So let’s talk about solar panels for vans.
Scrap that, let’s talk about the BEST solar panel for vans because we all want to install something high-quality enough to supply reliable off-grid power.
For me, they have become essential to my vanlife setup from the very first day I got my first solar panel.
No longer do I even worry about having enough electricity, even if I don’t move or run the engine for days to charge batteries via the split relay.
Plus it seems that solar panels are getting cheaper day by day, coming in all shapes and sizes!
And that’s all before the increasing quality and efficiency for the everyday person.
Charge your battery during the day and use the stored energy at night, simple.
The only confusing thing is the hundreds of different solar products available on the market.
Some are awesome while others seem to be cheap, inefficient, and poorly made. So after using a number of different products (and hundreds of hours of research) I’ve put together a list of the best solar panels for campervans available today.
Keep reading to find all the important information, the technology used, efficiency, durability, and a whole lot more. Plus, a few hints and tips in the form of a handy buying guide to give you a complete overview of what to look for when completing your van conversion.
In This Article
Best Solar Panels for Van Reviewed
Let’s take an in-depth look at the top performing solar panels you use to keep your van juiced up!
1. Renogy 200 Watt Solar Panel Van Starter Kit
I love this starter kit from the power experts at Renogy. It’s got everything you need to install your solar panels and hook them up to your leisure battery. You can simply start with one panel and if you have more space then add up to four panels in the long run.
This 200 Watt 12 volts solar starter, a perfect kit for people who want to start solar. The design of this solar kit is ideal for outstanding quality and performance.
It comes come with an anti-corrosion aluminum frame, durable low-iron tempered glass that lasts for decades, a TPT back sheet, dual EVA films, and high-efficiency solar cells that make it last for years! Perfect for any outdoor use, including on top of your campervan.
A negative grounding controller with battery reversed and complete protection from power overload, short circuits, over-charging and discharging keeps you safe. You can even use it with a vehicle that has a battery negative on the chassis.
It also features the upgraded Renogy S New 30A PWM Negative-ground charge controller called the Renogy Wanderer. Using the Renogy Wanderer 30A PWM charge controller, you can quickly expand your solar arrangement to a maximum of 400W (4 panels). That’s plenty of off-grid power to get lost forever, far from the beaten trail.
The kit comes with a waterproof junction box and connectors, a drainage hole, and mounting holes on all sides. Adding to this it boasts a Z bracket mount system that is uniquely designed, easy to use, and even suitable for irregular surfaces.
Its monocrystalline solar cells are super efficient and give an ideal output of 1000Wh per day. They can fully charge a 50Ah battery to 50% in just 1.5 hours. Also included is an 8ft, 10 AWG tray cable to easily connect your charge controller and battery. You get many benefits, including quiet power production and off-grid independence – a great starter kit for any vehicle.
- Corrosion-resistant aluminum frame
- Possible expansion of the system up to a maximum of 400W
- Safety features
- Perfect for those who want to start in solar
- Questions about quality of the controller
2. WEIZE 200 Watt Solar Panel Kit
The WEIZE 200 Watt kit is a high-efficiency choice with high-performance monocrystalline solar cells. You can mount these on the roof of your van and hook straight into your battery and inverter setup.
These solar panels are virtually maintenance-free, except for a little cleaning, and have a long life. Made up of durable anodized aluminum frames, tempered glass, and have a sealed junction box, they’re ready for your next big adventure, whatever the weather.
The solar kit comes ready for installation with pre-drilled holes, Z brackets, tilt mounts, and side pole mount. Plus you’ll get all the extra necessities including cables and a charge controller.
- Full Kit
- High Efficiency
- Roof mountable
- Not portable
3. XINPUGUANG 100 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel
This is a brilliant choice if you want flat solar panels for caravans and campers. These flexible monocrystalline panels are flat and flexible so you can fix them nicely to even a curved roof.
This 2 piece 100 watt solar panel set uses high-quality silicon cells for high efficiency, even in low light areas. Because they are so flat and lightweight you do lose a little efficiency, you’ll get about 19.5% rather than 20%+.
The solar panels are flexible and can be bent up to 30 degrees. Due to this unique feature, these panels are a good choice for curved vans, campervans, and busses. Despite the low-profile design, they’re still incredibly durable ready to take on high-winds, snow, and hot weather!
Made of advanced encapsulation material with multi-layered sheet lamination, it helps to enhance the cell performance while adding durability. To install you can use the stainless steel rings on the corners to hang or drill into place. Just 3mm thick and 80% lighter than glass solar panels!
You get a 20A 12v/24v charge controller, one set of extension cables with PV connector, alligator clips for battery connection, and a set of parallel connectors.
Easy to install, flat, flexible and durable. What’s not to like?
