5 best 200-watt solar panels
Are you looking for a solar panel to enhance your off-grid lifestyle? If so, a 200-watt (W) panel is your best bet for solar power. You can purchase 200W solar panels as stand-alone panels that are typically retrofitted to RVs for boondocking or used to charge batteries that can run appliances on the go.
Because of their lower power output, you won’t usually see 200-watt solar panels installed on rooftops. Their size makes them better suited for small-scale off-grid projects and portable power stations.
So, what one should you use? We’ve reviewed the top brands, price ranges, and best uses for 200-watt panels.
Editorial note: This is an unbiased review: we have no financial ties with any of the companies mentioned, nor do we earn money from affiliate advertising. The content of this blog is based on research and information available at the time of writing.
No matter what you need the 200-watt panels for, from wanting one that can be flexible and fit on a curved RV roof to one you can set up outside your campsite, we’ve detailed the best option for you.
Best all around
Price: $234.74 Buy Now
Image source: Amazon
The Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt mono solar panel kit is built to be durable for off-grid outdoor use. It’s best to mount on a camper or to add a simple ground mount that can be propped up outside wherever you need energy.
This option is the best all-around because you get everything you need for a relatively low cost: two 100 W panels, a charge controller, and the wiring to set this up for many off-grid uses.
Renogy is one of the most popular brands in portable solar solutions, so you can trust the panel is high quality and worth the investment.
Price: $247.93 Buy Now
Image source: Home Depot
Grape Solar is a well-known off-grid solar panel brand that’s easy to buy - the brand is carried at stores like Home Depot, Amazon, and Walmart. This panel is an excellent choice for small spaces like RVs, sheds, or cabins and comes equipped with mounting holes for easy installation.
This reputable off-grid brand has a 5-year workmanship warranty and a 25-year linear power output warranty, meaning you are covered if the panel degrades below a specific rate. In this case, it covers your panel if your output dips below 80% in 25 years.
Price: $369.99 Buy Now
Image source: Renogy
Flexible panels are unique; they weigh less than rigid panels and are more flexible than rigid panels, so they can fit in tight spaces for storage. The Renogy 200 W flexible 12-volt solar panel can bend 240 degrees.
Flexible panels are not as durable as rigid ones and are less efficient. They are best used for backup options or small electricity needs. This panel will work great on top of the curved roof of an RV, as it can fit to the shape of the roof.
Best foldable panel
Price: $549.95 Buy Now
Image source: Goal Zero
The solar suitcase kit is an excellent option for adding backup power for things like a small cabin or an RV. It is recommended to pair the Goal Zero suitcase solar panel with a Goal Zero Yeti, a portable power station that can be charged by the suitcase and provide power to your appliances even when the sun is down.
Use this for instances where you might need to set the panel up in a sunny spot away from what you need to power up. You can set it outside on its tilt mounts and forget about it until you need to pack it up and travel somewhere new. However, it is a bit heavy at 42 pounds, so keep that in mind if you’re going to move it around.
Best portable panel
Price: $499.99 Buy Now
Image source: Bluetti
Bluetti sells some of the most lightweight, portable solar panels that you can bring on your outdoor trips, like hiking or for a beach day. You can fold this panel up, take it on the go, and set it up simply with a kickstand, pointing it right to the sun.
This is the best on-the-go option for short trips. It can be set up with a Bluetti solar generator, powering it up to provide power to devices you need. One important thing to point out is that Bluetti products are not made for use in rain or snow, so people looking for a durable option they can leave unattended should look for an alternative.
The Renogy 200 W is our top pick because it will satisfy most people's needs. Because it comes with a charge controller and the necessary wiring, you can easily pair it with a Renogy battery bank. The rigid Grape Solar 200W solar panel is another reliable brand name with a great warranty.
People with an AirStream-style RV will benefit from Renogy's flexible panel that can bend with the shape of the roof. Also, if you have limited space to store panels, this one is thin enough to fit almost anywhere.
