Environmental degradation is rising. In the light of this, knowledgeable and caring anglers are feeling the urge to reduce their carbon footprint. That’s why there’s a burning need to utilize solar power for as many uses as possible. However, the question remains as to whether the sun’s energy can be something to rely on. Will solar replace the batteries powering your trolling motor?
Thankfully, trolling motor technology has been progressing quickly and people have already begun tapping into solar power. Ecologically sound battery chargers are fast replacing traditional AC models. However, many still have question marks on the dependability of these alternatives.
Can You Get a Solar Powered Trolling Motor? (No!)
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get a solar powered trolling motor. It’s either that it is impossible to develop one or technology hasn’t gone that far yet. Although it’s not an established fact, it seems that the currently available trolling motors draw more power than today’s solar panels are able to put out constantly.
In order to use solar power on a trolling motor without a battery, you’ll have to mount several high-end panels on your boat. This is inconveniencing and expensive. Where can you get all that space to mount the panels? Isn’t it better to use batteries than to spend a fortune on high-watt solar panels?
For a solar panel to deliver maximum energy, you’ll need to expose it to unobstructed sunlight that’s shining at a right angle to the object. It can only produce 30% or so of the rated output on a cloudy day or when there’s shading from trees and cable stay. It becomes even more serious when the sun goes down.
As it stands today, the best way to go if you really want to utilize solar power is to use a charger that taps the sun’s energy. This is an environmentally-friendly approach to trolling. With the device, you can charge your battery on or off the boat. Therefore, the idea of getting a solar powered trolling motor is still far-fetched.
Solar Powered Battery Charger
A solar powered battery charger is great for environmentalists. You can carry one around when venturing into the waters to ensure that your excursion is fully enjoyable and safe. Just like any other electronic device, however, solar powered battery chargers have their own upsides and downsides. Their benefits include:
They are eco-friendly given that their only source of energy is natural sunlight
They are highly portable and versatile in terms of mounting options. The only requirement is to place your panel where there’s direct exposure to sunlight. However, there are some models that do not require this: they can work in low light conditions.
They’re cost-effective options as there’s no need to buy new batteries after every few months
Unfortunately, solar powered battery chargers have the following disadvantages:
They take much longer to charge or recharge a battery as compared to their AC counterparts
Most of them can only work with direct exposure to sunlight. This can be a problem when it’s dusty or cloudy
It can be more expensive to purchase and set up solar chargers as compared to AC options of the same category
When it comes to purchasing a trolling motor solar charger, there’s a lot to look for. This is because there are so many types of chargers on the market, each having its own pros and cons. It’s good to do your homework properly to determine the kind of solar charger that meets your unique needs. Here are some things to consider:
Type of charger. There are three types of solar powered battery chargers for trolling motors. Polycrystalline panels are very efficient, durable, resistant to corrosion, and produce large amounts of energy, thanks to their high transmission glasses. Their construction from multiple silicon crystals gives them a distinct blue color. Mono-crystalline chargers have a characteristic black color. Unlike polycrystalline panels, they are made from a single crystal. Mono-crystalline panels are more expensive but offer better energy efficiency and perform well in low light conditions. The third type of solar powered chargers is the thin film. Their narrow design and in-built semi-conductors lead to increased efficiency. Unfortunately, their thin film panels absorb less light.
Power. Typically, the best solar battery charger for your trolling motor should come with a 100-W panel. This type can keep your batteries on without you having to break your bank.
Charge controller. Ensure you buy a charger that comes with a charge controller to avoid damages to your battery
Size. Your charger should match the battery type in terms of voltage for efficient charging
Overcharge protection. Since solar battery chargers take longer to charge batteries, you may even forget they’re charging and leave them working for extended periods of time. This may result in overcharging. That’s why you should look for a charger that automatically discharges the battery once it’s full.
Battery conditioning. If you can spend some extra cash, go for a charger that can de-sulfate your battery. It can prolong your battery’s lifecycle.
Warranty. Always buy a solar battery charger that comes with a long warranty period.
Does the Solar Power Provide Enough Charge to Make a Difference?
Apart from the difficulty of developing a solar powered trolling motor, you might be wondering whether the sun’s energy makes any difference. There’s no single answer to this. It’s only worth to invest in a solar powered battery charger if it can sort out your unique trolling needs.
Truth be told, solar powered chargers only offer slow charging, which may take time for your battery to get fully charged. They are, therefore, great for use when you’re not in a hurry to utilize your batteries, especially after an excursion. However, they are something worth considering since they charge up to full capacity.
Contrary to what some people believe, it’s a good practice to charge deep cycle batteries when they’re discharged and not during use. So, solar chargers can only be good to charge your spare battery when on a voyage. You can’t expect them to supplement poor quality batteries when your trolling motor is running.
Solar power provides enough energy to make a difference only when you’re using a charger that utilizes sunlight the right way. However, you’ll still need to get a good battery for your excursions, lest you get into a frustrating situation.