RV Solar Advice: Going forward

Greetings! I am the proud new owner of a AC200P.

I (unfortunately) already purchased a Rockpals 100W (90W = 18V*5amp) RP2 foldable prior to getting my Bluetti AC200P.

Question #1: Is there a world where I can make good use of this panel? (Ideas welcome!)

(I’ve been scribbling down various scenarios, but I keep coming back to the best option would be to relegate the Rockpals to ad-hoc charging of my lead acid batteries (with the addition of a cheap charge controller that supports both flooded and AGM) in my car and/or trailer. i.e. Just cut it out of the “main” system because the low amps pulls the whole output down.)

Question #2: (My Main Question): If you had a budget of ~$400 or less (preferably less), an existing 18V/5A foldable, and an AC200P, what would you invest in solar-wise for camping in the Pacific NW?

Option #1: Jump ship for two higher amp (and watt) panels

i.e. The purchase 2 BougeRV 180 watt panels for $332 for a net voltage of 36V (Just over the 35V min) and ideal voltage of 360 watts. Total weight of around 48 lbs (24 lbs each) I think.

Folks that have the larger 180Watt solid panels for camping - do you find them unwieldy? (DIY Solar suitcase / packing ideas welcome!)

Option #2: Double down on the same foldables for a series of 3 total?

In this option, I’m spending another $370 for 2 of the same Rockpals for a net voltage of 54V and 270-300W. Upside: That gets me a weight of 28.5 lbs (9.5 each) and portability for certain. They’re nice in that way, but I’m wondering if I will miss that 60-90 watts and that $38? The other big MISS on the part of past-me was that the Rockpals (being a fabric foldable) are not fully-water-rain-proof, but I believe the BougeRV flat-style would be.

Use case: Boondocking with a simple 17’ Casita travel trailer. (Fiberglass egg.) Loads include (propane) furnace fan in chilly NW months, water pump, stove fan / maxx fan when cooking, led lights, various AC/USB electronics with their own batteries. (e.g. ipad probably the biggest) Fridge is the ultra-inefficient (DC-wise) absorption style, so that will stay on propane. Can easily do a long weekend on the existing ~88ah flooded interstate battery, but we would like to do as much as 2 weeks off grid.

FWIW, I do not plan on mounting on the camper because I figure I’ll need to chase the sun around the campsites. (State/Federal/Dispersed Camping.) So… The BougeRV would probably get legs hacked on somehow. :slightly_frowning_face:

Many thanks in advance for your time and opinions!

Best wishes to all!
Mitch The Casita, Grete The Dog, and Me and my partner

Rockpals (Existing Foldable): Link

BougeRV 180W (Contender): Link

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I would just get two more Rockpal panels that you would connect in series. But…if you were able to get two of these panels at the price I got which is $199 ea. they work well:

I recently bought a pair of these Aiper 160 watt panels for $199 (Normally $399). Unfortunately they are not available right now. If you are comfortable making your own XT60 to MC4 10 foot cable then they work great connected in series. I currently have (2) of the Aiper 160s, (4) Acopower 120 watts (4) and (2) Renogy 100 watt hard folding solar suitcase panels. The Aipers would be hard to beat for compactness vs price vs power output if you had four of them or even in pairs. Whatever you get, make sure they all match and you will be the happiest in my opinion.


So many thanks, Scott! Much appreciate your thoughts and the extra link!

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@Scott-Benson i just found this post and see you have ACOPOWER 120W panels, what do you think of them? Right now they are about $300 from AMAZON.

2 for the price of one on the Aipers, good catch and at higher watts. Obviously if could get them sound like you would reco Aipers 160w over the Acopower 120w…however the 20’ Acopower extension cables seem to imply120w is the max they support. Did you have to get different extension cables for your 160w panels?

What do you mean then should all match? You have quite a variety there so what are you saying needs to match?

