2017 Best Marine Solar Panels – Pricing and Reviews


Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular on boats, as they are a good alternative to recharging a battery with a diesel engine.  They are also relatively easy to install into an existing electric system on a boat and come in flexible versions that can be installed on canvas tops or other irregular surfaces.

The cost of panels has dramatically decreased (as much as 80%) since 2010 making them more economical.

There are also a range of models and features, so OhmHome has compiled this guide on the best marine solar panels after spending over 20 hours researching public data, testing products in the field and talking to consumers.

Best Marine Solar Panels 2017: Overview

Best Marine Solar Panels: Comparison

ModelCell TypeWeightDimensionsType 
Suaoki 100 Watt 12 V Flexible Solar Panel with Sunpower CellsMonocyrstalline4.8 lbs43.3 x 22.4 x 0.1 inchesFlexible Prices
HQST 100 Watt 12V Flexible Solar PanelMonocrystalline2.9 lbs41 x 21 x 0.2 inchesFlexible Prices
HQST 100 Watt 12V Solar PanelMonocrystalline16.5 lbs47 x 21.3 x 1.4 inchesFixed Prices
Renogy 100 Watts 12V Solar PanelMonocrystalline16.5 lbs47 x 1.4 x 21.3 inchesFixed Prices
Newpowa 100 Watt 12V Solar Panel Polycrystalline19.6 lbs39.8 x 1.2 x 26.6 inchesFixed Prices
Mighty Max 100 Watt 12V Solar PanelPolycrystaline19 lbs41.5 x 28 x 2 inchesFixed Prices

Marine Solar Panels 101

There are two kinds of marine solar panels and we have reviewed both types:

  • Flexible – Flexible marine solar panels do not have metal backing and are 1/5 of the weight of framed solar panels. The can be bent up to a 30 degree curve and mounted on canvas or other irregular surfaces.
  • Standard – Standard marine solar panels have an aluminum backing and can withstand very strong wind and rain. They are 5x as heavy (nearly 20 lbs) as the flexible panels.

We reviewed 100 watt panels, but most of the manufacturers that we review also offer 25 or 75 watts versions, so you can design a system that fits your needs.  For basic light and refrigeration, 2 100 Watt panels should be sufficient, but we recommend itemizing your usage.

There are also several very small chargers that are less than 20 watts that we did not review, but are very durable and popular if wattage demands are limited.

Best Marine Solar Panels: Detailed Reviews

Most homeowners buy chargers online to save money and then find a certified electrician for the installation. Below are the top models as reviewed by OhmHome.

Suaoki 100 Watt 12V Flexible Solar Panel with Sunpower Cells

The Suaoki 100 Watt 12V Flexible Solar Panel is made with SunPower solar cells, which are the premier solar cell brand in the industry (think Apple of the solar industry). The SunPower panels have a higher-than-average 23% to 25% efficiency and an internal blocking diode which prevents reverse current drain at night.

The Suaoki panels are water resistant and semi-flexible solar panel, which makes them ideal solar panels for a boat, as they can be installed on canvas.  The panels can be gently flexed to a curve of 30 degrees max.  They are also extremely lightweight at less than 5lbs or 80% lighter than comparable fixed models.

The flexible design includes four metal reinforced mounting holes at each corner for fixing screws that allows for an easy installation.

Pros/Cons

Pros
  • Lightweight at less than 5lbs (80% lighter than comparable fixed models)
  • Flexible design allows for easy installation on irregular surfaces or canvas
  • Made with top of the line SunPower cells
Cons
  • Panels are flexible, but can break if bent too much

HQST 100 Watt 12V Flexible Solar Panel

The HQST 100 Watt 12V Flexible solar panel is one of the lightest models available at less than 3lbs. The panel junction box is sealed and waterproof and the panels come with a pair of 10 inches cables with MC4 connectors. The panels maximize system output by reducing mismatch loss and the panels have a top-ranked PTC rating.

The flexible solar panels can be affixed by adhesive, grommets, zip ties or velcro; can be installed without costly structural roof reinforcements. Holes on panels are pre-drilled for fast mounting and securing, perfect for non-permanent installations.

Pros/Cons

Pros
  • Lightweight at less than 3lbs (85% lighter than comparable fixed models)
  • Flexible design allows for easy installation on irregular surfaces or canvas
Cons
  • Panels are flexible, but can break if bent too much

HQST 100 Watt 12V Solar Panel

The HQST 100 Watt 12V Solar Panel is made with high conversion efficiency modules and can generate 500 watt hours a day to recharge a boat battery.
The panels are made with anti-reflective, high transparency, low iron-tempered glass with enhanced stiffness and impact resistance that can withstand high winds (2400 Pa) and snow loads (5400 Pa).

The panels come with pre-drilled holes on the back of the panel allow for fast mounting and securing. The panels are compatible with different mounting systems such as Z-brackets, Pole Mounts, and Tilt Mounts.

The panels are backed with a corrosion-resistant aluminum frame for extended outdoor use, allowing the panels to last for decades.  The panels come with 5 years material and workmanship warranty and 25 years power output warranty.

Pros/Cons

Pros
  • 25 year power output warranty
  • Can withstand strong winds and rain
  • Compatible with multiple mounting systems
Cons
  • Heavier than flexible solar models at nearly 20lbs.

Renogy 100 Watts 12V Solar Panel

The Renogy 100 Watt 12V Solar Panel is made with high conversion efficiency modules and can generate 500 watt hours a day to recharge a boat battery.
The panels are made with anti-reflective, high transparency, low iron-tempered glass with enhanced stiffness and impact resistance that can withstand high winds (2400 Pa) and snow loads (5400 Pa).

The panels come with pre-drilled holes on the back of the panel allow for fast mounting and securing. The panels come with 5 years material and workmanship warranty and 25 years power output warranty.

Pros/Cons

Pros
  • 25 year power output warranty
  • Can withstand strong winds and rain
  • Compatible with multiple mounting systems
Cons
  • Heavier than flexible solar models at nearly 20lbs.

Newpowa 100 Watt 12V Solar Panel

The Newpowa 100 Watt 12V solar panel comes with diodes pre-installed in junction box and a pair of pre-attached 3ft MC4 cables.  The panels also come with a 25-year transferable power output warranty.

The Newpowa panels are very similar to the HQST and Renogy models, but are ~10% less expensive and have similar power outputs.

Pros/Cons

Pros
  • Low cost alternative
  • Strong aluminum frame
Cons
  • 25 year warranty
  • Heavier than flexible solar panels

Mighty Max 100 Watt 12V Solar Panel

Mighty Max 100 Watt 12v polycrystaline solar panel comes with pre-drilled diodes in the junction box and a pair of 35 inch cables with MC4 connectors already attached to the panels.

The panels are mounted in a strong aluminum frame manufactured to withstand a heavier snow load and high wind pressures, passing a snow load of 5400Pa.

Pros/Cons

Pros
  • Strong aluminum frame
  • Lower cost alternative
Cons
  • No warranty listed
  • Significantly heavier than other models

Marine Solar Panel Installation

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