The 5 Best Solar Battery Chargers for Boats in 2022

By May 23, 2022
Planning to power your onboard devices with renewable energy from the sun? This buying guide helps you compare the best solar battery chargers for boats. Along with our detailed product overviews, we will tell you what to look for when you are shopping for a quality charger.

Looking for a way to power your devices on your pontoon boat, sailboat, or other vessels? One reliable way to keep your devices running is to invest in a solar battery charger for boats.

In this post, we will share some of the top solar battery chargers for boats with you. But first, let’s explain what a solar charger for a boat battery is and how it works. We will also go over important features to consider as you are comparing products.

What is a Solar Battery Charger for a Boat?

A solar battery charger consists of several components:

  • Solar panels
  • Wiring
  • A charge controller
  • Batteries

The job of the charger is to collect energy from the sun and transfer it to your batteries. That way, you can power your onboard devices using a renewable source of power.

Not only is a solar battery charger eco-friendly, but it is also economical on your boat. Popular Mechanics has called solar power the “cheapest electricity in history. (1)”

How Does a Solar Charger for a Boat Battery Work?

The way these chargers work is quite simple. Lifewire explains, “Solar battery chargers work by converting energy from the sun into electricity that can be stored in a battery. This is accomplished via a photovoltaic solar panel. (2)”

Once the solar panels harvest the energy, the component called the charge controller regulates the power and distributes it to the battery bank.

Some systems do not include a charge controller, but you should get one that does. Otherwise, you will have to shop for a compatible charge controller separately.

Top Solar Battery Chargers for Boats

Best Waterproof Solar Charger for Boat Battery

SOLPERK 50W/12V Solar Panel Kit, Solar Battery Trickle Charger Maintainer + Waterproof Controller

SOLPERK 50W/12V Solar Panel Kit, Solar Battery Trickle Charger Maintainer + Waterproof Controller

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What we like

  • The adjustable mounting.
  • Installation is quick and easy.
  • Great charging system.

What we don’t like

  • Some people reported problems with the connectors.

The SOLPERK 50W/12V Solar Panel Kit is an excellent option for a portable solar charger for boats that features robust, waterproof construction.

What we love about this product is that it was engineered to survive regular exposure to stormy conditions. The anodized aluminum frame resists corrosion, and the solar panel features waterproof tempered glass. The charger regulator controller is enclosed in a protective waterproof case, so you can count on it to keep functioning on rough or rainy seas.

Key Specifications

  • 50 watts
  • 12 volts
  • Monocrystalline silicon
  • Up to 24% conversion rate
  • 21.3” x 21.3” x 4.45”
  • Includes solar panel, charger regulator controller, 2 alligator clips, 1 set of mounting pieces, 1 SAE extension cable

Pros

  • The adjustable mounting bracket lets you rotate the panels up to 60 degrees. That way, you can get the best angle for the sun.
  • Installation is quick and easy.
  • Some SOLPERK products have issues involving battery overcharging, but the 50W/12V Solar Panel Kit seems to charge the battery reliably to the right level.

Cons

  • There may be some quality control issues with the connectors. But most units are unaffected.

Best Compact Solar Battery Charger for Boats

Solar Power Bank, YELOMIN 20000mAh Portable Solar Charger, Waterproof Backup Battery Pack

Solar Power Bank, YELOMIN 20000mAh Portable Solar Charger, Waterproof Backup Battery Pack

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What we like

  • Wide range of device compatibility .
  • Surprisingly durable.

What we don’t like

  • A charging system-related manufacturing flaw reported in some units.

If you are looking for something incredibly compact you can use just to keep your mobile devices charged when you are in your kayak, jet ski, or other small vessels, you can consider the YELOMIN 20000mAh Portable Solar Charger.

Key Specifications

  • 20000mAh
  • 5 volts output
  • 2 USB outputs
  • 19.00 centimeters x 10.50 centimeters x 3.00 centimeters
  • Package includes a solar panel charger, USB cable, carabiner, and user manual

Pros

  • This product is compatible with a wide range of devices.
  • Even with its compact, lightweight design, this solar charger is surprisingly durable.

Cons

  • Some purchasers complain that the solar charging feature does not work. This could be a manufacturing flaw in some units, but it could also be that they forgot to charge it via USB initially. Only after doing that twice does the solar charging function work.

Best MPPT Solar Battery Charger

20W 12V Solar Battery Charger, Waterproof 20 Watt 12 Volt Solar Panel Trickle Charger & Maintainer

20W 12V Solar Battery Charger, Waterproof 20 Watt 12 Volt Solar Panel Trickle Charger & Maintainer

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What we like

  • Long-lasting construction.
  • Easy setup.
  • Charge-level LED indicator.

What we don’t like

  • Occasionally, packages arrive with a damaged charger.

Our top recommended marine solar battery charger featuring MPPT technology is this 20W 12V Solar Battery Charger. You can expect efficiency that is around 20-30% higher than what you would get if you went with a standard PWM solar charger for your boat.

