Rising energy prices are leading more and more people to look at alternative options for power supply. In this context, solar systems are increasingly coming into focus – also among yacht owners. The solar yacht is no longer a vision of the future, but has become an interesting solution for generating electricity on board. Equipping a yacht with solar has several advantages worth mentioning. The solar energy generated can usefully supplement the yacht’s battery on long journeys or, in the right dimensions, even cover the entire power requirement.
But how does the “solar yacht” project succeed, how does a solar system on board work and where should it be installed? In this article, we at Merk & Merk have looked into solar yachts and tell you what you need to know about a solar system on a yacht.
What are solar yachts?
Whether commercially, privately or, for some time now, also on yachts, the progress of recent years has made it possible to use the sun as an energy source with photovoltaic technology and to convert the energy gained into electricity. A solar system on a yacht generates 12 or 24 volts direct current (DC). Such systems are also referred to as island or off-grid systems. For a solar yacht to be able to supply itself with electricity via the sun, the right technology is crucial. A solar system on a yacht consists of solar panels, one or more batteries, a charge controller and an inverter.
The solar panels are responsible for generating energy on a solar yacht. The batteries store this energy and the charge controller ensures that overcharging or discharging too deeply is avoided. Since most of the devices on board have to be operated with alternating current, the inverter converts the direct current into alternating current. The yacht’s electrical system already includes the battery. All other components have to be retrofitted.
The principle of a solar system on a yacht is very simple. The stronger the incident light intensity of the sun on the solar modules, the more electricity is generated, which the battery can charge and store. The charging current on a solar yacht can be scaled with several photovoltaic elements connected in parallel.
Where is the solar system mounted on a yacht?
Common mounting locations for a solar system on a yacht include the deck or hardtop. A mounting on the bimini or a mobile solution that can be laid out or attached with ropes is also conceivable. In this case, a 12-volt socket is required.
When choosing a location to mount a solar yacht, it is important that the sun shines on it for as long as possible during the majority of the day. Moreover, the solar system on the yacht achieves the highest output when the sunlight hits the module perpendicularly. In addition, the right dimensions have a decisive effect on the amount of electricity generated. Length and width ultimately determine the solar yield generated on a solar yacht. The size of the special yacht electrics also depends on the space available. If there is not enough space for a permanently mounted solar system on the yacht, there is the option of using a mobile solution. This can be laid out, set up or tied to the yacht. Thanks to the snap fasteners, it is possible to attach it to the bimini or other textile supports.
Furthermore, you can use all three types of mounting on a solar yacht and enjoy the advantages of each location. On the bimini, the shading is often significantly less than with a fixed installation on deck. With the mobile solar systems, you can achieve optimal alignment on your solar yacht at all times, even when the sun is low on the horizon.
What should you look out for in a solar system for solar yachts?
Before purchasing a solar system for a solar yacht, you should familiarise yourself with the properties and operation of the solar modules and charge controller in order to operate the system efficiently on the yacht. A well thought-out installation is the be-all and end-all for solar yachts. The aim is to ensure that the solar modules are supplied with sufficient light throughout the day. Ideally, the sun’s rays should always hit the panels perpendicularly. Shading must be avoided at all costs. Therefore, mounting below the railing, handrail, lines or antenna mounts is not recommended.
Due to the course of the sun during the day, a constant output of the solar system on the solar yacht is not possible. At midday, due to the position of the sun at the zenith, the output is at its highest. However, the solar modules can also generate energy when the sun is low or the sky is overcast. The seasons also have an influence on the energy yield. In summer there are usually more hours of sunshine that a solar yacht can use. You should keep this in mind when planning your trip.
Does a solar yacht sound interesting to you? Feel free to contact the yacht specialists at Merk & Merk. As part of our professional yacht service, we will take care of the corresponding installations and conversions and advise you with our technical service on upgrading with solar systems. Together we will design your effective solar yacht.
Also discover our news on the subject of yachts!