Your boat should be your home away from home, in every way possible. For many, their idea of a home involves some sort of access to electricity and the appliances that come with it.
That’s why boat solar panels are all the rage at the moment. The ability to power your electronics while on board is taking boating excursions to the next level. Listening to music, catching the live football game and even being able to use solar power for your fridge to keep your food & drinks ice cold is a worthwhile addition to your day on the water.
We took the time to round up six of the best boat solar panels on the market today. We’ve reviewed the pros and cons of each in order to give you a comprehensive analysis of what to expect from each of these products.
Before we get into each one, let’s break down the world of boat solar panels as it currently stands.
About Solar Panels
Boat solar panels have gained popularity in recent years since boat owners discovered that they could bring the comforts of the shore on board.
Like regular solar panels, boat panels use the energy from the sun to deliver power to a central outlet point where appliances can use it.
Basically, solar panels absorb the light and energy rays from the sun & are able to store this power for long periods of time. This is great for boating excursions that continue from day into the night; lights on and around the boat can be powered via the panels for the duration of the trip.
Boat solar panels require some basic installation before boat owners can successfully make use of them. They need to be securely fitted to the boat and out of the way of any obstructions that might hinder the energy flow.
Solar charging comes with many welcome benefits especially when being used on a boat.
A boating trip is only as successful as the navigation equipment that it makes use of. Navigation equipment requires energy to run! A solar panel is the surest way to ensure you’re never left without direction.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
Solar panels are measured in either watts or amps. The number of watts or amps on your device will determine how much power the unit is able to emit at any given point and also how long the panel will be able to deliver power for.
Higher powered units can be used to power more devices at one time than lower rated units.
For optimum power, your solar panel will need to be fitted as perpendicular to the sun as possible. Take time identifying the perfect spot on your boat from which to mount it.
Specs are just as important to find your ideal fit based on preferences and needs.
Consider whether you’d like to mount your panel to your boat permanently or temporarily. Solar panels come in handy in non-boat related situations as well, so if you’re into camping then you might consider using a removable unit so you can take it elsewhere.
A charge controller is necessary if you’ll be using your panel to charge multiple batteries at a time. This device prevents batteries from overcharging and will save you money in the long run from having to replace burnt out battery packs.
The amount of energy you need to generate for your boat will depend solely on its size and the number of devices that need to be powered.
Boating solar panels come in various main types:
- Amorphous thin film silicon
You can identify mono and multi-crystalline cells by their dark black tone. The amorphous thin film is characterized by its blue or grey shades and is the most common type of cell used in affordable solar panels.
For a boating solar panel, there’s usually no need to fork out more than $500 on a quality unit. In the event of your boat needing slightly more power than most, then a few hundred dollars more may be necessary.
Best Boat Solar Panels for the Money in 2019
ACOPOWER 12V - Best 70 Watt Boat Solar Panel
This is a handy portable and affordable unit by ACOPOWER. The panel is foldable and does not require any mounting for use; simply set it up somewhere angled toward the sun & enjoy 70W of consistent power.
It’s lightweight and weather resistant. It also comes with a handy power bank generator in order to charge laptops and tablets.
WindyNation 100 Watt - Best 100 Watt Solar Panel
Depending on sunlight availability, this panel by trusted brand WindyNation can deliver 350-watt hours or 33 amp hours of solar power charging per day.
The battery temperature sensor will prevent any unwanted surprises from occurring out in the beating sun. The included amp is also adjustable so the user can ensure the right amount of power is flowing at all times.
WindyNation 200 Watt - Best 200 Watt Solar Panel
Keeping with the WindyNation brand this panel offers double the ability of the aforementioned unit. This is due to the set including two panels instead of one. The power is delivered via split units.
The safety features and amp abilities are the same throughout the WindyNation range. This unit is ideal for boats that need more power and perhaps need to make use of a fridge or electric cooler throughout the day in addition to other electronics.
You’ll need to self-mount this panel to your boat to achieve optimum performance.
WindyNation 400 Watt - Best 400 Watt Solar Panel
Again, this system by WindyNation is made up of four individual 100W panels that thus generate 400W of power when working together.
This impressive system will give your boat 1600 watt-hours or 135 amp hours of solar-powered charging per day. That is enough to run almost every electronic system of an average boat multiple times over.
The system also comes with a 5-year warranty included so you know this is a practical long term investment.
SUAOKI 150W - Best 150 Flexible Watt Solar Panel
The first flexible cell panel in our roundup, the Suaoki solar panel is a versatile unit that doesn’t require permanent mounting in order to work. You’ll be able to take this panel between boat, home, car, and even tent without much hassle.
The smart thing about using Suaoki panels is that you can collect them and combine their abilities to generate more power when needed.
This panel works as well in low light as in direct sunlight, which is something other panels struggle to do. Its ability to bend means that angling it toward the best possible lighting is always a sure move. Flexibility also prevents damage in most scenarios when you need to move it.
The panel comes with a two-year guarantee which is more than acceptable in this industry.
WindyNation Solar Kit - Best Premium 400 Watt Boat Solar Panel and Battery Bank
This is really the top of the range when it comes to boating solar panels. This solar kit by WindyNation is comprised of everything you could possibly need while on the water.
Made up of four panels and four battery cells, you’ll never go without energy on any of your excursions. The only downside is the price, but you get a lot for it. The kit also comes with everything you could need to mount the units to your boat.
This system will deliver 1700 watt-hours or 150 amp hours of solar power per day.
To improve the safety and efficiency of your boating excursion, a boat solar panel is absolutely necessary. Investing in one really is investing in the overall enjoyment of your boating lifestyle. Why not have even more fun out on the water?
We hope our roundup of six best boat solar panels has made the hunt slightly easier! Now, don’t be left in the dark on the water any longer.