Few things can be more thrilling and life-affirming than slicing through the open water while on a boat. Hair billowing in the wind, the spray lashing your face—it’s a feeling of unbridled freedom and adventure.
While solar generators are increasingly common for small-home living, camping, and motorhomes, their use on boats has been quietly growing for years. With the next generation of solar generators on the market, there’s never been a better time to fit a generator to your vessel and enjoy the clean, renewable energy and silence they provide.
Here is our choice of the best solar generators for boats in 2022.
3 Best Marine Solar Generators for Boats
Eco Flow DELTA Max + 400W Solar Panel
The Eco Flow DELTA Max with a 400W solar panel is a robust solar generator perfect for boat use. Not too big but still provides ample energy. You can use the DELTA Max in conjunction with various solar panels. Using a single 400-watt solar panel, it has a 2kWh capacity that you can push as high as 6kWh with DELTA Max smart extra batteries. It also comes with a voltage range from 11-100V and a solar connector, which means you can connect additional panels to the DELTA Max.
If cloud cover becomes a problem, Eco Flow’s maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithm can detect voltage and current in real-time, allowing for optimal solar generation throughout the day. In just 65 minutes, the DELTA Max can charge up from 0-80%, meaning you don’t need to wait hours for it to charge. Adding AC charging and the EcoFlow Smart Generator can boost your capacity to 3400W—you’ll struggle to find anything comparable anywhere else.
The DELTA Max also comes with an IP68 waterproof rating. Its many monocrystalline silicon cells have ETFE film coating, protecting panels against water, debris, and dirt.
Portable enough to carry easily but with enough power to supply a decent-sized boat with energy, the DELTA Max has emerged as a strong choice if you’re looking for a marine solar generator.
Eco Flow DELTA Pro + 400W Solar Panel
When you need to go big, no other option compares to the DELTA Pro. This solar-generating monster comes bundled with a 400-watt solar panel. It boasts a 3.6kWh capacity, which you can expand to 25kWh.
If you’re looking for the industry-leading solar generator, look no further. Nothing on the market compares to the DELTA Pro’s AC output, which is easily robust enough to power heavy-duty appliances such as refrigerators and hair dryers.
It also has one of the fastest charge times, with speeds of 3400W. It can fully charge using solar power in 2.8-5.6 hours. If you charge it from an AC wall outlet, you’ll be done and dusted in just 1.8 hours. It’s a speed almost unheard of when it comes to portable solar generators.
The DELTA Pro comes with a brand-new LFP battery with 6500 cycles, so you can keep powering your boat for years without worrying about switching out the battery.
For the ultimate in solar power solutions for your boat, the DELTA Pro is simply unbeatable. This mighty solar generator is at the very edge of what’s currently possible.
EcoFlow River 2 Pro + 220W Solar Panel
If you’re in the market for something smaller that can easily be tucked away on a small vessel but still provides a sizable energy kick, the EcoFlow River 2 Pro might well be the answer.
At just 10.6 x 10.2 x 8.9 in (270 x 260 x 226 mm) and weighing 17.2 lbs (7.8kg), it weighs around the same as two and a half bricks to give you a good visualization. The River 2 Pro is considerably smaller than the DELTA Pro and DELTA Max. However, a lot of solar technology is packed into that small exterior.
With a capacity of 768Wh, the River 2 Pro supplies more than enough power for camping trips, outdoor group activities, and boat trips.
The River 2 Pro has multiple charging options, including four AC outlets at 800W each, and it can charge multiple items simultaneously. It means no arguing over who gets to charge their phone next!
With EcoFlow’s X-Stream technology, it can be charged from 0-100% in just 70 minutes.
Relatively small but with plenty of power, the River 2 Pro is an excellent choice for small to mid-sized boats or if you need a highly portable option.
What To Look For When Buying Solar Generators For Boats
There are several essential factors you need to bear in mind if you are thinking about purchasing a solar generator for your boat.
The Size and Power Usage of the Boat
Perhaps the most obvious place to begin is the size of your boat and how much power you are hoping to use. Are you simply looking for something that can power a radio and a fridge while fishing in a small boat or something much larger?
While large generators can undoubtedly be used for smaller jobs, whether you want to fork out more money for much more power than you need is another matter. It can be tempting to go for the biggest and best — and if you have a large boat and need plenty of power, that could be the right solution. But you might be better off with a more compact solar solution if you’re searching for something to power a few low-consumption items on a small sailboat.
If you’re unsure what items you’ll need to power — and how much energy they consume — check out the EcoFlow power calculator to see which solar solution is right for you.
Once you have a rough idea of energy use, the next step is to narrow it down to actual consumption. Do you need something to power the entire boat while motoring or dropping anchor? Or are you simply looking for something to supplement your existing power supply?
