All About Marine Solar Panels
Believe it or not solar panels are a great addition to a vessel that has a battery aboard, even for small vessels that sit idly on a trailer for a period waiting for the next launching. They can keep the battery topped up prolonging the life of the battery and possibly prevent the inconvenience of a dead battery at the ramp because the boats bilge pump turned on during the last rainstorm and drained the battery. They provide a silent source of power and require little maintenance once installed. The power obtained from solar panels is dependent on many factors such as composition, size, available sunlight, and temperature. There are many types and sizes of solar panels and kits available and although they are constructed for the exterior environment, the best marine solar panels are those suitable for the marine environment. Marine solar panels tend to have stainless steel fittings, super watertight electrical housings and plugs allowing them to fair extremely well in a harsh saline environment. Whatever the charging system aboard, maintaining the batteries in a constant state of charge is a sure way of prolonging battery life and ensuring power reliability.
Flexible marine solar panels are handy, robust, and light weight making it possible to either keep them portable or install them permanently. Portable installations require some level of discipline because one must remember to remove them prior to getting under way and to place them again when done. The portable installations also do not afford the same choices of cable management that a permanent installation does.
Rigid solar panels aboard a vessel are typically mounted out of the way in a semi or permanent manner and the wiring is constantly connected to the charging system. If more power is required or space is an issue connecting multiple solar panels together is a way to achieve the required output. As long as the solar panels are kept clean they should provide years of trouble free service.
Marine Solar Panels
Installing solar panels on your boat or RV or setting up a portable solar panel kit is a great investment as it allows for freedom to travel to remote locations while keeping comforts of home close by.Samlex is a leading manufacturer of solar panels, solar panel kits, battery chargers and inverters. Figuring out which solar panel kit best suits your needs can be challanging, but Samlex makes it easy to determine what you will need based on what electrical items you intend to use on your journey. Once you get an idea of how much power you are going to need to draw then determining which system to purchase is easy.
Portlable Solar Powered Charging Kits
Samelex portable solar powered charging kits come in either 90 Watts or 135 Watts. These solar powered kits are great for use on your boat or RV, just plug in and start charging. These kits include the charge controller. Capture the power of the sun without complicated installations, brackets or electrical diagrams. Each Kit comes with a convenient insulated carrying case that also protects the panels when stored.
Installed Solar Powered Charging Kits
The All-In-One Samlex Solar Charging Kits come in 100W or 150W. Every Charging Kit includes an industry leading 30 Amp Charge Controller with a detailed display, Model SCC-30AB. The charge controller can manage up to 500 Watts of solar. This solar panel is a perfect starter kit and leaves room for expansion so you can add more panels down the road.
How to Determine what Solar Panel Kit for your Boat or RV
On Samlex solar powered kits, one-hundred watts at 10 amps will typically run a light, a water pump and will keep your battery topped up. One-hundred and fifty watts you can add a fan. If you want to expand your solar power potential, add another Solar Panel kit. By doing this you add an additional, 100W or 150W. (A branch connector SBC-2 is required to connect each additional panel in parallel). Two-hundered and fifty watts will run a light, water pump, fan, tablet, laptop, tv and charge the battery. 300 Watts will do what the 250 watts will do plus run kitchen appliances. Four-hundred watts will allow for doing what the 300 watts will do but also allow you to run a vacuum or small fridge. If you still have questions regarding how to size for solar, check out this solar sizing guide
No matter what type of solar panels are chosen they all require a charge controller to efficiently provide a charge. Solar panels are rated for an average output in certain conditions. In any installation this output varies, and it is the function of the controller to take the varying output from the solar panel and provide the required output for the charge circuit. Many solar controllers have additional features such as monitoring and recording the power produced allowing the user to evaluate the efficiency of the installation. It is also important to install a solar controller that is compatible with the types of batteries because different battery types have different charging profiles.
Manufacturers such as ‘Samlex America
®’ and ‘Go Power®
’ make the choice of solar very convenient by offering marine solar kits that take the guess work out of compatible components. These kits come with mounting hardware, a solar panel, a controller, and wiring. As always there no doubt will be additional materials required for an onboard installation. These kits do offer a quick way to lay the foundation for a solar charging system that is capable of being expanded if required.
For solar panels to convert DC to AC an inverter is required. Samlex offers an inveter calculator on their web site to help you figure out the best size for your power needs. If you have any other questions regarding solar panels, feel free to reach out to us.
Marine Battery ChargersCharging the batteries
from sources other than the sun has been the main stay and is still dominant in boating. Modern battery chargers have become more complex internally but simpler for the user. Many older types of battery chargers will not work with the changing battery technology and if replacing the batteries, it is important to make sure the charger is compatible with the charging requirements of the new battery bank.
A marine inverter
converts direct current stored in the batteries and converts it to alternating current typically what is found in one’s home. Inverters function well aboard boats and having the ability to plug a household item into an electrical outlet as on land is super convenient. One must realize that a household appliance might appear small, they do consume a tremendous amount of power. This ultimately comes down to replacing the used power by charging the batteries with a reliable charging source.