Solar panels are beneficial not just because they are a clean and renewable energy product, but there are many other benefits. As with many eco-friendly technologies it is not perfect, but there are many pros to having solar panels on your boat, and this makes them a good long-term investment.
Although solar panels cannot replace an engine or generator, they are a good source of backup power. They also require sunny conditions to provide power, and shady/short days are not optimal. However, there are many benefits to having solar panels onboard:
- They provide more power to use throughout the boat
- They do not produce noise, which is great for you and your neighbours
- They do not require fuel and do not product exhaust, therefore being very eco-friendly.
- They can prevent under-charged batteries. Batteries can be topped up daily by a solar panel, and this increases their lifetime.
So now that we have determined that solar panels can be an amazing addition to your boat’s systems, here are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing solar panels:
- Panels must produce as much power as you are using daily, so the number and size of panels depend on your power use.
- Thin film panels are better for producing power from low light and the modern ones are lightweight and easy to mount, but traditional heavy-framed crystalline panels produce more power overall.
- Look for brands that are warrantied for 20+ years, they tend to be better performing. Other features such as waterproof junction boxes and wiring connectors are also important.
There is a lot more to learn and understand about solar panels. To check out some popular solar power products, visit http://pysystems.ca/solar. To know more about the benefits of solar panels, how to pick the right solar panel and how to install a solar panel on your boat, check out our June “Tech Talk” article in Pacific Yachting magazine.