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Installing Solar on Houseboat: The Complete Guide

Have you ever thought of having solar powered your houseboat? If yes, installing solar on houseboat will address all your concerns when it comes to houseboats and solar energy.

Solar panels are advantageous in today’s world as it will save you the cost of fuel if you have a generator. It also helps to transform the way renewable energy can help save our lives.

If you have a boathouse, having a solar panel is one thing you should consider. You will need to know how much electricity you need for your boathouse to help you determine the kind of solar panel to install.

If you are a heavy user of electricity, having a solar panel with high watts is right for you. But it will all depend on the amount of sunlight you will receive during your journey.

On a cloudy day, your solar panel does not function to its maximum. It can reduce to 50% of its output.

So, depending on the appliances you have on board, you will need to install more than one solar panel to get maximum efficiency from the solar panels.

You will also need a suitable place to install your panels to receive direct sunlight without any shading.

Everything regarding running your houseboat on solar energy and installing a solar houseboat will be listed in this very long article.

Stay turned!

Solar System for Houseboat

Solar System for Houseboat
Solar System for Houseboat

People who have used solar panels before always know that there are four essential things that you need for your solar panel to operate effectively and efficiently.

If you have never installed one before, you will need to have a solar panel, an inverter, solar batteries, and a charge controller.

The batteries and the charge controller are essential as your solar panel will not function correctly without them. All four components are essential as one needs the other to operate.

If you plan to have a houseboat, you will need to research and find out what type of solar panels you require for your houseboat, how much they cost, what exactly are the tools for installation, and many more.

Doing your research will help you ease your work when it comes to installing the solar boat panels.

Even though installation is not an easy process, you will need a helping hand if you do it for the first time.

Boat Solar Panels

Boat Solar Panels
Boat Solar Panels

Before you set up your solar panels on your boat, you need to know which solar panels you like and how many you need to power your boathouse.

A survey has shown that most solar-powered houseboats will require 1000 to 1500 watts of electricity to perform correctly.

The amount of energy produced by a solar panel will significantly depend on the number of appliances you will be using in your boathouse.

If you have an air conditioner, computers, TV, and cell phones all require specific electricity to operate correctly.

The more appliances you have, the more solar panels you will need to operate them. Let us say you buy a 300-Watt solar panel for your boathouse, which means that you will need four or five of them to have all your operations going well, including overnight power usage.

If you can get a room for more than five solar panels, you can go ahead and install them as they will be helpful in the future. So, if you have enough space for more panels, you can go ahead and purchase them. One 300-Watt solar panel will cost you around $300 to 400$ per panel.

Want to get deeper? Let’s walk you through how solar panels work for a boat as well as guiding you to pick the best solar panels for your houseboat.

How do Solar Panels Operate on a Boat?

How do Solar Panels Operate on a Boat?
How do Solar Panels Operate on a Boat?

A marine solar panel operates just like other solar panel systems do work. All you need are four things to ensure your solar boat panel operates without any faults.

You will need a solar panel, a charge controller, an inverter, and a battery. Most marine solar panels use direct sunlight to operate effectively.

They need a battery that will store the current that comes from the solar panel.

The charge controllers prevent the batteries from forming overcharging and prevent backward currents from reaching the solar panel.

If you do not have a solar charger, you might end up blowing your batteries. If you have many appliances in your boat, you will need to have an inverter used to convert direct current into AC currents.

Most appliances you will have in your boat will require AC for them to operate appropriately.

So that is where the inverter comes in handy. But some boats will use DC if they do not have a lot of household appliances.

You can also opt to buy a solar panel kit, which is a good option if you do not want to go through a lot of hustle.

The kit comes with cables, wires, and equipment that you will need to mount the marine solar panel.

Best Solar Panels for your Houseboats(September 2020 Price Updates)

Solar panelsCostWattEquipment Included 
Renogy Flexible 100 Watt 12 Volt$127100WNone
WindyNation 100 Watt$256100WCharge controller, connectors, mounting brackets
Renogy 160W 12V High Efficiency$175160WNone
Newpowa 100 Watt$95100WNone
TP-solar 100W Foldable$199 + 20% OFF100WFull install kit

When it comes to purchasing a solar panel for your boat, several things come with the solar panel.