The GoalZero suitcase and Bluetti 200-watt foldable panel are both designed to be portable. But if you need durability, you're better off with the GoalZero. If you need something light for a hiking trip, opt for the Bluetti.
|Cost at time of writing
|Renogy 200 W
|5-year product and material warranty
|Grape Solar 200 W
|5-year product, 25-year power output
|5-year product, 25-year output
|Goal Zero Boulder
|2-year product warranty
|12-month product warranty
*Not listed on data sheet
200 W panels are meant to be used off-grid, or to power small spaces like a shed, so they’re designed so you can install them yourself. DIY installations can be fun, but it’s important to know what you need, so you make sure you get the power from those panels to where it needs to go.
If you are starting from scratch, you might need to buy an accessories kit for about $50. Kits typically include adapter cables and other connectors required to wire a panel and charge controller to a battery bank. You may also need to buy things like Z-brackets to mount the panels where you want them. Some of this equipment may be included with your panel, so check the item description before you buy any additional parts.
If you need to pair the panels with a battery bank, you’re in luck. Many 200 W solar panel manufacturers also make portable battery banks and solar generators so you can pair them up easily. GoalZero, Renogy, and Jackery are some popular portable solar battery brands. Batteries can get expensive, typically between $500 and over $1,000.
Off-grid systems will also need an inverter and a charge controller. A charge controller helps ensure that a battery is charged at the correct rate and stops charging once it is full, protecting the health and longevity of a battery. The Renogy Wanderer is a good option for small off-grid use and will cost about $40.
For a 200-watt solar panel setup, you can expect to pay a minimum of $1,000, including a battery. But that is a small price to pay for access to reliable power.
200 W solar panels are best used as a battery charger, like charging up an RV battery or using one for camping or boating.
Don’t think these panels will power a house - they are too small to meet household energy needs. You’d have to install nearly twice the amount of 200-watt solar panels on your roof compared to standard residential solar panels. They are for small appliances and spaces only.
200 W panels are best suited for off-grid use, but they still face the same problem as all solar panels. If the sun isn’t shining, they can’t provide power. This is why you’ll need a battery bank to store the solar energy the panels generate so you can use it 24/7.
Under perfect conditions, really only achieved in a lab, a 200 W panel will generate 200 W of maximum power an hour. The amount of energy a panel can generate depends on a few factors, the wattage of the panel, its efficiency, and the amount of sunlight it receives.
Electricity is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). There are 1,000 watts in a kWh. Ideally, a 200 W panel would produce 200 W of electricity each hour. But that is not always the case because clouds can get in the way, or a panel can be overheated, reducing the generation potential of the panel.
If you’ve parked your RV in a sunny spot where you can expect 5 hours of peak sunlight for the day, you can assume that your panel will produce about 1,000 watt-hours of electricity or 1 kWh of electricity.
To maximize the amount of sunlight you can turn into electricity, look for a 200 W solar panel with high solar cell efficiency. However, you should consider all your other needs, like what you are using the panel for, when selecting a 200-watt panel solution.
A 200 W solar panel paired with a battery can help you power devices, charge cellphones, and run even small kitchen appliances. Here’s how long you can expect a 200 W solar panel and battery to run different appliances:
|Typical power usage
|40” LED TV
*Assumes 1,000 Wh battery.
Remember, this is how long these devices could run on a battery charged by a 200 W solar panel that was only running that device. For example, if you only used the battery to charge a phone, you could use it for 50 hours before it was empty. The run time would be shorter if you were running a phone charger and a mini-fridge at once.
First, figure out how you will use 200 W panels. Do you need to drill it to your RV? Do you need something for all-day hikes? Once those questions are answered, it is as simple as choosing a brand, price, and warranty.
Whether you’re looking for durability, portability, or storability, our top five choices have you covered. Plus, many of the brands we’ve listed also manufacture batteries that can pair with the panels so you can use solar energy all the time, not just when the sun is shining.
With all that in mind, narrowing down to the one you need should be simple. Make your off-grid lifestyle easier and electrified by buying yourself a 200 W panel.