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Keeping the batteries charged can be a real problem when setting out on a long boat trip. Whether you are sailing or simply want to reduce engine operation for electrical needs, a solar battery charger for a boat provides an environmentally friendly and effective source of power for batteries and other devices on board.
But how much power will you need? Will your chargers be able to keep up even on cloudy days? Are you planning to sail in cold waters or deep in the tropics? Do you need the panels to sit on a curved surface? There is a surprising amount of factors to consider when buying. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of getting the best boat solar battery chargers.
Boat Solar Battery Charger Reviews 2022
1. Topsolar Flexible Solar Panel – Editor’s Choice
This semi-flexible solar panel from Top Solar is in many ways comparable to those that adorn our house roofs. These are bendable panels with monocrystalline photovoltaic cells that store light radiation to transform it into usable electrical energy.
The flexible solar panels are thinner and smaller than those intended for stationary use, making them possible to use outdoors and on the boat. Their flexibility allows them to follow the shapes of your marine vehicle, like a domed boat roof.
The powerful 100 watts flexible panel offers great power due to its large size. It’s ideal for charging 12-volt batteries off the grid and is perfect if you have a boat, caravan, or anywhere you need power without having a plug nearby.
The TP solar kit consists of a high-efficiency monocrystalline solar panel, which ensures greater efficiency than other types of panels.
The frame is made of corrosion-resistant aluminum, which ensures a long life outdoors. The junction box is waterproof and has an IP-67 rating which gives it complete protection against environmental particles and low-pressure water jets.
The battery charge controller is 20A PWM technology with a digital display. Through the screen, it provides us with detailed information about the system, including the charging amperage of the solar panel, the battery voltage, the battery temperature, or the amperage of the load consumption.
You should know that the interface is very easy and intuitive. It has protection against short circuits or overloads, among others. It is very easy to install as the panel comes with pre-drilled holes on the back for quick mounting. The panel frame is made of aluminum and is corrosion-resistant, ensuring many years of use. Click here to see the best price.
- 100 W solar panel
- Semi-flexible panels
- MC4 connector
- 12/24 V dual voltage
- Made of ETFE
2. Solperk Solar Panel Kit – Best With Rigid Panel
Solperk is a serious company in the world of solar energy. This kit, which is sold at a very low price, comes with a solar panel, a solar regulator controller, two alligator clips, an extension cable, and a set of mounting pieces.
Despite the low price of the kit, we were surprised that it comes with a regulator controller. The 50 watts photovoltaic kit is reliable, has high construction quality but the power is relatively low and this is the most powerful of this range. However, it still has two versions which are rated to produce 20 watts and 30 watts.
However, the advantage with this is, the solar panel will follow you everywhere to provide you with energy. Small in size, robust, light, and waterproof, it will also work in overcast weather, although less efficient. It is the ideal companion for your outings in the motorhome, on the boat, or in any isolated site.
You can use this to charge your marine battery or use it directly for turning on all types of lights or charging your small devices.
It’s perfect as a solar charger and maintainer for your 12 volt DC batteries, from the wet cell to AGM, EFB, MF, and gel batteries.
It’s also ideal for light bulbs, telephones, tablets, walkmans, small 12v night lights, etc. while camping.
This cheap solar panel is not designed for power-hungry devices such as household appliances, computers, televisions, and most devices that operate on 220 volts. However, it will be able to recharge the 12-volt battery of a vehicle or boat thanks to the crocodile clips provided. This battery can in turn power other devices, including the most energy-consuming ones. Click here to see the best price.
- 20% charging efficiency
- Rigid solar panel
- Trickle charger and maintainer
- Strong aluminum frame with tempered glass
- Overcharge, short circuit, over-discharge, and reverse polarity protection
3. Xinpuguang Solar Panel – Best High-Powered Solar Panel Charger
The XINPUGUANG 200W 12V solar kit is high-end equipment consisting of 2 semi-flexible photovoltaic panels, a solar charge controller, MC4 solar cables, and adapters. Only battery is not included. It’s ideal for charging your batteries properly for comfortable and safe use.
The device gives you continuous power day and night no matter the weather. Its superior quality equipment allows it to last over time. The XINPUGUANG brand offers us here a high-quality, reliable, and durable flexible solar kit.
The voltage is 12V per panel and the manufacturing material is high-quality monocrystalline silicon solar cells, with outstanding efficiency.
The main advantage of this type of panel is their great reliability and also their “semi-flexibility” making it easier to install them according to the supports. The quality materials used to manufacture this XINPUGUANG solar kit ensure durability, resistance, and excellent energy efficiency. It is robust and perfectly resistant to bad weather.
