Solar Energy and Boats: How to Equip Your Boat with Solar Panels

Solar Energy And Boats: How To Equip Your Boat With Solar Panels

If you are a true nature lover and are passionate about environmental conservation, then solar boats may interest you.

They provide you the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful day out on the water with your friends, family, or all by yourself without having to worry about adding to the rising emissions of carbon monoxide.

Here in this article, we will tell you how to equip your boat with solar panels to help you avail full benefits of renewable energy.

Advantages of Solar Boats

Advantages Of Solar Boats

Using solar energy to fulfill your electricity requirements has several benefits for you as well as for the environment. It is an investment that you will not regret.

It Reduces Carbon Emission

Perhaps the greatest advantage of using solar boats is that it reduces carbon emission. Carbon monoxide is produced in exhaust engines that are commonly used to power automobiles and boats.

The gas is extremely toxic, and can prove deadly if you are exposed to it within a confined space over an extended period.

Reduces Noise Pollution

The only thing that can ruin a nice day out on the water is the loud and consistent noise of the engine. As long as you are dependent on fossil fuel, there is no way to get rid of it, either.

The simplest solution is to switch to solar panels. Electricity production via solar energy is a noiseless operation that allows you to enjoy your excursion trip to the max.

No More Fuel Cost

Dock fuel is atrociously over-priced, and if you are a boat owner, you’d know that it costs a lot to get your boat refueled.

One way to avoid paying for over-priced fuel is to get the tank filled out of the water, but that is still going to cost you a substantial sum.

By switching to solar energy, you can totally cut out refueling costs from your life. It is a one-time investment that will prove cost-effective and incredibly beneficial for you in the long run.

However, to enjoy the full advantages of solar boats, you need to ensure you install the right solar panels.

What Kind of Solar Panels Can Be Installed on the Boats?

What Kind Of Solar Panels Can Be Installed On The Boats?

To solar power your boat, you need to opt for marine solar panels and not the ones you use for a residential and commercial building.

Besides being completely waterproof, marine solar panels also have to bear harsh weather conditions and strong winds. Plus, they are a lot more adaptable to the structure of the boat as compared to regular panels.


Glass-fronted panels are ideal for harsh weather conditions. They feature a sturdy aluminum frame and a solid glass front which allows for maximum sun exposure while being incredibly durable.

You can drill them or mount them on the railing or deck, and they will provide maximum utility in all positions. In fact, they are the cheapest and the most widely used marine solar panels in the market.

There are two basic types of glass-fronted panels: polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels.

While primarily, they both serve the same function, that is, to capture the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity. There is a huge difference in the production efficiency of both.

Polycrystalline Panels

They tend to have lower efficiency than monocrystalline panels and are cheaper than their counterparts. Polycrystalline panels have a bluish tint instead of a black one.

They are made by melting many silicon crystals together, which leaves little space for electrons to move to reduce the panel’s efficiency. However, their low price point is what fuels demand for these panels.

Monocrystalline Panels

As the name suggests, monocrystalline panels feature only a single silicon crystal, which allows the electrons freedom of movement, increasing their production efficiency.

It is their high electricity production that gets justifies their premium grade title and really high price tag.

Polycarbonate Panels

Polycarbonate panels are the most expensive out of all. Even though they use polycrystalline technology, they are a lot more efficient and sturdy.

They are made from a thermoplastic that is extremely durable and lightweight, which drastically reduces transportation and installation costs.

Adjustable and Non-Adjustable

While your choice of material will depend largely on your electricity requirements, budget, and style preference, you will also have to keep space constraints in mind.

If you have a small boat and don’t have a lot of surfaces to install hardcover solar panels, then you should opt for adjustable ones. They offer a lot more flexibility as they lack the metal support and can fit in nooks and crannies.

The alternative is standard marine panels that come with an aluminum support structure, which adds to their weight and size.

They need a substantial amount of space but are a lot more resilient against harsh weather conditions.

They are also known as non-adjustable panels, and you can choose from either polycrystalline, monocrystalline, or polycarbonate panels depending upon your budget, space, and requirements.

If efficiency is what you seek, then monocrystalline panels are ideal. If you want to save money, and don’t have space constraints, then you can install polycrystalline panels.

However, polycarbonate panels are ideal only when you have a large-sized boat and want something efficient and stylish.

They are quite sturdy and can withhold their own against harsh weather conditions, which makes them the perfect option for areas that are accustomed to being on the receiving end of natural disasters.

How Much Power Can You Draw Via Solar Energy?

Solar panels can prove to be incredibly energy efficient depending upon the type of panel you use.

You can even optimize their productivity by adjusting the panels to ensure maximum sunlight exposure. The stronger the exposure, the higher the productivity.

The number of panels you will need depends mainly upon the size of the boat. A single 100 Watt panel can produce around 500Wh of electricity if exposed to direct sunlight for five hours.

The energy requirement for most small and medium-sized boats is often less than that, and one panel suffices.

However, for some medium and large-sized vessels like a yacht, you may need a multi-panel set up to meet your electricity needs. You can evaluate your needs according to the appliances on the vessel.


Light bulb
Mini Fridge
GPS display

Daily hours of use


Energy consumption

360 Wh
4800 Wh
800 Wh
150 Wh
800 Wh

Based on this general consumption pattern, you can evaluate what appliances you have on your boat and how much energy each draws depending upon hours of use. Unless you have a mini-fridge, one 100W panel should suffice for all other uses.

Is Solar Energy a Viable Boat Fueling Solution?

Is Solar Energy A Viable Boat Fueling Solution?

Adopting a green lifestyle is essential in these trying times. If you can save money while doing it, then why wouldn’t you adopt an environmental-friendly lifestyle?

Investing in a solar boat is the perfect way to adopt an environmentally friendly recreational activity.

With solar panels, you can even store electricity produced on a bright sunny day and take your family on a ride when the weather is cloudy and calling you outdoors.

With solar boats, you don’t have to worry about not getting enough sunlight as they stand out on the deck all day and are bound to receive ample sun exposure. You can even install them at a particular angle to ensure they get the maximum sunlight.

With an efficient battery system, you can store the energy produced for later. Most panels only need 4 hours of sunlight at max. Even if your panel isn’t as efficient as others in the market, 5 hours of sun exposure should be enough to power our boat.



Switching to a renewable energy source not only saves you money spent on dicking fuel, which is outrageously overpriced, but also reduces carbon emission.

Before you decide on which renewable energy source to opt for, ask yourself these questions.

  • What are your powering needs?
  • How much electricity will you require?
  • Will your boat need modifications?
  • What are the weather conditions? Are they optimal for your choice of energy source?

Out of the water, wind, and solar, the last seems to be the most viable option for boats. Solar panels are easy to install and will not require modification to the existing system. They can effortlessly produce enough electricity to power the generator.

The problem with wind is that it often changes direction out on the sea, river, or lake. In such a situation, the windmill may not always be able to turn.

Using geothermal or biomass to power your boat is also too much of a hassle and would require modifications to the vessel.

Solar energy is the most viable, cost-effective, and eco-friendly energy source. It is easy to install and energy-efficient. Sunlight is always abundantly available out on the water.

Even on cloudy days, you can be assured that the panels are receiving enough exposure to power the boat.

If you are an environmentalist, then solar boats are the right for you. You can even install solar panels to save money.

Make sure to hire a competent contractor who can install a fail-proof solar system to meet all your needs, and you should be good to go.