Caravan Solar Panels – The Best On The Market Reviewed & Compared

If you want to get away from it all, then a caravan gives you all the freedom you want.

Whether you are trying to run away from the extra costs of an electric hook-up or want to go somewhere remote and peaceful, investing in a solar panel will certainly give you some headway.

Although they involve some financial outlay in the beginning, you can be sure that you will reap the rewards later down the line.


Overview Of The Best 10 Solar Panels On The Market In 2017


The 10 Best Solar Panels On The Market Reviewed

The 100W Photonic Universe Mono-crystalline Solar Panel provides enough energy to charge-up a 12V battery – it is particularly best for perpetual open air functions that require running a significant number of machines along with other electric contraptions. Its water resistance construction guarantees that the panel can be utilized in virtually all atmospheric weather conditions and the panel is also accompanied by 5m of special solar cable which can function at high roof temperatures with minimum power loses. It’s tough sealed aluminum frame also guarantees years of consistent free power – and even at reasonably low light levels, the panel produces good results.

Specifications

  • Peak power: 100W
  • Maximum power voltage: 19.30V
  • Maximum power current: 5.18A
  • Open circuit voltage: 22.90V
  • Short circuit current: 5.56A
  • Power tolerance: 0/+3%
  • Dimensions: 1200 x 540 x 35 mm
  • Weight: 8 kg
  • 4 mounting holes
  • 5m of special cable with MC4 connectors attached

Pros

  • It boasts a two-year warranty.
  • Silavent is a known, reputed extractor fan manufacturer.
  • It comes with a timer.

Cons

  • Basic operations.
  • Not the most long-lasting model.

The 20W 12V solar panel kit also by Phototonic Universe includes both a water proof high efficiency 20W solar panel and a 5A solar charge controller designed to protect your battery whilst charging it; this is enabled by its PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) features, which confer protective functions such as reverse current, overcharging, discharge, short-circuit, reverse polarity and overheating.

The kit is ideal for permanent outdoor use, with its high efficiency polycrystalline cells, and tough, sealed aluminum exterior that guarantees consistent free power regardless of weather conditions.

Also included in the kit are; 2m battery cable, fuse, crocodile clips and a detailed user manual on its set up and use.

Specifications

  • Peak power: 20W
  • Maximum power voltage: 17.5V
  • Maximum power current: 1.14A
  • Open circuit voltage: 21.6V
  • Short circuit current: 1.23A
  • Power allowance range: +/- 3%
  • Dimensions: 49 x 35 x 2.5 cm
  • Weight: 2.5 kg
  • 4 mounting holes
  • 3m of cable attached

Pros

  • Output from the panel may even be higher than expected and users have been able to get a battery charge current of over 700mA in bright sunny conditions with the panel facing south angled at 30' from horizontal.
  • Again, Phototonics warranty arrangement is quite the mouth watering package.
  • It is also very easy to set up

Cons

  • Having only a 2M cable to connect the panel to the non-waterproof controller means that mounting the panel outside could be a problem – a convenient alternative would be to purchase a 5M replacement cable in order to connect things specifically to your taste.

This monocrystalline solar panel is a top performer, delivering 100 Watt worth power and 18V maximum voltage. It is accompanied with a 10A controller, with 2 batteries and a 6m cable and pass roof, for easy set-up and installation. Its exterior Aluminum mountings integrated in frame also provide additional support for multiple applications and varying weather conditions.

Specifications

  • Peak power – 100 Watt
  • Maximum power Voltage – 18V
  • Maximum Power Current: 5.56A
  • Open circuit Voltage: 216V
  • Short Circuit Current: 5.94A
  • Maximum System Voltage: 1000V
  • Weight: 9Kg
  • Dimensions: 12.3 x 54.1 x 5.5 cm

Pros

  • Its 6m long accompanying cable is longer than you would find in similar solar panel kits.
  • It could keep 100Ah battery fully charged.
  • No additional brackets are required.

Cons

  • There is no information on Warranty arrangements.

One might say that the Eco-Worthy 12 Volt 25 watt solar kit is the ultimate solar kit package – and with 1 Pc 25W polycrystalline PV panel Module with 3ft wire, 30A Battery Clips, 6ft Extension cable and 3A 12V/24V Solar controller, this might not be far from the truth.

The product features PWM technology which can recover some lost battery capacity and is ideal for a small setup in a typical conservatory for supplying LED lightening and various USB chargeable devices perhaps including iPad, Kindle Fire and others via solar panels. The panel feels solid enough to withstand a bit of weather and its robust waterproof design and strong aluminum frame, ensures the solar panel can be used in any weather conditions.

