Solar Panel Installation on Narrowboats.

UPDATE April 2023 – We are currently unable to take bookings for solar panel installations. Do check back soon.

Sovereign Wharf are able to offer the design and installation of solar panel systems on narrowboats. Based in Banbury on the Oxford canal, we are centrally located for easy access.

Solar charging for narrowboat batteries.

Solar charging systems can be small and simple to provide a trickle charge for boats often left unattended, or they can be large and complex to charge multiple banks of batteries for the most demanding live-a-board boater.

What are the benefits of solar panels on a narrowboat?

Fitting solar panels on your narrowboat brings a number of benefits.

  • Running your engine or generator to charge batteries can be reduced or eliminated, saving time, the cost of fuel and noise.
  • Solar charging is green – reduce your Co2 footprint.
  • Your batteries charge while you are not on the boat. Always return to a boat with fully charged batteries.
  • High power electrical items such as fridges and freezers can be run without fear of your batteries going flat.
  • Remove ‘battery anxiety’ – the boaters fear of running out of charge!

How many panels do I need?

This isn’t always an easy question to answer. We will always ask you about your onboard energy usage and review your electrical system. Typically, a narrowboat will need somewhere between 300W and 2KW of solar panels for cruising or live-a-board use. Solar panels for battery maintenance or trickle charging can be much smaller.

Will I need more batteries?

Not necessarily. In some cases, a well designed electrical system on a narrowboat with a good solar charging system can require less batteries than a boat that relies purely on engine charging. Again, we can assess your needs and advise. We also supply batteries and a wide range of other marine electrical items.

MPPT or PWM charge controllers?

Many customers ask us what the difference is between PWM and MPPT solar charge controllers? In short, MPPT is the better option when you are trying to optimise the output from your solar panels. MPPT controllers allow your solar panels to produce more power in low light or shaded conditions. The only advantage to PWM controllers is their lower cost, so they do have a place in small trickle charge systems when budget is tight.

Sounds great! What next?

We will always discuss the needs of each customer individually to assess their needs. Only then can we make a recommendation and design a solar system for your narrowboat. Full quotes are always provided.

Solar panels (sometimes called PV or photovoltaic) supplied and installed at Sovereign Wharf are always of good quality and have been proven reliable in use on our own narrowboats. We normally supply panels and controllers manufactured by Victron, Biard or Jinko.

If you are considering a new solar installation for your boat, or an upgrade to your existing panels, please do contact us so that we can discuss your needs and provide a competitive quote.

Solar panels installed on a narrowboat roof using tilt bracktets.
A 305W Jinko back contact solar panel fitted to a narrowboat.
A 305W back-contact panel, utilising the latest technology.
100w Victron solar panels fitted to a narrowboat.
Panels can be tilted to improve their output.
Victron MPPT solar charger installed on a boat.
A Victron MPPT solar charge controller.
Solar panels on a boat roof.
100W panels still allow space to walk on the roof.
Solar cable gland.
Solar cables enter the boat through a waterproof gland.