Solar Panels For Boat Battery Charging & Marine Use

You’ve heard of solar for the home, but what about solar panels for boat battery charging & marine use?

Using solar power for a boat, yacht, sail boat or any sea vessel can have the following benefits:

  • Solar is usually cheaper over the long term for charging marine batteries than using your boat motor and diesel
  • Solar is cleaner energy than fossil fuels
  • Some solar panels can be moved between your boat, and taken camping, put on you Rv, used on your car, and used at home

Below we’ve put together a short guide outlining the best marine solar panel options, what to look for in marine solar panel kits & setups, and what accessories to consider when charging boat batteries with solar panels.

 

(*Friendly Disclosure – links to retailers or brands on this page may include affiliate links, and we may receive a commission when you purchase through these links)

 

Solar Panels For Marine & Boat Battery Charging

 

1) Best Marine Solar Panel Options

You can read more in the following guides about the best marine solar panel options:

Best Solar Panels For Boats

Best Solar Panels For Cloudy Days & Shade (consider if you have a sail boat or a boat with a mast)

Flexible Marine Solar Panel Reviews (reviews on flexible and bendable solar panels – as opposed to the stiff/rigid traditional solar panels)

 

2) What To Look For In Marine Solar Panel Kits

Solar panels for marine use come with either just the panel and connectors, or with a full starters kit to allow you to connect up to your marine battery straight away.

 

Solar Panel Only – comes with the solar panel, and usually some MC4 solar connectors that run from the panel’s junction box. You can add extras and accessories as you need. Can be good for those looking to add a singular panel to their existing system

 

Solar Panel Kit – can come with:

1 or several panels

connector cables (that run from the junction box) and branch connectors

a charge controller (to control the output from the panel to the battery’s via the tray cables)

tray cables (that run from the charge controller to the battery/s)

if you are purchasing a rigid/stiff solar panels, you’ll also get Z Brackets (to mount the panel to the surface you will install them to)

 

3) Charging Boat & Marine Batteries With Solar Panels – What Does A Regular Setup Look Like?

So, somewhere within your vessel, you will have a marine battery or batteries.

It might be a singular 6 or 12v lead acid or lithium ion battery, or several of them banked together.

A regular solar panel setup would look something like this (just a guide):

Solar panel, or solar panels gather solar energy > CONNECTS TO

There is a junction box on the solar panels which has MC3 or MC4 connector cables running from them > CONNECTS TO

A singular solar charge controllers or several solar charge controllers depending on the rated wattage your controller can take. The charge controller/s limit the amount of output/input from the panels to the battery/s so the batteries don’t get overloaded or damaged. > CONNECTS TO

The charge controllers usually have tray cables that run from them to the battery/s > CONNECTS TO

The cables connect to the battery or batteries if a whole bank of batteries. You may have a solar panel and controller for each battery, or you may have a number of panels and a rated controller to charge the bank at once. It’s important the single battery or bank of batteries has A/h and voltage specs. that match up with the capability of the controller and panels i.e. they need to be compatible  > CONNECTS TO

The DC batteries can power your pumps, cabin lights, anchor light, refrigeration, electronics etc. depending on their output

Some people also choose to add a LCD display to their system to monitor the performance and health of their panels and batteries.

An inverter box is also an option if you have USB or AC power items you want to charge. And, a solar regenerator can store DC energy for when the solar panels are not in the sun. Some brands offer 2-in-1 regenerators and inverters (with DC, AC and USB outlets) like Goal Zero with the Yeti 400 (on Amazon)

 

NOTE: always check with the battery and solar manufacturers (plus check their product instructions) for compatibility and other requirements of your particular system.

Read more in this informational guide for figuring out the size and number of solar panels you might need for your setup.

 

 

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