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Solar-Powered Boat Motors:
The Eco-Friendly Future of Boating

No charging port for your electric boat motor? Or are you looking for an alternative power source for keeping your boat batteries charged.

A solar-powered boat motor could be the perfect solution for you!

ePropulsion Australia brings you some top tips, tricks, and recommendations for the perfect solar-powered boat set up.

In recent years, solar-powered boats have become quite a hot topic. Not only are they a way to help protect marine life and ecosystems from pollution, but they also cost a lot less in the long run! There have been multiple success stories of people traversing longer and longer stretches of the ocean using solar power, like David and Alex Borton completing an expedition to Alaska on a boat powered by solar. This and many more stories like it, are exhibiting the lengths we can go to using solar energy.

In relation to recreational fishing, running your boat on solar power and Renewable Energy Advisors is a great option and allows long periods without the need for charging or connecting to marina shore power. We have put together the ultimate list to help you learn everything you need to know about setting up and using your solar powered boat.

If you're interested in building a vessel with a solar-powered motor, keep reading. Get advice to make the motor run smoothly and tips on the best solar system components.

Is it possible to use a solar-powered motor for primary power?

The short answer is yes! Absolutely! Both electric-only and electric-hybrid systems can power a boat and replace the traditional gasoline or diesel engines that are currently used. In fact, there are multiple benefits to using solar-powered outboard motors that could make perfectly viable options for the future of boating.

Lower costs
While they may be slightly more expensive up front, utilising solar to power a boat will significantly reduce the cost of running and maintaining a boat in the long run. You will be saving a tonne of money on fuel!

Less noise
Reduce noise pollution, and in the process you will scare away less fish, which makes for a yummy lunch on the boat. The only noise will come from your generator!

Effortless Recharging
As long as your boat is situated outdoors, your solar-powered motor will be recharging making going out on the boat a no-brainer!

Feasibility of Solar Powered Boats

Considering solar panels efficiently only sits at roughly 15-20%, weather permitting, and the massive amount of battery power that is required to move a boat, you would need an extensive number of solar panels to power a bigger boat. Therefore, there are ways to feasibly use solar panels to help power your boat, however, it may not be practical to solely use solar.Another option for using solar panels is to supplement or substitute different power sources for recreational fishing, racing, and sail-boats.

If you were looking for an electric motor that would be able to power a larger vessel, you would be looking at building something like a 200 HP electric outboard motor and adding solar panels to it - this would be a difficult task, even for a pro! To make it easier for you to harness the power of the sun for your boat, there are a few ways to get around building a whole new outboard by yourself, especially if you are not electrically inclined.

The simplest way to set up a solar power boat

Even if you're familiar with electric motors, it can be hard to set up an electric or solar-powered boat.

It is important to be proficient in technical regulations and follow them strictly. This includes performing maths to determine the size of your solar panel to match your battery, and then purchasing the correct panel and charger. You will also need to install solar panels using an electrical monitor and various wiring tools.

Here is a pro-tip for you:

Just add an electric outboard motor like the Spirit, or Navy ranges from ePropulsion to the back of your boat, and have a solar panel it can be connected to!

You can buy all accessories required for a successful solar-powered yacht from us, to make the set up super simple. This includes solar panels, chargers and batteries.

Although the initial investment for a solar-powered motorboat may be higher, the total package is often more affordable and will last longer.

Charging Time of Solar Powered Boat Motors

We've already mentioned that solar charging efficiency is not overly high. Higher quality solar panels tend to convert at a rate of about 20%, and will perform the best.

Before purchasing an electric boat motor powered solely by solar energy, make sure to calculate the charging time. In general, it takes about 9 hours to fully recharge a 1276 Wh marine battery using a 180W solar charger when the weather is optimal. Here is the formula for determining charging time:

Solar-Powered Boat Motors

The Best Solar Powered Boat Motor Systems

The best way to avoid accidentally purchasing the wrong equipment, is to purchase a complete solar-powered boat engine. This includes the motor, solar panel, battery and solar charger.

For those who want to go electric, the ePropulsion 3HP Spirit 1.0 Plus is a great place to start. It can also be used to charge up your batteries with solar power. The Spirit 1.0 Plus has a 180W solar charge capacity with a dual power feature that allows the engine to charge while it is being used and helps to extend your battery life.

For added convenience, you can buy the folding solar panel and the controller directly from ePropulsion, which allows that engine to maximise the use of solar power through a simple, plug-and-play configuration.

The Fast Maximal Power Point Tracking technology (MPPT) precisely positions the maximum power point of PV cells, which helps draw more photovoltaic energy from the panel with an efficiency of more than 90%.

The Spirit 1.0 Plus solar-powered boat engine can be used in a variety of ways. It can also work with 3 third party solar panels, which allows you to use whatever panels work for your needs.

The ePropulsion solar panels have been tested and have received overwhelmingly positive feedback through the collaboration with SailGP. In addition, the electric sailing league, that champions a world powered by nature, uses ePropulsion solar products to power multiple boats that race in their Grand Prix events.

A Tip: The Spirit 1.0 Evo is a great option for anyone who owns a sailboat, and is aiming for minimal environmental impact. Along with solar charging, this model features a function for hydro-generation, which charges the batteries while sailing.

Installing Solar Panels

Solar-powered motors are easy to install. Take the Spirit 1.0 Plus for example, this model only requires two simple steps to get the battery charging with solar energy.

Solar-Powered Boat Motors

Warning: Third-party solar panels require a maximum operating current of 10A, and an operating voltage between 12V to 35V.

This ePropulsion ESeries Battery is only compatible with third-party solar panels. The solar charger's floating voltage must be set to 57.6V.

The maximum solar charger discharge current must not exceed 20A/40A/75A for E40/E175 batteries together.

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