8 Best Solar Panels for Boats – Longer Adventures in the Sea (Fall 2022)

In this article, you'll find the best solar panels for boats chosen by their most important features like power, size, installation easiness and durability
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Last updatedLast updated: November 10, 2022
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There aren’t many things worse than your boat battery running flat suddenly. Interestingly, you can prevent that kind of mess by opting for solar power—the sun’s inexhaustible energy.

However, going for solar power is not that simple, you’ll need the best solar panels for boats to call on. Unsurprisingly, there are many of them on the market but not all of them have what it takes to help you out.

Hence, we’ve tested the top-rated solar panels on the market based on their type, voltage, power output & current, dimensions & weight, cables & connection, and other features that make them ideal for boats.

In this article, we’ll recommend the solar panels we identified to be highly efficient and effective. Let’s get you to know all about the best solar panels for your boat!

Top 8 Solar Panels for Boats Review 2022

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Features
  • Dimensions: 48 x 21.6 x 0.08 in
  • Max power output: 100 W
  • Max voltage: 18.9 V
  • Max current: 15 A
  • Weight: 4.2 lbs
  • Warranty: 25-year limited power output; 5-year material and workmanship

More features: monocrystalline, IP67 waterproof rate, operating temperatures of -40°F to 185°F

Sitting atop our list of the best marine solar panels is the Renogy Flexible Solar Panel. Made from advanced polymer materials, this panel is lightweight. Unlike traditional solar panels that are typically rigid, this product is extremely flexible, making it versatile.

Besides, the Renogy Flexible Solar Panel is a monocrystalline panel that’s designed for off-grid applications. That means you can use the panel to power your boat. This product is also ideal for RV, rooftop, and any curved surface, thanks to its flexibility. This unique flexibility makes the panel one of the best flexible solar panels for boats.

Why is it special?

  • The Renogy Flexible Solar Panel is not short of positives. First of all, we liked that the panel is designed to withstand excessive wind of up to 2,400 Pascals (Pa) and snow loads of up to 5,400 Pa. Additionally, the panel boasts a waterproof rating of IP68 that makes it ideal for outdoor use. Furthermore, we liked the solar panel’s moderate design that makes it one of the best small solar panels for boats.

What are the flaws?

  • The biggest issue we discovered with the Renogy Flexible Solar Panel is the absence of grommets or holes in the corners. Expectedly, the absence of holes makes it difficult to secure the panel on a boat. When testing the equipment, we had to part with a few more dollars to buy an adhesive to install the panel. The presence of holes or grommets could make life easier for sailors.
RELATED: 10 Best 100-watt Solar Panels of the Highest Quality (Fall 2022)
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Features
  • Dimensions: 22.2 x 1.1 x 85 in (unfolded)
  • Max power output: 300 W
  • Max voltage: 18 V
  • Max current: 16.67 A
  • Weight: 17 lbs
  • Warranty: 5-year limited on material and workmanship

More features: 2 UDB ports, carrying bag included, IP65 waterproof

The DOKIO 300W Portable Solar Panel Kit features nearly everything you want to make your equipment deliver power. From the main panel to the solar charger, this product works out of the box. Despite packing 300W of power, the panel is only 0.9-inch thick, making it easily foldable.

If you’re looking to upgrade the old panel on your boat, the DOKIO 300W Portable Solar Panel Kit seems like the perfect choice. It boasts a monocrystalline solar cell that produces greater power efficiency than most traditional models. Apart from being ideal for boats, this panel works for RVs, trucks, vans, and trailers too.

What makes it stand out?

  • The DOKIO 300W Portable Solar Panel boasts a unique design that’s full of power, yet lightweight and foldable for easy installation. The kit contains a solar charger that works with 12-volt batteries. Also, this charger protects against overcharging, short-circuit, and overloading. Moreover, the panel has a wide range of applications, including boats, trucks, trailers, RVs, etc. Finally, it's certified safe with CE and ISO certifications.

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • Did we mention that the DOKIO 300W Portable Solar Panel Kit comes with a controller? Yes, it does. But, it didn’t impress us. It gets quite hot during operation. To be fair though, the manual warns that the controller can get hot and temporarily shut down itself to cool and start up again. In our opinion, the controller's engineering could be better to make the controller more efficient.
RELATED: 6 Best 300 Watt Solar Panels – Powering With Perfection! (Fall 2022)
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3
Best Roof Solar Panel

Topsolar 100W Solar Panel Kit

Features
  • Dimensions: 46.5 x 21.8 x 1.37 in
  • Max power output: 100 W
  • Max voltage: 24 V
  • Max current: 20 A
  • Weight: 15 lbs
  • Warranty: 5-year limited on material and workmanship

More features: IP65 waterproof, corrosion resistant frame, 2400 Pa static load, 23m/s wind resistance

The Topsolar 100W Solar Panel Kit comes with an intelligent charge controller and a panel made with high-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells. A heavy-duty anodized, corrosion-resistant aluminum frame and tempered glass coating protect the panel from wear and weathering. The kit also includes extension cables and mounting holes.

