Is 100w Solar Panel Enough For Camper van?

As days are growing, people are getting more interested in camper vans. Some people are even taking it to another level by making their camper vans their living place, which isn’t impossible by the way.

Now whether to actually live in the camper van or just have the vehicle functioning, what’s needed is electricity. And what’s a better electricity option, than solar systems?

To help the climate, considering most reports say we will be erased if we keep on living like this, we should be as thoughtful as we can be while using natural resources. But this article isn’t about climate change nor nature, so let’s stay on track.

Solar panel systems are extremely useful for saving few bucks and being conscious about the environment, in general. You may be thinking about switching to solar electricity. You may also have this concern, is 100w solar panel enough for a camper van?

To answer in short, yes, it is enough for a campervan, but unfortunately, a single 100w panel is not. 

Let’s get into the details.

Is A 100w Solar Panel Worth It For A Camper Van?

Yes, it surely is worth it.

But keep in mind, if you are planning on using solar energy to fire up most of your gadgets inside your camper van, then a single 100w solar board won’t be enough.

100w solar panels are great for beginners who are just getting into solar electricity. A single 100w board can produce 30 amp-hours of electricity in a day. Or 6 amps per peak sun hour.

However, with this much produced electricity, if you are using one single 100w board, then you can charge your gadgets like phone, laptop, tablets, wifi routers, etc. If you need more electricity, then you’ll need more than 1 solar panel.

For better understanding, here’s another example. Let’s say, you are just using your van on your trip to Ohio, and just want to charge your phone and laptops on the way. Nothing will work better in producing and delivering electricity in this case.

There are many companies out there that provide excellent solar panels, like Renogy, Coleman, Goal Zero, and so on.

The goal here isn’t to get the best solar panel with a high price tag. Because chances are, the amount you are paying, or willing to pay for a panel, you can use that to buy multiple. 

Besides, why waste your money on one single panel when you know it won’t serve your purpose? The best advice here, do some research before you buy a solar panel. It’s better to know what you are doing before buying something, companies always love to rip people off by charging more.

So, the point here is, 100w panels are definitely worth it. But before purchasing one, know which devices you are going to use your electricity on. This way you will save some money and not get ripped off.

And yeah, buying a 50w panel for a camper van will be foolish as it clearly won’t serve the purpose. See what I’m talking about?

What Will A 100W Solar Panel Run Inside A Camper Van?

A single solar board of 100 watts can run gadgets, or sometimes even fuel a mini-fridge. It all depends on which materials you are using the panel for.

But what if you want all your gadgets and your fridge to have electricity? In that case, the good news is, you can.

You see, as much as 100w solar panels are slowly becoming popular, they are becoming stronger and developed day by day. However, the sunlight or solar ray plays a part too. 

The more intense sunlight is, the more ray the solar panel is receiving. Therefore, there will be more produced electricity. It’s not really rocket science. 

Another thing to keep in mind is, if you are going to use anything more than just a few accessories, you might need more or less electricity. In this case, doing some analysis before getting your hands on a solar panel is better. Regardless, of how many watts you may need.

Nevertheless, if you are going to use just small things inside your camper van, you should be good to go. Oh, and a bonus, your 100w solar panel, might just be able to charge your camera or microphones as well. Don’t worry!

How Long Will A 100w Panel Take To Charge A 12v Battery?

As mentioned earlier, a regular 100watt solar panel produces up to 30 amp-hours of electricity. Therefore, if a 100w board can produce 1 amp-hour, charging a 12v battery should take 5-8 hours. But there’s more to it than just charging the battery.

Charging your electronic devices using solar electricity is an amazing idea. It’s easy and sustainable and helps the environment. However, there are some criteria that a person needs to understand before deciding to use their panels for charging.

You can’t charge your devices directly from the panel. The same goes for batteries, if you are going to charge one, you’ll need to connect a controller first.

By now, you already know a solar panel produces 30 amp-hours in a day. Ever wondered how many watts that is? 30 amp-hours is equivalent to 500 watts of electricity, roughly.

This 500 watts, if you are in a camper van,  can help in powering up a 50-watt laptop or tablet, a 50w battery, etc. for hours.

The bottom line is if your 100w panel is facing the sun directly and is receiving enough sunlight, energizing a 12v battery shouldn’t be a big deal. It will require some patience, that’s all.

Can A 100w Solar Panel Run A Refrigerator?

Inside your camper van, let’s say you have a refrigerator. You might be wondering, can a 100w board producing 500 watts in a day, be able to run a refrigerator? 

While there is no direct “yes or no” answer to this, but the reply depends on the size of your fridge too.

An average refrigerator needs 2000 watts to run every day. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t be using a giant fridge inside your camper van either. So in this case, one single 100w panel won’t run a refrigerator.

However, there are two things that could happen here. If you are going to run a refrigerator inside your camper van, you should use more than one 100w solar panel.

 Considering the fridge, if you have one inside your camper van, you probably use your van a  lot and have other accessories or appliances inside. In this case, not just for the fridge, you’re going to need more than 1 panel, anyway.

Now you may be thinking, how many 100w panels will you need? The answer is 4. Because we are taking 2000 watts an average for your refrigerator, and 500 watts a rough estimate for electricity produced by a single panel. So, 500 watts multiplied by 4 is 2000.

Another option is, you probably have a smaller fridge or even a mini-fridge. If you have a small fridge, you will need less electricity. But it all comes down to the size of your appliance and the power they require.

For example, if your mini-fridge requires 1000 watts, you will still need 2 100w panels. If your fridge is small enough to be run by 300 watts, just an individual 100w board will do the job.

The Bottom Line

To conclude everything, a 100w panel is definitely worth the money for a camper van. However, it depends on how much electricity your van is going to need. Depending on that, you may need more than 1 panel.

An individual 100w panel can power up things like cell phones, computers (yes even your desktop pc!), batteries, cameras, etc. this is more than enough for average people unless you are inside your camper van all day.

A refrigerator can be run by 100w boards too, but in this case, you may need more than one panel. The range for charging a 12v battery is 5-8 hours. Just have patience and you’ll get your battery fueled up in no time.


I’m Matt, a computer and electronic embedded system developer. Currently, working as an electronic engineer. In my leisure time, I do love to blog about technology stuff. Specially, new advance high tech devices. Portable solar systems are one of topic that I love to investigate. They are becoming more powerful day by day which keep me alert.

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