10 Best Solar Products for Van Life & Their Reviews (Updated 2022)

Tim Hamlin
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For many, the journey towards van life includes more than an industry-rated trailer conversion. For most, it involves a (small) home office and bathroom. This means the installation of solar for a completely self-reliant camper van.

And whether digital or analog, a solar system has unique channeling needs that standard setup guidelines cannot adequately address.

So, does this mean you’re stuck again?

Well, when youre rocking your own van-life solar system, it means you probably have to figure some stuff out yourself and think for yourself. But like many of us, you might not know where to start.

Some ideas don’t pan out. Others don’t work in your application. While others might require costly professional assistance to make it work for you.

Being a designer, I have seen a number of solar setup guides that suggest taking a standard setup and modifying it slightly to make it work for your van life.

However, due to the channeling requirements for van life, some of these set-ups may result in frustration when your panels overheat; or, worse, they damage your equipment!

SmartSolar MPPT 100/50 Charge ControllerBest OverallSmartSolar MPPT 100/50 Charge Controller
KK.BOL Portable Solar Led Light Bulb Rechargeable Solar Lamp S-1200-01Budget PickKK.BOL Portable Solar Led Light Bulb Rechargeable Solar Lamp S-1200-01
Cowin Solar Fan SystemUpgrade PickCowin Solar Fan System

1. SmartSolar MPPT 100/50 Charge Controller

Our rating: 9 / 10

SmartSolar MPPT 100/50 Charge Controller

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  • It is easy to install when compared to other MPPT charge controllers
  • It has an LCD panel for easy monitoring and comes with different features such as digital voltage display and auto-restart timer.

The SmartSolar MPPT 100/50 Charge Controller is a product that is part of the Micro Motion Power Technology which has been developed by the company. It is designed to provide a smooth experience to those people who have solar panels that are designed to charge batteries. Some of the features of the product include the following:

  • The open circuit voltage would be between 12V and 150V.
  • It can be used for diodes and bipolar batteries.
  • The device comes with a bi-color status LED.
  • It is easy to install.
  • It is light in weight.
  • There are no buttons to be pressed as there is a touchscreen.
  • It comes with features such as automatic temperature compensation and LM-LF240M/LF250M high power MPPT.
  • It can be used as standalone controller or in parallel with other devices.

2. KK.BOL Portable Solar Led Light Bulb Rechargeable Solar Lamp S-1200-01

Our rating: 7 / 10

KK.BOL Portable Solar Led Light Bulb Rechargeable Solar Lamp S-1200-01

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  • Good design
  • Solid build quality

It takes about half an hour to charge the battery and it lasts for about 1.5 hours in lamplight and 1.5 hours in flashlight mode

One of the most important features of this solar lamp is that even at night you can find the on/off cycle button. Well, it’s a good thing, given the fact that many products don’t have this feature and make it impossible to find the switch which results in enormous frustration. This light comes with two modes set for Lamp Light and Flashlight.

It also has a bright red LED display that you can set to 1, 3, or 5 seconds in order to know the level of charge. The light itself can be rotated to 360 degrees, and it’s remarkably bright and the LED lights are strong and durable to last for a long time.

3. Renogy Solar Panel

Our rating: 7 / 10

Renogy Solar Panel

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(5 Watts) Review

This is the best solar panel from Renogy that performs great for its size.

The company Renogy is best known for their collection of highly efficient and reasonably priced solar panels.

4. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Portable Power Station

Our rating: 7 / 10

Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Portable Power Station

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  • Provides you with the ability to charge a phone while you drive.
  • When it comes to charging things, this device is a beast.
  • Has plenty of battery capacity to charge things on a regular basis.
  • Has an AC inverter which can be used to juice up your interior electronics.
  • You do not need to have the same brand as your Yeti to charge it.
  • You can charge multiple things while you’re traveling.
  • Allows you to power your car’s audio system from your Yeti.


  • The battery wears down when it is charging something, as opposed to when it’s being charged itself.
  • If the power goes out and you don’t have a solar panel setup, your Yeti will die.

5. Gold Armour Solar Lights Outdoor

Our rating: 6 / 10

Gold Armour Solar Lights Outdoor

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  • Sold at a Great Price
  • Keeps Going Even in Overcast Weather
  • Easy setup
  • Can be disabled to suit you
  • Goes off at dawn

2 Flaming Torch + 2 Pineapple Torches, Solar LED Torch Lights.

Ankit Tree Top 28 LED Solar Fairy String Lights, Waterproof Outdoor Decor Lights for the Garden, Patio, Lawn, Yard, Pool, Patio, Balcony, Porch or Christmas Decoration.

