Living in a van and off the grid is an ideal solution if you want to minimize your day-to-day living costs effectively. That feeling of being on the road, being free, independent, and camping wherever you wanted is the dream until you start realizing that you are still incurring costs. So this is where solar panels and a digital nomad come in, where you would be consuming solar energy, reducing your costs significantly, and earning on the go.
Solar panels are a great way of reducing your costs and making efforts to reduce your carbon footprint. It’s a perfect way of living off-grid and making your van a tiny warm home for you. Having solar panels for van conversions means that you no longer have to listen to the loud whirring sound of generators or depend on campsites. Not only are you reducing your van costs, but you would also have a fun DIY project of converting your van into a tiny off-grid home.
The 3 Best Solar Panels for Van Conversions
Now you may be worried about which solar panel is the most suitable option, but don’t worry, this article will give you the 3 best solar panels for van conversions.
1. Renogy 400watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar RV Offgrid Kit
This product is designed to be an off-grid solar panel system that is perfect for van conversion. It includes monocrystalline solar cell efficiency at 21%, making it easier for you to travel anywhere. This is because monocrystalline solar cells can absorb sun rays even in the shade, low light environments, or cloudy weather. So you won’t need to worry about being restricted to places that have proper sunlight.
This also comes with multi-layered sheet laminations, which improve the solar cell performance making it long-lasting. The aluminum frame makes it rust-resistant so that it can be used extensively on your road trips.
- Off-grid solar panel system for van conversions
- Monocrystalline solar cells with 21% efficiency
- Output: 2000watts on average per day
- Multi-layered sheet laminations to improve solar cell performance
- Rust-resistant aluminum frame for extended outdoor use
- 30A PWM charge controller designed especially for RV applications.
- Cable length is short
- The installation description does not come with the solar kit.
2. Renogy 100watts Flexible Monocrystalline Off-Grid Portable Foldable Solar Panels
The two pieces each of 50 watts are a great way to divide the solar panels and adjust the power output accordingly. The monocrystalline solar cells will easily absorb sunlight in low-light environments and cloudy days. This is designed to be expanded upon, which is great if you are unsure how many solar panels you need to go completely off-grid.
This has an output power of 500watts per day, and it comes with a storage space making transportation on road trips easy. The foldable solar suitcase feature would allow you to pack the solar panels whenever you wanted without worrying about them getting damaged.
- Off-grid 2 pieces of 50watts solar panels
- Designed to be expandable
- Foldable suitcase and convenient storage for easy transportation
- German-made monocrystalline solar cells to improve absorption of Sun rays in low-light environments
- Rust-resistant aluminum frame with heavy-duty latches for extended road trip use.
- No warranty service provided
3. All Powers 18 V 12V 50watts Bendable Sun Power Solar Panel
This solar panel’s shape alone distinguishes it from the first two options. The main benefit of this solar panel is that it can be curved to a 30 degrees arc and mounted on any van, bus, or truck. It is very useful if the roof of your van is slightly curved. Its solar cell efficiency is at 23.5%, which is higher than even monocrystalline solar cells that offer at max 21% efficiency of sunlight absorption.
It is not made of an aluminum frame but is more durable, water-resistant wind, and dust resistant. This will allow you to store it in any cramped or crowded space without worrying about damaging it. Despite being a 50watt solar panel, it weighs only 2.4 pounds, making it lightweight for transport or hanging.
- US-made solar cell better, with an efficiency of 23.5%
- Water-resistant, windproof, dust resistant with a durable frame not made of aluminum
- It can be curved to 30 degrees arc
- Packs 50watts of power, weighing 2.4 pounds which is easy to carry.
- 18 months warranty
- An instruction manual is added
- Designed for mobile applications.
- Only meant for people with low solar energy consumption
- Wiring can be a bit tricky
An Important Feature to Consider
Before you make up your mind on the best solar panels for van conversions, you need to know an important feature difference.
Portable Vs. Bendable Solar Panels
Portable solar panels are a perfect option if you are a digital nomad who lives a van life 365 days a year. This is because a portable solar panel is durable and can be easily packed and stored in cramped spaces without worrying about getting damaged.
Bendable solar panels should be preferred if your can has a curved roof and you face trouble installing regular-shaped solar panels. Such panels can be curved to fit your van’s top completely without you getting worried that it might come off at any point.
Our Final Thoughts
Our top pick for the best panels for van conversions would be the All Powers 12V 18V 50watts Bendable Sunpower Solar Panels. Most of the vans come with curved spaces, and this is a perfect starter kit for people that live alone and have lower energy consumption levels. It has the maximum solar cell efficiency, which means no matter what the weather is, your power output will not vary.
However, there is another option for small-sized families living in the van life. We’d recommend Renogy 400watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline RV Solar Panel Kit. This has great size and a 1200 watts power output while having 21% solar cell efficiency.