Yes, you can use house solar panels for camping. No solar panel manufacturer is currently able to claim that their solar panels can only be used to power our houses and can’t be used for camping.
Just make sure that when you set up your house solar panel on your RV roof, it is properly sealed with aluminum angle iron because any solar panels above 200 watts tend to move unnecessarily (not always the case, but good for extra security). And make sure that your house solar panel can be fitted with the dimensions of your RV roof.
Difference between portable camping solar panel and house solar panel
Usage and power
House solar panel: A typical single house solar panel produce about 250 watts of power with varying level of efficiency. Run your laptop (45W) for 22 hours, run a microwave oven (625W) for 1h36 minutes, run a coffee maker (1000W) for 1 hour, run a 60W light bulb for 1 hour.
Portable solar panel: Now if you go towards standard portable solar panels for camping. In most portable options, you will get around 100W that produces around 5-6 amps of current in direct sunlight.
Provides maximum voltage of 17-18V and maximum current rating of 5.5-6A.
With a 100W solar panel, you can power up small devices such as wifi-router, laptops, cell phones, lamps, portable fans, and other small devices. Now, if you want some bigger stuff to power up, you need a 100+ watt solar panel, or the other thing you can do is to maximize its efficiency by making multiple portable solar panels working as one.
Material and Durability
House solar panel: No matter what, house solar panels are more durable than portable solar panels. Most manufactures test their panels to confirm that they won’t regret us on high winds and heavy snow loads, and many high-level solar panels are even tested and manufactured to withstand falling hail.
Portable solar panels: You will find that nearly all rooftop solar panels are highly durable but this not the case with every portable camping solar panels. The market is flooded with portable solar panels but there are only handful of company that don’t comprimise with quality.
Another factor is the price which decides whether portable solar panels can survive in as harsh conditions as our home one can.
If you can increase your budget a little bit, you can easily find durable, compact, and portable options. Such panel can easily survive in rain but not in heavy winds as they are very lightweight to stand still in high mph.
On the other, if you go for RV solar panels where they don’t especially come for and your home one can fix in RV then you will have a great durability touch.
Portable solar panel: After comparing the weight of the 5 best portable solar chargers we can say that if you go for very portable options then on average you’ll have to pack 1.292 lbs of weight with you.
Remember that these chargers will only work best with smaller devices like cellphones, flashlights or lanterns, laptops, and Ipads (or any compatible tab).
If you need something for heavy-duty uses where at least each panel can provide 100W power for your RV (in most cases). Then, after comparing weights of 4 100W plus solar panels, we get that on average a good RV-friendly solar panel will weigh you around 28.63 lbs.
This clears that such solar panels are not made to carry via hand. Rather, they work best as rooftop solar panels for RVs to power up bigger things.
House solar panels: On average each residential solar panel weighs around 40 lbs. This might be because a typical single solar panel provides 250 watts of power.
Can house solar panels be used on a caravan?
Yes, you can use house solar panels on a caravan. Just remember to seal them properly with aluminum angle iron because a solar panel over 200 watts is physically too large for a van and tends to move unnecessary.
3 x120 watt solar panels mounted on the roof of the caravan are enough to run the fridge, inverter, television, lighting, and possibly some other equipment.
What is the best type of solar panel for camping?
If you’re asking this question then you might want the most efficient solar panel for your camping trip. In terms of efficiency, monocrystalline solar panels are the highest in efficiency and power capacity. They can reach efficiencies higher than 20 percent where on the other hand polycrystalline solar panels usually have efficiencies between 15 to 17 percent.
What is a good size solar panel for camping?
See, for this, the first thing you need to do is to check your van or RV’s roof. Then buy a solar panel that can be easily fitted on the roof of your RV.
Now, if you have lots of equipment that needs the power to run, you can go for more solar panels of more watts/panels.
What size solar panel for camping fridge?
If you just need a solar panel for your 12V compressor fridge then you need to have 150W solar panels. Why/ let’s do quick math.
If you have 8 hours of sunlight each day then you’ll need 1200WH per 8H hours of use.
It’s advised that it is better to go for at least 20% bigger solar panels. Therefore you should go for 180W solar panels to run a 12V fridge for 8 hours.
How does a solar panel work for camping?
RV camping solar panels are devices that convert solar energy into electrical energy, The electric current feeds into a controller, whose duty is to control the amount of current that goes through the battery. Then, that battery will produce DC power, and the inverter changes it from DC to AC power.
Can you wire a solar panel directly to a battery?
Yes, you can wire a solar panel directly to a battery. Just do this simple thing to charge your battery directly via solar panel – Connect solar panel’s positive wire to the positive terminal of the battery, and the solar panel’s negative wire to the negative terminal of the battery.
Do solar panels charge while driving?
Yes, solar panels do charge while driving. Why? Because as long as the sun grace is falling on your solar panels, they’ll keep charging your battery and keep providing power to run appliances. Don’t expect your solar panel to keep charging when the sun is playing hide and seek with you.
How long do portable solar panels last?
In most cases, a portable solar panel has a life expectancy between 3 to 25 years. Why this much difference? It is because how long a portable solar panel will last is totally depends upon the quality of solar panels which affected by the material used in these solar panels. That is why on average camping solar panels may last between 3 and 25 years,
What size solar panel do I need to charge a 12V battery?
To charge a 12V battery you need a 12V solar panel to charge it. Let’s say if you have one 10 watts solar panel, your panel must be a 12V with a 10W specification. Every 10 watt 12 volts panel has a 13.8V peak voltage, which can easily charge a 12V battery.
Final verdict: Can I use house solar panel or should I buy a portable one?
See, this totally depends upon your usage. If you need something to charge your small devices like cell phones and laptops you should not waste your money and should go for a portable solar charger.
But, if you need something to run heavy appliances like a fridge, TV, and fan, and most importantly if you’re RV, Van, or a Car camper then you can go for house solar panels. There are no solar panels that can claim that you can only use them to power your home and not your RV.
Just make sure that your house solar panel will fit into the dimensions of your RV roof and set up properly. However, some manufacturers build solar panels having RVs in their mind but they can also be used for your house. So why can’t you use house solar panels for RV?
In a line yes you can use your house solar panel on your RV for camping trips.
If you still have any doubts then let me know in the comment box. I will do my best to solve your problem.
Michael is heavily inclined towards traveling to natural places and documenting cultures/people from different parts of the world. He also loves hiking and camping and is spirited toward all outdoor activities. He will share his passion for outdoor life and brands or products we use outside our homes. He has good research skills, and that’s why you can see why his articles are packed with info that is factual and not readily available. He also has the vision to travel the whole world and share it with all readers of Outdoor Favor.