The whole point of RV boondocking is to camp in quiet, remote places whether it’s on BLM land, on the beach, on a farm or in someone’s driveway. However, that comes with a price. Six months into our newfound boondocking enjoyment, we decided to upgrade our fifth wheel with solar panels and an efficient energy management system.
When we first started boondocking, we used our portable Wen Generators to manufacture electricity and recharge our batteries. However, our biggest issue was the constant engine noise and not using them at night. Then, we’d wake up literally holding our breaths hoping we’d not take our batteries below 50% state of charge.
So of course, that was the biggest reason to get our solar project pushed forward.
First and foremost, we conducted an energy audit of our coach. We had to figure out what we would need to recharge our battery bank and power to our residential refrigerator, CPAP medical device, lights and basic electronics.
Once we completed our audit, it was time to sit down and figure out how much wattage we wanted on the roof. After configuring, our calculations brought us to needing about 1000 watts. Next, we researched different solar panel manufacturing companies.
While we were in Elkhart, Indiana attending the Heartland Owners Rally and getting our Landmark’s warranty service completed, we reached out to HighTec Solar, Inc. to discuss their products. We were impressed on their reputation and builds, so we went ahead and ordered what we needed.
Now, before you get all excited thinking this is going to be a comprehensive step-by-step instructional guide or solar supply list your RV, sorry, this isn’t it. This is just our product review of Hightec’s solar panels.
When it came time to choosing our solar panel supplier, we did extensive research. It came down to Hightec Solar, Inc.*** being our first choice for a couple reasons. Located in Michigan City, Indiana, their solar panels are made in the U.S.A., have great product performance and their customer satisfaction guarantee is exemplary.
100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee:
ABOUT THE SOLAR PANELS…
We have six (6) Hightec RCL-M-165 watt panels. In our opinion, these panels are exactly what our build criteria required. Fit and finish is nothing short of spectacular. They are extremely well constructed, feature multiple pre-drilled mounting points, and came with 10 gauge MC-4 connections already installed. The panel frames are 40mm aluminum with 3.2mm tempered glass with mono crystalline cells.
Our 165 watt solar panels built in America by Americans on our new 12 volt panel line, they are tested full power and have full warranty. These 12 volt solar panels are ready for all of your needs. Their panels can be used for commercial or residential settings.
They are 58.7” x 26.625” and are perfect for small spaces. These panels can be connected in series for 24v and 48v systems. These panels are not flimsy. They are hardy 3.2mm tempered glass fronts. The 3 buss bar mono crystalline cells make these panels perfect for low light areas. They have 40mm heavy duty frames that can be used to bolt down or clamp system. Each panel has the same diodes as all other manufacturers. Each panel has a transferable 25 year limited output warranty in which a copy will be sent in packaging. We have been in business for 10 years and are happy to bring new products to the market.
Our Hightec solar panels were very well packaged and arrived in a timely manner, demonstrating that Hightec Solar Inc. truly cares about their products.
They weigh 41 pounds each. Their performance specs are 18.73 volts, 8.62 amps at 165 watts and can be wired in 12, 24 or 48 volt series.
They are rugged and designed to last. The weather we incurred since installing them has proven their worthiness (i.e. hot sun, hail, torrential downpours, long lasting rain, humidity, minor hail, quick temperature fluctuations, etc.) Even on overcast days, we were seeing close to peak output from Hightec’s solar panels.
Hightec Solar Inc. offers other sized and output capacity solar panels needed for your personal install.
TIP: We periodically inspect and clean our solar panels at least once, even twice a month depending on weather and dust factor.
So now, when you see Dan on the roof doing a happy dance, it’s because he’s celebrating the fact that he’s beat Ben Franklin at his own game! Now we can take our home on wheels boondocking for longer periods of time without listening to the sound of loud generators.
21 Replies to “HighTec Solar Panels – Product Review”
How many cells per panel are they?
Not sure about that, rbud, sorry
I have theHighTec Solar 200W panels and they have 36 Cells.
