Solar Panels for River Cruisers

River cruisers have limited roof space for solar panels but plenty of engine alternator output, and, usually, good access to mains current to keep batteries topped up. However there may be a need for both 12vDC and 220vAC on board, and so a need for systems able to supply those boat solar panel kit. The sections below address the technical issues facing river cruiser owners. Please take the time to read the Power Stations section. They offer an attractive alternative to current practice at modest cost.

solar panels for river cruisers

The use of solar panels for river cruisers was not as widespread as more traditional methods of generating power for onboard systems. River cruisers tend to rely on a combination of engines running on diesel or other fuels, along with generators or shore power when docked, to meet their energy needs. However, there has been a growing trend in the maritime industry, including river cruising, toward incorporating renewable energy sources like solar power to reduce environmental impact and fuel consumption. Some river cruise companies or newer vessels may have started to integrate solar panels as part of their power generation systems to supplement electricity needs, especially for auxiliary systems like lighting or smaller appliances.

Given that rigid solar panels are both cheaper and more efficient they will be the first choice of most river cruiser owners. However flexible panels are 80% lighter and for a curved roof they are usually the only solution. Portable panels offer the same kind of performance as flexible but at a higher price. However they require zero installation can be deployed whenever needed and there is space available.

Please take the time to read the section on Energy Management & Storage. Decisions taken there control much of the rest of your installation.

Equipped with fixed River cruiser solar panels have three ways to manage and store energy. They can connect the solar array to

  1. a simple solar controller that charges their batteries, but does nothing else. An external inverter will be necessary to provide 230v mains power.
  2. a hybrid solar controller/inverter that is also an inverter and mains charge controller. Given their low cost and compact size, we see them as a better alternative than having a separate controller and inverter
  3. a power station. This is our preferred solution, and one of which we have valuable personal experience. Please refer to the section below that provides further details.

River cruisers not having a solar panel array only need an inverter to provide 230v electricity. The only decision relates to the output capacity needed. A power station will be a viable solution for some owners that like the idea of portable solar power with which to charge them.

We offer a FREE electricity consumption forecaster. Contact Us to get your copy.

For those not yet using a power station, we are convinced that river cruiser house batteries should be LifePo4 lithium, not any of the lead/acid variants. Lithium is smaller, lighter, offers greater discharge tolerance, and is much faster charging, as well as having over double the life expectancy. Before installation, it is essential to check whether your engine alternator can be connected to lithium. Being able to charge faster than lead/acid also means that the current drawn may be greater than your alternator is able to supply without over-heating. There are Sterling Power products presented at the Batteries product page here that will manage this difficulty for you.

Our chosen battery supplier is EcoWorthy. They offer 12 and 48v products in capacities up to 2400w.

Relatively new on the market, we are strong supporters of power stations. They are ideal for river cruiser solar panels, providing

  • Solar, mains, & battery charge controller
  • LifePo4 battery
  • 230v Inverter
  • AC, DC, & USB outlets

all in a single compact package that requires zero installation.

The unit best suited to yachts is the Bluetti AC200Max It offers a 2000w inverter with 2048W of storage so covers all on-board electricity needs. The 30A/12v DC outlet can be connected directly to the existing 12v fuse panel, and one of the four AC outlets goes to the existing 220v mains circuit. It can be charged from the solar panels, mains electricity, or the engine alternator without the need for a different alternator controller. Storage can be extended with additional batteries.

Using gas on a boat always scares us. It is explosive and heavier than air so accumulates in the bilges. Although we recognise the advantages of other sources of fuel with which to heat water, we believe that the Quick range of electric water heaters offer a viable solution for river cruisers particularly in combination with our electronic water heating controller. The units all have engine powered heat exchangers, so use that free energy to provide hot water. They also have an electric heating element so can heat water very fast usually using surplus alternator output. Please also review the section below on our Water Heating Controller. We supply 12v/300w, 48v/600w, and 230v/900w replacement heating elements.

If your river cruiser has an electric boiler, our electronic controller is the perfect add-on. It monitors the battery charge level and if greater than the pre-determined value (12.2v for 12v batteries) it switches on the heating element IF the water temperature is under 40°C and not over 52°C. If the engine is running, voltage will always be sufficient. If the engine is off, the device will turn off the heating element when the battery level drops below the chosen cut-off level. For those with fixed solar panels, the controller also monitors the solar input and switches off the device if solar input is below the set minimum.

If on the move, river cruisers will generate enough power for their needs. If however, they chose to stay put for a day or so, then there may be an energy deficiency, particularly if there are no boat solar panel kit.  The shortfall must come from mains power, the engine alternator or a small generator. If irritating the neighbours is not an issue, then the engine alternator provides power for the batteries and heats your water. It uses more fuel than a generator, but the difference will not be great.

Generator fuel can be diesel for larger models, petrol, or LPG with some being dual fuel petrol or LPG. Depending on your batteries and your power consumption, you will need at least a 2Kw. We particularly like the 3Kw dual fuel option. Most boaters have LPG for cooking.

Your Complete River Cruiser Solar Panels Solution

Our River Cruiser Solar Expertise:

  • Space-Saving Solar Panel Solutions: We’ll design a system that maximizes your available space and optimizes energy production for your specific river cruising habits.

  • Customizable Boat Solar Panel Kits: Choose from a wide range of solar panels, inverters, and batteries to create a boat solar panel kit that perfectly complements your existing electrical setup.

  • Expert System Design & Installation: Our experienced technicians will assess your energy requirements and design a system that seamlessly integrates with your cruiser for worry-free operation.

  • DIY Kits & Professional Installation: Choose from user-friendly DIY kits for experienced do-it-yourselfers, or let our professional team handle the entire installation process.

Products for River Cruisers

  • Next Day dispatch

  • Delivery in 5 to 7 working days

  • 30 days money back guarantee

Our Selection for River Cruisers

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