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Reliable, clean energy is a lifesaver for campers, RVers, and anyone else who enjoys living off grid. Solar panels are a crowd favorite, due to their efficiency and portability, and RVers know that there’s no better way to keep the lights on while boondocking away from any hookups.
Out of all the solar panels on the market, the BougeRV 100W Mono bifacial solar panel is definitely a premium option for a discount price.
Here’s what I’ve discovered after testing it out for the last two months.
BougeRV 100W Solar Panel Overview
It’s in the name: BougeRV is your one stop shop for all of your RV power needs – along with a couple of other gear options, like portable refrigerators and various outdoor appliances.
Now, I’ve seen a lot of RV equipment in my day. My parents owned a Class B converted sprinter van when I was growing up, so I’m pretty familiar with solar panels, batteries, and other portable power options. Which is exactly why I’m excited to talk about the BougeRV Mono 100W bifacial solar panel (goodness, that’s a mouthful) in this review.
But first, a few quick stats:
The bifacial Mono can be bought by itself, or you can get multiple in one package – all the way up to 4 solar panels at once. If you know that you need more than one, bundling them is a great way to save a few bucks.
Where It Shines
The BougeRV Mono solar panel is a force to be reckoned with, and the bifacial design is a cut above the “regular” Mono solar panel (at least in my opinion). It excels at capturing as much sunlight as possible, it’s incredibly durable for a solar panel, and it comes with many of the features you need to connect it to a battery. But enough chitchat – let’s dive into the meat of this review.
Intended Use: Before we continue, I just want to mention that this solar panel is designed for stationary use. Put it on your RV, mount it on a set of brackets, or install it on your house – these are the areas where the Mono is going to excel. While you can make it work for car camping, it will cause more headache than something like the Jackery Solar Saga 100W panel.
The solar panel sports a bifacial design, which means that both sides are capable of capturing sunlight. This is in contrast to most other solar panels out there, which only have solar cells on one side.
You’ll find that this design works best when you have the Mono propped up, as opposed to lying flat on the ground or on the roof of your RV. Of course, this means that you’ll need to purchase the tilt mount brackets (sold separately, as we’ll talk about later) in order to lift the bottom of the panel off the ground.
Once everything is set up, the front side of the Mono absorbs the direct sunlight, while the back side catches any reflected light beams bouncing off the ground or other surfaces. Overall, this increases your energy output by roughly 30%, which is a pretty significant increase over other, similar models.
Solar panels aren’t exactly known for their durability. In fact, they’re quite fragile, and should be babied as much as possible when you’re transporting and installing them.
To add some padding to the Mono, BougeRV took some measures by adding a durable frame around the entirety of the panel. The front and back are also covered with glass, providing a good amount of protection against dust, rain, and other particles.
But there’s another reason why I’m a fan of the metal frame. On the back side, the metal forms a lip that makes it super easy to carry the Mono. Hopefully you won’t have to carry the panel long distances, but assuming you do, the frame makes this task a hundred times easier.
The overall effectiveness of BougeRV Mono is better than any other 100W panel I’ve ever tested. This, in part, goes back to the bifacial design that I mentioned above.
According to the manufacturer description, you can receive an increase of up to 30% in energy output, due to the panel’s ability to capture sunlight from both sides. I tested that claim, comparing the Mono against my Jackery Solar Saga 100W panels, and can safely say that it’s true… To an extent.
To capitalize on the bifacial design of the Mono, you really have to get the angle right. It also helps if the panel is propped up on a surface that easily reflects light, like the top of an RV. On average, I noticed a 12% increase in energy output compared to my Solar Saga panels, but that was in conditions that weren’t ideal (bits of shade here and there, propped up on a grassy surface with dead leaves littering the ground, etc.). In a different location, I have no doubt that the Mono would have come closer to its advertised 30% increase in energy output.
Either way, the Mono is a highly effective panel that works wonders at creating power from the sunlight. It’s certainly not as portable as the Jackery Solar Saga panels, but it’s clear that they were designed for different purposes, so it feels unfair to say that one is better than the other in this regard.
Some solar panels are able to be connected in “series” or in “parallel.” While the two of these might seem similar, there are some pretty big differences between them.
For example, you’ll want to connect solar panels in series when you want to increase voltage while keeping amperage the same. This is handy when you’re using MPPT Controllers, which are able to handle a higher voltage input while still being able to charge 12V batteries and other items.
On the flip side, you’ll want to connect solar panels in parallel when you want to increase amperage while keeping voltage the same. It’s usually used with PWM Controllers, and this setup allows you to keep your charging ability to 12V. The downside, of course, is that the boosted amps makes it difficult for the current to travel down longer, thinner wires.
The BougeRV Mono panel is capable of being wired in both series and parallel. As long as you have two or more panels, you can customize the connection to produce the desired output.
In terms of price, the Mono is shockingly affordable. Since I’ve been comparing it with my Jackery Solar Saga throughout this review, I’ll just say this… The Mono is almost half the price of the Solar Saga. That’s not a small difference, any way you look at it!
Of course, you’re going to pay more for something like the Solar Saga, due to how portable it is. In comparison, the Mono isn’t nearly as portable, but it’s still an amazing value for the price.
All that to say, if you’re in need of a solar panel and you don’t intend to carry it very far, don’t waste your money on something that costs more than $200. Go with the BougeRV Mono instead.
Potential Pain Points
As I always say, there’s no such thing as a perfect product. And while I wouldn’t say the Mono has any inherent flaws, there are definitely some situations it’s well suited for and others where it isn’t.
But aside from the fact that it doesn’t travel well (if you’re trying to carry it long distances), the only real “pain points” are in regards to the solar panel’s accessories – or lack thereof.
No Anderson Adapter
The BougeRV Mono is compatible with most power stations, as long as they’re on the larger side. For example, there’s no way for me to connect it to my Jackery 500, but I can hook it up to my EBL 2400W power station by using an Anderson to MC4 adapter. It’s worked well for me so far, but there is something important to remember.
The Mono doesn’t come with an adapter. Thankfully, I already had one, but if you don’t fall into the same camp, you’ll have to go and buy one. You can get them for pretty cheap (usually between $20-$30), so make sure you plan ahead.
No Tilt Mount Brackets
I’m just being picky now, and it feels a little unfair to classify this as a pain point. At the same time, it’s worth mentioning that the Mono is difficult to use without a tilt mount, especially if you weren’t planning on installing it on your RV.
By itself, there’s no way to keep the panel propped up without leaning it against an object like a tree or bench. So if you really want to maximize the Mono’s performance, I’d recommend purchasing the tilt mount brackets for an additional $66.
The BougeRV Mono 100W solar panel is a solid choice when you need power on the go. The durable frame keeps the sensitive solar cells from getting damaged, and the bifacial design maximizes the panel’s energy output. For RVs, vans, and similar setups, I’m not sure there’s anything better than the Mono on the market right now.
That being said, it’s not really designed for camping, per se. You can certainly use it while car camping, but as I’ve said, it’s mostly optimized for RVs and other vehicles. It’s certainly worth knowing why you want a solar panel in the first place, before you make any purchasing decision.
Curious? Check it out below!
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