Its solar regulator allows connectivity between the panels and your battery optimally, without the risk of overcharging. The battery charge time and quality are optimized by this controller for a perfect combination of power and safety of use. In addition, this charge controller has a 5V USB output, well thought out by the manufacturer!
The XINPUGUANG brand solar kit includes a pair of 3m long cables with MC4 mating connectors. These cables ensure excellent connectivity between the solar panels and the charge controller.
This solar kit also has a pair of cables with crocodile clips to connect the solar charge controller to the battery.
Thanks to its high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells of more than 20%, this model of solar panel offers us exceptional performance. It is without hesitation that we place it among the best solar panels for motorhomes and boats.
These photovoltaic panels as well as their solar cables, connectors, and junction boxes are IP67 certified to cope with the most severe climatic conditions. Click here to see the best price.
- 200 watts solar panel
- 12-volt flexible monocrystalline panel
- With PV connector
- IP 67 waterproof
4. Renogy Solar Panel – Best Value for Money
The Renogy brand solar panel has a power capacity of 100 Watts. It is a solar power kit that is perfect for new users who want to benefit from solar power. It is the ideal device to take your first steps in solar green energy.
The solar charger is ergonomic and versatile. It can be used as an energy source to power all kinds of applications that operate off-grid. It can therefore be used to provide electricity in off-circuit applications such as motorhomes, converted vehicles, trailers, boats, or even in isolated sites. It can also fit on the roof of a house or shed.
The RENOGY 100 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Kit provides many benefits to its users by making it easier to use. It is quite light, around 14.3 pounds, and has very good IP65 sealing. It is a device that does not cause any nuisance because the energy production is done independently of the network and this is in the greatest silence.
The choice of this panel is essential for a more ecological and economic choice of life. Its main advantage is that it is ideal for new customers who have little or no experience in solar panels.
It is a silent and efficient device that satisfies its users over the long term. It is easy to assemble and resists very well to the vagaries of the weather. This kit contains a reliable, guaranteed, and high-quality monocrystalline panel.
The 20 A MPPT charge regulator supplied in this kit is also of high quality. It allows you to install a second panel without buying a second solar regulator. It comes with a handy accessory pack that allows you to get the most out of your generated solar energy. An MC4 connector cable with a 20ft 10 AWG adapter kit and a set of Z installation hooks gives you unparalleled convenience.
For a beginner, this is the perfect kit to take those first steps into the world of solar energy. It is the perfect electric power supplier to take camping and on your cruises. It has good installation accessories that offer it the best inclination to capture the maximum of the sun’s rays.
The 100-watt RENOGY solar kit is robust, corrosion-resistant, waterproof, and has drainage holes. Click here to see the best price.
- IP 65 rated junction box
- IP 67 rated connectors
- Aluminum frame
- Low iron tempered glass
- Powerful monocrystalline type
- 100W 12V panel
5. Allto Solar Boat Solar Panel – Our Budget Pick
The Allto 20 watt photovoltaic kit is easy to install on the roof of your motorhome, caravan, or the cabin of your boat. The cheapest in price of the kits in this list, it offers The lowest charging power of 20 watts.
Nonetheless, several accessories are supplied with the product for optimal and quick use. This solar kit includes an MPPT solar charge regulator as well as the appropriate cables to connect the kit to your battery. This battery will serve as your energy reserve to power your devices.
The panel of this kit is made of a sturdy aluminum frame. Its dimensions are 13.2 x 16.5 inches for a weight of 3.20 pounds for the panel alone.
With 20 watts of power, this monocrystalline cell panel and solar charge controller can be used to charge small devices and even a 12-volt battery. You can install the panel yourself by following the installation guide without additional expense.
It is ideal for having the comfort of a house in your boat or your caravan. Its panel has a good lifespan and the power output is optimized for long-lasting use.
This model of solar panel is resistant to climatic hazards because it is built in very resistant materials. Its robust frame is made of aluminum, it is solid and resistant to climatic changes such as rain, cold, or wind. Indeed, its aluminum coating effectively protects it from corrosion, which promotes very long-lasting outdoor use. You will be able to use your panel for many years without fear of rapid deterioration or a drop in performance. Click here to see the best price.
- 20W 12V solar panel
- Battery maintainer and trickle charger
- 10A MPPT charge controller
- SAE Battery Cable
- For 12 Volt marine batteries
A solar charger, also known as a solar system, a photovoltaic system, PV system, solar module, or solar panel, consists of individual solar cells that convert sunlight directly into electricity. This generated energy can then easily be used on the boat for charging batteries and devices. Here you will find out the most important things to consider in a solar charger.
