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The use of solar panels has increased over the years, and understandably so. Solar Panels are a cost-effective option for energy consumption that’s kinder to the environment, providing free energy after the initial cost; no ongoing costs or maintenance required.

The price of solar panels has decreased as demand has grown and technology improved.  There is also a plethora of choices available to fit individual budgets. 

If you are a seasoned traveler and enjoy the freedom of camping, you may be tired of the growling noise a generator makes. It can be inconvenient to fire up the generator every time you need power, so you may be keen to switch to solar energy. 

However, choosing the right solar panels can be daunting and if the concept is new to you, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the options available, so let’s look at some solar panels brands and the factors to look out for. 

The Best Flexible And Rigid Panels 

Top Solar Flexible Solar Panel 100W 24V/12/12V Monocrystalline Bendable

Topsolar Flexible Solar Panel 100W 24V/12V Monocrystalline Bendable - 100 Watt 12Volt Semi-Flexible Mono Solar Panels Charger Off-Grid for RV Boat Cabin Van Car Uneven Surfaces

The Top solar is a great, flexible option. It can be installed on uneven surfaces and on most travelling vehicles. At only 3.97 lbs and less than an inch tall, these panels are light and easy to install. The panels are 50% more efficient than other panels due to their monocrystalline cell that blocks the sun successfully. 

The addition of ETFE [fluorine based plastic] material means they are highly durable and produce increased light transmission. The panels are also waterproof and easily cleaned. 

The panels are simple to connect to 14/48 batteries, but must be used with the controller to maintain battery life. Additionally the panels have great customer reviews, well worth the investment. 

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • More efficient
  • Durable

Cons

  • They sell out fast
Topsolar Flexible Solar Panel 100W 24V/12V Monocrystalline Bendable - 100 Watt 12Volt Semi-Flexible Mono Solar Panels Charger Off-Grid for RV Boat Cabin Van Car Uneven Surfaces
  • 【Good flexibility】The minimum radius of the arc that a solar flexible panel can reach is 40cm(15.75 in).It is allowed to be installed on trailers, boats, cabins, tents, cars, trucks, trailers, yachts, trailers, roofs, or any other irregular surface.
  • 【Light weight & easy to install】It is only 0.1 inches tall and weighs only 3.97lb, which is very suitable for the assembly of invisible solar energy. And the solar panel is easy to transport, install, hang, and remove.
  • 【High conversion efficiency】High efficient monocrystalline solar cell, adopt unique back contact technology and remove electrodes on the solar cell surface that block the sunshine to increase the solar panel conversion efficiency up to 50% more efficiency than ordinary.
  • 【High-quality material】: The solar panel is made of ETFE. ETFE material has higher light transmittance and longer service life than ordinary materials. ETFE materials ensure the best performance day after day. The backplane adopts TPT, which is good for heat dissipation, waterproof, high temperature resistance and easy to clean.
  • 【Wide range of application】: It is very suitable for 12-volt battery charging. Multiple panels can be connected in series to charge 24/48 volt batteries. It needs to be used with the controller to protect the battery, and the solar panel can be easily connected to the solar controller/regulator.

Jackery Solaria 100w Portable Solar Panel For Explorer 240/500/1000 Power Station

Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel for Explorer 240/500/1000 Power Station, Foldable Monocrystalline Solar Cell Solar Charger with USB Outputs for Phones Off-Grid Home

As the winner of the Red Dot Award, Jackery has produced these super efficient rigid solar panels that perform fantastically in very hot weather. The panels are foldable and easy to transport with a handy rubber handle. Not only can you use them when travelling, but are a highly effective backup option during power outages at home. 

The panel chargers also offer USB ports enabling users to charge multiple devices such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops. 

Pros:

  • Award winning
  • Foldable
  • Multi use

Cons:

  • Limited to 8mm connections
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel for Explorer 240/500/1000 Power Station, Foldable Monocrystalline Solar Cell Solar Charger with USB Outputs for Phones Off-Grid Home
  • he Meat Thermometer have foldable 4.73" Food grade stainless steel probe and specially designed external wire probe. External wire probe can measure the internal temperature of the meat when placed in the oven/grill
  • he Meat Thermometer have foldable 4.73" Food grade stainless steel probe and specially designed external wire probe. External wire probe can measure the internal temperature of the meat when placed in the oven/grill
  • he Meat Thermometer have foldable 4.73" Food grade stainless steel probe and specially designed external wire probe. External wire probe can measure the internal temperature of the meat when placed in the oven/grill
  • he Meat Thermometer have foldable 4.73" Food grade stainless steel probe and specially designed external wire probe. External wire probe can measure the internal temperature of the meat when placed in the oven/grill
  • he Meat Thermometer have foldable 4.73" Food grade stainless steel probe and specially designed external wire probe. External wire probe can measure the internal temperature of the meat when placed in the oven/grill

