Best Boat Solar Panel Kit For Your Pontoon in 2020


boat-solar-panel-kit

Adding a solar panel kit to your boat can be a great way to enjoy your electronic devices and small appliances while being on your boat.  Solar can also bring a piece of mind that the battery will remain charged, so you know the engine will start when you are ready to head back to the dock after taking a relaxing swim in the lake.

There are three primary components to creating an efficient solar charging system:

Solar panel kits combine two of these components – the panel and the charge controller.  (If you are just getting started and need help determining the type of panels, charge controllers, and battery banks you need, we have a helpful article that can walk you through the entire process, so you can make confident choices on which of these kits will be the best fit for you.)

Boat Solar Panel Kid Guide

In this guide, we look at solar panel kits that range from 30 Watts to 100 Watts.  All these options are available on Amazon and come with a solar panel and a charge controller.  Some of the kits come with the wire, fittings, and fasteners as well.

A quick note on the controllers in these kits:  All of these kits are suitable for light marine use.  However, none of these controllers are water-resistant. 

They will need to be housed in a protected compartment near the batteries.  They do make waterproof charge controllers. If you want or need a waterproof charge controller, you can select your solar charging components individually to design a system that works specifically for you.  

If that is the route for you, check out our solar panel and charge controller review pages.  And if you like the convenience of a package deal…read on.

Out of the five solar panel kits reviewed, Renogy came in at the top for four of those categories. They seem to have mastered the art of combining a solid panel with a durable charge controller at a comfortable price.

So, this review focuses on the range of kit sizes available and notes how complete each package is.  Some are pretty plug-and-play others will need to have an additional wire kit and mounting hardware tossed in the shopping cart as well.

Also, for any of these kits, toss an MC4 connector tool in your cart as well.  It is a cheap, plastic wrench-like tool that is needed to disconnect the connectors.  Oddly, it is not included in any of the kits.

For ease of reading, the reviews are listed in order of panel output size.

Renogy 30 Watt Panel With 10 Amp PWM Charge Controller

The smallest solid panel kit on the list is the Renogy 30 Watt panel with a 10 Amp PWM charge controller.

Renogy 30 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel Kit
  • Renogy 30W monocrystalline panel will give you the most efficiency per space.
  • You'll have no problem using this panel to charge your favorite small electronics while on-the-go.
  • The small size of the Renogy 30 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel makes it perfect to take with you and for small solar projects!

The monocrystalline solar panel uses the most efficient solar cells, giving the most power for the panel area.  The fact that the controller has an easy to read digital display and the ability to directly plug-in USB devices is convenient.

On the downside, the leads from the panel are only 9″ long.  It seems unrealistic that the controller could be mounted that close to the panel, so a wire adaptor kit should be considered as necessary to complete this kit.

KitPanelControllerWiring & AccessoriesPrice*
Renogy 30 Watt30 Watt10 AmpNone $   79.99
 MonocrystallinePWM  
 14.5 x 24.5 x 2   

Lensun 30 Watt Semi-Flexible Panel With 10 Amp PWM

The only semi-flexible solar panel kit to make the list was the Lensun 30 Watt panel with 10 Amp PWM controller.

Lensun 30W 12V Black Fiberglass Semi-Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel for 12V Charge Battery on...
  • The panel uses a more expensive material (imported from Japan) called ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) versus PET (Polyethylene terephthalate). The ETFE film layer absorbs light better with less reflection leading to more power per square inch.
  • Made of Fiberglass back sheet. The ETFE material bonded with the fiberglass back sheet makes a stronger panel than a cheaper PET film one with less chance of cracking or water intrusion.
  • Highly stain-resistant and easily gets cleaned by the rain.

The reviews were good, and unlike most of the other semi-flexible panel kits, the controller seems to be well-liked, though it has a simpler read-out than other controllers on this list.  It has LED lights that flash in varying patterns instead of a digital screen.

Also, the kit comes with 15ft cables that will run from the panel to the charge controller.  They come with the MC4 connectors already attached; this will be adequate for most panel installations on a pontoon boat.  You will, however, still need to supply the cables from the charge controller to the batteries.

The primary advantage of this kit is how light-weight and thin the panel is.  It can be moved around as needed and easily removed (like when you are trailering your boat). Grommets on the corners of the panel make securing it simple and easy. 

This type of panel can be laid over a slightly curved or uneven surface.  It can even be mounted with heavy-duty Velcro.

