A few months ago I was out on the road in my converted cargo van when I noticed a blaring red light coming from my charge controller. It was trying to tell me that my batteries were in trouble. After some investigation, I realized that my flexible solar panels had stopped working, and my battery charge had gotten really low while I was running all kinds of devices around the van.
In the video below, Dan Weinman of PPC Solar and I discuss the best solar panel options for van conversions.
Note: Please excuse the video quality, this was a rare instance where I used my smartphone to record.
The takeaway here is that rigid panels cost less but are more reliable and efficient. With the right mounts, you can also omit the roof rack and get a pretty low-profile installation. I recommend black-framed panels so they disappear at night.