Solar power is a great alternate energy source to charge your boat batteries without using the boat engine.
It’s clean, and ends up paying for itself in the long term (especially with the savings on diesel fuel).
The best solar panels for boats, yachts, and similar sea or freshwater faring vessels, will provide enough power for your DC consumption devices.
We’re talking cabin lighting, anchor light, refrigeration, electronics, pumps etc.
As long as you have room on your upper level, there are some good and affordable options on the market for you to consider.
Let’s have a look at some of those options …
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Top Rated List Of Solar Panels For Boats
Rigid/Hard Solar Panels
200 Watt Rigid Solar Panel Kit (2 x 100 watt panels) – RENOGY 200w Solar Panel Kit – 2 100w panels (on Amazon)
100 Watt Rigid Solar Panel Kit – RENOGY 100w Solar Panel Kit (on Amazon)
Flexible Solar Panels
100 Watt Flexible Solar Panel – Windynation 100 Watt Bendable Solar Panel (on Amazon)
Best Solar Panels For Boats: Reviews
Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel Kit
We already reviewed this rigid/stiff solar panel kit in this guide.
But, some of the things that make this solar panel kit good for boats are:
- The solar panel kit is designed for off-grid applications, such as RVs, trailers, boats, sheds, and cabins
- Starter kit – friendly for all types of people to install on their boat
- Corrosion resistant aluminium frame – good for saltwater and marine environments
- Can be purchased with either a mono or polycrystalline solar panel options
- Junction box is protected against debris and water
- Wanderer controller has the following electronic protections for your boat battery – overcharging, overload, short-circuit and reversed polarity
- Wanderer controller allows up to 400 Watts in it’s system – room to use more than one 100 Watt panel with the controller
- Kit comes with 100W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel, a 30A PWM Wanderer Charge Controller, a 20ft 10AWG MC4 Adaptor Kit, an 8ft 10AWG Tray Cable, and a set of Z-brackets
So you know how much room to make space for on your boat –
Mono panel dimensions are: 47.0 X 21.3 X 1.4 inches
Poly panel dimensions are: 39.7 X 26.7 X 1.4 inches
Where Can I Check This Solar Panel Out?
- You can also view the RENOGY 200w Solar Panel Kit on Amazon
Windynation 100 Watt Flexible Solar Panel
We already reviewed this flexible solar panel in this guide.
But, some of the things that make this a good flexible marine solar panel are:
- Works at 18 volts and can charge 12 volt lithium and lead-acid batteries – good for RV’s, electric bikes etc. > use it with a solar controller though
- Can be curved to a maximum 30 degree arc
- Very lightweight – only weighs 4lbs – easy to transport, install and remove
- Frameless design, and 6 pre-fab metal reinforced mounting holes which can use temporary or permanent fixings
- Can be mounted using adhesive or velcro as well
- Weather resistant
- Comes with connectors and connector cable
So you know how much room to make space for on your marine vessel:
Panel dimensions are 41.7″ (length) x 21.3″ (width) x 0.1″ (thick)
Where Can I Check This Solar Panel Out?
Best Solar Panels For Boats: Buyer’s Guide & FAQ
Types Of Solar Panels For Boats
Types of solar panels for your boat can be divided by four categories:
Rigid/Mounted solar panels
Flexible and bendable solar panels
Folding solar panels
Amorphous solar panels (shade protected solar panel)
If you have a sail boat for example and half your boat is consistently covered in shade from the sail – it’s worth looking at the option of an amorphous solar panel.
These types of solar panel tend to perform better in the shade or cloud cover, but do have their disadvantages too – the technology isn’t as established as mono and poly crystalline panels, so there might be a bigger discrepancy in quality and reliability of each product.
What Are Solar Panels Used For On Boats
As most boat users know, charging your battery/s the traditional way involves running the engine (using fuel!).
Some may also use a generator or connect into the marina shore supply.
A newer and alternate way involves using solar power – on sailboats, fishing boats, leisure boats and most marine vessels.
Solar panels are mounted on a spot on your boat above cabin level somewhere on the upper level deck, and charge your boat battery/s through a solar charge controller.
Cabin and anchor lighting, VHF/boat electronics, pumps, refrigeration can all be charged with solar panels – anything that runs on DC power.
All this can happen without using you boat engine and fuel.
There are massive advantages to having solar power on your boat – for example, what happens if the pump on your motor has a problem and you have to turn the motor off?
To save battery life, you’ll have to turn off alot of your DC powered devices like your refrigeration.
Solar can be hugely useful in a situation like this.
Which Solar Panel To Get For Boats – How To Choose?
Like we mentioned in this guide for figuring out size and number of panels for a 12v battery, figuring out solar panel requirements looks something like this:
List all the devices that use DC power
Estimate how many A/h they use per hour, and how many hours they run a day. OR, you can just find out the total A/h of your batteries
Multiply your total A/h of all devices by 12v (common DC power voltage – but, if you have a bank of batteries, it could be higher like 24v for example) = total watts you use in a day (watt hours)
Divide the total watts by number of available sunlight hours in a day (say 6-8 on average = the total wattage of solar panels you need
To be safe, increase that number by 20%
Most standard small-medium boats (up to say 20-30 feet), will probably be able to run on 100-300 watts.
So, to figure out which solar panel to get for your boat, take into consideration the above calculations, and consider some of these factors:
The type of solar panel you want – rigid, or flexible, or even folding?
How much room do you have to install solar panels on you boat? Pick a small enough panel in surface area to fit
The size in watts
Features To Look For, And Considerations To Make For Solar Panels For Boats
Specifically for boats though, look out for these features:
Voltage rating of the solar panel/s to match your battery
Total watts to be enough for your battery/s
Corrosion free frame and metal on the panel – for the saltwater if using your boat in an ocean
Junction box is water sealed and protected
3 or 4 stage charge protection
Designed to be installed and used on a boat specifically
Solar Panels On Boats – Accessories
Cables, connectors and adaptors
Solar LCD display – to display health and performance of panels and batteries
Sometimes an inverter
Best Solar Panels For Boats: Resources
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