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Best Solar Trolling Motor Battery Chargers

In light of rising environmental degradation, a growing number of anglers feel a responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint by investing in solar powered motor battery chargers instead of the traditional AC models. Not only are they an ecologically sound option, but when looked at carefully, solar chargers offer unexpected benefits which we’ll be exploring in this article. We also provide valuable advice on what to look for when buying a solar charger, what its pros and cons are, and a detailed list of solar chargers to take the guessing work out of your shopping experience.

The Upside to Using a Solar Powered Battery

  • Ecologically Friendly: One of the primary reasons to switch to solar powered battery charger is because using them is good for the environment because they’re only powered by natural sunlight.
  • Mobility: Solar powered battery chargers give you the mobility to place them anywhere you want, as long as it has exposure to sunlight. Some models even work in low light conditions and don’t require direct sun exposure to work.

The Downside to Using Solar Powered Battery Charger

  • Long Charging Time: Unlike AC chargers, solar powered chargers take much longer to recharge a battery.
  • Light Restrictions: Most solar battery chargers only work when the sun is out and will not work if there are cloud coverage and dust.
  • Cost: When compared to AC chargers in the same category, solar-powered chargers can be more expensive to buy and setup, although they save you money in the long run because you won’t have to purchase new batteries every few months. 

What to Look For

The following is a list of specific features that you should look for when shopping for a solar battery charger.

✓ Power

A common question that people ask is how much power is enough when it comes to a solar-powered charger? The answer is not a simple one, but the general rule of thumb is that a solar battery charger with 100-Watt panel should be able to charge your batteries and keep them on without breaking the bank.

✓ Charge Controller

Be sure to get a charger with a charge controller, which will act as a conduit between the solar panel and your battery. It’s much safer to use a charge controller instead of just hooking up the battery to the panel as that might damage it faster.

✓ Duration

A commonly held notion is that solar chargers take much longer to power up a battery than you traditional AC charger. However, this differs according to the size of the battery, as smaller batteries charge up faster than big ones.

✓ Types of Solar Panel Chargers

It’s important to keep in mind as you’re shopping around that solar panel chargers come in three different types; namely, polycrystalline, mono-crystalline and thin film.

  • Polycrystalline - Polycrystalline panels have a distinct blue color which is created by its construction from silicon crystals. These panels are very durable, efficient, resistant to corrosion, and offer higher energy production due to having high transmission glass. 
  • Mono-crystalline - You’ll notice mono-crystalline chargers through their characteristic black color, which indicates their ability to continue functioning.
  • Thin Film - Thin film panels are made to have a narrow design, with an in-built semi-conductor which increases its efficiency. Regardless, thin film panels have very light absorbing layers which cause them to absorb less light, and they don’t perform as well as other types of panels.

✓ Size

It’s essential to ensure that your charger matches your battery type so that if you have a 12-volt battery, it should be able to charge it efficiently.

✓ Overcharge Protection

Solar panel chargers take long to charge batteries, which explains why some people even forget that their batteries are charging and leave them attached to the charger for much longer than required. If this occurs, Overcharge Protection becomes helpful because it prevents overcharging by automatically discharging the battery when it is full.

✓ Battery Conditioning

Some chargers even come with the ability to de-sulfate the battery to prolong its life cycle, but these models typically come with a higher price tag.

✓ Warranty

A solar battery charger should come with a warranty as a sign of goodwill on the manufacturer’s part and as a form of security to you as a buyer and the longer the warranty period, the better.

Solar Trolling Motor Chargers we Like

Here is our list of top solar panel battery chargers to choose from:

Instapark SP Series Mono-crystalline Photovoltaic PV Solar Panel

This mono-crystalline battery from Instapark is covered with a heavy black sheet to protect from weather conditions and prolong its lifespan for up to 25 years! It also has excellent features like a complete charging kit that includes a charge controller and a 50-foot-long extension cable. The charger is ideal for some applications, and the panels allow for a permanent setup on your boat should that be your preference. It’s also entirely waterproof and is designed to charge 12-volt batteries with a 5-year limited warranty that ensures you’re covered just in case you’re not happy with your purchase.

What We like

  • This charger is totally waterproof
  • It can be placed anywhere
  • The panel does the job even in slightly cloudy and low light conditions
  • It comes with a charge controller
  • It’s lightweight and easy to use
  • Designed to charge12 volts batteries, which means more clean power supply for your boat

What We Don't like

  • The cable runs shorter than described

RENOGY 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Expansion Kit

This powerful solar panel charger is a mono-crystalline model with a maximum power output of 100 watts, making it a viable option for maintaining and charging a trolling motor battery. It features an advanced encapsulation construction that involves multiple layers of sheet lamination and low iron-tempered glass, which means it’s highly resistant to impact and durable as well. It’s also anti-reflective and highly transparent, which further prolongs its life cycle, and you’ll enjoy the complete kit that it comes with, h including a set of Z-brackets, and a pair of branch connectors.