If you’re looking for the best roof solar panel, you might not get better than the Topsolar 100W Solar Panel. Not only is this sailboat solar panel kit built to withstand harsh weather conditions, but it’s also equipped with a bracket that adapts the mounting angle for excellent sunlight reception.

What are our favorite features?

  • One of the things the Topsolar 100W Solar Panel has going for it is its heavy-duty frame. The aluminum frame is corrosion-proof and features a coating shield that shields it from wear and harsh weather. Also, we liked the kit's intelligent charge controller that protects your boat’s batteries from overcharging, short circuit, and discharging. Finally, we liked that the kit comes with a mounting bracket, cables, and other tools that ensure a seamless installation.

What could be better?

  • There’s hardly anything to complain about when it comes to the Topsolar 100W Solar Panel but the packaging could be better. Our panel’s aluminum frame came dented in a few places. In our opinion, the packaging doesn’t include enough interior packaging materials to protect the panel. Without question, the poor packaging can be a deal-breaker for some sailors, so it could be better.
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Features
  • Dimensions: 58.7 x 26.8 x 1.4 in
  • Max power output: 200 W
  • Max voltage: 24.3 V
  • Max current: 10.2 A
  • Weight: 26.5 lbs
  • Warranty: 25-year limited power output; 5-year material and workmanship

More features: 14 pre-drilled mounting holes, anodized aluminum frame

The RICH SOLAR Monocrystalline Solar Panel sports a durable and heavy-duty design. It is built with an anodized aluminum frame and strong high-transmission tempered glass. Also, the panel is designed to perform on mornings, evenings, and cloudy days, when the sun isn’t forthcoming.

If you want a solar panel that installs easily and quickly on your boat, the RICH SOLAR Monocrystalline Solar Panel is your guy. It comes with quick-connect cables, 14 pre-drilled holes, tilt mounts, side pole mounts, and Z-brackets to ensure easy installation.

Why are we impressed?

  • Installing the RICH SOLAR 200 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel is a breeze. The panel comes with everything you need for a seamless installation. Also, it boasts great low-light performance on mornings, evenings, and cloudy days. Furthermore, the panel's anodized aluminum frame and coated tempered glass make the equipment durable. If you’re not sold on this product yet, the 25-year limited power output warranty should convince you.

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • Although the RICH SOLAR Monocrystalline Solar Panel is quite efficient, the packaging is not good enough and can cause problems. The poor packaging means some panels come damaged on the frame. While the product can be returned, it doesn’t make the disappointment of having damaged frames less painful. Surely, the packaging could be better to make the panel more attractive to buyers.
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Features
  • Dimensions: 20 x 42.4 x 1.38 in
  • Max power output: 100 W
  • Max voltage: 24 V
  • Max current: 30 A
  • Weight: 14.3 lbs
  • Warranty: 25-year limited power output; 5-year material and workmanship

More features: anti-corrosion frame, IP65 waterproof, drainage holes, Z-bracket mounting system, operating temperature -40°F to +185°F

The Renogy KIT-STARTER-100D features a corrosion-resistant aluminum frame that makes it suitable for outdoor use. As a matter of fact, the frame can withstand high winds of up to 2,400Pa and snow loads of up to 5,400Pa. Also, the equipment supports lithium batteries, gel batteries, and lead-acid batteries.

If you’ve got a small budget and you still want a reliable solar panel for your boat, the Renogy KIT-STARTER-100D is made for you. At a relatively low price, you get almost everything you need to power your boat. From the solar charge controller to the pre-drilled holes, life’s easier as a sailor with this solar panel kit.

Why are we impressed?

  • The Renogy KIT-STARTER-100D comes with a solar charge controller that improves system performance and increases battery life. Plus, it prevents your boat's battery from overcharging, over-voltage, short circuit, and discharge. Also, the panel features plug & play cables and pre-drilled holes that allow quick installation. Besides boats, this equipment has many other applications, including trailers, cabins, sheds, RVs, etc. Furthermore, the product offers a 5-year warranty.

