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6 Best Solar Panels for Clean Energy Use at Home or While Camping

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Have you been thinking about living off-the-grid and going solar? Maybe you want to install solar panels on the roof of your home, or you are an outdoor enthusiast and would like to have a cost-effective way of powering your camper or boat?

Maybe you have retired and decided its time to hit the road in your new RV? Whether you want to lower your electricity bills or power your vehicle for a great weekend away, solar panels allow you to harness clean energy and can save you money.

Our pick

HQST 100 Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel

THE BEST SOLAR PANELS

HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel

What a great way to start your off-the-grid solar power journey. The HQST solar panel is the ideal choice for home-based applications and away-from-home off-the-grid living. So whether you install a pack of 6 solar panels on your roof, or mount two on the roof of your RV, each panel contains 36 highly efficient polycrystalline solar cells that can deliver reliable and consistent solar energy and the highest sunlight conversion, even in low light conditions.

If you live in a high-wind area or traveling through snowy terrain, the durable and impact resistant, low-iron tempered glass and sturdy aluminum frame can withstand the heaviest of snow falls and wild weather conditions.​

Getting Started on Your Solar Power Journey

Before you set out to upgrade your home to solar power or purchase some solar panels for your RV or boat, there are a few solar panel terminologies and specifications to consider. So let's start with the basics.

rv-roof-solar-panel

What Are Solar Panels?

Solar panels draw upon the power of the sun, and they allow particles of light to be stored within photovoltaic cells that are contained in silicon crystals, which in turn convert the light into electricity.

Solar panels have three different ways of conducting electricity, either through polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon-based crystals or via the latest technological method, thin-film solar cells.

Polycrystalline panels are bright blue in color and they are the simplest panels to manufacture, which means they are usually the cheapest option and highly effective in most lighting conditions, but they may not work very well in high-temperature climates.

Monocrystalline or single-crystalline silicon (single-crystal-Si) solar panels are black, and although they can be more expensive than polycrystalline solar panels, they are very energy efficient and longer lasting. Although monocrystalline solar cells are believed to have a higher peak efficiency, their energy efficiency can depend on their perfect alignment or the “photoelectric effect” of the silicon molecules, which will ultimately determine the ability of the solar cell to convert solar energy (sunlight) into electricity.

Thin-film solar cell panels, also known as thin-film photovoltaic cells (TFPV), are made by placing one or several thin layers of photovoltaic material onto a substrate, which can be made from glass, plastic or metal. These types of solar panels are highly energy efficient and they are light and flexible, and can withstand high temperatures, while shading has a minor effect on their energy production. The downside is that they require a lot of space, which means you may to install more cables and support structures, and they tend to degrade faster than mono and polycrystalline solar panels.

What is a DC to AC Inverter?

In order to turn your home into a grid-connected solar energy system, you need an inverter that “inverts” the direct current (DC) electrical output into alternating (AC) current that you can use in your home.

Monitoring or Visual Display

Some manufacturers also include a monitoring system or a visual display that allows you to see how much power you are creating and using. If you are incorporating a battery into your solar power system, the display will let you know whether your battery needs to be recharged and when it is working at full power.

100 Watt Solar Panels Are a Great Choice

If you are just starting out on your solar-powered journey and still remain a little skeptical about whether solar power is the best choice for your home and lifestyle, choosing a 100-watt solar panel is a great idea. 100-watt solar panels can introduce you to the world of green, clean, and affordable energy. They are very versatile, as they can be easily placed on your roof by DIY installation at home, mount them on your RV, camper, or boat, or even set one up in your backyard to power a water foundation.

Although they may not be as cost effective as solar panels that have a higher wattage of 250, 100-watt solar panels are very affordable in the long term and lightweight. You can buy one as a backup source of power when the electricity goes out, or install a group of six, or even more when you decide it's time to start living completely off-the-grid.

How Much Wattage Do You Need?

In order to determine how many solar panels you will need to install, you need to consider the amount of wattage it takes to power either your home or vehicle. For home-based applications, you also need to consider the surface area of your roof and its angle to the sun, and what kind of exposure it gets to the sun's rays and how much of the roof will be in shade. Of course, the lower the wattage of the panels, the more panels you will need to install to get your required amount of power for your home. One easy way to calculate your required amount of wattage is to use a solar power calculator or use an appliance watts/amps calculator.

Maximizing Battery Power in Low-light Conditions

As well as the solar panels you also have a battery to consider, which can help you to maximize power in low-light conditions, especially in winter. Even the slightest amount of shading can cause a major impact on the panel's output. Most solar panels can effectively charge a 12 or 24 amp battery.