Dokio 220W Foldable Solar Panel Kit Lightweight (11lb (ca. 5 kg), 28×20 inch) Monocrystalline (High Efficiency)

DOKIO 220W Foldable Solar Panel Kit Lightweight(11lb,28x20 inch) Monocrystalline(HIGH Efficiency) with Controller 2 USB Output to Charge 12V Batteries/Power Station (AGM LiFePo4) RV Camping Boat

This lightweight all in one option enables you to avoid buying separate components for your panels. Ideal if you don’t want to shop around finding all the correct parts you need.  However, be aware that the kits can be more costly than buying separately. 

In addition, reviews have revealed that the chargers included in the kits are often not as powerful as MPPT charge controllers and have proved to be around 20% less effective. Occasionally they don’t arrive with the correct cabling, so buyers need to source suitable accessories elsewhere. 

Pros:

  • Most of what you need is included
  • Ideal for small devices

Cons: 

  • Less powerful than others
  • More costly
Sale
DOKIO 220W Foldable Solar Panel Kit Lightweight(11lb,28x20 inch) Monocrystalline(HIGH Efficiency) with Controller 2 USB Output to Charge 12V Batteries/Power Station (AGM LiFePo4) RV Camping Boat
  • 【PORTABLE AND LIGHTWEIGHT EASY TO CARRY】-- This solar panel photovoltaic packs 220W of power yet is only 0.9inch (2.4cm) thick and weighs only 9lb (4.1kg), making it easier to mount,transport, hang, and remove.
  • 【“PLUG AND PLAY"SETUP】--you really don't NEED anything else to charge your battery, Solar charger for all 12V batteries ,with its 18V optimum power voltage.Protection against: overcharging, overload, short-circuit
  • 【PERFECT CHOICE FOR OUTDOOR AND EMERGENCY LIFE】-- 9.85ft (3m) cable length from panel to controller, For most power stations (Jackery,Goal Zero,Ecoflow,Paxcess) and 12-volt batteries(AGM,LiFePo4,Deep cycle batteries),RV,car,boat,trailer,truck,pumpa,camping,van,emergency power
  • 【PUT A LOT OF POWER INTO YOUR BATTERY BANK】-- powerful high conversion efficiency with high efficiency monocrystalline solar cell, you will get greater power efficiency even though the panel is smaller than a traditional model.Maximizes system output by reducing mismatch loss
  • 【WELL PACKAGED, QUICK DELIVERY】-- Amazon US warehouse shipping, Receive goods in time,any questions you can contact us at any time, we will do our best to provide you with a satisfactory solution to ensure that you will not suffer any loss.

TP-Solar Flexible Solar Panel 50W 24V/12V Monocrystalline Pendable

TP-solar Flexible Solar Panel 50W 24V/12V Monocrystalline Bendable - 50 Watt 12Volt Semi-Flexible Mono Solar Panels Charger Off-Grid for RV Boat Cabin Van Car Uneven Surfaces

The TP solar panel is a great, affordable choice of flexible solar panel for a camper van or RV. Ideal for 12 volt charging and easy to connect to controller and regulator. It has the advantage of monocrystalline cells, which as mentioned earlier are ideal for smaller surfaces such as camper vans. 

The ETFE material guarantees high performance daily and can withhold high temperatures easily. Very simple to install, move, replace or transport. The panels come with a detailed explanation of the installation process and can be easily completed without specialist help. What’s not to love about this handy little option?

Pros:

  • Ideal for small surfaces
  • Effective with high temperatures
  • Easy to install

Cons: 

  • Less durable than others
TP-solar Flexible Solar Panel 50W 24V/12V Monocrystalline Bendable - 50 Watt 12Volt Semi-Flexible Mono Solar Panels Charger Off-Grid for RV Boat Cabin Van Car Uneven Surfaces
  • 【Wide range of application】: It is very suitable for 12-volt battery charging. Multiple panels can be connected in series to charge 24/48 volt batteries. It needs to be used with the controller to protect the battery, and the solar panel can be easily connected to the solar controller/regulator.
  • 【Good bendability】: The solar panel can be curved to a maximum 30 degree arc, allowing to be mounted on an RV, boat, cabin, tent, car, trucks, trailers, yacht, motorhome, Roofs, or any other irregular surface.
  • 【High conversion efficiency】High efficient monocrystalline solar cell, adopt unique back contact technology and remove electrodes on the solar cell surface that block the sunshine to increase the solar panel conversion efficiency up to 50% more efficiency than ordinary.
  • 【High-quality material】: The solar panel is made of ETFE. ETFE material has higher light transmittance and longer service life than ordinary materials. ETFE materials ensure the best performance day after day. The backplane adopts TPT, which is good for heat dissipation, waterproof, high temperature resistance and easy to clean.
  • 【Light weight & easy to install】It is only 0.1 inches tall and weighs only 3.97lb, which is very suitable for the assembly of invisible solar energy. And the solar panel is easy to transport, install, hang, and remove.

