What are Solar Boats?

Boats have traditionally been propelled by manpower, such as using paddles, by wind or motor, such as using gasoline. With time, that propelling agent has advanced, and today, we even have solar-powered boats that harness the suns’ energy as part of moving towards environmental sustainability.

Therefore, this means that solar boats are boats that get their energy from the sun – by the use of solar panels and storage batteries to transform sunlight into electrical power, which powers the boat. They are an, for this reason, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly alternative which eliminates the use of fossil fuels. If you love boating or own a boat, here are the reasons you should opt for solar boats and a list of the best solar panels for solar boats.

Advantages of Using Solar Boats

1. They are Environmentally-friendly

Solar-powered vessels have reduced carbon emissions, reduce noise levels and eliminate the cost of fuel altogether. The marine solar panels are installed on a boat and they, in turn, convert the sun’s renewable energy into electric energy.

2. They are Cost-efficient

Solar-powered boats have huge savings on fuel. Solar power is readily available and, for this reason, more affordable to produce as compared to the power produced by a fuel-powered generator

3. They Eliminate Sound Pollution

Not to say that they are completely quiet, but solar boats cut down on the sound levels while at sea. This is because the generator that powers traditional boats is not needed in solar boats. The generator emits sounds when powering up the boat, disturbing marine life. As such, solar boats produce the same electric power without producing excess sound.

4. They Continue Charging

Even when you are not working on the boat, the solar panels continue to charge the vessel’s battery. The stored energy becomes useful when one decides to sail over the waters on an adventurous ride. It also means you can reliably leave some electrical pressure on even as you snorkel.

5. They Can Restore a Boat’s Dying Battery

The marine solar panels can also restore a boat’s batteries, helping it hold on to the boat as a backup in case the batteries require additional charging. Maritime solar panels can also act as an additional source of energy to the already existing electrical sources. At the same time, solar energy can be stored for later use.

6. You Get to Charge Your Devices

Almost everything is possible with a solar boat. You can charge all your devices, such as mobile phones and laptops, while still sailing. These devices never run out of battery as long as the panels are charged.

7. They Have a Relatively Less Environmental Impact

It is not to say that since they use renewable and environmentally-friendly energy, solar-powered boats have completely zero effects on the environment. However, solar boats will burn no fuel and have no moving parts. As such, they will be cleaner and more silent, having no atmospheric emissions such as greenhouse gases that are harmful to the earth.

8. They are Highly Reliable

Solar-powered boats can produce power in all types of weather, including on cloudy days. On partly cloudy days, they produce up to 80% of their potential energy, and on heavily cloudy days, they can produce about 25% of their potential output. It, therefore, applies that they can be relied upon, regardless of the weather.

9. They can be Installed on Multiple Surfaces

Marine solar panels can either be adjustable or standard. The standard ones are installed and supported by aluminum. They are prominent in the rain and other harsh weather. They are stronger, a bit bigger and heavier. However, the adjustable ones can be bent or deformed to fit the cover or relevant need.

They are hence perfect for shorter or tighter boats, which lack the room for a big panel. They can be installed on different surfaces and do not need the metal support that the standard panels require. It, therefore, means they are light, simple to deal with and excellent for any sections of the boat.

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10. Solar Boats are Easy to Maintain

Solar-powered boats have no moving parts and as such, simple visual checks and servicing are enough to keep them up and running. They are built to withstand all types of weather, including high winds, meaning they won’t require additional checks because of the weather.

Best Solar Panels for Solar Boats

1. Renogy 100W 12V Protable Foldable Monocrystalline Solar Panel Charger For Camping

This solar panel is adjustable and corrosion-resistant with an aluminium stand. It has a protective casing and is compatible with lithium, flooded gel and sealed batteries. It also comes with an LCD display-enabled charge controller, for displaying operating data. The 10A built-in solar charge controller protects the panel from overcharging, thereby reducing risks of fire.

