* We work with freight forwarders, we ship to a US address you provide and the freight forwarders handle the rest. Generally considerably less expensive for you. Freight forwarders we have worked with successfully in the past are here, but it is your responsibility to manage your shipment from the USA to you.
Can you install my solar panels and solar system?
*We supply the parts and support you or your installer through the installation and after. Good videos and information on doing a marine solar installation are here and call any time with questions. We have also put together a list of solar installers and marine electricians around the hemisphere that have installed our equipment in the past here.
How soon can I expect to receive my order?
* Orders are shipped next day after receipt of payment. They go out from our Michigan warehouse via Fedex ground. We will let you know your tracking number when we have it via email. If we are out of stock we'll let you know when we expect stock to arrive and will add you to our backorder list. Feel free to reach out to us if you haven't heard back in a while.
Where is your warehouse?
* Michigan and we are looking at adding a west coast facility.
How much solar power do I need on my boat?
* We can ballpark it based on your needs and use case, call us to talk through it, 773-965-2546. Or we can be more scientific about it using our solar worksheet here. Here is our detailed solar needs blog post walking you thoroughly through the process we use to determine your solar needs. And here are many videos and worksheets on designing a solar system.
How do I mount solar panels on my boat?
* Option are on canvas (semi-flexible panels), on hard deck or roofs (walk on semi-rigid panels), or on davits or arches (rigid panels). Canvas mounting systems are with heavy duty magnets or bolt kits here. Deck or roof mount semi rigid solar panel kits are here. Davits and arches are up to the customer to fabricate, www.geminiproducts.com has much of the hardware needed. Many installation and boat solar mounting pictures and ideas are here from past customers.
Can I charge both my lead acid battery and my lithium/lifepo4 batteries from my alternator or generator?
* Yes you can, there are a couple options. First option is a DC-DC charger which enables two battery banks to be charged from a single alternator while being isolated from each other and can have different charging profiles. Second option is a battery isolator which enables the charging of multiple battery banks while keeping them isolated from each other. The Victron ARGO FET Battery Isolator enables the charging of three battery banks. Downside to this option is all batteries receive the same charging profile. Much more information is here on our blog.
I have your batteries, what app do I download?
* If you have the Utility series, search your app store for "Smartec", if the Sport series, search for the "CMPower" app.
Do you have any live data on your panels from your personal use?
*Yes we have written a few blog posts sharing the solar data we've collected while we've cruised on our own boat. Check out our own cruising boat solar data here.
Do you have any test results of Lithium batteries on your own boat?
* Yes we do, we love the lithium lifepo4 batteries. It's like getting 20% more solar with the increase in efficiency among many other benefits like 1/2 the weight per amp hour, 1/2 the space per amp hour, much longer longevity, bluetooth app, etc. Here's a blog post on our experience using our lithium batteries on our boat.
If I want to turn my solar system off, how do I do that?
* Put a switch in on the positive line between the panels and the controller. Needs to be a big enough switch to handle the amperage, breakers are often used. Here's a great blog post with details on turning your solar system on and off.
How are marine solar panels different from commercial solar panels?
* Marine solar panels: Junction boxes filled with inert silicone, Rigid panels have strong frames and sealants, High output power performance with A+ grade cells, output compatible with 12 and 24 volt batteries, marine panels wired to accomodate shading. Commercial solar panels: Junction boxes no inert silicone, frames designed for rack mounting, output typically 30+ volts, panel cells typically B or B+ grade
Will you accept crypto payments?
* Yes sure, let us know and we can get you our addresses for BTC or USDT or whatever crypto you'd like.
How do I mount solar panels to my bimini or dodger?
Bolt-on System - Customers have found that using our canvas bolt-on kit works well for mounting our semi-flexible marine solar panels directly to their boat's bimini or dodger canvas. The kit includes a vinyl disk to be adhered to the underside of the canvas, fender washers to secure the bolt to the canvas, a bolt and nut to tighten the washers to the canvas and an acorn nut to secure the solar panel to the bolt. The kit includes 4 or 6 sets of attachment hardware depending on the solar panel. All metal components are stainless steel.