You will need a solar panel, a new power solar panel, a windy nation solar panel, and a flexible solar panel.

If your solar panel kit does not have a charge or does not have an inverter controller, you will have to buy them from your nearest solar marine store. Some solar panel kits do not come with everything.

That is why you will need to purchase some equipment separately. Most battery storage products usually come with inbuilt inverters and charge control.

Our pick: TP-solar 100W Foldable

TP-solar 100W Foldable
TP-solar 100W Foldable

Are Solar Panels Good for Your Boat?

There are several reasons you will need to power your boat with a marine solar panel.

The number one reason is that you will save a lot when it comes to money. You will need to spend a lot at the beginning of it all, but once you are all set and done, you will be generating power from the sun, and you will be able to run all the operations of your boat with no problem.

The difference between a boat that is solar enabled, and a generator operated boat is that you will save a lot of money when it comes to gasoline.

Generator operated boats spend a lot of fuel, which is never cheap to buy. Another advantage that comes with a marine solar panel is that it operates silently and quietly. You will not hear a lot of notice as you go on your daily business.

By powering your boathouse with a solar panel, you will have the luxury to enjoy a peaceful environment.

The good thing about a solar panel is that you can charge your batteries during the day and use them at night. The batteries will save you a lot when operating at night, unlike generators, which will require a lot of fuel and will consume a lot of time to operate. The only problem you can have with installing a marine solar panel is finding the right space to fix the solar panels.

The panels need to be installed in a place where they will not be interrupted by anything. They should be positioned in a place where they can receive direct sunlight. Depending on your boat type, finding a space to install your solar panel can be easy or difficult. You must make sure whichever place you install them should not be blocked from receiving direct sunlight.

The deck or the canvas areas of your boathouse are some of the best places you should think of when it comes to installing the marine solar panels.

It would help if you kept in mind that the place you are going to install the solar panels will sometimes require you to purchase extra equipment to ensure they are firmly fitted.

If you do not have a space on your boat to install the marine solar panels effectively, you should consider buying a low-efficiency solar panel.

They will still serve your day to day needs.

How Many Panels Do You Need?

The number of solar panels you need for your boat will depend on the amount of electricity you need depending on your appliances.

A match will need many solar panels to operate compared to a boat. You will need to know the appliances you will use in your boathouse before deciding on the number of solar panels to buy.

The size of your boat will also determine the number of solar panels that you will need. Some boats will only require a 100-watt solar panel.

In contrast, others will need 300watts or even more types of solar panels to operate the first thing you need to determine the number of panels you need is the electricity load you need for your daily operations.

If you have appliances like TV, fan, GPS display, lightbulbs, microwave, and a mini fridge, you will have to think of more than one solar panel for your boat. These appliances require many watts, which means you need to install more than one solar panel on your boat.

Solar Saves on Bills

If you want to save money on electricity bills, all you need to do is install a solar panel at your home residence, business office, and boathouse.

There are different solar panels that you can choose from if at all you ever want to save on electricity.

Most people today opt for solar panels because of the benefits that come with using them. Renewable energy is the way to go if you want to save money on electricity.

Boat Solar Batteries

If you are thinking of getting solar panels for your boathouse, you will also need to have batteries that will store power for you to use at night.

Even though you do not need to use a lot of power at night, having solar batteries ready will be a good idea.

Solar panels are useful during the daytime because they are more active when the sun is out, which means producing a lot of power during the daytime.

There are two different types of solar batteries that are common today.

It will all depend on how much you are willing to spend and how you intend to use the batteries for your boathouse.

They are lithium acid batteries and lead-acid batteries. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

The cheapest of them is the lead-acid batteries, which are not expensive. They also have a short lifespan compared to the lithium acid batteries.

The lithium acid batteries are more expensive, and that is because they have a longer lifespan compared to the lead batteries.

They can serve a period of ten to fifteen years before they are replaced. That means that if you purchase the lithium acid batteries, you will have a perfect boathouse for the next ten years.