The low-voltage system further eliminates the hazards of electric shock. It can be installed on an RV, trailer and boat. It goes for between $249.99 for a 100W panel-10A controller and $399.99 for the larger 200W panel-20A controller.

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2. WindyNation 200 Watt Solar Panel Complete Off-Grid

Its 200-Watt charging kit can provide up to 200 Watts of clean, renewable and free power. The solar charge controller has adjustable settings and comes with an LCD screen that displays the panel’s status, charge levels, voltage and DC load draw.

A 200W kit goes for $233.99, one with an additional 100ah AGM battery goes for $559.99, and one with a 200ah AGM battery goat Kit with LCD PWM Charge Controller + Solar Cable + Mounting Brackets by WindyNation: the panel is designed for boats as wes for $779.99.

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3. TOPENS TSP30W Solar Panel 30-Watt 24V Monocrystalline Solar Panel Battery Charging Controller Kit

It can be used wherever and whenever there is sunlight. It requires no electricity costs and minimal maintenance. The panel is ideal for charging 24V batteries, like those in RVs, gate openers, yachts, tents, garden lights, water pumps, boats, street lamps, agricultural equipment and caravans, among other devices.

Its charging effect is improved when the sun is shining directly on the panel. The panel is waterproof, corrosion-resistant and has tempered glass for long term outdoor use. The company provides a 12-month warranty and free product returns and exchange service within 30 days of purchase.

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4. DOKIO 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Panel with Charge Controller

The foldable solar panel is 0.5 inches (1.2cm) thick and weighs 6 lbs (2.7kgs). It is easier to transport, handle or remove, and despite its slim size, it packs 100W of power. It is perfect for outdoor use like in RVs, boats, cars, camps, homes, caravans, for emergencies, and for charging your car battery.

Additionally, it comes with a free solar controller that eases charging, increases battery life and improves the performance of the system. It is also enabled to protect against reverse polarity, short circuits, reverse currents and overcharging.

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5. Renogy 160 Watt 12 Volt Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel

This is an extremely flexible solar panel that can flex up to 248 degrees. As such, it can conveniently be mounted on any surface where a standard panel would otherwise be inconvenient to mount. It weighs 70% less than conventional panels and is only a tenth of an inch thick. It is designed to withstand extreme winds of up to 2400Pa and snow loads of up to 5400Pa.

Its bypass diodes minimize power drops caused by shades, meaning it can perform excellently in low-light environments. It can be installed on rooftops, RVs, boats and other curvy surfaces. It goes for between $86.39 for the 50W flexible and $296.99 for the 175W flexible, with 100W and 160W variables available.

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6. TP-solar 60 Watt Foldable Solar Panel Battery Charger Kit

The panel has been designed for the most portable generators. It comes with a 14.5V charge controlling box and can charge the 12-volt battery for cars, RVs, boats and other marine vessels. It also comes with dual USB ports made for charging smartphones, tablets, digital cameras and other devices, making it ideal for outdoor life, like camping, road trips, hiking, and picnics.

The devices have been designed not to overcharge as well as protect devices that are charging. The panel is foldable and lightweight, making it easy to carry, mount and hang. It is also waterproof and can last up to 15 years.

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7. AIMTOM SolarPal 100W Portable Solar Panel for Power Station, Solar Generator, Foldable Solar Power Charger for Camping

The solar panel is ideal for off the grid outdoor adventures such as hiking, backpacking, hunting, fishing and camping, as well as on RVs and boats for such activities. The 100W panel can also help in recharging your devices such as laptops, cell phones, tablets and even a car battery. The panel provides clean and green energy that can benefit all solar-generator systems.

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References:

Adam, D. (2019). Solar panels for boats − what you need to know”.  P V Europe. Retrieved from https://www.pveurope.eu/News/Solar-Generator/Solar-panels-for-boats-what-you-need-to-know

“How Solar Panels for Boats Work”. (n.d.). Solar Alliance. Retrieved from https://www.solaralliance.org/solar-panels-for-boats/

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