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • Installing the Renogy KIT-STARTER-100D could have been easier for us if both ends of the cables were labeled. Only one end of the cables is marked as “+” and “-”, making it difficult to know which is which. If you’re not very lucky, you may spend several minutes trying to figure things out. Another concern is the controller’s poor connection that allows cables to pop out sometimes. Surely, the connection could be better.
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Features
  • Dimensions: 36.3 x 26.4 x 1.2 in
  • Max power output: 200 W
  • Max voltage: 24 V
  • Max current: 20 A
  • Weight: 31.9 lbs
  • Warranty: not specified

More features: corrosion-resistant frame, IP65 waterproof, LCD screen, Z-bracket mounting system

The Pikasola Solar Panel Kit contains several important components, including a monocrystalline panel made from a highly efficient solar cell. The panel’s toughened glass and corrosion-resistant aluminum frame help it to withstand high snow loads and winds. Also, there’s an IP65 Waterproof Junction Box that protects against environmental particles.

Moreover, the Pikasola Solar Panel is expandable to a maximum power output of up to 240W (12V) or 480W (24V), making it perfect for big boats. So, if you’ve got a big boat, you know the panel to consider. Also, the kit features an LCD that makes the panel easier to use on your solar power sailboat. With its enormous power, this panel could pass as one of the best yacht solar panels.

Why are we impressed?

  • The Pikasola Solar Panel Kit contains everything you need to get a big boat going. It features a 12V/24V system that allows you to expand the panel up to a maximum of 240W (12V) or 480W (24V). Also, the solar charge controller offers multiple protections, including overcharge, discharge, short circuit, overload, and reverse connection. Furthermore, the panel features pre-drilled holes and mounting Z brackets to make installation a seamless exercise.

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • The Pikasola Solar Panel's cables are a bit too short and cause problems during installation. To test the panel to our satisfaction, we had to buy extension cables that are long enough for installation. Of course, this cost us extra dollars. As if that wasn’t enough, there was the concern of losing wattage due to the extension cables. We couldn’t confirm this concern but it shouldn’t have been if the included cables are long enough.
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7
Most Durable Frame

Newpowa 200W Monocrystalline

Features
  • Dimensions: 64.57 x 26.57 x 1.38 in
  • Max power output: 200 W
  • Max voltage: 17 V
  • Max current: 11.76 A
  • Weight: 27.56 lbs
  • Warranty: 25-year limited power output; 5-year material and workmanship

More features: 2400PA wind resistance, withstands 5400PA snow loads, IP65 waterproof

The Newpowa Monocrystalline Solar Panel and its junction box are protected from water splash (IP65 waterproof rating) and common weather conditions, including high winds and snow loads. On top of that, this panel features multi-layered sheet laminations that improve cell performance and ensure durable service life.

Furthermore, the Newpowa Monocrystalline Solar Panel features a heavy-duty anodized frame that offers robust protection for the structure. In terms of longevity, this panel boasts the most durable frame you can buy to power your boat for several years. A 25-year transferable power output warranty guarantees that.

What makes it stand out?

  • One of the most important qualities you want in the ideal solar panel for your boat is weather protection. The Newpowa Monocrystalline Solar Panel doesn’t disappoint in this area. It’s designed to withstand high winds (up to 2,400Pa) and hail & snow loads (up to 5,400Pa). Best of all, this equipment features a heavy-duty anodized frame that provides durable strong protection for the structure. We also liked the multi-layered sheet laminations that enhance cell performance.

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • If you’re thinking about installing the Newpowa Monocrystalline Solar Panel out of the box, you’ve got another thing coming for you, sadly. The panel doesn’t come with brackets for installation. Unfortunately, the manufacturer doesn’t indicate that buyers will need to buy brackets separately since some manufacturers offer them. In our opinion, this situation could be handled in a better way, either by providing brackets or indicating their absence.
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8
Best Polycrystalline Solar Panel

RICH SOLAR 200-Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel

Features
  • Dimensions: 39.6 x 26.4 x 1.4 in
  • Max power output: 200 W
  • Max voltage: 22.6 V
  • Max current: 5.41 A
  • Weight: 17.5 lbs
  • Warranty: 25-year limited power output; 5-year material and workmanship

More features: 3 ft cable, 14 pre-drilled holes, anodized aluminum frame

The RICH SOLAR Polycrystalline Solar Panel rounds off our review of the best sailboat solar panels. It boasts a multi-layer protective system and solar energy chips that maintain efficient energy conversion. On top of that, this panel features an anti-reflective and low iron tempered glass and an IP65-rated junction box that protects it against environmental particles.