Key Specifications

  • 18 volts operating power voltage
  • 1.1 amps operating power current
  • 20.15″ L * 13.78″ W * 0.7″ H
  • Kit includes solar charger, battery clamp cable, bare wire cable, cigarette lighter cable, mount screws, and user manual

Pros

  • You can tell the moment you handle it that this solar charging kit features robust construction and will be able to handle conditions at sea.
  • Setting up this solar battery charger on your boat is ridiculously easy. It is just a matter of connecting the components and angling the panels. Not every solar charger includes multiple types of connections in the kit. This one does, so you should have exactly what you need to get started.
  • Along with its high efficiency, this product boasts a three-stage charging algorithm for optimal performance.
  • It is easy to see at a glance if your batteries are charged thanks to the LED indicator.

Cons

  • This solar battery trickle charger usually works great. Occasionally a unit ships out that does not work at all. While this is rare, you should test your new charger out right away after receiving it.

Best Monocrystalline Solar Panel Battery Charger for Boats

VICEMOB 20 Watt 12 Volt Solar Battery Charger & Maintainer Kits

VICEMOB 20 Watt 12 Volt Solar Battery Charger & Maintainer Kits

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What we like

  • Lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Fast charging on ideal conditions.
  • Excellent connector quality.
  • Life expectancy of 35 years.

What we don’t like

  • This unit occasionally ships improperly packaged.

Our top pick for a monocrystalline solar panel battery charger is the VICEMOB 20 Watt 12 Volt Solar Battery Charger & Maintainer Kit. This product’s expertly engineered panels feature solar cells sandwiched between EVA layers with ETFE film on top. The manufacturer states that you can expect up to 95% transmittance.

Key Specifications

  • 12 volts
  • 20 watts power output
  • 18.2 volts operating power voltage
  • 1.1 amps operating power current
  • 14” x 13.2”
  • Multiple connector types included: cigarette adapter, battery clamps, ring connectors

Pros

  • These solar panels are impressively lightweight and easy to transport, carry and install on your boat.
  • The panels have a self-cleaning design, reducing the amount of maintenance they need on a regular basis.
  • Living up to the promise of its high efficiency, this system charges rapidly in full sun.
  • The quality of the connectors is impressive compared to those in competing products.
  • While we can recommend this kit to beginners, it may just be the last one you ever need. With its durable construction, the expected lifespan of the product is up to 35 years.

Cons

  • Sometimes this unit does not ship properly packed, and components might be damaged. Take a careful look when you receive your shipment.

Best Solar Battery Charger for Boats on Cloudy Days

ECO-WORTHY 12 Volt 10 Watt Solar Car Battery Charger & Maintainer

ECO-WORTHY 12 Volt 10 Watt Solar Car Battery Charger & Maintainer

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What we like

  • Built-in diode feature.
  • Simple installation.
  • Robust materials.

What we don’t like

  • The waterproof feature has some drawbacks.

If you live in a climate with a lot of cloud cover, you might despair of finding a solar charger that will work in your area. But the ECO-WORTHY 12 Volt 10 Watt Solar Car Battery Charger & Maintainer can perform great even on days you do not get full sunlight. That said, you will see a boost of about 30% in power if you are operating in sunny conditions versus cloudy conditions.

Key Specifications

  • 12 volts
  • 10 watts
  • 14.37” x 1.46” x 9.25”
  • Kit includes battery clips, PVC suckers, and cigarette light adapter

Pros

  • One of the most exciting features this product boasts is a built-in diode. This feature prevents unwanted draining.
  • Installing this charger is easy and intuitive.
  • The materials are sturdy, and this product should stand the test of time.

Cons

  • While you can use this product on your boat, be aware that it may not be as weatherproof as some other options on this list. You may need to take steps to improve its weather-resistance on your own.

Features of Solar Battery Charger Systems

What to Consider Before Buying the Best Solar Battery Chargers for Boats

Battery type

Types of solar battery chargers for boats include models for trickle, float, and boost batteries. The trickle batteries are most widespread. While they charge gradually, most users do not need the rapid charging enabled by the surge involved in boost chargers. If you want the functionality of a trickle charger with overcharge protection, consider a float charger.

Panel type

Consider your options for the charger panel type. These include mono-crystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous silicon panels. The mono-crystalline panels are very efficient with energy conversion. But you will pay less for polycrystalline panels. If you are boating in a cloudy climate, however, you should consider the amorphous silicon panels.

Power

Make sure the voltage, watts, and amps for the product you are considering will be suited to your requirements.

Charge controller

As already mentioned, the charge controller is an important component in a solar battery charger. Make sure it is included with the system.

Self-regulation

While most solar chargers for boats feature built-in charge controllers, some do not. These models are known as “self-regulating” solar battery chargers.

MPPT vs. PWM

Your charge controller may feature pulse width modulation (PWM) or maximum power point tracking (MPPT) technology. PWM can regulate current, but not voltage. MPPT can regulate both. The upshot with MPPT is significantly higher efficiency.

Installation

Pay attention to how easy it is to install your charger. You may want to choose a product with more than one type of connector so that you have a variety of easy options.

Waterproofing

This feature will protect your charger from splashes and precipitation.

Construction

High-quality, durable materials will extend the lifespan of your charger.

Performance

The right model will provide you with rapid, efficient charging and deliver the power you need reliably.

Longevity

CNET says that you can expect around 25-30 years of life out of solar panels (3). Some types of solar chargers may last even longer.

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