Solar power can be seriously useful on a narrowboat and has fast become a big part of my work. My solar installations are well thought out, neatly fitted, really work and look great.
For boaters who spend extended periods out away from shorepower in the Summer months it is a game changer and allows you to moor in one spot and not have to run the engine. The size of system needed depends on power usage and equipment inside the boat and I recommend 500+watts of solar panels for a typical modern narrowboat. I generally fit the bigger domestic size panels – they give great output, are good value and are reliable.
I haven’t found a mounting/fixing kit I’ve been happy fitting so have had my own brackets custom made and in my opinion they’re the best available. My Narrowboat mounting bracket kits are adjustable so I can fit the larger panels to the varying curves of roofs to suit the vast majority of boat builder shells. They allow me to fix panels neatly and securely, are unobtrusive and make them very hard to steal.
For a 2 panel system my preference is to fit a Victron Bluesolar 150/45 MPPT controller – it’s compact (compared to equivalent Outback), no moving parts (fan), well made (fit and forget). Also Victron have made a great tablet/smartphone app where you can set various paramaters, easily perform an equilisation charge and see historical data and see exactly what’s going on.
I will fit whatever the customer wants and am quite happy to install to a customers specification. It’s possible to achieve good results with budget panels and cheaper chinese controllers.
Before installing solar you should think about fitting some sort of battery monitoring system (similar to a fuel gauge in a car). Please call 07922 163072 to discuss and I can give you a good idea of total price.