If you're an RV enthusiast, you may have considered adding solar panels o your vehicle. Not only do they help keep your RV running, but they also provide a level of independence while on the road. There are two main types of RV solar panels: portable and mounted. So which one is right for you? Let's look at both types of RV solar panels, their benefits, uses, and help you determine which is best for your type of vehicle.
Are RV Solar Panels Necessary?
Before we discuss mounted solar panels vs. their portable counterpart, let's answer a simpler question. Is a solar panel necessary for your RV?
If you plan on RVing full-time or even for extended periods of time, then the answer is most likely yes. Solar panels are a great way to keep your RV running without having to rely on hookups or generators.
Sure, when you decide to invest in a solar panel system for your RV, there is an initial cost involved. But over time, you will make that money back by not having to constantly refuel your RV or pay for hookups.
Plus, solar panel systems help you become more self-sufficient and can even be used in an emergency situation. We think it's safe to say that solar panels are worth the investment.
For more information on solar panels, check out our guide.
Mounted Solar Panels for RVs
Now that we've answered the question, "are solar panels necessary," it's time to look more closely at each type of solar panel.
Mounted solar panels are a great option for those who have a larger RV or plan on staying in one spot for an extended period of time. Once mounted, these types of solar panels are not easily removed.
Some existing vehicles already have a solar capability when manufactured. In those cases, solar expansion kits can be installed to expand the solar system.
Check out our how-to-video on installing a solar expansion kit.
Benefits of Mounted RV Solar Panels
Mounted panels are more permanent, so you don't have to worry about removing them or setting them up each time you move camping sites.
No concern about the solar panel being tampered with or stolen.
Mounted units tend to be more powerful, so they are great for larger RVs or those that require more power.
Mounted panels are installed on the RV's roof, which means they are out of the way and not taking up valuable space.
Mounting a solar system on the roof gives a better opportunity for direct sunlight.
Drawbacks of Mounted Solar Panels
When you mount solar panels, they are not as easily removed or taken with you if you decide to sell your RV.
If they are mounted on the RV roof, they may be more susceptible to damage from debris or tree branches.
Adding solar power from mounted units requires you to drill holes in the RV roof and use penetrating mounting hardware.
When to Mount Solar Panels
We know the benefits and drawbacks of mounting solar panels, but when should you use this type?
If you have a newer RV, chances are it came standard with some sort of mounted unit already. This makes it much easier for you to use mounted panels for your solar system. Many models come equipped with a basic solar panel on the roof of about 50 watts.
If you plan to do a good amount of boondocking for an extended period of time. It's worthwhile to mount solar panels and remove the hassle of constant set up and maneuvering.
Portable Solar Panels for RVs
Now let's take a look at the other type of RV solar panel, portable units. Just as the name suggests, these types of solar panels are designed to be easily removed and transported with you.
Benefits of Portable RV Solar Panels
More easily transported, so you can take them with you wherever you go.
Come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you can find the perfect one for your RV.
Flexible solar panels are often portable and can be foldable for easier storage or transport.
Often include a carrying case, making them easy to store.
Generally cheaper than their mounted counterparts.
Can be used on any RV, not just those that have solar capability.
Drawbacks of Portable RV Solar Panels
Have to be set up each time you want to use them, which can be time-consuming
Can be damaged more easily than mounted units
Less powerful than mounted solar panels, so they may not be suitable for larger RV solar system needs
When to Use Portable RV Solar Panels
If you are a full-time RV or live on the road, chances are you don't have a permanent campsite. In this case, it would make more sense to use portable solar panels in addition to mounted for added capability.
Portable flexible solar panels give you the freedom to set up your RV solar system wherever you are. They are easy to transport and can be set up in a matter of minutes.
If you only plan on using your RV solar system occasionally, portable panels may be the way to go. This way, you don't have to worry about permanently mounting anything to your RV.
Final Thoughts: Mounting Solar Panels vs. Portable Flexible Panels
So, which is better for your RV solar needs? Mounted or portable flexible panels?
The answer really depends on your RVing lifestyle, power requirement, and your type of vehicle. If you are a full-time RVer, you may want to consider both mounting solar panels to your RV roof and portable panels to assure your needs are always met.
If you only camp or RV on the weekends, a portable solar panel may be all you need to power your RV's basic needs.
Do you currently mount solar panels to your RV? Or are you interested in portable units to up your solar capability for boondocking? Way can assist you in not only outfitting your vehicle for expanded solar capability, but in building a complete solar power system for your vehicle.
Check out our solar panel offerings and more information at wayinterglobal.com