If you need to increase the autonomy of your battery and you are reading this post it means that you are on the right track! installing a solar panel on a camper van is the perfect solution to achieve the long-awaited energy self-sufficiency. So, without further ado, let’s discover together what is the best solar panel for your camper van.
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Most important features of rigid solar panels
did you know that rigid solar panels are the most common and widely used solar panels? I’m sure you did. Moreover, being the first ones that were invented, their efficiency is the best, as their technology has been improving and evolving until today.
A rigid solar panel is usually built and assembled on a metal frame, usually made of aluminum, which makes it sturdy and helps to facilitate its installation. Aluminum is an ideal material for this purpose, as it is lightweight and resistant to oxidation… perfect for being outdoors on the roof of our vans! 👍
Advantages of rigid solar panels
- They are built in a robust and durable way.
- They have an aluminum structure to facilitate their anchoring.
- They are generally more efficient.
- There is a greater variety of models on the market.
- Very good efficiency-price ratio.
- They are more economical than flexible ones.
- As they are fixed, they will be producing energy whenever there is sun, unlike portable ones.
- As they are not attached directly to the roof, they provide better ventilation.
Disadvantages of rigid solar panels
- As they are thicker, they are not as discreet as the flexible ones.
- They are heavier than flexible ones.
- They do not adapt to non-flat surfaces.
What is the performance of rigid solar panels?
As we have already said, the efficiency and performance of rigid panels is generally higher than that of flexible solar panels and portable solar panels, but do you know why this is so? Surely an expert in photovoltaics could give you many more reasons, but these simple reasons were what convinced us to install a rigid solar panel on our van:
- By having a straight surface, they have a better incidence of solar rays on the cells.
- As they are not glued directly on the roof surface, they have better ventilation, they heat up less and the loss of efficiency due to overheating is reduced.
What is a solar panel with PERC technology?
If you have already been looking at what rigid solar panels are on the market you will have seen that there are some models that include the acronym PERC in their name Do you know what PERC means? The acronym stands for Passivated Emitter Rear Cell or in our language Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell. This means that an additional reflective layer has been added to the back of the solar panel to help maximize the sun’s rays for higher yields.
Advantages of PERC technology panels
- They make the most of the sun’s rays.
- They promote heat dissipation, thus reducing the risk of hot spots.
- They offer better performance.
Disadvantages of PERC technology panels
- They are slightly more expensive than conventional panels.
What does it mean for a panel to behalf-cell?
Half-cell solar panels, as the name suggests, are made up of cells that are cut in half. In this way, the intensity that circulates is reduced by half, which provides a series of benefits that considerably affect the performance of the panel.
Advantages of half cell solar panels
- Increases the power output due to reduced resistance losses in the circuit.
- Decreases the risk of hot spots as the temperature of the cells decreases.
- They tolerate mechanical stresses better because the cells are smaller.
- They have a longer service life than conventional panels
Disadvantages of half cell solar panels
- Their price is slightly higher than that of conventional panels.
How to install a rigid photovoltaic panel on a camper van?
If you need to know how to install a rigid solar panel to make up your mind to buy and install it yourself, you may want to take a look at our “step by step guide to install a solar panel in a camper van“. You will see that it is not very complicated, if you keep in mind some basic principles of electricity and follow a series of instructions everything will be fine.
Final opinions of the rigid solar panels and their price
Rigid solar panels are a type of solar panel that cause very positive opinions in their users due to the good performance they usually offer. They are easy to install, whether you want to attach them directly to the roof of your vehicle, if you are going to use a specific bracket kit for mounting solar panels (see in Amazon) or if you are going to anchor it directly on top of the roof rack, if your van has one. Also, if it is fixed to the roof, it will be able to generate power for as long as it gets sunlight, you won’t need to park to take out the portable panels 👍.
In terms of performance, they are more efficient than the other types of solar panels and more resistant to some slight and accidental blow that you may take while driving.
Regarding their price, it will obviously depend quite a bit on the brand, but mostly on their power. What we can tell you is that, during the last few years the price of solar panels has dropped a lot. To give you an idea, today a solar panel can be up to 9 times cheaper than 15 years ago 😮. Also, rigid panels are cheaper than flexible panels, so this may be another reason why buying a rigid PV panel is a good idea.
Those who have decided to put a rigid solar panel on their van have not regretted it. Being energy self-sufficient will make you much freer. And if you are being so thanks to a clean and free energy? so much the better! So if you are thinking about it, don’t hesitate… Install a rigid solar panel and be more self-sufficient.