Solar is a great option for making your boat energy independent, increasing the range on our boat when motoring and enjoying maintenance free green boating. Solar isn’t the same as filling a fuel tank up and it is important to think about the advantages and disadvantages of solar. And after reading the helpful information on this page, if you want to put solar on your boat, please take a look at our solar installations page and reach out to Green Yachts.

Advantages of Solar

Disadvantages of Solar

Rigid vs Flexible Solar Panels

Leading Solar Providers

Advantages of Solar

  • Solar energy is free! And anytime the sun is shining, solar panels capture clean energy from the sun and fills the battery bank on your boat
  • Solar energy produces no greenhouse gasses, reduces our use of fossil fuels, and helps us protect our oceans
  • Solar requires very little if any maintenance. The only maintenance you should need to perform is to clean any dirt or salt off them two to four times a year, which you can easily do with a hose at the dock whenever you wash your boat
  • Solar panels are very durable and should last around 25-30 years
  • Solar allows you to live off the grid and never have to hook up to shore power depending on the amount of sun you get, the solar panels you have and your energy needs
  • Solar panels can be installed virtually anywhere on the exterior of your boat from the sails to the boom to the foredeck to the walkways to the bimini and more
  • Solar energy is safer than storing fuel onboard
  • There is more solar power that hits the earth than is needed to power every single watt of electricity used by humans on planet earth
  • Whatever you put solar on makes the area beneath it cooler whether it be the bimini over the cockpit or the decks over the cabin

Disadvantages of Solar

  • The sun does not shine around the clock and maximum solar output is limited to the middle hours of the day
  • Solar doesn’t produce much energy during cloudy/inclement weather
  • The initial investment of solar is high and it takes a few years to achieve a return on investment by the energy saved not buying fuel or electricity
  • Solar provides a trickle charge meaning it takes time for the energy to be stored in your batteries. This requires having a large enough battery bank to bridge the gap between the timing of energy production and energy usage

Rigid vs Flexible Solar Panels

The two main categories of solar panels on the market are rigid and flexible

Rigid Solar Panels:

  • Have been around for decades
  • Typically are installed using sturdy brackets which can be angled to face the sun and maximize solar energy collection
  • Cost about 50-66% less than flexible solar panels but weigh 400-600% more (16 pounds vs 3-4 pounds for a 100 watt panel)
  • Can be installed off the stern of a boat or above cockpit and behind or below the boom on a sailboat
  • Are more prone to being damaged or blown off a boat in heavy winds if the winds catch the flat surface of the panel

Flexible Solar Panels:

  • Can conform to a wide variety of flat and curved surfaces and thus installed on many parts of a boat including the deck, foredeck, walkways and bimini
  • Because flexible solar panels in effect become part of the boat surfaces, they are most likely never in the way. This also makes them more aesthetically pleasing
  • Cost two to three times as much as rigid solar panels, but weigh approximately 400-600% less

Leading Solar Panel Manufacturers

Nature Power

Rigid Solar Panels – 1.5 to 330 watt equipped with heavy duty aluminum frames for strong weather resistance and permanent mounting

Semi-Flexible Solar Panels – 3 to 50 watt are wafer thin, lightweight, and can mold to a curved surface. These Semi-Flexible Solar Panels are made of the high efficiency monocrystalline solar cells and strong enough to be walked on. Semi-flexible panels are weather, water and corrosion resistant making them a perfect option for marine applications, RVs, camping and emergency back-up.


Renogy started as a small project by students at Louisiana State University that has grown into a healthy and flourishing company. Renogy grew its product lines by creating innovative products to solve everyday problems. During the process,Renogy was able to increase its presence by expanding the number of online marketplaces, suppliers, and wholesale partners they worked with. Over the years, Renogy has received numerous awards and recognition, including a spot in Inc. 5000’s top 500 fastest growing private companies in 2016. Today, you can find Renogy all over the globe.  Renogy focuses on serving the RV market, but are easily adaptable to being used on boats.

 Rigid Solar Panels – 10 to 300 watt solar that hasadvanced encapsulation material with multi-layered sheet laminations, which enhance cell performance and provide a long service life.  The corrosion-resistant aluminum frame allows extended outdoor use.  Anti-reflective, high transparency, low iron-tempered glass provides enhanced stiffness and impact resistance

 Flexible Solar Panels – 50 to 175 watt Renogy panels that flex up to 248 degrees and weight a quarter of a similar sized rigid panel are perfect for marine use or placement on top of a van or vehicle. Highly flexible, these lightweight panels can easily be installed on curved surfaces. This panel can also be used for other various applications, including providing power on a boat or teardrop trailer.