KitPanelControllerWiring & AccessoriesPrice*
Lensun30 Watt10 Amp15 ft cables with connectors $229.00
 Semi-flexiblePWM  
 630 x 440 x 2.5mm   

Renogy 50W Polycrystalline Solar Panel With 10 Amp PWM Charge Controller

Two 50 watt panels made the list as this size panel offers a nice balance of powering up devices while keeping the battery and installation requirements on the simpler side

Renogy 50 Watts 12 Volts Polycrystalline Solar Starter Kit with 10Amp PWM Charge Controller, Z...
  • One Renogy 50 Watt polycrystalline solar panel.
  • One 10Amp PWM charge controller; uniquely designed Z brackets for mounting.
  • One pair of 20Ft MC4 connector adaptor kit with MC4 male and female connectors.

The first panel featured is a polycrystalline panel, again, by Renogy.

Two winning points with this kit, it comes with all the wiring and connectors you should need.  Plus, it comes with a 25-year transferable power output warranty and a 5-year material and workmanship warranty.  Woohoo!

This panel also comes with Z-mounting brackets, so depending if these will work for you, this could be a grab-and-go complete set up for you.  The polycrystalline cells give it an advantage in the budget department when compared to the other 50-watt Renogy panel on this list.

KitPanelControllerWiring & AccessoriesPrice*
Renogy 50 Watt50 Watt10 Amp20ft, 12 AWG adaptor kit $   91.16
 PolycrystallinePWM8 ft, tray cable 
 21.6 x 26.7 x 1.2 Mounting brackets 
   25/5 year warranty 

Renogy 50 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel And 10 Amp PWM Controller

Renogy 50 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel is bundled with the same wiring and accessories and the same robust 25/5 year warranty as to the previous panel.   Making it another confident choice.

Renogy KIT-STARTER50D 50 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with 10A PWM LCD Charge...
  • Monocrystalline solar cell efficiency: 21 percentage
  • One Renogy 50Watt monocrystalline solar panel UL 1703 Certified - Grade A high efficiency solar panel
  • One 10Amp PWM charge controller; uniquely designed Z brackets for mounting

The comparison here is the efficiency difference between the monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells.  This panel is more efficient, therefore smaller, than its sister 50-watt polycrystalline panel.

If a smaller panel is important to you because of where you need to install it, or you will need to remove it frequently, this panel offers a budget-friendly option compared to the Lensun semi-flexible panel.

The charge controller in this package has an easy to read digital readout, adding to the value of this kit.

KitPanelControllerWiring & AccessoriesPrice*
Renogy 50 Watt50 Watt10 Amp20ft, 12 AWG adaptor kit $142.99
 MonocrystallinePWM8 ft, tray cable 
 27 x 23.5 x 2.5 Mounting brackets 
   25/5 year warranty 

Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel Kit With 30 Amp PWM Charge Controller

The last solar panel kit on this list is playing in the big leagues.  At 100 Watts, Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel, will crank out some serious power for your small appliances and electronic devices. 

The controller in this package steps it up too.  It comes with Renogy’s  Wanderer 30Amp PWM charge controller which is powerful enough to have multiple panels tied to it- up to 400 Watts worth. (Just in case you want to leave the dock and not come back. Like the other Renogy packages, it is a complete package with both sets of cables to the charge controller and to the batteries).

Sale
Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
  • Includes 100W Solar Panel + 30A PWM Negative ground Charge Controller + Solar Panel Connectors +8Ft 10AWG Tray Cable+ Mounting Z Brackets for RV, Boat
  • Monocrystalline solar cell efficiency: 21%;The Charge controller has been upgraded to Renogy new 30A PWM negative ground charge controller The Renogy wanderer
  • With the Renogy wanderer 30A PWM charge Controller, you can expand your system up to a maximum of 400W

Caution, though, this has the potential to be too much of a good thing…this size of this panel needs a sufficiently sized battery bank to realize its true potential. And this is beyond the “portable” size. 

You will need to have a permanent mounting solution for this panel. Need help figuring out how big of a panel and battery bank you need?  Check out this article.  It will walk you through designing the properly sized solar charging system for your boat)

But, if you need some power, this solar panel kit will do the job and it is a well-valued combination package.

KitPanelControllerWiring & AccessoriesPrice*
Renogy 100 Watt100 Watt30 Amp20ft, 10 AWG adaptor kit $196.99
 MonocrystallinePWM8ft, 10 AWG tray cable
   Mounting brackets 
   25/5 year warranty 

Which Solar Panel Kit Is The Best?

It is hard to tell.

Every solar panel kit that I listed has its benefits and deficits and it is ultimately up to you to decide which components are more important to you.

It the sole purpose of your boat is to go fishing in a small lake then a smaller solar panel kit is sufficient. However, if you are looking to have fun on the lake and like the speed then go with Renology 100 or similar.

One thing is for sure though, if you decide to add solar panels to your boat you are helping the environment.

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