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Which Solar Panels Work Best For Campervans?


In this article we explain which solar panels are best for campervan electrical systems.

Short answer:

Glass Solar Panels between 75 to 200-Watt are best for campervan solar systems. These panels are durable, have the longest lifespans, and ironically they’re cheaper than the other following options. Read on to find our list of recommended solar panels.

Glass Solar Panels

Traditional Glass Solar Panels are usually the best option for permanent installs on Campervans and ironically they are much cheaper than most alternatives.

Glass panels have a typical lifespan of 25 years or more. Compare this to the popular flexible solar panels which sound great in theory, but are well known to break within the first few years of use.

Try to design your system using 100 to 200-Watt Panels, anything larger than that and it starts to be difficult to install without 3 or 4 helpers.

You’ll want to look for Monocrystalline panels whenever possible. Monocrystalline Solar Panels are more efficient than Polycrystalline panels which means you’ll require less space for the same amount of Wattage.

Here are a few different-sized Glass Solar Panel Options from reputable manufacturers.

Flexible Solar Panels

We only recommend using flexible solar panels when you absolutely can’t use glass.

Flexible solar panels are well known to suffer massive power losses due to the nature of their design. Their flexibility makes it very easy to damage the cells. Once a crack develops in a cell, the panels wattage drops significantly.

Heat is another issue that causes premature failure. Since these panels are typically glued to a hot vehicle roof, there isn’t enough airflow to allow even a little cooling. This extreme environment reduces lifespan dramatically.

Furthermore, the hotter a solar panel gets, the more it’s internal resistance increases, meaning it’s power output will be reduced.

It’s best to steer clear from flexible panels unless you don’t mind replacing them every 2 years or so. If you do insist on using them here’s a few options to choose from.

Foldable Solar Panels

Foldable solar panels are a third option that makes sense for small systems or less permanent installs.

These solar panels can be folded up and tucked away until you need them. Panels like this usually require no tools to set up, so they’re super beginner friendly.

Another great use for these is to expand an already existing system, for days when you need more power. Just be sure to pay attention to what type of connected the panel comes with. There are adaptors that make connecting safe and easy.

Here are a few different options for Folding Solar Panels

Summary

Some solar panels are way too delicate to be used in a campervan electrical system, and some are just too large to be practical.

It’s never a mistake to go with 100 to 200 Watt Glass Solar Panels because they:

  • are very affordable
  • more durable than flexible and folding panels
  • have a lifespan of more than 25 years

Goodluck with your Campervan build!

We also have Free Solar Plans!

100-Watt Minimalist System This minimalist solar system is good for those who need to power laptops, cell phones, and small devices. Learn more…
400-Watt #Vanlife System The standard #Vanlife solar system. Good for traveling full-time with moderate energy needs. Learn more…
800-Watt Super-Sized This super-sized solar system is for those who want to feel at home on the road. About the maximum amount of solar that fits on a van. Learn more…

Browse our other 12-Volt Systems

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