Portable Power Sources Options for Boating

When you’re sailing on a boat, you may want to run a refrigerator or cook on stoves for a convenient boating experience. It would really be pretty cool to drink cold beer and eat a freshly cooked meal while you’re on board, chilling. If you have a small sailboat or a boat with a cabin, you can opt for a small generator. But if your boat is really small and you want to keep it safe, you may choose a solar panel generator. Here are some of the best portable power sources to consider for your boat:

Small Power Generators

It can feel luxurious to be able to power a coffeemaker or a microwave while you’re on board a boat. However, using a portable generator can be dangerous, and you must follow important safety considerations before using. A portable power generator not be put inside the cabin or below deck, because it requires a lot of ventilation. Gas-powered generators release carbon monoxide exhaust which can be suffocating or can damage respiratory health. There’s also a risk of fire and explosion with generators, if petrol and leaking fuel are mishandled. Also, avoid using a generator if you’re traveling in shaky waters, since the splashes of water may cause electrocution or damage to the appliance or device you’re using – as well as the generator itself.

If you have a lot of deck space to be able to put and operate a generator, here are some of the small power generators you can use:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Honda EU2200i 
Yamaha EF2000iS V2
WEN 56200i
Generac iQ2000
Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200

 

1. Honda EU2200i 

The Honda EU2000i is a top portable and super quiet generator used for land, but it’s also ideal for maritime use. It’s an inverter generator that is resistant to damage from usual wear and aging, because it’s made of durable materials and superior design. You can rely on the reliability and durability of this generator because of the trusted Honda brand. With Honda’s unique Eco-Throttle System, the EU2200i offers great fuel efficiency and can run 4.0 to 9.6 hours on a single tank. Honda’s inverter technology is known to provide genuine clean and stable power in a smaller, lighter package. Besides providing clean electricity, it operates quietly (48 to 57 dBA) even more quiet than a normal conversation. It is also equipped with overload protection, circuit protection, and comes with one 12V DC receptacle and two 120V AC receptacles. The lightweight and compact design makes it easy to bring aboard your boat.

Pros:

  • Durable construction
  • Inverter technology
  • Clean power and fuel-efficient
  • Low operating cost
  • Extremely quiet
  • Parallel ready

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No fuel gauge

2. Yamaha EF2000iS V2

What your generator looks like probably doesn’t matter, but if design is a consideration, the Yamaha EF2000iS V2 is a winner. It looks like a retro radio or even a lunchbox. This royal blue inverter generator is easy to bring since it’s compact, lightweight and comes with a convenient handle. It has a super-quiet muffler with a spark arrestor, which allows it to operate quietly at 51.5 dB at ¼ load. This way you can still converse with your friends in your boat ride as it operates. This generator offers a steady supply of high quality and clean power that can power up small appliances. The quiet operation and fuel efficiency is possible through the “Smart throttle” feature. It can run up to 10 ½ hours on a ¼ rated load, and it turns off automatically when low in oil.

Pros:

  • Attractive, compact design
  • Inverter generator
  • Clean power and fuel-efficient
  • Extremely quiet
  • Fuel gauge and low-oil auto shutoff feature
  • CARB compliant

Cons:

  • Small gas tank
  • Needs to remove panel to check oil

3. WEN 56200i

If you’re looking for the best option at a significantly lower price, the WEN 56200i is your best option. It’s a budget-friendly alternative to the Honda EU2200i, as it offers the same performance, fuel capacity and run time per tankful. Though comparing it to a high-end brand seems too-good-to-be true, the WEN 56200i is almost half the price of the EU2200i because WEN outsourced the design of the engine, whereas Honda invested in designing its own engine. This means the 56200i offers a shorter warranty. But still, this generator is the best generator you can buy at a $500 price range. It’s quiet, and at a quarter load, it operates at 51 dB. It’s a pure sine wave inverter with two 3-prong 120 V receptacles, 1 12V DC receptacle and one 5V USB port. At ½ load, this generator can operate up to 6 hours, and if you need more power, you can hook up a second unit. The eco mode can maximize its fuel efficiency.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Low operating cost
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Inverter technology – safe for electronics
  • Eco mode

Cons:

  • Average purchase protection
  • Design not in-house

4. Generac iQ2000

Generac is a trusted brand when it comes to portable power generators, and the iQ2000 is great for marine use if you’re looking for something with high quality and a budget-friendly price. It’s a fuel-efficient model that offers clean and stable power. It includes a fuel gauge, status lights, runtime hour meter and a power bar. It’s easy to operate, thanks to its simple dial and a toggle switch that offers three running modes: standard, economy and turbo. At ¼ load, you can get 7.7 hours of runtime. It’s super quiet and claims to be quieter than Honda. It has 2,000 starting watts, 1,600 running watts and parallel-ready functionality.

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Decent fuel efficiency
  • User-friendly operation
  • Clean and stable power

Cons:

  • Not a true inverter

5. Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200

If you don’t have the money to spend for a Honda EU2000i and you need something more powerful than the WEN 56200i, the Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 is a great alternative. It’s an inverter generator that delivers 2200 starting Watts and 1700 running Watts. It’s safe to use with TVs, laptops and game systems, in case you want to bring them on board your boat. It operates at less than 60 dBA and produces a clean sine-wave output. At 1 gallon full tank, it runs for 8 hours at ¼ load, and has a parallel-operation capability. It comes with a variety of outlets such as two AC, one DC and one USB. It’s small yet it’s heavy at 54 pounds.

