How to Choose the Best Solar Panels for your Caravan

How to Choose the Best Solar Panels for your Caravan

When you think of the perfect holiday, what do you see? Are you relaxing at the beach or exploring the beautiful natural hinterland? If you enjoy travelling off the beaten track, getting enough power for your caravan can be an issue. Running a generator can be expensive, noisy and smelly. Not so great for our environment or your fellow campers. 

At staying simple we love how effective, efficient and affordable 12v and 24v solar panels can be. They are the perfect addition to any great caravan set up. Solar power has been followed in architectural and construction circles. As it promises greener energy and potential cost savings, people are flocking to the idea. Close to 1.8 million solar panels are now installed in Australia. So, it’s no surprise that they’ve made their way into the caravan market.

What are the benefits and disadvantages to the type of solar panel? 

Pros  Cons 

- Most efficient per meter squared

- Suitable for caravans and RVs with limited roof space 

- High performance in most conditions 

- Perform well in high heat and low light conditions 

- Generally the most expensive panel type 

- Glass can be prone to shattering vs flexible panels 


- Very similar to Mono-panels with efficiency and performance 

- More cost effective then monocrystalline 

- Produce lower voltage so can be well suited to low light conditions 

- Much lower grade of construction 

- More prone to being damaged 

Thin Film

- Very lightweight 

- Flexible 

- No fixed frame so can be made to fit in other types of areas where there isnt a flat roof 

- Cost effective 

- Easy to store 

- Much less efficient then Poly or Mono Cells 

- Generally do not perform well in high heats, however you can use a cooling platform for them 

- Degrade at a quicker rate than poly or mono cells 


As you can probably tell, monocrystalline cell types are what we would recommend to any caravan-goer due to their efficiency and performance, particularly for those with limited real estate on their roof. This cell type will create the largest pay-off per square meter, and while it is the most costly option, it is more likely to see a return on investment. 

Flexible Solar Panel

Now that you know what solar cell type you are chasing, you need to determine what kind of solar panel set up you should purchase. There are a few different options currently available on the market.

  • Fixed frame and fitted 
  • Mobile panels 
  • Folding Panels 

In the caravan industry, portability is the most important thing to consider. That can be either a weight, location or stowage consideration.

Solar panels are available in mounted or portable options. Your decision depends on where you would rather your panels to be placed. There are advantages and disadvantages, but there’s one main difference between them. Portable panels allow you to chase the sun whereas mounted panels are placed on the roof. For the latter, your caravan needs to be parked in the sun to have enough sunlight.

The three main types of solar panels are glass, mobile and folding panels. Glass panels have been around for the longest and have built a positive reputation. According to Caravans Plus, this is the best for household and commercial installations. The glass panels have a rigid frame and are attached to the roof. Their placement also ensures they have air circulation to reduce their output temperature. However, if your glass panels are roof mounted, they are more susceptible to damage. It is also worthwhile considering how much energy you would normally use. We will provide a calculator soon to help you understand how much solar you need. 

All can be great options depending on what you are looking for. Fixed frame panels are mounted to the roof of your vehicle and once installed, cannot be adjusted without professional help. However, they are the most efficient once installed and require little to no thought on a day-to-day basis, making them perfect for those who wish to just arrive and relax.

In saying that, you will need to take care of where you park with fixed panels - parking in the sun will obviously yield more efficient energy production versus parking in the shade.

Fixed panels are also a popular choice for those wishing to power multiple appliances (for example, fridges, television, charging devices, and lights), as they yield the most energy production per square meter. If you want to charge your caravan round-the-clock, it would also be incredibly worthwhile to integrate a larger lithium battery option into your setup, which functions nicely with a fixed frame installation. You can check out our range of caravan suitable batteries here.

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