Producing green energy doesn’t have to be something we do on the land-only. One of the most essential parts of your watercraft is the best marine solar panels. With it, you get to power your appliances on board and maybe even get hot water. The best part is that the environment isn’t harmed by this energy production.
But choosing the right solar panel for your watercraft can be very difficult because there are so many questions about the purchase.
What actually is a marine solar panel? Is it necessary to have one? How to choose the most appropriate unit? Is the installation hard? Can you take proper care of the panel?
The answers to all these questions are simple, and here we are going to discuss everything you need to know – some vital information, tips, and even marine solar panels reviews – so you can make the right decision for your boat.
Best Marine Solar Panels Comparison Chart
Renogy Monocrystalline Solar Starter
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Battery Tender Solar Maintainer with Built-in Super Smart Charging Controller
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HQST Monocrystalline Solar Panel for Boat
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ECO-WORTHY Solar Panel for Boat with Alligator Clip Adapter
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WindyNation Solar Panel Kit
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ACOPOWER Mono Solar Panel for 12V Battery Charging
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BEST MARINE SOLAR PANELS REVIEWS (EDITOR’S PICKS)
These are some of the most popular products, you may find on the market. Each one of the products has some advantages, but also some disadvantages. Our team has collected these products and their features, so you can take your decisions, which you want to buy. Keep in mind, that they are not arranged in a specific way.
1. Renogy Monocrystalline Solar Starter
This charge controller is a new upgraded product of Renogy. With it, you can expand your system up to 400W. The kit includes an 8ft 10AWG Tray Cable with which you can connect your charge controller and battery. This product has an excellent output – 500Wh per day, can charge a 50Ah battery for less than 3 hours and have the controller included. This charge controller can be used on a vehicle that has battery negative on the chassis.
The package includes mounting brackets, adaptor kits, cables and of course the solar panel. The dimensions are 47×1.5×20.9,” and the shipping weight is 25.9 pounds.
Like every other product, this one has pros and cons. Let’s take a quick look at them.
- Good quality
- Good wattage
- It can be used to power more things at ones.
- Super durable – the quality of the material is high-class, and the panels cannot be damaged easily.
- The quality of the charge controller can be better.
- Low-grade cables
2. Battery Tender Solar Maintainer with Built-in Super Smart Charging Controller
This product is a 5W panel with a microcontroller and a Built-in temperature compensation sensor. Its battery cannot be damaged by overcharging. The output is 12VDC, 270 amp DC. The panel is also water-resistant, and it has polarity protection. 12V voltage can perfectly fit a small boat. There is no problem for outdoor usage and trickle charging. It is appropriate for off-road motorcycle and all-terrain vehicles. The size is essential – 14″x16″x1″ and the product weigh 3 pounds. This item can power all the things on your boat and can perfectly suit your needs. The main benefit of this solar panel is the installation – it can be done very easy only following the instructions.
Of course, the solar panel has some advantages and disadvantages. You need to know all of them, so here is a shortlist.
- The temperature sensor is built-in.
- Good quality of materials. The panel works well for a long time.
- Easy installation and maintenance.
- When it is turned off, the battery drains fast.
- When part of the panel is in shadows, it does not work fine.
- A short life of the battery.
3. HQST Monocrystalline Solar Panel for Boat (Compact Design)
This solar panel is perfect for small boats. It is 50W 12V, made of light aluminum frame and tempered glass, the panel is waterproof and can resist the bad weather with no damages. It can handle temperature from -40℃ to 90℃. This item is anti-reflective and can withstand high winds and snow. The voltage is 16.0V. The corrosion-resistant frame allows the product to last for longer. The panel has a restricted warranty. The dimensions are 24.2×19.5×1.2″. The shipping weight is 4.26 pounds.
Here we are going to face you with some benefits and drawbacks of this solar panel.
- Even in a shaded area, the panels produce enough power.
- Excellent performance of the system.
- The panel handles the winds very well.
- Complicated installation
- Cables are not included.
4. ECO-WORTHY Solar Panel for Boat with Alligator Clip Adapter
This product is 10W 12V, and it is not suitable for a larger boat. It is very light and straightforward to install. Also, strong winds will be a problem for them. It has a high module conversion efficiency. Its bypass diodes minimize power drop caused by shade and ensure proper performance in low-light environments. This solar panel has environmental protection, and it is shockproof, rust and dust resistant. The item is portable and energy saving.
Pre-drilled holes on the backside of the panel allow quick mounting and securing. It also has a blocking diode, used to prevent discharge. The panel can charge 12V batteries, and the maintenance is almost none. The size is essential – it is not small and not significant at the same time – 8.7×13.9″.
- Easy to install
- Easy to maintain
- Very light, it weighs only 1.50 pounds
- Controller and cables not included.
- The voltage is low, and the panel could not be used for charging big things.
5. WindyNation Solar Panel Kit
Here, except the panel, you will have a controller, battery temperature sensor, cables, connectors and most importantly Installation Manual that will help you for the installation and the maintenance. The 100W solar system can provide 350Wh or 33Amp hours per day. It can be used for boats and also for RVs, cabins, homes, back-up and remote power use.