Specifications

  • Peak Power – 25W
  • Maximum power voltage: 17.5V(Approx. Value)
  • Maximum power current: 1.14A (Approx. Value)
  • Open circuit voltage: 21.6V (Approx. Value)
  • Short circuit current: 1.23A (Approx. Value)
  • Power allowance range: +/- 3% (Approx. Value)
  • Dimensions: 49 x 35 x 2.5 cm (Approx. Value)
  • Weight: 2.7 kg

Pros

  • It comes at a remarkable price, for such a well loaded kit.
  • Customers rave at prompt delivery – even before due date.

Cons

  • The span between the negative and positive crocodile clips is too small and may not allow for a connection on to the battery. However, this could be simply solved by splitting the cable and spread the two wires inside to give me more length.
  • You may also need to buy a cable to connect the black unit on the back of your solar panel to the main controller unit.

Also by Photonic universe, this 50W flexible solar panel is a unique and significantly portable product made of back-contact cells which guarantee higher output and efficiency because the material deters shading from metal contacts on the front side of solar cells. The strong ETFE material used in its construction has a longer service life compared to standard semi-flexible solar panels – the implication of which is a robust panel less prone to cracking.

It is suitable for a number of applications including charging 12V batteries in a motorhome, caravan, camper, boat / yacht, lorry or a trailer, or in standalone solar applications such as lighting and off-grid household solar systems and for grid-tie applications through a suitable inverter.

Specifications

  • Peak power: 50W
  • Max power voltage: 17.6V
  • Max power current: 2.84A
  • Open circuit voltage: 20.8V
  • Short circuit current: 3.07A
  • Dimensions: 56x54x3 cm
  • Weight:1.3 kg

Pros

  • Solar cells have metal contacts printed on the back, which exposes 100% of the solar area to the light and increases efficiency.
  • Flexible design makes the panel ideal for curved roofs and surfaces where bonding is preferable (fixing by screws is also possible)
  • The panel is incredibly light (only 1.3kg) which is great for all vehicles.
  • High resistance to salt water environment and possibility to walk on the panel make it perfect for boats and yachts.
  • The solar panel comes with 2 x 0.9m of cable (2.5mm cross section) attached to the waterproof connection box.

Cons

  • It costs quite a bit compared to its higher power counterparts that provide up to double its maximum wattage.

Sundely’s portable 20W 12V Monocystalline Solar panel kit is a low capacity product that provides sufficient power for low volt batteries of various kinds. Its anodized alloy aluminum frame is waterproof, rust proof, shock and UV resistant – making it usable in numerous weather conditions, including low light and cloudy conditions.

The product also ensures quick start and in order to obtain higher maximum wattage, multiple pieces of the 20W panel can be connected together.

Specifications

  • Peak Power: 20W
  • Maximum power voltage: 18V
  • Maximum power current: 1.1A
  • Open circuit voltage: 22.5V
  • Short circuit current: 1.2A
  • Power allowance range: +/- 3%
  • Dimensions: 53.5 x 35 x 2.5 cm
  • 4mountingholes
  • 3 meter of cable with Alligator Clips

Pros

  • The panels are Monocrystalline, which already make them a more efficient option over polycrystalline counterparts.
  • It provides sufficient energy to put into a 12v charge controller.

Cons

  • A user complained of a slight fault with one of the soldered connections – which was eventually rectified following contact with the seller

This 150W monocrystalline solar panel by Phototonic is manufactured to the highest quality and performance standards – and Photonichas gained popularity for its above average products. It is accompanied by 5m (the ideal length for solar cables) of special solar cable which can work in high roof temperatures and has minimum power losses and it is great for all off-grid installations on vehicles or boats (caravan, motorhome, campervan, boat, yacht), providing enough wattage to charge a 12V battery which can power multiple devices and appliances.

It is constructed with a tough sealed aluminum frame that confers its water proof abilities and ensures that it can be used in varying weather conditions, making it ideal for permanent outdoor use.

The panel has also been thoroughly tested at the factory for highest quality standards, and labeled with a unique serial number for further quality control and better warranty protection. Several of these panels can be connected in parallel or series to create extra power for your needs.