You’ve seen a lot of monocrystalline solar panels already, but the RICH SOLAR Polycrystalline Solar Panel provides a glimpse into what polycrystalline panels look like. It works with 36 efficient polycrystalline solar cells that deliver excellent performance. So, if you’re looking for the best polycrystalline solar panel for your boat, this product may be suitable for you.

What makes it stand out?

  • The RICH SOLAR Polycrystalline Solar Panel has some interesting positives, including the 36 efficient polycrystalline solar cells. Plus, the junction box provides reliable protection against low-pressure water jets and other environmental particles. Furthermore, the panel is quite versatile and has many applications, including boats, RVs, etc. Also, this equipment comes with quick-connect cables, Z-brackets, tilt mounts, side pole mounts, and 14 pre-drilled holes that fit with ground mounts.

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • While the RICH SOLAR Polycrystalline Solar Panel comes with pigtail wires that make installation convenient, the connection pulls out easily. As far as we’re concerned, the poor connection shouldn’t be. Although you can solder the connection, it could be better. Also, the panel’s ability in cloudy conditions is not so assuring, with power output usually dropping. The design could be better to ensure that panel works well in tough conditions.

Things to Consider

With hundreds of solar panels on the market, picking out the best solar panels for boats can be quite challenging. But the task can be less challenging if you know the right places to look. We’ve developed a comprehensive buying guide that contains every piece of information you need to choose the ideal panel for your boat. Read on to learn all about the secrets we have in store for you.

How to Power Up a Boat with a Solar Power

After buying your preferred solar panel, the next step will be powering your boat with the equipment. If you don’t have any idea how to make this happen, this video provides an in-depth explanation of what to do:

Types of Marine Solar Panels to Consider

As you’ve probably noticed already, there are two main types of marine solar panels to consider; Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline.

Monocrystalline

As the name of the monocrystalline solar panel hints, it is made from single crystal of silicon Trusted Source Monocrystalline Silicon Cell - an overview For monocrystalline Si cells, it is imperative that a thin layer of dielectric like SiO2 or Si3N4 be deposited on the Si to reduce surface recombination and improve the electrical properties of the device. www.sciencedirect.com . Manufacturers slowly grow these crystals into ingots of significant size, after which they cut them into individual solar cells. They assemble the cells into panels once the process is over. These panels’ uniform structure makes them have the highest efficiency among all types of solar panels.

While monocrystalline solar panels are quite efficient, they don’t come cheap.

Polycrystalline

Unlike monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline cells are made up of many tiny silicon crystals. The manufacturing process involves melting many silicon fragments Trusted Source Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels When it comes to solar panels, one of the most asked questions is which solar cell type is better: Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline? ases.org which are poured into a mold afterward. While this process tends to be cheaper, it causes lower efficiency.

Many sailors go for polycrystalline solar panels because they provide a decent efficiency for a lower cost, which can be smart, especially if they have a small boat.

How to Pick the Best Solar Panels for Boats

Below, as promised, we’ll dissect the factors you must consider to pick the best solar panels for boats:

Voltage

Before choosing a solar panel for your boat, you should know its maximum voltage output. A typical 12-volt panel generates a maximum terminal voltage of around 17 – 20 volts in full sunlight without a connected load.

In case you didn’t know, the panel’s voltage directly affects the equipment’s power output, so you must choose a product that offers high voltage. You can opt for a panel that offers as low as 18 volts like the Renogy Flexible Solar or go for the Topsolar Solar Panel’s 24 volts.

Power output and current

The power output of a solar panel is perhaps the most important part of the equipment. But that’s as important as the maximum current. You’ll have to consider these two factors before opting for a panel.

Measured in watts, the power output determines how much power you get from the panel. If you need the equipment to power electrical appliances on your boat, you’ll need a product that offers between 100 and 200 watts like the RICH SOLAR Monocrystalline Solar Panel.

If you’re living on the boat, you’ll need a solar panel that offers between 250 to 350 watts. The DOKIO Portable Solar Panel boasts a power output in that region and can be a great asset for sailors who want to power as many electrical appliances as they need. Overall, you should choose a panel that suits what you need.

Mono or Poly-crystalline

8 Best Solar Panels for Boats - Longer Adventures in the Sea (Fall 2022)

Monocrystalline panels offer more efficiency for the higher price, while polycrystalline ones are budget-friendly

By now, you know that you have to choose between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels for your boat. There are two considerations here; efficiency and cost. As we explained earlier, monocrystalline panels are more efficient than polycrystalline panels but the former is more expensive than the latter.

