Marine Solar Power
Why choose solar power for marine and mobile applications?
- Save Fuel
- Avoid listening to your generator
- Be energy independent
- Treat your battery well with longer top-end charging
- Charge your battery while not on board and, therefore, safely leave some loads on while you are away.
Any energy you can get from the sun will save you engine or generator run time. The sun’s energy is free and consistent. OceanPlanet Energy offers the highest output, lightest, most well-crafted marine solar panels available. Because solar power for marine applications has advanced dramatically in recent years, options have multiplied, with technology that provides thin, high-energy panels designed to top up battery banks quickly or convert abundant sunlight to usable power.
Why is solar more affordable than you think?
The Federal Government offers a solar energy tax credit. This 30% tax credit applies to qualified expenditures to purchase and install solar panels on your home. It does not have to be your primary home so if your boat has a head and a galley and is docked in the US, it counts as a second home and qualifies for the tax credit! This 30% tax credit is currently good until December 31, 2019, and will taper until December 31st, 2022. Also, it can be retroactive for equipment placed in service after 2006. Here is a link to more info from the Department of Energy: solar energy tax credit. Check out the tax form here.
We offer multiple brands of solar panels to fit your installation and energy needs
Solbian– semi-flexible, powerful and lightweight panels that can be added directly (with Velcro or zippers) to canvas dodgers or biminis. They can be mounted on a curved deck. They are the lightest panels available. The SP137 (137W) weighs 4.5lbs!
Solbian powered by Merlin SR+ series utilizes the highest efficiency HIT cells and are extremely rugged. Great for deck or bimini installatons.
Solara– For walk on applications, Solara offers very rugged, semi-flexible marine solar panels with non-skid in a variety of sizes. Solara also offers hard glass panels using SunPower cells for mounting where flexibility is not necessary and saving weight is not a priority including davits and railings.
The solar charge controller is what converts the power coming from the panel into power that can be used to efficiently charge your battery. If your panel voltage is higher than your battery voltage, then you require a step-down controller with the proper ratings for your array. If the panel voltage is less than the battery voltage, you will need a boost controller.
- Genasun MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking)-for arrays up to 140W, these are the smallest, lightest, and most efficient MPPT’s. Also for use with any panel that has a lower voltage than the battery requiring a voltage “boost”.
- Blue Sky Energy MPPT’s-for medium sized arrays featuring digital displays, remote temperature compensation and controller networking capabilities
- Western Co MPPT’s- for small and medium sized arrays featuring a buck/boost algorithm, digital displays, and double panel input
- Victron Energy– for small & medium sized arrays featuring high efficiency and small size. The Victron Blue Solar MPPTs also have an optional bluetooth smart dongle and MPPT control for remote monitoring and programming either on a display or your smartphone or tablet.
Go to our solar charge controller page for more information on all the controllers we offer.
Monitoring the output of your solar panels
It can be helpful and exciting to monitor just how much power you are getting out of the sun at any given moment. Some solar charge controllers have displays showing the panel output. If the controller that is right for your panel does not have a display or if you want detailed info on a specific panel in an array, there are a few different products that are easy to install, affordable, and can provide the data you want. Check out our monitoring page to get more information on the Watt Wizard, the Victron CCGX, or the Philippi PSM.
Canvas installations:Solbian panels can be installed directly into canvas biminis and dodgers because they are so thin and light. The panel can actually be stitched through for velcro or zipper attachment. With this type of installation, the panels can be removed easily and stowed safely during the off season. Additionally, this type of installation is a great option if you don’t want to affect the aesthetics of your boat.
Here is a link to our Canvas Installation Guidelines.
Deck Installations:Panels can be installed into the deck a number of different ways. Some panels can be ordered with a back side, peel and stick adhesive. Panels can also be installed with fasteners or double sided VHB tape. In all cases we recommend that you seal around the edges of the panel. Additionally, we recommend that the panel is fully supported and unable to bend if it will be walked on at all.
For wiring deck installations, panels can be ordered with back side wiring which can then be run through the deck which allows the panel to be totally flush with no visible wiring. Panels can also be installed on deck with standard surface junction boxes and the wires can be routed below deck through waterproof deck glands.
Davits and rail installations: Glass panels are great for these installations. Semi-flexible panels can be installed for these applications as long as they are well-supported and cannot bend beyond their rating.
Check out the Solara page for information on the new EZ Mount rails for the light-weight semi-flexible Power M series.
Solar Arrays with Series or Parallel Wiring: Check out our Electrical Installation Guidelines for some insight into the different ways that solar arrays can be wired. This information is also contained in the Solbian User’s Manual which can be found on the Solbian page.
Ready to investigate solar power? Use our online energy calculator to help calculate your energy requirements and determine your solar power needs.