|This is our solar energy page. Do you use a solar panel, or
several? Are you happy with the output or disappointed? Have you
any tips to share with readers on the installation and maintenance of
solar panels? We'd love to hear from you on any relevant topic.
An observation from Gary Miller of the S/Y 'Minty's
As long as one is cruising in sunny climes, i.e. the
Mediterranean; Aegean or the tropics, this form of energy has to be at the
top of my list. Cleanliness and silence rate high in my book and anything
that has no moving parts is a winner. The downsides quoted by many people
i.e. expense and problems with mounting them; pale into insignificance
when one looks at the cost of a generator of, say, 4 - 7 kilowatts. What
with the plumbing in and the wiring; continuous servicing and the
inevitable 'life expectancy' before another has to be purchased, it makes
solar panels look positively cheap.
It seems to me that, as long as one keeps freezers;
fridges and water-makers to a low start-up load and a high output
alternator, or even two, on the main engine, one could, on a 40+' boat,
maintain an acceptable live-aboard lifestyle without heavy plant and
machinery reliant on diesel fuel.
Roger Walker of the S/Y 'Arabella' asks:
are interested in fitting solar panels to 'Arabella's electric systems.
There has been an enormous amount written, over the decades, with
some confusing claims and counter claims.
With the 'New Generation' of solar panels finding its way into the
yachting community, we would like to know just how far they have advanced
since their conception and would like to hear it from first-hand users.
Comments on the subject would be much appreciated"
you comment? We'd love to hear about it. Which brand? Why? Anything!
The Skipper has a tale to tell:
was anchored off Galleon Beach, in English Harbour, Antigua, in the West
Indies, a few years ago, when I decided to visit the Copper and Lumber
Store Hotel in Nelson's Dockyard and imbibe a sip or two of beer. I had
been asking around as to the likelihood of finding a couple of second-hand
solar panels to buy and, in the bar, I was introduced to a Frenchman
who was said to have a quantity of solar panels to sell. Eight, or ten, as
The gentleman agreed that this was the case and told me that he
wanted US$800 ( new value at the time was around US$1800) apiece for them.
They were manufactured by Siemens, a brand I had heard of and I agreed to
have a look at them the following day. When I expressed surprise that he
should have so many panels, he explained that he had been sailing off
Dominica recently and there had found the panels abandoned on a beach.
enquiries had, apparently, unearthed the fact that dozens of these panels
had been supplied to a clinic on Dominica, along with their associated
batteries by the UN or some other such large organisation.
the batteries had died, so the panels were just abandoned in their sites
on the nearby beach and the elements had gradually separated them from
their mountings, so that the panels were strewn around in the nearby
I declined to purchase any, considering them not really his to
sell, although no doubt they would have been better deployed by someone
than left to rot. I just thought it was fascinating that the panels were
still working perfectly in spite of having been thus treated by the
In the event, he sold them all within three days!"
looking forwards to hearing from you on the subject of solar panels
- or anything else you want to tell us about.