 Folding Suitcase Panels – 100 to 200 watt Renogy folding panels are made from the same high-efficiency cells, industrial-grade aluminum, and tempered glass as our Rigid Solar Panels and comes with all the necessary components to connect to a 12V battery right out of the box! Folding Suitcases are available in complete kits paired with a charge controller attached or as individual panels to expand existing systems.


Hans Jacobs and Thomas Rudolph founded SOLARA in 1996.  At the time, Rudolph said “When my children are big, solar systems on sailing boats, mobile homes and even houses should be normal”  Today, this has become reality with well over a million Solar systems on house roofs alone in Germany and much more on sailing boats and mobile homes worldwide

 SOLARA Power S-series

SOLARA Power S Series are rigid, slim solar panels with SunPower Cells with 22% efficiency, elegant black finishing and are designed for a wide range of applications.  They are specially developed for permanent operation at extreme heat as well a high humidity and offers excellent mechanical load resistance thanks to its torsion-resistant module frame.

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 Solara S-series

 Solar modules with 36 high-performance solar cells with a sturdy, seawater-resistant aluminium frame.  Efficiency ranges from 11 to 15%.

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Solara Power M-series

SOLARA Power M Series Marine semi-flexible walk-on panels with SunPower Cells offer highest performance with top quality. The attractive black and elegant marine walk-on panels are extremely flat shape with high stability. 

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Solara M-series

Semi-flexible walk-on panels with stability and maximum heat dissipation due to aluminum sandwich plate.  The panels come in different sizes with outputs ranging rom 12 to 80 watts.

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Since 2007, Solbianhas produced flexible photovoltaic panels specifically for boats that are innovative, flexible, light and highly efficient. They provide energy where it is needed, a natural and environmentally-friendly source.

 Solbian’s extraordinarily flexible and lightweight panels are only 2 mm thick and particularly suited to sailing yachts, but they are equally suited to applications in electric mobility, caravans and campers, trekking, tents and mountain huts, emergency structures and building integrated projects.

 Solbian’s product line includes:

 SP Series – The most efficient panels Solbian makes with 24% efficiency, the non-skid, flexible panels ranging from 52 to 144 watts

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Sr Series – The 62 to 216 watt monocrystalline high efficiency SR panels are sandwiched by two patented metallic grids. The grid on the front is optimized to capture sunlight while the one behind the celloffers strong mechanical support

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SX Series – The 62 to 216 watt monocrystalline solar panels with cells that are electrically connected using ultra-thin copper wires that form a very fine mesh on the cell surface, resulting in thousands of contact points. This alternative to the standard bus-bar method allows a increases the energy yield and decreases the impact of shading

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SXX Series – Like the SX Series, the SXX series are electrically connected using ultra-thin copper wires increasing energy yield and decreasing the impact of shading.  The silicon-based heterojunction solar cells on SXX panels offer greater than 23% of efficiency leading to solar panels that are 70 to 240 watts and produce 10-12% more solar energy than SX panels

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Innovation is one of the most important drivers within SUNBEAM Systems. The Swedish brand distinguishes itself from the rest of the market by a series of unique and brand specific innovations, features you won’t be finding elsewhere. SUNBEAM Systems was founded from the wish to enjoy solar energy aboard, but there was a list of concessions behind every available solution. Convinced by the fact that a better solution should be possible SUNBEAM System is now a market leader within the market of high-tech solar panels.


With the Tough++ 120W Flush, SUNBEAM System brings the best and most efficient solar panel available. The newest Sunpower™ Maxeon cells, with an incredible efficiency of 24.8%, are literally twice as efficient as the standard glass solar panels you normally see on houses. On average they produce more than twice as much energy on a daily basis than standard glass panels since they also work in low light intensity.  Tough++ panels are also shadow optimized to perform well in partial shade conditions.


The SUNBEAMsystem Tough+ series with panels ranging from 38 to 113 watts are developed for professional purposes and high-end installations. All models are fitted with Sunpower™ cells with an efficiency of no less than 23.7%, resulting in a high production on even the smallest surfaces.


Since its introduction, the SUNBEAM System Tough series with panels ranging from 20 to 108 watts is a universal solution for a multitude of markets. The Tough surface is the preferred choice for not only yachts but also for the industrial off-grid purposes. All Tough models are fitted with Sunpower™ Maxeon cells with an efficiency of 22.5% or higher.  Available with a white or black backround around the cells.

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