Creating a self-sufficient home and vehicle is the dream of many RVers, but it can be challenging. Fortunately, there are quite a few options available to RVers regarding saving and generating electricity. The Renogy 200W Solar Starter Kit is one such option.

The Details

The Renogy 200 Watt Solar Starter Kit includes a 30A PWM charge controller, two 100W 12V solar panels, a 20-foot 10AWG connector adapter kit, and an 8-foot 10AWG tray cable. Plus, this kit also comes with branch connectors and Z-brackets for fast and efficient installation. However, the one thing it lacks is a battery.

The two 100W monocrystalline solar panels can be installed on the roof of nearly any RV or camper. To reduce damage to the vehicle’s top, you can attach the solar panel mounts to solid materials linked to the RV’s roof. Most people choose to use either wood or metal.

These panels connect to the charge controller, which is placed and stored inside of the vehicle. The charge controller then joins an internal battery dedicated to solar panel usage. The controller regulates the amount of energy flowing into the battery to help prevent accidental overcharging.

This kit isn’t designed to produce or store massive amounts of electricity. But the included panels and components can power a few electronic devices for several hours. Of course, like any other solar power product, weather and sunlight significantly affect the output of this solar kit.

What I Liked

I’d like to start by saying that this solar kit performed how I expected. It contains two panels, so I knew it wouldn’t provide enough electricity to power everything in a larger rig. Consequently, I ended up installing it in one of my smaller RVs with fantastic success.

Overall, I enjoyed this kit’s simplicity. It’s made for RVers that have never installed solar panels on their vehicles, and the components are relatively straightforward. Installing everything took me a few hours, some of which involved me going back over my work and double-checking connections.

Another thing that caught my attention is the charge controller. It helps to ensure that owners are consistently aware of their solar panel system’s performance. If the input changes (due to cloud cover, rain, nightfall, etc.), the charge controller’s LED system alerts users right away, which is a handy feature.

As an added plus, the panels are relatively lightweight so that they won’t add several hundred pounds to your carrying load (reducing your rig’s fuel mileage in the process).

On the whole, this solar starter kit was a reliable option for my smaller RV, and I’m sure it would work wonderfully for towable trailers as well. Lindsey also installed this model on her converted van.

The Renogy 200 Watt Solar Starter Kit are one of our top picks for the best solar panels for RVs and vans.

Complaints

Of course, no solar kit is perfect!

For these panels to produce their maximum electrical output, they need to be entirely unobstructed, clean, and fully lit. Leaves, dust, dirt, fog, and rainy days can cause the panels to produce very little or nominal amounts of energy.

As such, I ended up climbing up onto the roof of the RV at least every other day (weather permitting) to give the panels a nice wipe down and to pick away any leaves that had adhered to them. After traveling along some more scenic, wooded routes, I found small sticks lodged beneath the panels, though these were easy enough to dislodge once I lifted them.

While the installation was a pretty straightforward and uncomplicated process for me, I did end up needing to purchase additional materials and supplies to make it work. I’d anticipated this, as I knew the wiring setup I wanted would require longer cables than the ones provided in the kit.

I also had a battery prepared and ready to go, but some travelers might not. RVers wanting to ‘get it all’ in one simple kit might feel a little disappointed.

Reviews From Other RVers

Many other RVers who decided to give this kit a try had similar thoughts and feelings. One of the things that kept cropping up in reviews is how easy this system’s installation was. Still, some folks did seem to struggle with small technical issues during setup.

Unfortunately, the RVers who didn’t experience as smooth an installation as I did also didn’t receive a lot of helpful information or guidance from the Renogy tech support team. Many got replies to their concerns, but not necessarily the answers they were looking for.

But in general, RVers seem pleased with this system’s recharge rate, installation, and ease of use. They agreed that this kit is designed as an ideal first-time RV solar panel rig and works quite well for small-to-medium RVs and trailers.

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Final Thoughts

I immensely enjoyed unpacking and installing this nifty little solar panel kit. Even though we had a few rainy days here and there while I was testing it out, it managed to perform exceptionally well, considering its size.

If you have a smaller RV and are looking to make a first-time solar panel purchase, the Renogy Solar Starter kit is a wonderful starting point. Just be aware that you may need to buy some extra installation materials and clean the panels fairly often.

Try it for yourself and see if it’s a good fit for your RV!