Even some crows have stopped coming near the area now !.

6. Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower

Our rating: 6 / 10

Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower

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  • Large Water Capacity
  • Durable Construction
  • Easy to Store
  • Very portable

If you want to stay fresh and clean without the need for a conventional shower, try out the Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower.

Weighing a little over 10 pounds, this shower fits right into the cooler for hauling water. The entire thing can be broken down into three parts. The bag becomes the pouch, the hose and shower head attach together, and the pump folds flat onto the mat. The Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower can provide up to 45 minutes of water flow. It also comes with detachable shoulder strap for more convenience. A few extra measures are involved to make the most of the Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower, like keeping the pump out of the sun (shading is always a good idea).

This solar shower has been left in direct sunlight and worked great. After 45 minutes in the sun, the water was the perfect temperature, and it was super refreshing to get out and cool off in it. The Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower is a reliable system and a great addition to your van life toolkit.

7. Cowin Solar Fan System

Our rating: 6 / 10

Cowin Solar Fan System

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  • Uses a highly efficient solar panel
  • Includes a battery that stores the power for later
  • The system also includes USB ports for charging
  • Includes a nice carrying case
  • Works with many devices including phones

Dual USB Port, 3-3.5 Hours Solar Charging Time & Runs up to 8 Hours Fan Running Time; Ideal for Camping, Parties, Kitchens, RVs, Cabins, Campgrounds, Porch, Patio, Backyard, Deck, Tent, Rainstorm

The Cowin Solar Fan System is quite different as it uses solar power to give you a breeze rather than plugging it in. This unit uses a 15-watt solar panel that charges a built-in battery. The battery provides power for a 16-inch fan that has a nice soft touch remote control. The solar panel is highly efficient, and it takes about 3.5 hours of direct sunlight to charge it. The battery stores the power so it can work at night or when there is no sunlight. The fan works up to 8 hours after charging the battery.

The system includes a USB port that allows you to charge other devices so you can keep your phones, tablets, and other devices charged. The system also comes with an outlet converter.

8. Dometic CFX-50US Portable Electric Cooler Refrigerator/Freezer

Our rating: 6 / 10

Dometic CFX-50US Portable Electric Cooler Refrigerator/Freezer

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  • Lightweight for portability
  • Dual-stacking lid for compact storage
  • Easy to install

This unit is the very first in a class by itself.The Dometic CFX-50US Portable Electric Cooler Refrigerator/Freezer is one of the toughest energy systems available.

This device is composed of an aluminum shell that has a protective hardened finish. This means the outside will not fade or peel off.

This product comes in at only around 49 pounds. It has a very sturdy handle and is easily carried by one person. It has a small footprint when collapsed, making this cooler ideal for the campsite and RV. Taking up a space of only 13" x 34" x 34" when collapsed. Contrary to other camping coolers, this one can run for 24 hours without being plugged in and keep the contents in it fresh for several days. It only takes about three hours to cool down a room to a refreshing thirty degrees Fahrenheit. Dometic CFX-50US Portable Electric Cooler features an aluminum liner in addition to a polyurethane foam insulation that will not break down over time. It also has a food-grade foam liner.

9. ALLPOWERS Dual USB 20A Solar Charge Controller 12V/24V Auto Paremeter Adjustable PWM LCD Solar Controller Regulator

Our rating: 5 / 10

ALLPOWERS Dual USB 20A Solar Charge Controller 12V/24V Auto Paremeter Adjustable PWM LCD Solar Controller Regulator

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  • The charging controller is well made
  • Analog meter, adjust and intelligent unit
  • Five charging curves available for different batteries
  • The charger works on all types of batteries
  • No reverse connection protection
  • Two embedded battery display monitors the battery on the side of controller
  • Portable and weatherproof design
  • No memory effect has a good battery life
  • The controller is portable and weatherproof


  • No auto cut off and alarms
  • No power switch, so you need to unplug the entire unit when you don’t need it
  • No compensation for temperature changes when charging so the batteries could freeze or get too hot
  • 3.5mm audio output jack is a little low

Allpowers 12/24V 20A digital LCD adjustable solar charge controller offers plenty of power for you to find your favorite output level. It charges 12/24V batteries or power your 12V/110V appliance. This product is a smart solar charge controller with 3.5mm audio output jack, and one power switch to use the power from Allpowers. With the period-setting function, you can charge your batteries automatically at the proper period every day. It can control a single battery or charge controller and hold a variety of battery packs connected in series.