Pros:

  • Fuel efficient
  • Good value for money
  • Powerful inverter generator
  • Super quiet

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Not very durable
  • Average purchase protection

Marine Solar Panels

Solar panels are the best environmentally friendly alternative to recharging a battery. They are simple to install and has become cheaper compared to its prices over the last few years. A solar panel is a great source of power since the boat is rarely in shade and always exposed under the sun. The plus side about it is it doesn’t emit harmful carbon monoxide unlike gas operated generators.

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
Suaoki 100 Watt 12V Flexible Solar Panel with SunPower Cell
HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel
Newpowa 100 Watts 12 Volts Polycrystalline Solar Panel
ECO-WORTHY 12 Volts 10 Watts Portable Power Solar Panel

 

1. Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit

This is one of the best solar panel you can find for your boat that comes as a complete kit. This solar starter kit from Renogy includes two 100W 12V monocrystalline solar panels, one 30A PWM wanderer charge controller, adapter kit, a tray cable, a pair of branch connectors and two sets of Z-brackets. The wanderer is a new and improved negative ground charge controller that protects against overloading, overcharging, short circuits and polarity. With this, you can also expand your system to 400W. It has an LED that indicates the status of the charge controller. This generator can fully charge a 50Ah battery from 50% in 1 ½ hour. It’s a nice and efficient backup power source that can power light-powered appliances.

Pros:

  • Comes complete with mounting hardware
  • Comes with wanderer
  • Expandable up to 400 W
  • LED indicator
  • Fast charger

Cons:

  • Controller not user friendly
  • Manual is hard to understand for some users

2. Suaoki 100 Watt 12V Flexible Solar Panel with SunPower Cell

This solar panel from Suaoki uses SunPower solar cell technology, which is a premier brand in the solar cell industry (think of it as Apple of the solar industry). These panels offer 100W of power and have a higher-than-average solar efficiency, providing 23-25% more solar efficiency than most panels. It comes with an internal blocking diode that prevents reverse current drain at night. These panels are water-resistant and semi-flexible, making them an ideal solar panel for a boat. It can be gently flexed to follow a smooth curve up to 30 degrees and it’s very durable. It’s only 0.1 inches thick and weighs just 4.85 lbs. It has four metal reinforced mounting holes at every corner for fixing screws, enabling easy installation.

Pros:

  • Energy efficient
  • Easy to install
  • Lightweight
  • Flexibility allows easy installation on irregular surfaces

Cons:

  • Can break if bent too much

3. HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel

If you want a high-power solar panel, this one from HQST will suit your needs. It’s a 100W, 12V solar panel that can generate 500 watt hours a day to recharge a boat battery. The polycrystalline panels are well-built with enhanced stiffness and impact resistance that can withstand high winds and snow loads. It’s water-resistant – rated at IP65 – which keeps it protected against low pressure water gets and environmental particles. The panels are backed with corrosion-resistant aluminum frame perfect for outdoor use and it comes pre-drilled with holes for easy mounting and securing. Another great thing about this product is it comes with 5 years material and workmanship warranty and 25 years power output warranty, which ensures you that this solar panel can be of service to you for a long time.

Pros:

  • High-power solar panel that can generate 500Wh a day
  • Durable and highly resistant to winds and snow
  • IP65 water resistant
  • Corrosion-resistant aluminum frame
  • 25-year power output warranty
  • Compatible with many mounting systems

Cons:

  • Heavy

4. Newpowa 100 Watts 12 Volts Polycrystalline Solar Panel

This 100-watt polycrystalline solar panel from Newpowa is a great budget-friendly alternative to the HQST model. It offers a maximum power of 100 watts at a lower price. The cells are high-performance and encapsulated in EVA, and the panels are framed with heavy-duty anodized aluminum frame for additional rigidity and durability. It comes with diodes pre-installed in the junction box and a pair of pre-attached, 3 ft. MC4 cables. Like the HQST model, this solar panel comes with a 25 year power output warranty that is transferrable.

Pros:

  • Durable and comes with heavy-duty aluminum frame
  • Comes with pre-installed diodes and MC4 cables
  • Low-cost alternative
  • 25-year power output warranty

Cons:

  • Heavy

5. ECO-WORTHY 12 Volts 10 Watts Portable Power Solar Panel

This portable power solar panel from ECO-WORTHY is great for maintaining a boat battery. It produces a small 10 watts of power but it’s enough to keep the battery topped up. Besides a boat, it’s a great maintainer or a backup battery solution for motorcycles, cars, snowmobiles, tractors and more. It’s great to use as a trickle charger without needing to spend much. Weighing only 1.5 pounds, it’s very lightweight, completely portable and easy to install. It comes with alligator clip connectors, cigarette lighter adapter and 4 PVC suckers. It’s so cheap, but it has premium features like blocking diodes to prevent the current from draining back from the battery. This panel is also shockproof, dustproof and rust-proof.

Pros:

  • Comes with alligator clip connectors and cigarette lighter adapter
  • Completely portable and easy to carry
  • Maintenance-free

Cons:

  • Couldn’t handle heavy charging
  • Not compatible with charge controller