Charge Controller

A charge controller is used to maintain the proper voltage on the battery. When the solar panels are in very bright sunlight, the more voltage the solar cells can produce, which may damage the battery, so the charge controller helps to regulate the battery to stop any over-charging. Some charge controllers have a “low voltage” disconnect, which is a separate circuit that powers down the load to protect it from overloading.

Best Solar Panels - 6 Top Reviews

1. Renogy 100 Watts Monocrystalline Solar Panel

Renogy 100 Watts Monocrystalline Solar Panel

For high-quality workmanship, power reliability, and affordability, the Renogy 100-watt solar panels are a very good choice. Whether you want to go off-grid and install solar panels on your roof or mount one on the roof of your RV, the 100-watt monocrystalline solar panels can provide you with long lasting power with the following efficiency rates: 5-year/95% efficiency rate, 10-year/90% efficiency rate, and 25-year/80% efficiency rate.

The strong glass panels are set in a corrosion-resistant aluminum frame, which is built to withstand high winds up to 2400Pa and snow loads of 5400P. The panels can be easily mounted and secured on the roof as they have pre-drilled holes on the back of the panel, or they can be mounted on the ground, for when you need some extra power when you are at the beach, and the panels are ideal for 12-volt battery charging.

You can install one panel on your campervan, or choose either a 3, 4 or 6 pack for home-based installations. If you want to install multiple panels, there are diodes pre-installed in the junction box and a pair of 31-inch cables with MC4 connectors that are attached directly to each pane.

Renogy also offers a 5-year warranty on material and workmanship for long-term peace of mind.

What we like:

  • Very good quality for money
  • Ideal for small sized roofs or RV's
  • High solar efficiency rate
  • Reliable
  • Ideal for multiple panel installations
  • High-quality construction
  • Can be roof or ground mounted

What we don't like:

  • Complex installation

2. HQST 100 Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel

HQST 100 Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel

The HQST 100-Watt Solar Panel is the perfect choice for off-the-grid living. Whether you need to upgrade your home to solar power or turn your camper-trailer into a cost-effective power magnet at your favorite campsite, the solar panel can deliver a consistent performance in full sun and low light conditions.

The anti-reflective, high transparency, low iron-tempered, impact resistant glass has enhanced stiffness, and the sturdy, corrosion-resistant aluminum frame is built to last and can withstand high winds (2400 Pa) and snow loads (5400 Pa), while the IP65 rated waterproof junction box provides complete protection against environmental particles and low-pressure water jets.

You can be assured of a steady current of power up to 600 volts in full sun, as the panel has 36 highly efficient polycrystalline solar cells that are protected by a thin layer of tempered glass, which ensures superior cell performance even on the cloudiest of days. For extra peace of mind, you do not have to worry about power dropouts caused by shade or lowlight, as the junction box on the back of the panel has bypass diodes to maximize power performance.

The HQST solar panel is lightweight at 5 pounds, so it is easy to transport when you are out camping in your motor-home and can keep a 12-volt battery charged to provide 80% of required power usage for smaller sized appliances.

There are pre-drilled holes on the back of the panel, which allows you to mount and secure the panel easily and the panels are compatible with different mounting systems such as Z-brackets, Pole Mounts, and Tilt Mounts. As the panel has MC4 leads, you can add additional panels to create a complete solar energy system for your home. The panels also come as a 2, 4 or 6 piece set.

The panels can be purchased separately or as a 2, 4 or 6 piece set. HQST offer a 5-year warranty on material and workmanship and a 25-year power output warranty.

What we like:

  • Ideal for home and RV use
  • High module energy conversion
  • Great, consistent performance in full sunlight
  • Very good performance in low light
  • Sturdy, weather resistant frame
  • Good protective lens panel
  • MC4 leads and pre-drilled holes to attach multiple panels

What we don't like:

  • Mounting hardware need to be purchased separately
  • MC4 connectors are non-removable

3. Everbright Solar 2x 165 Watt Solar Panel

Everbright Solar Watt Solar Panel

Whether you want to go solar at home or mount some panels on your RV or boat, the Everbright solar panel 165-watt duo is a brilliant choice. These super powerful watt solar panels are manufactured in the U.S.A and contain the highest efficiency 36-monocrystalline cells, so they can provide your home or vehicle with consistent, clean energy, and can easily charge your 12/24 watt batteries. The Everbright solar panels have a built-in bypass diode in the junction box, and MC4 connectors and pre-drilled holes on the back of the panels, so they can be attached together, which is very useful when you decide to fully grade your home to solar power, and their compact size means they will fit perfectly on the roof of your RV, as well as being ideal for off-grid systems. Everbright Solar also provides a 5-year product warranty. And if you wish to purchase more panels, Everbright might even offer you a discount!

