Solar panels have gone from new-age tech to everyday conveniences, thanks to advancement in tech and improved accessibility. They are in use in many homes as alternative power sources and backups for emergencies, as well as supporting many solar-powered devices. This increased popularity means that there are more and more applications and possibilities.
Now it is easy for boat owners to set up solar systems on their vessels. Solar panels on a boat can be a great way to charge up a battery without using the engine. The right set-up can also provide power to electronics on-board.
What Do Boat Owners Need To Bring Solar To Their Vessel?
A solar setup for a boat is pretty straightforward regarding the components required, and not too different from a typical system. Boat owners need the panels, the battery to hold power and the charge controller. However, the later depends on the output of the panels.
Those who aren’t likely to overload the battery won’t need a controller. All boat owners need to make sure that they understand their power needs and get the appropriate panels and size of battery for the job.
When choosing a solar panel system for the boat, owners need to know the difference between the options. The first is the mono-crystalline panel that is a familiar name among most solar users. This is the typical panel for home use, and they are also proven to work on large loads.
The use of silicon creates a high current and reliable performance. The alternative is the Amorphous thin film Silicon panel. This is a popular idea with boat owners because the panels are flexible and can conform to different shapes, like the sides of cabins and boats.
While they are convenient, they are not always effective. This means that they may not replenish the battery efficiently or handle so many electronic devices.
Where Should You Put These Panels For The Best Result?
Of course, a boat isn’t going to get that high level of solar power from these batteries of incorrect installation. The ideal scenario here is a panel positioned in the optimal place for intense, direct sunlight. The more sunlight that penetrates the cells, the more power is then created.
An amorphous panel that is square to the sun can produce a 100% output, while a lightly overcast day can reduce this to 60-80%. This means that boat owners need to place the panels perpendicular to the sun rays, with minimal shade or shadows.
Any shadows cast over the panel is a spot where energy cannot be easily generated. At the same time, users are also recommended to add some form of ventilation to these panel to stop them from overheating. An overheating panel can lead to a reduction in performance and possible damage
It can be difficult to find the best place to position these panels on a boat to get the best access to the sun’s rays. This is especially true when users moor the boat up, and the panels are not adjustable with the sun’s movement. It is a different story when out on the water in a moving boat.
Also, there is the potential to use portable panels, rather than fixed ones. They can be easily moved around the boat and folded away. However, many would advise against this approach as they are not as weatherproof as the permanent options. These larger panels can be set up in brackets and fixed in a permanent position for a robust, reliable approach.
Solar Panel Installations For Boats Need Some Thought, But They Can Be Highly Beneficial.
There are some careful considerations needed for a successful solar power system on a boat. It needs to be carefully installed into the best positions, with the right panel type and battery.
The good news is that advancement in flexible panels and tech means that it is even easier to create an effective system. Those that do this effectively and make the most of these panels can enjoy the benefit of an additional power source to provide energy to their batteries, save their engines and enjoy their time on board the boat.