Magnet Mounting System - This mounting system does not require holes in the canvas. We have found very high power rare earth magnets (up to 20 pound pull strength per magnet) are ideal for temporary mounting of our flexible solar panels on a boat's canvas bimini or dodger. Our rare earth magnet kit includes 8 or 12 magnets and adhesive to attach the magnets to the upper side of the solar panel.
What are the best marine solar panels?
The best marine solar panels have five essential components:
1. Sunpower cells - even if a cell is partially shaded they still produce power. Sunpower's A+ grade cells (Maxxeon) are among the best available putting out up to 23.7% efficiency.
2. Potted (silicone filled) junction boxes - so saltwater cannot corrode the electronics.
3. Easily mountable, either semi-flexible or rigid panels with stout anodized aluminum framing, depending on the application.
4. A+ grade solar cell quality. Cheaper panels will have lower quality, less efficient cells. Space is always at a premium in marine applications so the highest efficiency cells available are imperative. Highly efficient cells produce considerably more power at lower sun angles than lower grade cells.
5. Have bypass diodes to significantly reduce the impact of shading that often occurs on boats.
How much more power can I get from a pole mounted solar panel vs a flat mount?
Our top-of-pole mounting system enables manual tracking of the sun position for maximum panel performance and keeps the panel up and out of the way of the rigging. Rotating or tilting the panel just several times a day to obtain an optimum sun angle can increase the panel output by as much as 30%. This means more power from a smaller panel; ideal for the marine environment where space is limited. Our systems are easy to install and remove. In severe weather, simply tilt the panel horizontally or remove one bolt (or quick release pin), unplug two wires and lift the panel off the pole.
What is the difference between a cheap marine solar panel and an expensive marine solar panel?
High quality high performance solar cells will produce more power at various sun angles than lower quality solar cells; up to 30% more power. An important consideration in determining how much solar power you need is how many watt hours or amp hours of power you can expect to generate in a 24 hour period. Let's say you cruise in an area that receives an average of 5 hours of full sun a day. The average is computed based on the seasonal sun angle and the sun angle from morning through evening. A 100 watt solar panel with average efficiency solar cells may produce 100 watts x 5 hours or 500 watt hours of power in a day. At 13 volts that's about 38 amp hours in a day. A 100 watt panel with high efficiency solar cells will produce up to 30% more power in a day or 100 watts x 6.5 effective hours or 650 watt hours of power in a day. At 13 volts, that's about 50 amp hours in a day. 38 amp hours vs. 50 amp hours in a day is significant on a boat. Add more panels in the mix, say 400 watts and we see 152 amp hours vs.200 amp hours, a difference of 48 amp hours. This simple analysis does not take into consideration the impact of clouds or shading both of which will make the disparity even greater. Clearly, the higher the quality of the solar cells the more power produced over time.
How much solar power do I need on my boat?
It depends on how much power your boat uses and what you are trying to accomplish. Running a radio for an afternoon will use considerably less power than a refrigerator, lights, water pump, and a computer while living aboard on an anchor. Sizing your solar system is not an exact science and it may be best to leave space on your solar controller to size up as needed. As they say, you can never have too much power! An abundance of power is much more fun than a deficit. We have a google docs sheet available for edit to help you figure out the power you need, see it here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1CnNTXkCZ6kqdcLZ_kXOVL3F_L_zgdWxvnv8pe7XjC8A/edit?usp=sharing Of course feel free to call us any time to discuss your needs, we've built hundreds of solar systems and are happy to share our knowledge.
Can I power my refrigerator with a 120 watt panel?
Most likely yes. It will depend on the battery bank you have to run it when the sun isn't shining. Refrigerators on boats are one of the most frequent uses for solar power. Here is a google docs sheet available to help you figure out the power you need on your boat: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1CnNTXkCZ6kqdcLZ_kXOVL3F_L_zgdWxvnv8pe7XjC8A/edit?usp=sharing Generally a refrigerator on a boat draws 5 amps.
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