Specifications

  • Peak power: 150W
  • Maximum power voltage: 18.30V
  • Maximum power current: 8.20A
  • Open circuit voltage: 22.40V
  • Short circuit current: 8.72A
  • Power tolerance: 0/+3%
  • Dimensions: 1480 x 670 x 35 mm
  • Weight: 12 kg
  • 4 mounting holes
  • 5m of special cable with MC4 connectors attached

Pros

  • Users rave about its ability to deliver up to 13V, even in dull days; it is guaranteed to keep batteries constantly topped up.
  • It can be paired with one or more equal or lower capacity panels for increased output.

Cons

  • There are complainants that while it would deliver, even with minimal sunlight, the pace at which it charges is significantly slow and its maximum pace even in full sunlight may only be 8.5A – but if you ask me, patience is a virtue.

This 20W solar panel is made from polycrystalline solar cells and an aluminum frame that ensures long-lasting high efficiency output. It is accompanied by 2m of cable attached to its water proof connection box, and in conjunction with a charge regulator, maintains full charge easily.

It is ideal for is permanent outdoor use to provide free power either directly, such as powering a fan, pond fountain or lights, or for charging a 12V battery to then power various devices for many applications such as in a motor-home, caravan, boat, shed or garage.

Specifications

  • Peak power: 20W
  • Maximum power voltage: 17.5V
  • Maximum power current: 1.14A
  • Open circuit voltage: 21.6V
  • Short circuit current: 1.23A
  • Power allowance range: +/- 3%
  • Dimensions: 49 x 35 x 2.5 cm
  • Weight: 2.5 kg
  • 4 mounting holes
  • 2m of twin core cable attached

Pros

  • It can be added to an already existing solar kit with a charge controller to double the power output.
  • It is properly sealed all round inside and water proof – usable in every weather condition.

Cons

  • The unit must be used with a charge regulator and most people might prefer a panel with a much higher capacity than it provides.
  • Its 2m cable may be too short to manipulate to specific needs.

Phototonics’ 30W 12V solar panel kit includes a solar charging kit with 30W solar panel, an automatic 5A solar charge controller and A2m battery cable with fuse and crocodile clips – making it an ideal kit for a low energy requiring caravan/motor home owner.

The units controller includes features such as the PWM (Pulse Width Modulation), with which it provides protective functions for the various types of battery types which it supports, and a pair of terminals for connecting loads of up to 12V directly (when necessary)

Also, as it is attributed to Photonic products, the panel is made of tough, sealed aluminum frame which ensures its high efficiency and its versatility in numerous, varying weather conditions.

Specifications

  • Peak power: 30W
  • Maximum power voltage: 17.5V
  • Maximum power current: 1.71A
  • Open circuit voltage: 21.6V
  • Short circuit current: 1.85A
  • Power allowance range: +/- 3%
  • Dimensions: 50.5 x 44.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Weight: 3.2 kg
  • 4 mounting holes
  • 5m of cable 1.5mm twin core cable attached

Pros

  • It features a control mechanism that gives clear information as to the state of the battery.
  • It's is an easy set up – and with some 2"x 1" inch wood to create a 30degree triangle to lay the solar panel in and a length of 2 core cable and a SLA 12volt battery, you would have a the solar panel up and running in no time.
  • Not to mention, Phototonics reputation for excellent deliveryand their generous Warranty arrangement.

Cons

  • The kit is accompanied by an instruction booklet that may not be easily understood, as some users complain, but otherwise the unit works great.

The Sundely Portable 10W, 12V Monocrsytalline Solar panel kit is constructed with an anodized alloy aluminum frame that confers its strong, non-corrosive abilities. It is ideal for charging 12 volt batteries of all types and is completely weatherproof that works in low light and cloudy conditions.It’s both rust and shock UV resistant frame ensures quick start and larger capacities can be obtained by connecting multiple pieces with diode in electronic circuit.

Specifications

  • Peak power: 10W
  • Cell Type: Monocrystalline
  • Maximum power voltage: 18V
  • Maximum power current: 0.57A
  • Open circuit voltage: 22.8V
  • Short circuit current: 0.6A
  • Power allowance range: +/- 3%
  • Dimensions: 32 x 25 x 2.5 cm (12.6 in X 9.8 in X 0.98 in)
  • 4 mounting holes
  • 3 meter of cable with Alligator Clips

Pros

  • Ridiculously low price
  • Ideal for a small solar starter pack, and the panel gives of pretty good voltage for its size and cost.

