Do's and don't for solar on boats

Leigh Naylor, managing director of Loryan Micro Renewables, has 10 years experience installing solar panels. He offers boat owners with an interest in renewable energy this practical advice:

  • Do choose high efficiency solar panels from a trusted brand such as LG, which are up to 40% more efficient per square centimetre than cheap Chinese-made alternatives.
  • Do choose mono-crystalline instead of poly-crystalline solar panels. Mono-crystalline solar panels work better in low level/indirect light, so are much more suited to the UK climate.
  • Do check the warranty on your solar panels (LG offers 25 years warranty). Panel manufacturers offering warranties of 3-5 years cannot guarantee the longevity and performance of the panel.
  • Do mount your solar panels flat on your boat roof. This will offer good all round day performance and you will not need to worry about which way your boat is facing. Mounting panels flat will only loose 8% of annual generation.
  • Do keep the solar panels clear of tall objects such as flus, chimneys and aerials. Shading reduces a panels efficiency including those wired up in a series/sequence, even if those panels are not affected by shade. Trees and buildings also need to considered when mooring your boat.
  • Don’t drill the frame of your solar panels as your warranty will be voided due to change of the original product. Use a professional solar clamp system, which enables the panel to be removed easily for maintenance and cleaning under the panel.
  • Do keep the solar panels clean from dirt/dust and leaves to ensure maximum efficiency.
  • Don’t use AC cables to wire up your solar panels as this reduce the solar panels life span. Instead use solar TUV rated cable and correct parallel connectors.
  • Don’t settle for the first quote you receive. Always receive a few quotes so you can compare.
  • Don’t think that solar panels won’t work for you just because you live in a cloudy climate – they still work, even when raining.
  • Do use a MPPT controller to maximise the amount of power converted from your solar panel into your batteries. MPPT controllers are 20% more efficient than PWM controllers.
  • Do test your batteries before installing the solar system and replace if needed. Know what type of batteries you have so the controller can be programmed accordingly.

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Loryan Micro
Renewables Limited

Dunston Business Village,
Dunston, Stafford,
Staffordshire ST18 9AB

T: 07974 576823