Benefits of Solar Battery Chargers
Either devices such as mobile phones, tablets, or cameras can be charged directly via the solar system, or an energy storage device – i.e. an external power bank or battery pack.
Thanks to the sun’s rays, you can quickly recharge your electronic devices. Some of these chargers are also equipped with accessories, such as lighters or flashlights.
The solar chargers are designed to be taken with you. They are lightweight and take up little space. You can use it in the mountains, while hiking, camping, or on a boat.
Like solar panels, the solar charger is an environmentally friendly device. Solar energy is one of the most environmentally friendly and long-lasting forms of energy! The technology behind it is awesome. By using the sun’s rays to convert them into electric current, it is environmentally friendly. Why? Unlike electricity produced by nuclear power, solar energy does not release toxic waste, such as radioactive waste.
Of course, there is the price of the charger. But once this precious sesame is in your hands, free and unlimited electricity is yours! You’ll be able to save money and say “thank you, Mr. Sun”.
MPPT vs PWM
The differences between an MPPT solar regulator and a PWM solar regulator must be known so you can choose a charger with the latter or former.
MPPT Solar Regulators
The MPPT solar regulator is capable of separating the operating voltage of the group of solar panels from the battery voltage. This allows you to place the voltage of the solar panels at the optimal point to obtain maximum power at all times. Hence the name “maximizer”.
An MPPT solar regulator is considerably more expensive than a PWM solar regulator. These solar regulators are necessary for 60-cell solar panels. An MPPT solar regulator, the maximum voltage allowed by the regulator cannot be exceeded. The charging current is different from the current of the photovoltaic generator.
With 60-cell solar panels, it is necessary to use MPPT solar regulators to be able to charge the batteries to 100%. These solar panels work with voltage at a maximum power of Vmp: 30V approx. and they are not capable of charging the 24V batteries up to the 28.8V required in case of low outside temperatures.
Another advantage of working with MPPT solar regulators is that the configuration of the photovoltaic generator is usually 2 or 3 solar panels in series, so the working voltage is 60V or 90V, greatly reducing the flow of current and therefore the necessary cable section. In this way, we can achieve greater distances without increasing wiring costs.
PWM Solar Regulators
PWM regulators are cheaper and are used with 12V and 24V solar panels. In PWM regulators, the maximum current allowed by the regulator cannot be exceeded. The charging current is the same as the current of the photovoltaic generator.
PWM solar regulators are ideal for use in small installations with less than 3 solar panels. It will be more economical to use 12V and 24V solar panels for installations with 12V and 24V solar batteries together with the use of PWM solar regulators.
When reducing costs is more important than maximizing performance, then choose this. Installations with PWM solar regulators and 12v and 24v solar panels are the simplest and also usually the cheapest.
Almost all manufacturers now use highly efficient solar technologies with high performance and 20% cell efficiency and more. The required module power depends in particular on what your needs are and how many devices you want to charge at a period of time.
Our solar charger test showed: The models in the 50 to 200 watts category offer a good compromise between performance, size, and weight.
As regarding the charging speed, it is obvious that a solar charger will never do as well as a charger plugged into an outlet. However, some external solar batteries have very reliable performance as the charging time is very fast.
How many solar panels do I need to run a boat?
Some boats can run on one 100 watt panel or even smaller. However, others will need multiple panel installations. It's all a question of the boat size or appliances needed to be powered or charged.
What will a 200-watt solar panel run?
Your 200 watts panel can charge a 12-volt battery which you can then use to charge other devices such as a laptop, microwave oven, coffee maker, or other similar devices.
Are marine solar panels different?
First, marine solar panels are designed to be more waterproof and weatherproof – stronger and able to withstand winds. They're also designed to be more flexible so you can install them anywhere.
Are flexible solar panels any good?
Yes, flexible solar panels are quite practical and durable. Unlike rigid panels which are often more fragile, flexible models are shatterproof but they're not as powerful as rigid panels.
Can you imagine sailing without starting your boat’s engine? Charging your batteries without having to connect them to any port? Forgetting to refuel and relax, listening to the sea breeze? All this is possible thanks to solar energy, through solar panel chargers for boats. They provide a clean and renewable energy source that thousands of boats around the world already opt for thanks to the many advantages it offers.
Solar panels for boats are those that, due to their characteristics and dimensions, are usually adjusted to the available spaces or surfaces. They are usually reduced in size or are flexible with curves
Solar energy, obtained through nautical panels, is one of the best solutions for boats that sail daily and also for those that do so occasionally. Without a doubt, this clean energy source is the only way to make your boat self-sufficient and with electricity on board to propel your boat, connect your appliances, turn on the light bulbs… Without noise, without excessive diesel prices, and betting on the care of the planet and the future of all its inhabitants.