Are you in the market for the best marine solar panels for your sailboat? If that is the case, then this short guide may be a big help with that.
Buying your very own solar panel system is a very important and exciting decision. You’re not just doing yourself a great favor you’re also giving Mother Nature a host of benefits as well.
You’re getting natural power on your sailboat, which means you’re not using and burning more fuel. Solar power is free and abundant.
Of course, there are plenty of options in the solar energy market today and you may need some guidance regarding what features to look for. If that’s the case then this guide might be a big help to you.
We also include our recommended top 7 best marine solar panels in the market today.
- Solar Panel Buyer’s Guide
- 7 Best Marine Solar Panels Review
- Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
- Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer
- XINPUGUANG 200w Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel Kit
- Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel
- Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Off Grid Solar Premium Kit with Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- ECO-WORTHY 120 Watts 12 Volts Solar Starter Kit
- TP-Solar Panel Kit
- Wrap Up for the Best Marine Solar Panels Review
Solar Panel Buyer’s Guide
Benefits of Getting Solar Panels for your Sailboat
Apart from saving you fuel on your sailboat, there are other benefits to installing the best solar panel system, which include the following:
- You can power and charge small onboard items
- Saves you time and energy
- They’re very easy to maintain
- Alternative source of power when all else fails
- They’re environmentally friendly
- Very easy to install and maintain
What to Consider
Best marine solar panels for sailboats aren’t exactly cheap, especially when we’re talking about the ones you intend to install on sailboats. Apart from the cost, there are several factors that you also need to consider when making your choice.
We’ll go over the things that you should keep in mind when you compare one solar panel model to another. Some of the factors we’ll cover include the following:
- Panel size
- Type of Panel
- Efficiency/Inverter efficiency
- Warranty periods/length of the warranty
- Type of panel
- It’s mounting and other setup
Size of the Solar Panel
The size of the panels will be a very big factor to consider. You want your panel to be big enough to make them efficient enough to harness all the power you need. But you don’t want them bigger than the available space you have on your boat.
It’s all a question of space and efficiency. The cost of the panel will also be determined by the technology being applied; we’ll cover that in a second below.
You need to decide where you want to position the panels and then find the panels that will fit that space.
Sailboat Solar Panel Mount
One of the most difficult parts of installing solar panels on your boat is the mounting options. Most boats never have a lack of rails and for this reason is why you see lots of rail mounted solar panels.
With the rail mounted panels it gives you the option to adjust the panel for optimal sun angle at any part of the day. Here’s an option for you to consider.
When you’re in the market for the best marine solar panels for sailboats, you can group different products into six categories:
- Amorphous Silicon
Standard Solar Panels
These are the most common types of panels that you will see in the market today. They are outfitted with an aluminum back, which makes them resistant to rust.
The construction is superb and they can handle adverse weather conditions. Your boat will encounter a lot of bad weather out in the water and you really need solar panels that are absolutely durable.
The downside is that these panel types aren’t flexible. You need to know exactly how much space is available on your boat to make sure standard panels will fit.
In contrast to standard panels, flexible panels can be made to fit into varying spaces. They don’t have a solid frame, and that allows you to bend and curve the panels to fit in what space you have available.
If you have a small boat or if your setup only has cramped spaces, then these are panel types for your boat. They are light and easy to install.
They are quite durable despite the flimsy look. They produce twice as much power and require half the usual available space.
The only downside is that some models may break easily. That means you need to be very picky when buying flexible panels.
This is the type of panel that is most efficient when you have exposure to direct sunlight. This is one of the oldest solar panel designs. It’s small thus it has a smaller footprint.
The downside about monocrystalline panels is that they tend to be more expensive because of the complicated silicon monocrystal production.
This is one of the cheaper types of panel technology available today. It may not be as efficient as monocrystalline panels, but they are thin, lightweight, and some models are quite flexible.
These have a slightly lower efficiency compared to monocrystalline panels, but they are more affordable. If you’re looking for more power but are a bit short in funds, then this might be a good option for you.
Now that you know the different panel types and the factors involved in buying one, it’s time to go over some of the best marine solar panels in the market today.
7 Best Marine Solar Panels Review
We compared different marine solar panel brands and models that are currently sold today. After some consideration, we recommend the following products as the best options that you can find today.
Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
With the Renogy Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit, you can boost the electrical system on your boat up to 400 watts. It comes with one 100 watt panel but it comes with an 30Amp charge controller. This Means you have the option an additional 3 more 100 watt panels if you decide 100 watts isn’t enough.
This unit can be connected to your battery right from the charge controller with ease.
The power output of this panel is excellent—up to 500 wattage hours per day based on a 5 hours.
- Good wattage with option to increase panel count due to 30 Amp controller
- Durable & Corrosion resistant construction
- Easy to install
- You may be better off upgrading the screws and terminal connectors
Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer
This is the bigger and more powerful version of its 100 watt version. Some sailing enthusiasts call it the Renogy wanderer. It is also built with a corrosion resistant frame. This one on the other hand has a longer set of cables.
It has double the output to 1000Wh per day then the 100 wat version. This converts to 83 amps in about 5 hours of full sun. This can easyliy charge you car battery from completely dead to full in 5 hours.
- Easy to install
- Good power output
- Light weight
- Little pricey
XINPUGUANG 200w Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel Kit
This may be another great option if you’re looking for a solar panel system that works great on cloudy overcast skies. This one is around the same price point as the Jackery model mentioned later.
The big difference is that this one is has flexible panels. It is ultra-light and is very flexible due to its plastic back sheet.
- Comes with safety features
- Easy maintenance—no need for constant cleaning
- Very thin and light
- Plastic backing supports easy flexible bending
- Very easy to install
- Controller will need to be upgraded if wanting to add additional panels
Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel
If you’re looking for a marine solar panel that doesn’t occupy a lot of space, then the Jackery SolarSaga may be a good option for you. It is designed for the outdoors—it’s weather proof and very durable.
Apart from its durability, one of its great features is charge interruption recovery. This is thanks to its conversion efficiency and the quality of its solar cells. In short, it’s a good solar panel unit for cloudy weather.
- Conversion efficiency is very high
- Easy to setup
- Comes with full set of features
- Includes long and durable extension cord
Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Off Grid Solar Premium Kit with Monocrystalline Solar Panel
The Renology 400 watt model is an upgrade to the two previous models mentioned earlier. This kit comes with an mppt charge contoller with a bluetooth module so you can easily monitor your input and output with your phone or tablet.
The great thing about this kit is that it comes with a 40 amp inline fuse to protect your batteries if the charge controller malfunctions. Also, they included a 40 amp charge controller to give you a option to add one more panel down the road.
It comes with four 100 watt panels. You can line them up or configure them by twos or in any other arrangement that you can, given the space that you have in your boat. It can provide you with around 400Watts an hour—depends on how sunny it is out there.
Nevertheless, it does charge up the battery pretty quick even on cloudy days.
- Monocrystalline efficiency is at 21%
- Charges pretty fast
- Weather proof and water proof components
- Comes with an IP65 rated junction box
- Peak conversion efficiency at 98%
- Mounting gear is well-made and durable
- Four panels take up alot of real estate
ECO-WORTHY 120 Watts 12 Volts Solar Starter Kit
This Eco-Worthy marine solar panel model has a daily output of 0.5 kwh and it works very well even on a cloudy day. It is very easy to install but you will need a few basic tools to connect the controller, battery, and the load. This company is well known for having a premium product and is very user friendly. With this kit you do have the option to add one more 120 watt panel if one isn’t enough.
It’s easy on the budget and gives you sufficient power for charging the gadgets, devices, and equipment on your boat.
- Easy on the budget
- Design makes it easy to install (plug and play basic)
- Industrial grade construction
- Provides good power output even on a cloudy day
- Nothing to report
TP-Solar Panel Kit
This is another flexible type solar panel albeit a slightly pricier model. However, it comes with smart charging features, which makes it really efficient. It is also light weight (around 5 pounds). It comes with a lighter plug, alligator clips, and USB charging.
This Solar kit is great for smaller day sailors or for big dingy’s. The panel will keep you batteries topped up for starting the engine and for light interior light use.
- Easy to remove and install
- Lightweight and small footprint
- Smart charging technology makes power output very efficient
- Output is low but definelty has its place on smaller boats
Wrap Up for the Best Marine Solar Panels Review
At the end of the day, it all comes down to your power usage and the available space you have. All these solar panels are ideal for any sailboat and have everything you need to start harnessing the sun rays.
Whatever you choose remember to enjoy your sailboat and don’t get stuck at the dock with analysis paralysis trying to decide.
Read our full review about Renogy Solar Panels.