10. GOSUN Survival Gear Solar Oven Sun Cooker

Our rating: 5 / 10

GOSUN Survival Gear Solar Oven Sun Cooker

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  • Affordable design
  • Easy to assemble and simple to use
  • Versatile and can be used for multiple cooking methods
  • Durable, lightweight and compact


  • Not waterproof/resistant

A car seems to be the perfect place to sleep at night and at the end of the day to store your valuables in. It is easy to get a nice comfortable night’s sleep when you are traveling in your car, as you are able to adjust all of your mirrors and seats according to your instructions for maximum comfort. This helps to improve the quality of your sleep. You may have many dreams while you are sleeping on the road as you travel from one place to the next.

However, there is one inconvenience to sleeping in your car, and that is having to sleep on the hard floor. Many people who are not used to sleeping on this type of surface find the experience to be uncomfortable. However, you can always use a portable bed to help you to sleep better while you are on the road.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best solar generator on the market?

Although some manufacturers use the same panels on different models, there are a few features that they all share, such as compatibility with 12 V batteries.

So, be sure to look for a model that is compatible with your RV batteries before you buy it. You might also want to try to find a solar generator on the market that uses the same brand batteries that you have in your RV.

Something else to consider is the surcharge controller. Manufacturers use different technologies for this feature, so it's important to check the features before buying a solar generator.

You should also check the warranty period to see how long the manufacturer provides you with support. Don't expect to receive support for a solar generator for years and years, but see if the manufacturer offers you with at least two years of support.

How many watts of solar do I need for my van?

Solar panels can vary greatly in terms of power output, which can make it difficult to choose the right setup. Even if you have an idea of what you need, most panels advertise ridiculously high numbers on their boxes and even more ridiculously low numbers on the warranty. With this much of a gap between advertised and warranty ratings, there's definitely some intentional misleading going on.

What are the best solar panels for a campervan?

We check out the top 5 best portable, flexible solar panels for a campervan. This list is updated to the latest products from the top manufacturers, based on real world testing.

Solar panels are an essential part of intentional living. They are an investment in a better way of life. They are the bridge to minimalism, sustainability, and an ecological footprint. The best solar panels for a campervan are essential to any intentional living and Zero-waste Lifestyle.

Solar panels have a variety of uses but perhaps the number one use is a portable solar generator which can be used in a variety of ways to charge electronics, crank a light, pump water, and more. Solar technology is simply the best way to charge electronics, particularly those running on 12V-19V. And, unlike dynamo/wind generators for camping, solar is quiet and causes no vibrations which is a terrible disturbance to peaceful living.

Can a 100 watt solar panel run a refrigerator?

Yes, a 100 watt solar panel can run a refrigerator.

But why would one do that? The answer is simple, space.

The only other systems would be a grid tied inverter, which can power your desktop and laptop computers from your roof while running your refrigerator, or a grid tied inverter that can provide you with power you can sell back to your local power company. But these are few and far between, plus you don't own them.

Then there is a portable solar power system that you can keep in a closet. This would require multiple solar panels and would be considerable in size, and thus would be impractical to install on the roof itself.

This all leads me to say that a 100 watt solar panel you can buy from Amazon with a storage battery and inverter would accomplish the task at hand.

And, you'll have yourself a nifty little power source in your house.


Having access to solar energy is a big deal for folks who live in RV’s or boats. Equipping your mobile home with a solar system for lighting, charging and operating communications and navigation systems, and cooking is a big plus. It reduces the need for expensive batteries, and lowers the utility costs. It also means you can use your car or boat as a mobile solar power station, charging up to 3 devices at the same time, all using free, clean, high-efficiency solar energy. The list of the 10 best solar products for van life below will give you plenty to think about when it comes to getting an off-the-grid solar system for your rig.

Our Recommendation

SmartSolar MPPT 100/50 Charge ControllerBest OverallSmartSolar MPPT 100/50 Charge Controller
KK.BOL Portable Solar Led Light Bulb Rechargeable Solar Lamp S-1200-01Budget PickKK.BOL Portable Solar Led Light Bulb Rechargeable Solar Lamp S-1200-01
Cowin Solar Fan SystemUpgrade PickCowin Solar Fan System