- Excellent performance
- Highly durable
- Low profile
- Not as durable at glass panels
4. BLUETTI PV200 200W Solar Panel
The BLUETTI 200 watt panel is an awesome portable solar panel to pair with your van’s portable power station.
A 200-watt monocrystalline solar panel gives you incredible power and high conversion efficiency of up to 23.4%. Its conversion efficiency is higher than the market average rate that is between 20% to 23%. Simply put, the higher conversion rate means more kilowatt-hour of electricity. Plus it still does a good job in low-light.
The long-lasting ETFE material coating keeps them safe from wear, tear and scratches. Plus its water-resistant making guarding against water splashes and light rain. It’s ideal for your outdoor trips and activities like fishing, beaches, and camping.
The MC4 connector makes it compatible with most solar generators available in the market. Adding to this, you could also buy some crocodile clips to add to your leisure battery setup.
It’s best paired with the BLUETTI range of power stations like AC200P, EB70, EB55, AC50S.
She’s foldable, lightweight, and packs plenty of power. That ticks a lot of boxes, right?
- Higher conversion rate
- Durable and splashproof
- Foldable and portable
- Best for power stations
- Not roof mountable
4. Togo Power 100W Portable Foldable Solar Panel
This second option offers a little more versatility than the Renogy panels. The Togo 100 watt solar panel is a portable option rather than roof mounted. This means you can set it up wherever you need it. Lay it out in direct sunlight to get charging your batteries!
In fact, Togo Power 100W foldable solar panel is the most portable generator power station available in the market. The solar panel is excellent for multipurpose usage, and it is compatible with Baldr, Jackery, Goal Zero, Paxcess adapters. You can also use it with NexPow, ROCKPALS, SUAOKI, and FlashFish adapters.
This solar panel is suitable for any outdoor usage or unexpected power outage situations. It comes with dual USB ports (QC3.0 & USB-C (PD 45W max) and 18V DC output. A built-in smart IC chip is provided along with the USB port to intelligently identify your device and increase the charging speed. The 18V DC is enough to keep your devices charged without the need for any external power. You can use it to power run your mobile phones, tablets, laptops, digital cameras, and GPS.
It’s an awesomely efficient option whatever you need it for, even in low light conditions it performs better than most. Plus it’s completely waterproof and foldable.
- Multi-purpose use
- High conversion efficiency
- USB fast charging
- Portable, foldable, waterproof
- No mountable
5. Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel
This is another durable and portable 100 watt option featuring 2 USB port to charge two small devices directly. Of course, you can also hook up to your battery or power pack to refill your power supplies for later.
It has two kickstands that help you place it on any surface firmly. It literally takes just a couple of seconds to set up, and you’re ready to rock. Comfortable TPE rubber handles make for easy grip and portability to carry for any adventures, handy if you’re moving away from your van!
Monocrystalline silicon solar cells are super efficient with multi-layered cell technology to generate electricity from sunlight. The durable outer shell is made using ETFE laminated, plus it’s water-resistant protecting you from water splashing and light rain.
It also comes with zipper pockets to hold power cords. Jackery SolarSaga 100W is compatible with Jackery Explorer 300/500/1000/1500 power stations are sold separately.
This solar panel is a perfect choice for off-grid camping or any unexpected power outage emergency.
- Easy Setup
- Higher Efficiency
- Durable and Splash Proof
- Versatile and compatible
- Not roof mountable
6. ALLPOWERS Portable Solar Panel Charger 200W
ALLPOWERS solar panel charger is a portable kit made in the US. Its big selling point is how light it is, in fact, it’s 1/3 times lighter than its competitors.
With its high-efficiency you’ll get up to 200 watts output to power up with electricity quickly. The full kit includes different sizes of connectors for portable generators including alligator clips for leisure batteries plus multiple DC connections for other power banks. This means it works with most power stations available in the market.
As you’d expect, it’s durable and waterproof (Best for use in the sun, not the rain…)
It’s a lightweight and portable solar panel which is ideal for adding extra power to your vanlife panels.
- High Power Output
- Compatible with most solar generators
- Waterproof and Durable
- Portable and Foldable
- Not roof mountable
7. DOKIO 160 Watts 18 Volts Portable Solar Panel Kit
Looking for a neat low profile solar panel for your van? Then take a look at the DOKIO 160 watt option. Even though it’s small in size, you’ll still draw some good power from this bad boy with highly efficient monocrystalline solar cells.
The panel is just 2.4cm thick and weighs only 9lbs, perhaps a great option for you stealth campers out there. This solar panel is foldable and lightweight making it easy to transport, hang, mount or move anywhere. Throw it up on your roof when parked up and nobody will know it’s there!
The kit consists of a solar charger for all 12V batteries, a protective case, and cables to get you started. You’ll also be guarded against overcharging, power overload, and short circuits. The 9.85 feet long cable from the panel to the controller offers great versatility in where you place it.
