When our supplier told me they had a new high output marine solar panel that was flexible I was skeptical. The specifications seemed just to good to be true. So I ordered some to test. Well, I was pleasantly surprised.
These panels are very well constructed and they have a power generation comparable to our hard panels. These panels can be flexed to 30 degrees so can conform to most boat curved surfaces. The 100+ watt panels have an electrical box on the front (not shown in the picture) which contains two blocking diodes. The 50 watt panel has one blocking diode. The base material is very sturdy and strong. Each panel has grommets for attaching the panel.
I have tested the output of these panels under various weather conditions and their susceptibility to shading. Below is a quick comparison of output of our three mid-range panels laying flat at mid day on a mostly sunny day measured with a meter:
Flexible 100 watt Rigid 105 watt Rigid 100 watt
Monocrystalline Monocrystalline Polycrystalline
Short Circuit Current (Isc) 5.48 amps 5.50 amps 5.26 amps
Open Circuit Voltage (Voc) 19.2 volts 19.7 volts 20.5 volts
Computed Power (not rated power) 105 watts 108 watts 108 watts
Additional information is available on our solar panel page.
New Solar Panel Offerings
The Kyocera KC85T is a solar panel we have recommended for pole mounting on boats with moderate power requirements. It has been very popular with our customers. Unfortunately, Kyocera no longer manufacturers this panel. To serve our customers, we are having a similar panel manufactured to our specification. This panel is the same dimensions as the KC85T, is rated at 90 watts, and is a polycrystalline Class A marine grade solar panel. This panel has a 10 year manufacturer warranty and a 10 year warranty from CMP. Out tests indicate that this panel is an excellent performer. It is now in stock and can be ordered through our web site with or without our custom top-of-pole mounting system.
I recently mounted the 90 watt panel on my boat in the Great Lakes to see how it compared to ym KC85T. The results were impressive. The 90 watt panel produced 5.5 to 6 watts consistently on sunny days (rare this Spring) and achieved a max output of 7.3 amps. It will easily produce 35 amp hours a day.
We also now offer a 130 watt solar panel which has the same dimensions as our 120 watt panel. It is ideal for pole mounting because it only weighs 24 pounds and is shorter and wider than standard panels of similar power.
If you have a need for smaller panels on your boat, check out Atom Voyages. James offers a top-of-pole mounting system that is ideal for panels in the 50 to 65 watt range.
Thomas Trimmer has been cruising with his Ericson 38 sailboat on the Great Lakes for over 20 years. He has pioneered the use of solar energy for wilderness cruising. He is continually designing and building equipment to simplify and enhance the cruising experience.