if it’s the best solar battery charger for your RV needs!
Solar RV Battery Charger: Best Rated Foldable RV Power
According to Renogy, their company was founded on the strong belief that solar power should be available to everyone. Their Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Suitcase uses top-quality solar cells that maximize energy yield and a design that is perfect for any off-grid use including RV use. This model is a complete solar system all in one portable lightweight suitcase that has two 50-watt monocrystalline panels, a 10-Amp ViewStar Series charge controller, a built-in adjustable stand, and a 10-foot connection cable with alligator. Here’s what you need to know.
You can trust the reliability of Renogy solar kits because they all go through the same rigorous testing process before you even see them including:
- Thermal Cycling Test
- Thermal/Freezing and High Humidity Cycling Test
- Electrical isolation Test
- Mechanical, Wind and Twist Loading Test
- Salt Mist Test
- Light and Water-exposure Test
- Moist Carbon Dioxide/Sculpture Dioxide
Renogy solar panels are made to last with multi-level high-quality construction:
- Glass: 3.2mm tempered glass, excellent mechanical loading performance, resists 5400PA snow loads and 2400PA wind load.
- & 4. EVA Film: main component is 30%-33% of EVA, which assures a high transmission, strong adhesion and long term performance.
- Cell: excellent performance in low light environment and high conversion efficiency guaranteed.
- Frame: strong corrosion resistant aluminum frames.
- Backsheet: both sides of backsheet are coated with fluoro resin to prevent aging. This unique structure allows our backsheet to provide perfect adhesion with EVA and junction box.
- 100-watt, 12-volt, monocrystalline, foldable, portable, lightweight solar suitcase system
- German-made, dual 50-watt monocrystalline solar panels are designed for excellent performance in low-light environments
- Built-in fully-adjustable, 10A, 4-stage, negative-ground, 10-Amp ViewStar Series Solar Charge Controller with LCD Screen is compatible with your RV, boat, trailer, and others
- Built-in adjustable, corrosion-resistant aluminum stand allows you to position the solar panels at the perfect angle for maximum power
- Corrosion-resistant heavy-duty aluminum handle and latches
- Compatible with gel-cel, sealed and flooded lead-acid batteries
- Operating Temperature: -40°F to +185°F
- Folded dimensions are 19.9 x 27.2 x 2.4 inches and weighs in at 27.65 lbs.
- 25-Year transferable power output warranty and 5-Year limited materials and workmanship warranty
- 2 – 50-watt monocrystalline, German-made solar panels,
- 1 – Fully-adjustable 10-Amp ViewStar Series Charge Controller with LCD Screen
- 1 – Built-in adjustable aluminum stand
- 1 – 10-foot connection cable with alligator clips
- 1 – Protective casing
CERTAIN CONTENT THAT APPEARS ON THIS SITE COMES FROM AMAZON SERVICES LLC. THIS CONTENT IS PROVIDED 'AS IS' AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE OR REMOVAL AT ANY TIME.
Solar RV Battery Charger Comparison
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