Happily, it is compatible with most of the power stations and 12V batteries available in the market. Plus the unit is water resistant protecting it from rain and accidental spills.
- Foldable and Lightweight
- Complete kit for easy usage
- Perfect for emergency use
- Great for stealth campers
- Low profile solar panel for van
- Nothing provided to hang the panel
8. Newpowa 180 Watt Solar Panels
The experts at Newpowa offer a number of different solar panels and accessories so there’s plenty of choices. Anything from 10 watts up to 210 watts, so you can pick depending on budget and space available on your van roof.
Something like the 180 watt option should provide plenty of power, with the high-efficiency monocrystalline cells for a brilliant conversion rate in all light conditions. The frame is corrosion resistant as it is made up of high-quality aluminum keeping it lightweight yet strong. Adding to this, the panel comes fitted with a 3ft cable, IP65 waterproof junction box, and IP67 certified waterproof solar panel connectors.
Newpowa’s products are built for use in all sorts of scenarios including home use so they’re incredibly well built. Mounting holes on the frame make it easy to mount on the van roof or wall.
This is a top quality solution for those who want the very best. The only drawback is they’re quite often out of stock!
- New Design
- Unreliable stock
- Not portable
Education: Choosing Solar Panels for Vans
Let’s take a look at the factors to consider when choosing your van solar panels.
Roof-mounted vs Portable
The first decision you need to make is whether you want to mount your panels on the roof of your campervan or simply use a portable kit.
Mounting the panels will take a little DIY skill but once installed you can relax knowing the sun is always charging your batteries.
Opting for a portable panel gives you great flexibility in how you get tour power. You can move the panel to place in direct sunlight or take it with you on adventures outside of your van. Plus, they’re usually highly compatible with portable power stations!
Size and Power
Generally speaking, you should choose a solar panel with power ranging between 100 – 200 watts. Any smaller and you’ll struggle to charge batteries very quickly. Any bigger and things start to get cumbersome and expensive.
When it comes to size you should also think about the dimensions of the solar panels, especially if mounting on your campervan roof. Aluminum and glass encased units are super durable but can be big and bulky. Some people like to go for flat low-profile solar panels for vans to give a stealthy power source.
It’s important to think about what battery type you are using. Some solar panels are best suited to deep cycle leisure batteries and power inverters while others are the best fit for portable power stations.
Of course, durability is a key point in any product you buy. Simply choosing the cheapest product may well result in a low quality unit that quickly breaks! In the long run, this could be more expensive when you have to replace your panels. Ensure you find a well-built water resistant product that will stand up to the rigors of your adventure!
FAQ on Van Solar Panels
How many watts of solar do I need for my van?
The amount of watts you need for your van varies from person to person. Usually, a solar panel with 100 to 200 watts of power is suitable for vans. The higher the power the quicker you can charge batteries. If you just want to charge portable devices then 50 watts would do, but if you want to run appliances like refrigerators you’ll need 200+ watts.
Is a 100W solar panel enough for campervan?
Yes, 100W solar panel is powerful enough for a van, it will be plenty to charge your battery or run low-powered devices like phones, laptops, and lights. It will be fine to keep electricity topped up while the van is stationary for a while. If you want to spend longer periods of time off-grid then you should consider adding multiple solar panels to increase capacity.
Can I put solar panels on my van?
Yes, you can definitely put solar panels on your van. Many campervan conversions fit them to the roof in order to keep batteries topped up when parked in the same place for a while. It’s a great way to keep you powered up when not driving.
Can a 100 watt solar panel run a TV?
If the TV is rated below 80 watts then you could run it using a 100 watt solar panel. This depends on the efficiency of the panel plus the light conditions for you to draw energy from the sun.
Will a 100W solar panel power a fridge?
A 100 watt solar panel will be able to run a mini-fridge during the day. You’ll struggle to run any medium to large refrigerators as they require more power. The best thing to do is to charge a battery with your solar panel, then run a fridge from the battery which can also be charged in other ways when there is not enough sun.
Solar Panel for Van Summary
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this guide to solar panels for vans.
You can use the equipment discussed in this article to kit out your self-build campervan in order to spend time off-grid. Whether it’s a weekend surf trip or full-time van life, in my experience you won’ regret the addition. Before you buy, take the time to work out your power needs and pick something that delivers high efficiency with a solid build quality to last for many years.
Hi, I’m Michael, the editor here at Watt A Lot.
After years of experience with off-grid power like solar panels, inverters, and batteries I decided I should share my hands-on knowledge with you. In my professional and personal life, I’ve needed to find electrical solutions for remote situations from owning a food truck, to running events at the top of mountains, to my converted campervan. So whether you’re looking for the best products or fixing an electrical problem, you can rest assured my advice comes from real hands-on experience.