The LCD Screen shows you essential information like amperage, voltage, etc. This one is very suitable with bigger boats, its dimensions are 40×1.4×26.4″ – so it is big enough and you must have enough space for it. The shipping weight is 10.86 pounds.
- High voltage
- Instruction for installation
- Excellent performance of the controller and battery.
- Hard installation.
- No fuses included.
- Bad quality of cables.
6. ACOPOWER Mono Solar Panel for 12V Battery Charging
This is Monocrystalline solar panel. It can provide power to 10W and 12V battery charging. The installation is easy thanks to the pre-drilled hole, it has instructions and cables included. Right after the delivery, it is ready to use. This product can handle strong winds and snow, but it is very light.
Except for its usage on your boat, after the sailing season, you can also use it for a caravan, RVs, cars, boats, a greenhouse. Other ways of usage are such as a set of a solar system, solar light, solar pump, etc. The aluminum frame and anti-reflection glass give the solar system a longer life. This item also has a waterproof display. It is medium size – only 11.5×11.5×0.9″ – and the shipping weight is 6.5 pounds.
One quick look at the benefits and drawbacks of using this particular item:
- Straightforward installation
- Resists on bad weather
- Excellent quality of the battery and the controller
- If part of the panels is in shadow, the performance is bad
- Cables are not long enough
7. Renogy Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
This is the first review for a flexible panel in our list. This item is extraordinarily flexible and ultra-lightweight. Polymer materials make the product very easy to move and install. You can transport the panel without any effort. The system is 100W. The product can resist adverse weather conditions such as extreme winds and snow. It can be placed on very curvy surfaces. Thanks to the big dimensions and the power it can be used for larger boats. You can power many things with it. The size is 48×21.6×0.08″. The shipping weight is almost 8 pounds.
This product is excellent, but it has not only many advantages, but also some disadvantages. Let’s take a quick look at them:
- Very flexible
- Very light and easy to transport
- Very easy to install
- Excellent performance on overcast days.
- Grommets are not included.
- If there are some clouds, the performance is terrible.
- Cables are not included too.
8. Newpowa Poly Solar Panel Module
This product has a maximum power of 30W and voltage at Pmax is 17.20V. It has a 25-year power output warranty. The solar panel is made of durable polyester and Tedlar (TPT) and glass. Thanks to the frame that is aluminum this product is durable. The whole system is made in Vietnam. The quality materials are guaranteed for extended life of the product. Note the size that is 26.6×1.1×14.1,” and the item weighs 6.30 pounds. Unfortunately here the connector is not included.
The product may have high performance, and everything sounds great, but it also has some drawbacks. So here you can check some of them.
- It is very light
- Easy installation
- The product has a warranty
- Cables and controller not included.
- It doesn’t have top performance in winter and in adverse weather conditions.
9. Richsolar Black Off-Grid Portable Monocrystalline Solar Panel
Potent marine solar panel. 50W 12V panel is portable, and it belongs to the Monocrystalline type. This item has an aluminum frame and durable glass. The solar system performs well on cloudy days, so if you live in an area with minimal sun, it will suits your needs perfectly. This one is certified to handle challenging environmental conditions. The maximum system voltage is 1000V DC, so it is a potent one. The dimensions are also significant. The size is 26.3×20.1×1.2″ – this solar panel is very suitable for bigger boats and can power more critical and significant items on board. But it is also massive – shipping weight is 10.35 pounds.
As you already read, this particular product has some advantages, but also some disadvantages.
- High voltage
- Excellent performance in shadow and lousy weather
- Solid electrical output
- Complicated installation
- Not so portable
What Are Marine Solar Panels?
One of the main problems of people who live on boats except finding excellent boat equipment is the extraction and consumption of electricity and fresh water. 99% of the cruise ships nowadays have solar panels and wind generators, but in 99% of cases, they are not enough to cover their electricity consumption and have to burn the motors or generators if not every day, then every day.
In other words, the marine solar panel is just a solar panel that collects energy from the sun and uses it to power the boat in many ways. The most popular use of this type and the Sunpower marine solar panels is to recharge the batteries in the boat, but it can be used to power the electrical system of the sailboat.
Types Of Panels
There are two types of marine sailboat solar panel, and here we are going to introduce you to the differences between them.
Flexible Marine Solar Panels
Extremely comfortable, they are designed to be curved or bent, so they can fit any surface and most importantly your specific needs. They are perfect for small boats, where you have cramped space. This type of panels is easy to install because it is light and does not have the metal back. If you choose this type pick one of the best flexible solar panels for your needs, don’t buy a cheap product, that provides poor quality.
Standard Marine Solar Panels
They have an aluminum back, just like the other solar panels. They handle the rain and other adverse weather conditions perfectly. But they are also cumbersome and not flexible at all, so these panels are recommended if you have more space on your boat.
