do you need to buy "marine grade" panels?

Skyko Solar Expert Posts: 121 ✭✭✭✭✭
Just thinking about putting a 135 watt or 200 watt panel similar to something like the Kyocera models on my little sailboat and was curious if there is a need to purchase a model specifically designed for salt water sailing or if most of the sealed panels with annodized alluminum frames will hold up fairly well (If bolted to a sturdy, rigid support structure). Any particular model that boaters prefer?


  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: do you need to buy "marine grade" panels?

    most panels, the aluminum factory anodizes the metal, and the PV mfg slices it, so the edges are raw..... And salt spray is not common on most rooftops, so I'm guessing most terrestrial panels will for a short while only, in salt spray.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    gen: ,

  • Skyko
    Skyko Solar Expert Posts: 121 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: do you need to buy "marine grade" panels?

    Ah hah, i re-did my forum search and came across this post from last year on here by the Makai owner (I trust this guy after attending his seminar and getting some really good info about what is involved in blue water sailing):

    "As for adding panels on a boat. We have 4 kyrocea 120's that have been aboard makai know for almost 5 years, 3 of which were cruising fulltime in the southern caribe and South America. They are not "marinized" as mentioned above but it is very import to use marine rated cable, connetectors, and recommendation by the ABYC to mazimize protection and longevity. Salt water can do major damage quickly which at best causes a reduction in output and at worst.....

    When i was orginally looking at westmarine and the like the prices for the exact same panels (model # and all) were more than twice the price. With 4 panels that is huge. I actually found the panels at another residential PV site similar to the hosts here.

    The point is everything westmarine sells is not necessarily marinized, but is a good place to start. Not all marine use items are actually marine rated, but with proper setup and construction they will more than do the job. But I do recommend using marine rated cables as they are tinned to prevent corrosion along the entire cable. Though they are much more expensive it is a false saving to use standard cabling. I got my anco wiring from a supplier and saved more than half off the westmarine cost. So determine what you need and hunt it can be found!
    Bil Thomas /br sv Makai /br
  • landyacht.318
    landyacht.318 Solar Expert Posts: 82 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: do you need to buy "marine grade" panels?

    As a Surfer and Ocean lover, I frequently spend time right next to the ocean. Before I mounted my Kyocera 130 watt panel on my RV, I taped off the glass area, and spray painted the frame first with an aluminum primer, then a quality while high gloss paint, to match the white roof of my RV.

    I also added more caulking underneath where the panel meets the frame. The corners of the frame were not connected to each other. and I did so using some aluminum and rivets also holding some Stainless steel Clevis pins in place, that act as pivot points for tilting. The clevis pins also make up my locking system on each corner.

    I also used Marine grade Tinned cable and made a nice water and air tight connection into the junction box. I just wish I bought fatter cable.

    So far there have been no issues in 33 months between the aluminum or stainless steel clevis pins.
  • newenergy
    newenergy Solar Expert Posts: 291 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: do you need to buy "marine grade" panels?

    I'm skeptical about all the aluminum bashing.

    Boat hulls are made out of aluminum. I know some are better grades and some are painted, but they don't just fall apart when scratched.

    I live 5 blocks from the beach and we have an aluminum sliding glass door which is at least 20 years old (probably 30 or 40 years old) and while not beautiful, has no structurally significant damage.

    I bought an old solar panel from a guy on a boat and it's just fine.

    The utility uses aluminum wires all over the place, including right next to the beach.

    Supposedly an aluminum can takes 200-500 years to degrade.