You’ll need to create an audit of every electrical device you plan to use onboard, including how much power each appliance requires and also the duration of use if they aren’t appliances that run continuously. Fridges, for example, usually remain on 24 hours a day, while you will only use lights, cookers, and phone charging sporadically.
Putting together your power audit can be tricky, but it’s worth the effort. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it’s certainly worth having a rough idea of your boat’s overall daily and weekly consumption before investing in a solar generator.
Maximising Solar Collection
The efficiency of solar power has come on by leaps and bounds in recent years — while the price of solar has dropped. But there are a few things to consider before making a purchase. EcoFlow solar generators come in bundles, which means you get a Portable Power Station that can also store electricity from a wall or car output and accompanying solar panels for when you want to go off-grid.
Suppose you’ve done your boat power audit and are staring at an unbelievably high number. In that case, there are two options: reduce the required power input (not always easy for huge boats) and maximise your solar collection.
You can buy more solar panels. But, your generator of choice will have a finite amount of battery storage, meaning extra panels won’t necessarily be the answer unless you have spare batteries to store the additional power (see extra batteries below.)
It’s also worth providing a touch of realism to the off-grid solar dream. Many imagine cruising along under perfect blue skies as their solar panels greedily soak up power, but that’s not always the case. Sunshine can be unpredictable, to say the least, so make sure you have a good idea of the average number of sunny days at your boating destination and check out the upcoming weather forecast.
Solar panels still capture power on cloudy days, but their efficiency may be reduced.
Solar Panels Installation
Another crucial factor to remember is your solar panels’ size and efficiency and where to install them. EcoFlow currently stocks five solar panel options: 60w, 110w, 160w, 220w, and 400w. You can either purchase these individually or in bundles with your solar generator. All solar panels on offer are portable and easily folded away for space efficiency.
The solar panels come with vastly differing solar collecting abilities, sizes, and prices. It’s all well and good deciding you want a 400 w solar panel, but at 94 inches (239 cm) across when unfolded, it does take up plenty of space, especially if you plan on using it on a small boat.
On the other hand, you can fit a 60 w solar panel into almost any small space, but it doesn’t provide enough solar energy to charge a generator as powerful as the EcoFlow DELTA Pro.
Take some time to think about the solar panels you intend to buy. Is there somewhere on the boat they can be easily left open, or will you need to fold and unfold them? And if you plan to leave them unfolded, how will you secure them on the boat?
It might be worth investing in an extra battery for longer trips or additional consumption. Smart batteries can make your solar generator go even further.
Extra batteries can be purchased directly from EcoFlow and are easy to attach. Several options are available depending on how much additional power you’re looking for and what solar generator you use.
To give you a good idea of how extra batteries work, the DELTA Pro comes with a 3.6kWh capacity. It’s more than enough to power almost anything. But with one EcoFlow DELTA Pro Smart Extra Battery, you effectively double that to 7.2kWh.
It’s not unheard of for boat owners to double or triple up on their battery storage, giving them massive potential power to keep that boat going on those long trips.
The same goes for the smaller and more lightweight EcoFlow River 2. You can easily attach an extra battery to the generator to double its capacity.
EcoFlow DELTA Smart Generator
For large boats and long trips at sea, you have the option to add the DELTA Smart Generator. It provides the ultimate backup solution for the EcoFlow DELTA Pro or Max.
The Smart Generator is a standalone generator that can operate independently and seamlessly step in to fill the void if your EcoFlow DELTA Pro or Max runs out of power. Its 4L petrol tank can provide enough energy to power the DELTA Max twice over while allowing you to power your essentials in the meantime. It comes with an 1800-watt output, accessed by either AC or DC outlets, while the entire Smart Generator can be controlled and customised through EcoFlow’s app.
With direct DC to DC charging, the Smart Generator is roughly 25% more efficient than other generators, making it a perfect companion for long boat trips where you’re constantly eating up more power than you are producing.
This backup generator is the perfect safety net that will keep the lights on, the fridge cold, and the phones charging long after other generators have packed up and gone home. When your power needs are at their greatest, the Smart Generator is a smart choice.
Whether you’re looking to power a small fishing boat on short trips across the lake, or something more substantial that can sustain a larger boater on longer trips, EcoFlow has the right solar generators to suit every need and situation.
If you’re tired of that awful chugging sound and the smell of fumes typical of diesel generators, then maybe it’s time to switch to something revolutionary. Solar generators can transform your energy supply on marine vessels — not to mention lowering your carbon footprint!
Head to EcoFlow for the best and most comprehensive collection of solar generators anywhere on the market for whatever size your boat and your power consumption needs.