BigBlue 100W Solar Panels, Portable Solar Panel With Carry Suitcase And Aluminum Kickstands

BigBlue 100W Solar Panels, Portable Solar Panel with Carry Suitcase and Aluminum Kickstands, 18V Waterproof Tempered Glass Solar Charger with 5.2ft Anderson Connector for RV Battery and Generators

As rigid solar panels go, this is a convenient option. Easy to fold down and carry at 16.9 lbs, it is one of the lightest rigid solar panels on the market. Superior materials mean this is an affordable and weather resistant panel. Conversion efficient and weather resistant, this is a great choice to help mitigate environmental issues. 

The Panels are compatible with 12v batteries and come complete with kickstands and a carry case. There are options to generate more power by expanding an extra panel in conjunction with a good charge controller. 

Pros:

  • Light for a rigid solar panel
  • Efficient and weather resistant
  • Accessories included

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to adjust the kickstand
BigBlue 100W Solar Panels, Portable Solar Panel with Carry Suitcase and Aluminum Kickstands, 18V Waterproof Tempered Glass Solar Charger with 5.2ft Anderson Connector for RV Battery and Generators
  • Briefcase-style Solar Charger: BigBlue foldable 100-watt solar panel is typically made with a pair of 50-watt panels. The net weight is only 16.9 lb; you can fold it down to a small and compact briefcase form so that it would be easier for transportation and handling in the wild.(Please make sure there is plenty of sunshine while use)
  • Superior Quality Build: The fram and durable handle of BigBlue solar panel is made of Anodic Aluminum Oxide Material, resistant to corrosion and very wear-resisting. The product surface adopts high quality tempered glass which enhance the performance of wind resistance, impact resistance and safety. Note: Our solar panel can't store the electricity, we suggest you to use together with the power station.
  • High Conversion Efficiency Solar Panel: Monocrystalline solar panels are higher efficiencies and sleeker aesthetics. Environmental protection and energy saving, ideal solar power kit for variety of off grid applications including shed, cabin, etc., where 12V batteries is used as well as charge and maintain Cars, RVs, Boats, Trailer batteries.
  • EVA Carry Case and Kikstands: The protective case for our suitcase solar charger made of EVA material which is anti-knock and anti-humidity, so that you can transport the unit anywhere hassle-free. The heavy-duty aluminum kickstands allow you to get an angle to attract as much sunlight as possible.
  • Plug-and-Play Power: Connect the controller(Not inclued in package) which comes with Anderson connector or connect power station with Anderson plug, charge and maintain your 12 volt battery or electronic equipment in all seasons. You can expand one extra solar panel with Anderson plug to get more power. We recommend you purchasing a charge controller while use.

Top solar Solar Panel Kit 30W 12V Monocrystalline Battery Charger Maintainer

Topsolar Solar Panel Kit 30W 12V Monocrystalline Battery Charger Maintainer with 10A Charge Controller + Extension Cable for 12 Volt Car RV Vehicle Marine Boat Home Off Grid System

The Top solar kit is amongst the best overall, highly durable cheap options. Although kits aren’t the best choice, this kit is so reasonably priced it would be easy to purchase any components needed.

Included in the kit are the 30 watt panels, solar charge regulator as well as clips and cables. Based on reviews, this kit is easy to install for a rigid solar panel system. The controller easily controls voltage and protects batteries effectively. 

The aluminum frame combined with tempered glass enables the panels to withhold even the most extreme weather and helps prevent corrosion. These panels have a long life expectancy and should successfully provide power for up to 25 years. 

Moving over to solar panel power is a noble transition and the right panel will last for many years and provide you with cheap environmentally friendly energy for all your needs. 