If you care more about efficiency, you should choose a monocrystalline model like the Pikasola Solar Panel. However, if you place a premium on cost, a polycrystalline variant such as the RICH SOLAR Polycrystalline Solar Panel will work for you. Eventually, you should choose the type that best suits your preference.

Dimensions and weight

Another factor you can’t dismiss when looking to buy a solar panel for your boat is the size. You’ll have to consider the dimensions and weight. If you have a small boat, you’ll need a small and lightweight panel like the Renogy Flexible solar panel. However, if your boat is big, a panel like the Newpowa 200W Monocrystalline can be a suitable choice.

Before you choose a solar panel for your boat, ensure that it has the right size and is not too heavy for your vessel.

Cables and connection

8 Best Solar Panels for Boats - Longer Adventures in the Sea (Fall 2022)

You should never choose a solar panel for your boat without considering the included cables and connectors. Frankly, not all panels come with these important components. Their absence usually puts buyers through the hassle of buying them separately, which is not cost-effective.

Therefore, we recommend that you only buy a panel that comes with cables and connectors. Most solar panel kits usually include these components. The Renogy KIT-STARTER-100D and Pikasola Solar Panel Kit are good examples of such kits.

Extra features

Beyond the major features, there are extra features you should look out for in a solar panel before going for it. One of those features is waterproof design. You can’t afford to install a panel that’s not protected against water damage on your boat. Unsurprisingly, top products such as Renogy Flexible Solar Panel and Newpowa Monocrystalline Solar Panel offer protection against water.

These products also provide snow and wind resistance; another important feature you have to look out for. Lastly, you should check a panel’s operating temperatures and ensure it can work in even low temps before buying it.

Durability and warranty

You can’t mess around about durability; it’s very important. Solar panels are not cheap, so you must ensure that you buy a durable product. You should ensure that the product boasts the best materials and cells. As an extra protection, you should opt for a panel that offers an attractive warranty.

For example, the Renogy Flexible Solar Panel and the RICH SOLAR 200-Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel offer a 25-year limited power output and a 5-year material & workmanship warranty. You’ll hardly get a better warranty than the ones these products offer.

FAQ

As our test revealed, the Pikasola Solar Panel is the best solar panel for big boats. It is expandable to a maximum power output of up to 240W (12V) or 480W (24V). This high-power output makes the panel ideal for big boats that have a lot of electrical appliances to power.

If your marine solar panel stays hooked up with your fully charged battery for a long period, the battery can be overcharged. Overcharging the battery can shorten its lifespan, hence the need to control the charge. Charge controllers do a great job of preventing overcharging. Most high-quality solar panels come with charge controllers.

If your panel doesn’t come with a controller, buy it separately to protect your battery life.

Sailboat solar panels are not meant to be cleaned frequently but if you find dirt, dust, smog, or dirt on your panel, you should clean it with a soft cloth, mild soap, and clean water. Ensure that you rinse the panel completely and get rid of excess soap because any dry soap can affect the equipment’s performance.

Yes, you can connect solar panels directly to solar generators but it’s not a straightforward exercise. You’ll need an adapter and cable connector to make the connection. We recommend the LIXIN SAE Adapter, with SAE Polarity Reverse Adapter, 10AWG Cable Connector thanks to its proven effectiveness. Plus, it is quick and easy to use.

Our Verdict

Marine solar panels use the natural and free energy of the sun to make boats entirely self-sufficient, which is pretty cool. We’ve reviewed 8 top panels in this article with the Renogy Flexible Solar Panel emerging as our editor’s choice for many important reasons. This panel is designed to withstand excessive wind and snow loads, is waterproof, and boasts a flexible design that makes it quite versatile.

Breathing down this product’s neck is the DOKIO 300W Portable Solar Panel – our upgrade pick that boasts enormous power output for sailors living in their boats. It also features a charge controller that protects battery health. Taking the crown as our value pick is the Renogy KIT-STARTER-100D – a solar kit with several components to get the panel started.

Without question, there’s no lack of fantastic choices among the best solar panels for boats, but you should choose the product that serves your needs.

References

1.
Monocrystalline Silicon Cell - an overview
For monocrystalline Si cells, it is imperative that a thin layer of dielectric like SiO2 or Si3N4 be deposited on the Si to reduce surface recombination and improve the electrical properties of the device.
2.
Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels
When it comes to solar panels, one of the most asked questions is which solar cell type is better: Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline?
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