Nice write up.
Thank you Robert! Safe Travels out there!
Hello Dan, Lisa
I have been trying to find Hightec solar panels and nothing show’s up? I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong but they seem to have disappear. Do you know anything about that? Have they gone to another name maybe? After reading your article about all your research and satisfaction I was very interested to find out more.
Hope you can help me.
PS: We watched your video last night on Freedom Week and thought you guy’s ROCK, was very informative and a great presentation. Thank you for taking the time to share.
Reynald (Ron) & Anne
Hey Reynald, thank you for asking. Try this link HighTec Solar Inc
Oh and so glad you enjoyed our presentation on FTFW. We love sharing our experiences and stuff we’ve learned on the way. Safe travels and perhaps we’ll see you down the road! -Dan & Lisa
What was the total out of pocket cost?
Hi Vic, thanks for reading. Each solar panel costs $165 = $1 per watt is the normal price. We have 6 panels equalling $990. Don’t forget to add in cables which were about an additional $300. Thats the solar on the roof only. Each RV energy management setup is different based on needs of the RV owner. So, we can’t really give an estimate of what you would need for $$. However, that said, our whole solar/energy management total estimates about $8000. HTH’s. -Dan
Any further thoughts on those panels, I am looking at the newer 200W 5BB version from High Tec.
Oh, and your panels have 36 cells (4×9).
Hello there! We’re not as familiar with the 200w panels as we’ve not looked into adding any. However, we’ve thought about it. When the time comes should we add them, those are the ones we’ll go with. HighTec is a good brand and respectable company to work with. And, we love them because they’re an American made company. -Dan
I see you’ve had your panels installed for two years now. Any problems? Still happy? We’re considering their 200 watt panels.
Sherry, I don’t know how we missed your comment. We’re so sorry. We replaced our flex solar panels. Here’s what we upgraded to: https://alwaysonliberty.com/2020/02/motorhome-solar-energy-upgrades.html/
How do you clean the roof under the solar panels? Have you camped in cold conditions where the temperature is below 20degrees?
Hi Michael, thanks for responding. Dan made sure prior to mounting the panels that the roof was in stellar shape. The panels are mounted almost flush to the roof on brackets so really, there is nothing to damage the roof underneath. To clean, he simply flushes under them with our water hose when hooked up to utilities. And, yes, we have camped on very few occasions when it was below 20 degrees. Its not our ideal camping temps but sometimes, we’d be surprised with a cold snap. We just deal with it when the time comes. We wrote a good informative blog post you might be interested in:
13 Tips on Keepin your RV Warm in the Winter
i bought a set of 160 watt solar panels with a 25 year warranty from a person named fred480v on ebay the panels i recieved were not 160 a piece but 150 a piece false advertisement if you ask me,…then i went to purchase a panel that was marked on ebay for 175.00 for a 180 watt, and they jacked up the price on one solar panel from 175.00 to get this,…1,175.00 not worth it in my book,….
Yikes Steven, sorry to read that. Have you contacted HighTec Solar to discuss this with them? Whenever we purchase anything like that, we may email the seller to reiterate exactly what we’re buying from that particular listing. Perhaps there was a typo? -Dan & Lisa
I am curious how you got to 8,000.00 unless you went with Lipro batteries.
Also based on your requirements does your design meet your requirements? Meaning can you boondock with little generator use?
Hi Don, you’re right! Our $8000 included our Battle Born Lithium batteries. And yes, when we had our fifth wheel with the solar and energy management system we set up, we rarely used our external portable generators. In fact, the only time we used them was twice to use our Air Conditioner. We tried to navigate to areas where we didn’t need to use the AC. Thanks for reading. Hope that helps!
Hey, I bought the 200watt panel for fred480 about this 2-3yrs ago has been working fine… but stopped charging after checking found the diodes went out. Had to take the whole box off to get to them. Now need to replace whole box or just diodes?
Hi Kenneth, That’s something we don’t know. We highly recommend contacting HighTec Solar for your question.