When you are on your boat, the last thing would want to worry about is having enough power. You might want to give your engine a rest, and that is where solar panels come in. They are a clean way of efficiently generating energy and charging your batteries. Plus, they are more cost-effective than you would like to think. But what makes a solar panel suitable for boats? Read ahead as we review the best marine solar panels with a buying guide included.
Marine Solar Panel Buying Guide
Before we get started, this buying guide includes everything that is there for you to know about marine solar panels, so that you can decide on the right panel for you.
The first thing you need to consider is how much energy you will need. Only then can you decide which type of solar panels you will require or how much space will be necessary.
You can base your decision by figuring out a few things. Whether you will solely be relying on the solar panel for energy, or splitting it with your engine. The number of appliances that are going to be dependent on the panel and their power demands. And the overall electricity load.
Generally, boats require somewhere between 100 watts to 300 watts but can vary according to the type and size of your boat.
For example, if your energy need is 400 watts, you do not necessarily purchase a 400-watt panel. It is expensive and occupies a lot of space. Instead, you can simply get four 100 watt panels and set them up around different places.
Now that you know how much energy you need, it is time for you to figure out which type of panel will best suit you. There are three basic types of solar panels, polycrystalline, monocrystalline, and amorphous.
Polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels are made from blocks of silicon. While polycrystalline solar cells have silicon fragments melted together, monocrystalline cells are individual crystals of silicon.
Although they are both efficient in generating energy, monocrystalline has higher efficiency but is also more expensive. Amorphous or thin-film cells are the least efficient among the three but are sought after because of their ability to perform well in low light settings and bend.
Size and Weight
Some solar panels are quite heavy and can be quite a hassle. If you are not willing to mount such a weighty panel you can always look into less efficient thin-film panels.
Also, if you have limited space then you can opt for panels that are relatively smaller in size. Always look at the dimensions of the panel to make sure. If space is a problem, you can always mount your solar panel in an unconventional space. However, that will not be possible if your solar panel is fixed.
It is important to remember that the size of your panel does not determine its power output. You can find plenty of panels that are somewhat compact in size but have a high output.
Mounting Your Panel
Mounting your panel in the right place is crucial, as you need your panel to get the right amount of sun exposure, especially in cloudy or low light conditions. Consider the deck or canvas.
If you are on your boat a lot, then you can choose a permanently fixed solar panel. This will save you the trouble of having to install and reinstall it whenever you are onboard. On the other hand, flexible and foldable solar panels are a great option if you have to move the panel around often.
Many flexible panels come with pre-drilled holes which can be used to easily mount the panel. Foldable panels come with handles to carry them around. They are both ideal choices for portability but are less weather-resistant than fixed solar panels.
Best Marine Solar Panels in 2021
Renogy 800 Watt Marine Solar Panel Kit
21% efficiency rate
Bypass diodes to minimize power drop
Low iron tempered glass that is anti-reflective and high transparency
Aluminum frame that is resistant to corrosion
The battery charging process in 4 stages
Pre-drilled back mounting hole
RICH SOLAR 100 Watt Polycrystalline Marine Solar Panels
Coated tempered glass is anti-reflective
Anodized aluminum frame
Bypass diodes to stable power
14 pre-drilled holes
25 years of power output
Material and workmanship has 5 years of warranty
Newpowa 200 Watt Monocrystalline Marine Solar Panel
PWM charge controller with LCD screen
Plenty of off-grid applications
4 pre-drilled holes for mounting
IP65 waterproof certificate
EVA coating and TPT back sheet
Renogy 100 Watt Monocrystalline Flexible Solar Panel
IP68 waterproof certificate
248 degrees flexibility range
70% lighter than conventional panels
WindyNation 100 Watt Marine Solar Panel Kit
PWM charge controller with LCD screen
Adjustable settings on the charge controller
350-watt hours per day
ECO-WORTHY 25 Watt Monocrystalline Off-Grid Solar Panel
SAE connector cable is 9.85 feet
The USB charge controller has indicators to check the status
365 days of warranty
‘Plug and play’ set up
Comes with pre-drilled holes
1. Renogy 800 Watt Marine Solar Panel Kit
This Renogy marine solar panel kit includes everything that you might need to install your panel and generates a whopping 800 watts of power. Made from eight monocrystalline panels, this highly efficient solar panel can easily power your boat and all your other appliances.