What we like:

  • Very good value for money
  • Great power
  • Very good solar performance in cloudy weather
  • High efficiency 36-Monocrystalline cells
  • Compact

What we don't like:

  • No charging controller or inverter

4. WindyNation Complete Solar 100 Watt Panel Kit

WindyNation Complete Solar 100 Watt Panel Kit

The WindyNation 100-watt Complete Solar Charging Kit gives you everything you need to start your solar power journey and it is the ideal solution for back-up and off-the-grid power. If you want to start your shift toward a green sustainable future at home, or want to harness the energy of the sun to power your RV, boat or holiday cabin, the Windynation solar Kit includes a 100-watt solar panel, user adjustable LCD 20-Amp solar charge controller, 40 ft of UL safety listed AWG solar cable, 1 pair of MC4 connectors, and all the necessary mounting hardware (4 solar panel mounting brackets and fastener sets), and an installation manual. So you can install one panel or more panels for a fully solar-integrated system.

Once you have installed or mounted the panel on your home's roof or vehicle, you can add a 12-volt battery and a DC-to-AC inverter for a fully integrated solar power system. This all-in-one solar power kit includes Windynation's premium grade PWM solar charge controller that also has a digital display and adjustable settings, which lets you know whether the battery is charging or full. The kit can provide on average 300 watt-hours or 25 amp hours of charge per day, depending on sunlight availability. If you want to add more solar panels, there is an included charge controller, which can handle up to 3pcs 100W solar panels.

What we like:

  • Good, inexpensive starter kit for first solar power users
  • Very good value for money
  • Ideal for camper vans, trailers, boats
  • Provides very good battery charge on overcast days
  • Easy set-up

What we don't like:

  • Batteries and Inverter not included

5. Komaes 200 Watts 12 Volts Mono-crystalline Solar Starter Kit

Komaes 200 Watts 12 Volts Mono-crystalline Solar Starter Kit

If you are fed up with paying expensive electrical bills and have considered going off-the-grid, then the Komaes Solar Start Kit has everything you need to get started. Komaes have been manufacturing solar power products since 1992, and they are known for their high quality and high-efficiency solar panels, which are designed for a wide range of applications: commercial, rural, and home-based.

The solar panels use Komaes' uniquely advanced monocrystalline cell encapsulation, which can deliver consistent solar power and the special anodized high corrosion-resistant aluminum frame design has a 25 service life guarantee, which means you can be assured of a long term performance out of the Komaes solar power system. The durable tempered glass has 93% light transmittance and can handle 5400Pa snow loads.

The kit includes two solar panels, a 20A PWM charge controller, one pair of solar MC4 connectors, and one pair of 20Ft 5AWG Adaptor Kit MC4 Solar Cable, and a set of Z brackets. Each panel has pre-drilled holes that allow you to easily install the panels on the roof of your home or RV or boat, and you can also charge a 12v or 24v battery as quick as a flash.

What we like:

  • Very good solar power starter kit
  • High-quality, advanced mono-crystalline cells
  • Very good solar power output
  • Very good construction
  • Easy to read instructions

What we don't like:

  • Does not come with extra mounting hardware or brackets

6. Eco-Worthy 100 Watts 12 Volts Polycrystalline Solar Panel

Eco-Worthy Polycrystalline Solar Panel

Whether you want to use some green, sustainable energy from the sun to power your home or go off-the-grid while you are out trekking in your camper or relaxing on your boat, the Eco-Worthy 100-watt solar panel is a very good choice. The transparent, tempered glass panel contains highly efficient energy producing polycrystalline crystals, which are contained within a heavy-duty, corrosion-resistant aluminum frame.

If you want to make the full shift from electricity to solar, you can easily add extra panels as the 100-watt solar panel has a pre-installed diode inside the junction box and a 35-inch cable with MC4 male/female quick connectors that is attached to the back of the panel. Each panel is suitable for charging a 12-volt battery.

Eco-worthy guarantees power output over a 25 year period, 95% power output within 5 years, 90% power output within 10 years, and 80% within 25 years, and they offer a 5-year warranty for material and workmanship.

What we like:

  • Very good value for money
  • Highly transparent tempered glass panels
  • Good quality construction
  • Good power output

What we don't like:

  • Need to purchase charge controller inverter and batteries separately
  • Panels do not fit together evenly

Our pick

HQST 100 Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel

THE BEST SOLAR PANELS

HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel

What a great way to start your off-the-grid solar power journey. The HQST solar panel is the ideal choice for home-based applications and away-from-home off-the-grid living. So whether you install a pack of 6 solar panels on your roof, or mount two on the roof of your RV, each panel contains 36 highly efficient polycrystalline solar cells that can deliver reliable and consistent solar energy and the highest sunlight conversion, even in low light conditions.

If you live in a high-wind area or traveling through snowy terrain, the durable and impact resistant, low-iron tempered glass and sturdy aluminum frame can withstand the heaviest of snow falls and wild weather conditions.​

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