Solar panels are an increasingly popular option to recharge a boat battery. They are easy to install, are built to withstand variable weather conditions and can be configured to fit on irregular surfaces like canvas tops. Marine solar panels have become an economical choice as the overall cost has continued to drop, making them accessible to a broader range of boat owners. With many models and features to consider, solar panels are an excellent option to becoming self-sufficient on the water.
There are two different types of marine solar panels to consider for your boat. You can choose between flexible or standard solar panels, each with various features.
Standard Marine Solar Panels
The main advantage of standard marine solar panels is that they can handle incredibly strong winds and rain. They are strengthened with an aluminum backing that makes them five times heavier than flexible panels.
Flexible Marine Solar Panels
As the name suggests, flexible marine solar panels can be bent into a curve, allowing them to be installed on irregular boat surfaces like canvas. They are much lighter solar panels because they do not have a metal backing like standard panels.
Choosing the right marine solar panel to fit your boat will depend on several things:
1. Power Requirements
A solar panel will be able to sufficiently meet your needs only if it has the capacity of covering your power requirements. Calculating your power requirements is the first step in determining what solar panel will be best for your boat.
This is done by adding up all the energy in Watts-hours used by each electrical device on your boat. These can include fridges, computers or lights. You must then determine what percentage of your total energy needs you would like to cover with marine solar panels.
2. Space Available
If you are short on space, the importance of choosing a solar panel that gives you the highest level of Watts per unit while balancing the price per Watt is crucial. A crystalline continues to be the best choice in this scenario.
When other factors are more important than space, different types of marine solar panels like amorphous panels may be considered.
3. Panel Types
Once 00you have determined your energy needs and the available space available, it is time to think of what type of panel you want to install. There are three types of marine solar panels available:
- Amorphous panels – flexible panels tolerant to low light, but need large amounts of space
- Polycrystalline panels (also multi-crystalline panels) – best for unobstructed sunlight and can be fitted as standard panels or semi-flexible ones
- Monocrystalline panels – most economical and best starting point for new ones, but rely on unobstructed sunlight
- 4. Budget Constraints
The other main variable in choosing the best solar panel for your boat is what budget you have. The more powerful, larger or flexible marine solar panels will generally be higher in price.
Whatever solar panel you decide to choose, local experts are available to complete a full setup for you. As a quality, hassle-free solution, professional installation of marine solar panels in Michigan will ensure your solar panel is installed correctly and that you are fully trained and confident on its use.