Cons

  • Users recommend that manufacturers reassemble the clips at the end of the connection wire as they seem to fall off frequently – however, they can be easily repaired in a few seconds with PVC tape and a pair of pliers.
  • 10W is the lowest wattage available – it would be completely inapplicable for heavy duty functions.

Conclusion

Nothing quite equates the gentle assurance that adequate electricity provides when off the grid – so when purchasing a solar panel, be sure to consider all that is at stake. The most efficient model will rarely be the cheapest, but this also doesn’t translate to the fact that you must necessarily be skeptical about amazingly priced solar panels. Ultimately however, no price can be put on your security and comfort – so if you must break the bank, you might as well. Overall we would recommend the 100W Photonic Universe Mono-crystalline Solar Panel.


Mini Guide To Solar Panels

The Crux of Solar Panels

Solar panels were invented with the idea that the energy existent in various forms can be translated from one form to another, and specifically harnessed for a particular need. Through a process regarded as the Photovolaic effect, solar panels can be made to trap sunlight and convert it from sunlight to direct current (DC), which is subsequently changed into alternating current for the electrical circuits in a building and/or vehicle.

The excess energy may then be fed-back into a battery storage system for subsequent use or into the electricity grid for which you could be paid an initially agreed feed-in tariff.


What Kinds of Solar Panels Are There?

Most solar panel cells are made from silicon – the panels, are each made from several solar cells which are connected together and sandwiched between protective glass and a backing plate, which is all embedded in an aluminum frame; depending on the manufacturing processes of the silicon cells and their assembly however, the panels come in two main types;

caravan solar panels

Crystalline Panels:

Crystalline panels are manufactured in two kinds – mono-crystalline panels and polycrystalline (multi-crystalline) panels. Mono-crystalline panels have a reputation for higher efficiency than the latter. This difference in efficiency usually translates to the fact that you’ll likely need a larger poly-crystalline panel to generate the desired amount of energy you need; the difference however, is quite negligible since, in practice, there’s no clear advantage either way; and as with most high-tech products, solar panels are only a complex assembly of many components and their overall performance depends on more than merely the type of cell.

Thin Film panels:

Thin film panels are generally considered the cheaper alternative to crystalline panels and are made by spraying a thin layer of photovoltaic material (such as amorphous silicon, casmuimterlluride or copper-induim-galluim-selenide) on to another base surface, usually of glass or metal material.Solar panels also come in free-standing and roof-mounted types, each of which are specifically adapted to suit various specifications.While free-standing panels can be positioned upright or otherwise to catch as much sun, in whatever direction is necessary, rooftop panels are permanently fixed to the ‘roof’ or top of the caravan or motor home.

Both designs have both advantages and drawbacks in that, while free standing solar panels can be utilized to an utmost, being capable of being positioned and re-positioned to catch as much sun as possible, the rooftop designs are permanently fixed and as such cannot be easily angled to catch the sun. However, while the former might be cumbersome and difficult to store while in use, the latter neither takes up any storage space nor require any separate means of transportation. Not to mention the free-standing designs have been complained to attract flies and insects, obscuring the sun and rendering its flexibility somewhat counterproductive.


How Much Energy do you Use?

A good place to start, would be to determine how much energy your motorhome/caravan requires to furnish you with all your electricity needs – this is important because choosing one with a low output would mean running out of power regularly which can be frustrating; and going for one that is too big would also mean that you have spent more than you needed to and you don’t really get much value for your money.

motorhome solar panels

Arriving at an estimate of how much electricity you need and/or use would require no more than to actually take your caravan/ motorhome for a short break, and measure the electricity expended while in use, with a fully charged battery in your unit and no additional electric hooks ups, you could arrive at how much electricity you need by seeing how long the battery lasts.

Most caravans come with a 240V battery system, and the battery’s rating after use can be used to calculate your average energy use. Thus, if your 240V battery has 120aH(amp hours) and it lasts 3 days then you need an average of 40aH of power per day and a solar panel that would provide just that.

If you cannot take the caravan on a test spin however, a mathematical means of arriving at your estimated energy consumption is provided here on the reviews.com article on the best solar panels


A Few Things to Consider Before Buying a Solar Panel – A Solar Panel Buying Checklist

  • A position where the panels will be set up – take note that only north-facing panels usually produce their full capacity.
  • An estimate of how much energy you need and use on a daily basis
  • Multiple quotes from different installers – solar panels are not cheap; but you don’t want to be ripped off either.
  • Improve energy efficiency by turning off appliances when not in use and purchasing energy-efficient appliances.

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