The bypass diodes prevent power drop even in low light conditions, and the TPT back sheet ensures smooth performance. The IP65 certificate guarantees the junction box complete protection and the aluminum frame is resistant to corrosion.
So you know this high-performing panel is going to last you a while. The best thing about the Renogy Marine Solar Panel is its new BlueTooth module that allows you to monitor and change the parameters using your phone.
2. RICH SOLAR 100 Watt Polycrystalline Marine Solar Panels
This RICH SOLAR marine solar panel is specifically made for going off the grid. You can avail of this 100-watt panel in a single or double pack. Despite using polycrystalline cells, this use of bypass diodes helps stabilize the power in any weather condition, thus, ensuring the efficiency of this solar panel.
If we talk about the durability of the panel, then you should know that it has an IP65 waterproof certificate, an anti-reflective low iron tempered glass, and an anodized aluminum frame.
The use of these high-quality materials makes them strong and capable of handling extreme temperatures. What we liked about this RICH SOLAR panel is that it comes with 14 pre-drilled holes that make mounting super easy and convenient.
3. Newpowa 200 Watt Monocrystalline Marine Solar Panel
The Newpowa marine solar panel is ideal if you are a beginner user. The kit comes with two 100 watt monocrystalline panels, a 30A PWM charge controller with an LCD screen, MC4 connectors with cables, two cables with ring terminals, MC4 connectors, and Z-bracket pair.
The monocrystalline cells have an EVA coating that protects the panel from moisture formation, air entry, and sun damage. To add to its durability, the panel has an IP65 waterproof certificate and sports anodized frames that can handle the toughest of weather.
Along with having a TPT back sheet that helps enhance its performance, you get four pre-drilled holes in each corner that makes installation super easy.
4. Renogy 100 Watt Monocrystalline Flexible Solar Panel
What makes this Renogy solar panel unique is its extreme flexibility of up to 248 degrees, which allows the panel to be mounted on any curved surface or awkward position.
This is especially useful in boats as you do not have to worry about assigning a set place to mount the panel. This super durable panel has an IP68 waterproof certificate which is the highest you can get in the solar panel market.
The panel can handle 2400 Pa of wind and 5400 Pa of snow. So you know you will be getting good use out of this panel in every season. The best part is ultra-thin and light.
So much so that, it is estimated that the Renogy panel is 70% lighter than your regular solar panels and 95% thinner. To install this panel by using structural adhesives you may need the help of a contractor.
5. WindyNation 100 Watt Marine Solar Panel Kit
This WindyNation marine solar panel comes with a full kit including a 100-watt monocrystalline panel, cables, connectors, charge controller that has an LCD screen, mounting brackets, and more.
You will essentially be getting almost everything that you need with a solar panel. If the monocrystalline cells were not enough, the charge controller allows you to use about four 100 watts panels for a 12-volt system. You will get an average of 350 watts an hour per day.
What we like about the charge controller is that it comes with an LCD screen that can be used to control and monitor the temperature, amp-hours, voltage, DC load draw, etc.
6. ECO-WORTHY 25 Watt Monocrystalline Off-Grid Solar Panel
If you do not want to deal with the complicated hassle of setting up your panel, then the ECO-WORTHY off-grid solar panel is your answer. It comes with a ‘plug and play’ notion, which essentially means that you just have to connect the components and you are good to go.
To add to its convenient installation, the panel comes with pre-drilled holes that make mounting super easy. This set includes a modest 25-watt panel, controllers, clamps, cables, and rings. What the set lacks though are mounting brackets. Or else otherwise this would have been a complete set with everything that you may need.
The most notable feature of this ECO-WORTHY solar panel is that the charge controller has LED lights that indicate when it's charging or discharging. Plus, you get a whole year of warranty and 24/7 technical support free with this solar panel.
Solar panels are a great way of generating power. Once you get used to them there is no going back. Plus they are much quieter compared to regular engines. In our article, we have tried to include only the best marine solar panels that you can find in the market.
However, we would recommend the Renogy 800 Watt Marine Solar Panel Kit if you have a large boat. It is a complete kit, and we assure you that there will be nothing for you to complain about.
You can also read about best portable solar panels