I have four Acopower 120 watt panels. I think they are great panels and their portability, thinness and output is their greatest asset. They are a little pricey though. The Bluetti panels are heavier but more robust in build and I also bought four of them. Both brands have similar output. The Acopower extension cables are not limited to 120 watts and I have run three of them connected together running all four Acopower panels connected in series with very little voltage drop over the 70 feet.

The Aiper panels I just bought also good quality, are very compact, put out decent power but are limited by the included cables. If you are able to make MC4 to XT60 cables yourself (The cables that come with the Aiper panels do not connect to any Bluetti products directly) they are also a good choice to connect in series to an AC200 or alone and pairs for the AC50S assuming they become available for $199 again. I wanted to use MC4 connections from the Aiper Panels just like all my other panels have and doing this takes some do it yourself knowledge. Right now at $400 they don’t look as attractive.

As for the question about all solar panels matching…If a user wants plug and play and does not understand “watts”, “amps” , “volts” , “connecting in Series” or “Connecting in Parallel” well, then I would recommend to have all the same exact make and model and panel in the system.


If a user has a good understanding of the above items, then certainly you can mix and match. The mixing works the best when you match the panel specs (Volts) (Amps) (Watts). You can do this with different brands.

When you are connecting the panels in series, it is important that the amperage match between panels. (All the panels will operate at the lowest amp rated panel in the series. For example: If you had a 5, a 5, a10 and a 20 amp panel connected in series, the four panels would all operate as 5 amp panels and you would have a 20 amps total in that example)

If you connect your panels in Parallel, the Voltage needs to match closely between panels. (When panels are connected in Parallel, all the panels will operate at the lowest voltage panel. Basically, no matter how you connect the panels, they can only operate at the level of their weakest panel)

In some cases, it is possible that connecting additional panels will actually lower the output wattage obtained before the additional panels were added: for example-

Series connection
(2 amps) + (5 amps) + (10 amps) + (10 amps) = 2 amps of potential electricity because the total amps available will be the amp rating of the lowest panel.

But then a friend gave me some free panels and I decided to add them to my existing panels for addition power

Parallel Connection
(5 amps) + (5 amps) + (5 amps) + (5 amps) + (11 amps) + (11 AMPS) + (7 AMPS) + (2 AMPS) = 16 TOTAL AMPS of charging power because I added the one panel rated at only 2 amps… All the panels now operate as 2 amp panels.

So if all this is confusing…the easiest thing is to stick with the same brand and model for the easiest results. But…you can mix and match, just do it with planning and knowledge about which ones you are mixing.

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Thanks @Scott-Benson awesome reply

@Scott-Benson I’m new to this, but isn’t this incorrect. Doesn’t the amperage stay the same when connecting panels in series. So in series, it would be…

18v + 18v + 18v = 54v (still 5 amps, but 270 watts)

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Yes, I mistakenly labeled that serial. In series connection, amps stay the same while the volts are added. Thank you for pointing out the error. I edited the original post to state what I intended which is that when you mix panels amperage ratings in a series connection, the entire string of panels in the series will only produce amperage equal to the lowest amp rated panel.

For example:
(2 amp) + (5 amp) + (10 amp) + (10 amp) + (15 amp) = total amperage in this series connection is 2 amps.

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Hello Roxie60

Scott hit the nail… His recommendation to stick with like model panels might be spot on.
The danger is investing in lots of different panels and then facing the challenge of trying to link a pile of mismatched panels all together to increase your power capabilities.

I’m guilty of this pitfall but with Scott’s helpful posts, I and many others are learning how to more wisely invest in solar.

For my stationary residential electrical needs, I by happenstance and luck, have invested in what I can organize into 3 autonomous systems that better use all the mismatched panels and generators that I have acquired.

It sounds like portability and ease of storage is key to your set up so like Scott-Benson suggested, maybe sticking with more of the exact same portable panels you have might save and serve you better in the long run.

Hope you find a practical and logical solution.