Solar panels are more affordable, efficient, and versatile than ever. Marine solar power is now an accessible, economical option that can transform your marine electrical system. Having solar power on board will save on running costs and can even replace your noisy, inefficient generator. The passive charge model means batteries will reach full capacity while anchored or moored and will be continuously topped up while in clear weather conditions. You can stay on the water longer, with the convenience of your own electrical supply, and without relying on outboard power. The marine solar panel industry has become mature and diversified, with a range of options for product and installation.
Selecting the right marine solar panel
There are many types. The most common are flat glass panels, but there are also flexible rolling panels, and thin, hard walk-on panels. These will range in price and efficiency. Your choice should be based on your energy needs and the physical layout of your vessel. You may require multiple panels if running several high-output major electrical appliances. Solar panels will also vary in efficiency and durability depending on the type of silicon they are made of. It’s not ‘one size fits all,’ and a consultation with a marine solar panel installation expert will ensure you select and install the right product in the right way. Done right, a marine solar panel system will be a cost-saving investment and a long-term asset.
Where should your new panel(s) be located?
For maximum yields, you want to ensure that the panels face directly into the sun as often as possible. Depending on the type of panel, it may be able to tolerate light to full foot traffic.
A flexible panel can be installed into the canvas, a great spot for light exposure. Many such panels come with removable self-install features like Velcro. Hard panels require firm, level surfaces that won’t be exposed to impact, and preferably with air-flow underneath. It’s also advantageous to locate the panel as close as possible to the storage battery.
It’s highly likely you’ll also require a controller to regulate energy flow from the panel to the battery. Again, the specific type of controller will be dependent on the number, location, and energy output of your panels.
Marine solar panels will give you greater freedom to use onboard electricity for longer periods and in cost-effective ways. The selection and installation of your solar panel require careful consideration, according to the duration and nature of your marine activities and the set-up of your boat.
Informed advice from a seasoned expert will guarantee your marine solar panel installation stays compatible and sustainable.