Many power and sailing vessels can benefit greatly from the use of solar energy to help manage their electrical power requirements. Solar panels help charge the house batteries while anchored or sitting on a mooring, reducing or eliminating the need to run the generator.
The simplest system for a small outboard-powered boat that you may have tugging on a mooring consists of connecting a removable, often flexible, solar panel directly to the boat’s battery.
This can help keep the battery charged to ensure that a bilge pump will function and that the engine will start after being left unattended for an extended time.
Permanently mounted high-output solar panels can be a significant source of power on larger vessels. Before choosing any panels or associated equipment you first need to determine exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, how much of an electrical load you expect the solar system to satisfy, and whether you need to modify other components of your vessel’s electrical system.
There’s a huge difference between providing enough energy to run a few DC fans and lights at night versus keeping a household-size, 110-volt refrigerator running through a DC-AC inverter fed by a large house battery bank.