All marine solar panels can be divided into four other categories, according to the type of technology used.
Have the highest efficiency in direct sunshine, but also produce the most complicated process of silicon monocrystals. The oldest one. A group of a single cell is collected together and formed a single solar panel. The panel is small, uses less space.
Their efficiency is 1-2% lower than that of Monocrystalline panels, their production costs are also slightly smaller because not so pure silicon is used as in Monocrystalline. Made from single wafer slices of silicon crystals. It has a lower efficiency than the previous type but is cheaper.
This production process is, and therefore these are the cheapest solar panels. On the other hand, they have almost twice the efficiency of the crystalline panels. Just put – for the same installed power you will need twice as many panels. Less efficient than the Multicrystalline and the Monocrystalline, that is why the panels are more significant, can handle the hot and sunny day better than other types. This one has ‘shadow protection’ and can produce energy, while part of the cells is in shadow.
The cheapest type. It is made of crystal silicon material on a glass, steel or plastic sheet. It is almost the same as the Thin Film, has the same protections, but is cheaper to produce.
Benefits Of Using Marine Solar Panels
It is not obligatory to use this item, but here are some benefits of solar power for boats.
- If the panels are attached to the electrical system of the boat, it will save you a lot of fuel. And since we mentioned fuel, the portable marine fuel tanks for small boats are handy, and they are an essential part of your sailing boat set. Without electricity and fuel, what are you going to do in the water?
- They are environmental-friendly. The panels use renewable energy, which is very important, because we all live on the same planet, and yes! We care for the Earth.
- It is very easy to maintaining and can save you in dangerous situations, if the engine break-down and leaves you with no power, the solar panel can save you.
- Panels will save you time and energy.
- You can use them to power small things on board.
Like everything else, marine solar panels have some disadvantages, and here you can take a look at them.
- Solar panels take up space. Sometimes you do not have enough space on your boat, and solar panels are not a good idea.
- Energy storage is expensive.
- Sunlight availability. If there is no sun, there is no energy too.
- The whole solar panel system is expensive.
When you decide to buy something, it is essential to look for particular functions. Our team has done some research, and here we have collected the most critical information.
- Size – The size matters. Check the dimensions of the panel carefully – if it will fit your boat and your needs.
- Wattage – Check how much energy you need. When you have the idea of how much power you need, check the wattage of the solar system.
- Batteries and storage – Some types of solar panels can store energy. This is a perfect feature for rainy days.
Installation of the marine solar panel, just as the installation of the outboard motor can be hard. Our most important tip is to check the manual of the manufacturer. But here are some more tips for easier installation.
- All parts of the solar systems must be waterproof.
- Choose the right place on the boat to install the panel.
- Be careful with the wires. The boat’s configuration will define where the cables will go.
- Check the type of the panel – with zips, with Velcro, with glue or with frame.
- Always follow the instruction for installation.
Blocked in the sunlight towards panels reduce the efficiency of the systems. As a result, other factors are being imposed, such as environmental pollution, etc. As a result, the amount of electricity produced. To maintain high efficiency of the panels, we can advise to clean them in a few weeks, which is especially difficult for large groups of panels if done manually.
A new technology to fix this is the self-cleaning nano-hydrophobic material that covers the panel and maintains its high efficiency over long periods. The cover the panel is sturdy as it actually involves covalent bonding which goes to the top side of the panel that faces the Sun. This is an excellent advantage over-spraying coatings, whose characteristics worsen over time.
The principle of this coating creates a barrier that stops water from penetrating the body of the panel or to even stick to the surface. This explains also why all panels are tilted. It’s so that water can drip down freely without staying on the surface of the unit.
This means that when the treated surface is tilted, the water spheres are rolled out of the surface. Taking care of all your stuff is essential. Your marine solar panel is not an exception. Now we can discuss how to maintain it.
- Check the manual for instruction.
- Use some warm water and mild detergent.
- Microfiber rug will help you to remove dust.
- Always make sure that the system is completely dry.
- Always check if the wires are dry.
- Check all electrical parts to be sure everything is okay.
In the final, our team has prepared some tips for your safety. Do not forget that security is paramount.
- Do not forget to check the system frequently.
- If you have some doubts, call a technician. They will help you.
- All wires must be dry.
- If not install correctly, the system will not work right.
- Not cleaning the panels will cause a lack of sunlight and energy.
- If you do not choose the right place for the panels, the boat can lose its balance.
Well done, you guys, you have successfully finished our buying guide on finding the best marine solar panels. Having read our reviews on the classiest marine solar panels and our additional information and tips, you now realize that finding a reliable product can be a bit hard. It is necessary to have the right pump for your boat, do not forget the maintenance and always follow the manual and the safety tips, so you can enjoy your boat and your trip in the water.
If you find our guide useful, forward it to your sailing-loving friends. Also, do not hesitate to contact us – your opinion is important! Comment, sent us an email – tell us what you think!
We hope that you find this text interesting. Find some more free time and check our articles – you can find information about all the marine supplies you need.