The value of solar power
QI have a share in a self-run boat and at our AGM the question came up about solar panels. Our boat is out about 48 weeks of the year and, when not on the move, we are connected to a shore-line. Would solar panels be an advantage?
ATONY REPLIES... That depends on how the various owners use the boat and whether you have an electric fridge or not. With a gas fridge, the demand for electricity is likely to be low so the battery bank might cope with a couple of days of not moving. Also, consider any central heating electrical loads.
If the owners are all six-plus hours cruising a day types then I suspect, as long as you normally get more than three years’ life from the domestic batteries, the cost of fitting solar power would not be worth it.
If, however, some owners tend to stick in one place for several days and have to run the engine for battery charging, then fitting panels of suitable capacity could ensure the engine hardly ever has to be run simply to charge the batteries. Over the years this may well result in less frequent engine maintenance, overhauls and replacement.
In short, it all depends upon how the boat is used and this applies to both single-owner and shared boats.