Practical Boat Owner - - Practical -

Elec­tric Au­topi­lots might not have been around in the 1960s but so­lar pan­els cer­tainly were. The con­cept of gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity from sun­light dates back to 1836, and the so­lar cells we recog­nise were in­vented in 1941, shortly af­ter the tran­sis­tor, and were widely used in the space in­dus­try from the 1950s on­wards.

Golden Globe skip­pers have made great use of them, fit­ting them on coachroofs, com­pan­ion­way hatches, decks and even down the side of cock­pit coam­ings. They also play an im­por­tant safety role. Time will tell whether th­ese pan­els are ro­bust enough to be kicked and stamped on for nine months and how much power they pro­duce from the of­ten over­cast skies in the South­ern Ocean, but with diesel fuel lim­ited to 40 gal­lons on each boat, so­lar pan­els play a vi­tal role in keep­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems go­ing.

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