Many people think that any batteries are suitable for the boathouse just as they are good for cars and trucks.

That is never the case. Car batteries cannot be used to operate a boathouse. There are some differences between a car battery and a solar battery for a boathouse.

Read more: Complete guide to choose batteries for your solar system

They are both designed differently and do not operate the same way. For a car battery it only uses a lot of power during the starting period.

Their power lasts for a short period compared to the solar batteries for a boathouse.

Once your car has started, the batteries are recharged for the next time you start your car.

A solar battery has been designed to last a more extended period with a low supply of power. That means that you can use the batteries at night without any problems.

They have a “deep cycle,” which means the batteries can run for an extended period repeatedly without being damaged at all.

Now that we have seen the difference between the batteries, the next question is, how many do you need?

The number of batteries you need will depend on the amount of power you intend to use in your boathouse.

So, when you get to know how much power you will need, only then will you decide on the number of batteries to purchase.

Batteries are mostly used at night, and that means you need to know how many can take you overnight.

Let us assume you will need 300 watts of power for an hour throughout the night, you will need to get yourself a battery that has a capacity of 3000watts, and if it happens to run out, you will then have to improvise.

The good thing with the solar batteries is that they have volts and amp listed on them and not the usual watts.

So how can you tell how much watts you will need to spend over a given period? The answer is gotten by multiplying the volts by the amp hours, and then you will get how many watts the batteries can hold.

Let assume you have 12volts and 100 amps that means you will get 1200watts from your battery.

So, if you want to run your boathouse overnight, you will need three solar batteries, which will produce 3000watts.

Another way you will know how many batteries you will need for your boathouse is trial and error.

You will have to assume that at night you will not need your fridge, or you can decide to put off some of the appliances in your boat to save some power.

If you do not need some appliances at night, you can then operate on one battery overnight.

Some people often choose the route of using a few appliances at night to save on the number of batteries they need.

That means you will need one or two batteries operating at night.

Solar Inverter for Your Boat

Lastly, you will need to get yourself an inverter.

An inverter is a device that takes current from your solar panels using direct current and changes it into AC, used by most of your boathouse devices.

Some devices in your boathouse can use direct current directly, but most of the appliances in a regulated boathouse will require AC to function properly.

The TV set you watch in your house uses AC, even the computers, the refrigerators, laptops, etc. Most appliances use AC to function.

Since almost everything that you will have in your boathouse will use AC to operate and that is why an inverter is incredibly essential.

The strength of an inverter is measured by the load that it can put out.

If you have 3000 watts coming from your solar panel, but your inverter only handles 1000 watts, means that your whole system will not operate properly and effectively.

It is better to have an inverter that can handle more watts then to have one that can only handle fewer watts.

Solar Charge Controller

The final equipment that you will need for your solar panel to operate correctly is the charge controller.

A solar charger’s work is to regulate your panel’s charge to your batteries instead of overcharging them.

Most solar panels emit volts from between 15 – 20 volts, which can sometimes be very harmful to your batteries.

That means that you need to control the number of volts generated to the batteries, which is only possible using a solar charge controller.

The charge controller enables the power to get in without damaging your batteries.

Another function of the charge controller is to prevent reverse current from going back to the solar panel, especially at night.

Many people do not know how important the solar charge is to them until they experience a problem with their batteries or if their batteries explode and can no longer function.

Conclusion

I know you might now think that having a solar panel on your boathouse is something difficult. The answer is correct, yes. It is never that simple to have a solar panel operating correctly on your boat.

You need to take your time and invest a lot if you want to have that luxurious boat lifestyle.

If you have your boat and you don’t know how to go about the whole process of installing the solar panel on your boat, you can purchase a solar kit for your nearest store, and you will be able to install your solar panel.

If you decide to go the solar kit route, you will need to ensure that the kit comes with batteries as sometimes they come with faulty batteries.

Installing a solar panel on your houseboat can be a good investment if you correctly research your research.

Try and not miss out on anything if you want everything to go well with your boat.

If you are planning on living on your boat, you will need to do additional research as you do not want to go wrong in anything as it will affect the whole operation of your houseboat.

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