Pros:

  • Cheaper option
  • Long life
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons:

  • Heavy
Topsolar Solar Panel Kit 30W 12V Monocrystalline Battery Charger Maintainer with 10A Charge Controller + Extension Cable for 12 Volt Car RV Vehicle Marine Boat Home Off Grid System
  • Perfect for off grid 12 volt batteries charging system and a variety of DC applications, designed for charging 12 volt batteries in car, RVs, cabins, boats, marines, shed, cabin, gate opener, battery operated gates, dry camping, garden watering, work great for back-up power and remote power use.
  • Solar panel kits, package included 30 watts solar panel, 10A 12V/24V solar charger regulator controller and two 6.5ft cable with alligator clips and O-ring terminal for battery charging connection, easy to fix and install.
  • With the 10A solar charger controller, it can prevent the battery from over charge, over voltage, discharge and short circuit, reversed polarity protection, battery is fully protected.
  • High efficiency monocrystalline solar cells, heavy duty anodized aluminum frame, the corrosion-proof aluminum frame and tempered glass coating shield the panel from weathering and wear.
  • The solar panel is built with strong tempered glass and aluminum frame, 25 years transferable output and high quality material and workmanship for long lasting use.

Buyers Guide 

Rigid panels have been leading the solar panel industry for years and are the most popular choice. They are super durable and can withstand all weather conditions due to their tempered glass front.

In addition, they are great for the environment and easy to maintain.  The panels are encased in an aluminum frame that shields each individual cell and as such enables them to carry more weight than their lighter counterparts. 

Rigid panels are strong and much less likely to break than flexible panels. They also have a long life expectancy and won’t need replacing as much as the others. Another advantage of rigid panels is that they are more efficient over a larger area, attracting more sun for conversion. 

The disadvantages of rigid panels is definitely the price. A larger initial outlay is a big financial commitment, and it takes many years to break even. You will also need to factor in labor costs as they are difficult to install, needing specialist assistance.

Furthermore, the lack of flexible positioning can be problematic, especially if you plan to change vehicles at any point. 

The clue is in the name, with flexible panels. The flexibility and portability of these panels definitely lend itself to an easier installation process. They are definitely the better option for smaller camper vans and RCs as roof space is limited and are often too small for a rigid panel set up. 

As well as being cheaper, you can also remove them and reinstall them elsewhere if needed. They are easy to install yourself, cutting down on labor costs. 

Flexible panels also charge effectively during periods of low light, meaning  you don’t need complete reliance on sunshine to generate some power.

The obvious disadvantages of flexible panels is they are more fragile and prone to breakage and weather damage. They also have a far lower lifespan than rigid panels.

What’s The Difference Between Monocrystalline And Poly Crystalline Panels ?

The main difference between materials is that monocrystalline panels are made up of black cells, with single crystals within each cell and they are made from pure silicon. They last way longer than other panels and perform better in lower light, so are perfect for predominantly cloudy areas.

Likewise, they are more expensive but highly efficient and more suited to smaller surfaces. However, they also produce a lot of waste during manufacturing, so if environmental issues are high on your list of priorities these panels are not the best option. 

Polycrystalline panels have lots of crystals with blue cells and are made from multi silicon materials. They produce less waste so are an eco-friendly option, however they are less efficient and need more space than monocrystalline. They are much cheaper than the others, reducing the initial outlay. 

The Importance Of Efficacy, Voltage, And Warranty 

For most people, the motivation behind investing in solar panels is driven by a desire to make a small contribution to protecting the environment. With this in mind, it’s important to consider the aspects that make solar panels an eco-friendly option. 

Simply put, efficiency refers to how much energy from the sun the solar cell converts. It’s a tricky thing to test due to many variables. It’s useful to read reviews of people that have used different solar panels and what their experience has been in terms of measuring output.

A battery monitor is usually needed to get an accurate reading, but this can only be measured once you’ve installed your panels, so it’s good to take advantage of comparison sites beforehand. 

Solar Panel voltage is reliant upon a good quality charge controller which regulates the current received from the panels.  Choosing the right inverter is crucial for voltage control. In recent years, the microinverter has become increasingly popular.

A separate micro inverter is placed in each panel, meaning that if some panels receive less sunshine it doesn’t affect the other panels. 

Pure sin inverters are a popular choice as they are super reliable and can provide electricity for most appliances without interruption. They provide overload protection and are smooth and quiet.

They also have the capacity to power TVS, fridges, laptops, and even printers (if you really want to take work on holiday with you). 

Modified sine inverters are cheaper and work by switching quickly between positive to negative sine waves which is ideal if you are powering smaller devices. However, they can be a little noisy and won’t be enough to power large appliances such as medical equipment or freezers.

In addition, they are a lot less efficient than pure sine inverters. 

Warranty information is dependent on the power output of the solar panel brand chosen. If you’re looking for a lengthy warranty, be sure to choose highly efficient and durable panels.

It’s wise to spend some time researching solar panels brands to enable you to make the right choice that’s affordable and has a reasonable guarantee that they will last. 

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