The outer layer features an aluminum frame that protects it from corrosion damage and various weather conditions, and there’s a bypass diode which enables the charger to continue working even in cloudy or lowlight conditions. Lastly, the back of the panel features pre-drilled holes to mount and secure it with minimal fuss quickly, and it’s been optimized to charge 12-volt batteries

What We like

  • It features a bypass diode that allows the charger to work even in cloudy or low light conditions
  • It’s straightforward and simple to install
  • ​Optimized to charge 12-volt batteries
  • ​The panel features high quality construction from durable and long-lasting materials including low iron-tempered glass and advanced encapsulation design
  • ​It has a power output of 100 watts
  • ​Its resistant to corrosion
  • Able to work reasonably well in low light conditions

What We Don't like

  • It doesn’t come with a charge controller
  • The aluminum frames don’t come as strong as advertised

Renogy 200 Watts 12 Volts Mono- crystalline Solar Bundle Kit

This model comes as a pair of mono-crystalline solar panels which can be linked together using a set of branch connectors, and that extends its power output for up to 400 watts. It comes with a signature Renogy 30A PWM Negative Ground charge controller, and a 25-year transferable power output warranty and a 1-year warranty for the rest of the kit.

What We like

  • It comes with a charge controller
  • It features a 25-year warranty on the panels and 1-year warranty on the rest of the kit
  • It’s straightforward and simple to assemble
  • Comes with hardy MC4 cables and connectors
  • Renogy also offers superb technical support to you after purchasing the charger
  • Very well packaged and excellent shipping facilities
  • The panel works as advertised

What We Don't like

  • It doesn’t come with an extension cord for the charge controller
  • Unfortunately, the charge controller doesn’t cater to different types of batteries, and mostly works with gel cell and deep cycle lead acid batteries only

Mighty Max 100 Watts 100W Solar Panel 12V Poly Off Grid Battery Charger

With 100 watts of power output and the ability to charge 12-volt batteries, this polycrystalline solar panel charger offers high efficiency through photovoltaic technology and solar cells. You’ll find that mounting it is pretty easy thanks to the pre-drilled holes on the back of the panel which also comes with attached MC4 connectors for your convenience.

The external frame features a high-quality aluminum frame that enables it to withstand several weather conditions including wind and snow. The overall design is unique in that it’s sleek and compact for a solar panel, making it lightweight and easy to carry and setup. Lastly, Mighty Max offers different wattage levels of this high-quality solar panel charger, so if you are using to power up a lot of devices apart from your battery, then you have the option of purchasing a larger wattage than the 100-watt option.

What We like

  • The pre-drilled holes on the back of the panel make light work of mounting and securing this panel
  • It works perfectly as advertised
  • Available in several wattage options starting from 100 watts​
  • The high-quality frame protects it from degradation during hectic weather conditions​
  • Features high-efficiency solar cells and photovoltaic technology​
  • Optimized to charge 12-volt batteries

What We Don't like

  • It doesn’t come with a charge controller
  • It doesn’t work well in shade or overcast conditions

ECO-WORTHY 12 Volts 120 Watts Portable Folding Monocrystalline Solar Panel with Charge Controller

This model from Eco-Worthy comes as a ready to use charging solution and is highly portable with a foldable design that is easy to setup and use. It features a pre-installed charge controller and is optimized for use on 12-volt batteries. It works instantly when exposed to sunlight, and it comes in a package that includes a pair of pre-installed solar cables that are 10 ft in size, an adjustable aluminum stand, handle and latches to mount it anywhere efficiently, as well as a pair of 30A alligator clips.

It’s made with a durable aluminum frame that’s highly resistant to corrosion, and the legs are sturdy enough to hold the panel in place regardless of where you place it, or what the weather conditions may be.

What We like

  • It comes with its charge controller
  • Features a foldable suitcase design that makes it highly portable and easy to use/ setup
  • It has a highly durable aluminum frame that makes it long-lasting​
  • ​Strong legs hold the panel in place regardless of where you put it, or the weather conditions thereof
  • Great value for money
  • Top quality build from hardy materials

What We Don't like

  • It doesn’t have a warranty

ACOPOWER 100 Watt 100W Poly Solar Panel with MC4 Connectors for 12 Volt Battery 

This polycrystalline charger can provide up to 100 watts of power with the ability to charge 12 volts to 48-volt batteries, and this can enable you to enjoy a completely off-grid and environmentally friendly trip. It’s also quite easy to install with pre-drilled holes at the back of the panel and a 12AWG cable with MC4 Male/Female Quick Connectors for your convenience. As it arrives, you'll find that the panel is prewired onto a weather-sealed rear mounted junction box with power wiring pigtails that were made for outdoor use

The panel itself is built to last, as it features a coated and reinforced anti-reflection safety glass that’s 3.2mm thick and waterproof and a lightweight anodized aluminum frame. Its rugged design helps it to withstand harsh weather conditions including storms, wind, and snow. Acopower also offers excellent customer and technical support with a 5-year workshop warranty and 20-year output warranty offering. Best of all, this panel can work equally well in sunny conditions as it does in overcast weather.

What We like

  • It’s easy to install, thanks to the pre-drilled holes, the 12AWG cable and MC4 Male/Female Quick Connectors that it comes with
  • It’s built for durability and longevity with a tempered glass that’s 3.2mm thick and waterproof, and a lightweight anodized aluminum frame
  • Comes with an extended 5year workshop warranty and a 20-year output warranty​
  • It’s a highly efficient model that’s able to withstand all types of weather conditions with compromising on performance​
  • Made for a minimum 12-volt battery with the capacity to power up to 48 volts​
  • This panel can work even in overcast and shady conditions

What We Don't like

  • It doesn’t come with its own charge controller

HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel Kit with 10A PWM LCD Display Charge Controller

Best Buy

This easy to use polycrystalline panel kit features pre-drilled holes, 20ft 12AWG adaptor cables, and Z brackets for fast and convenient installation. It also has a charge controller with an LCD screen that updates you on the state of the batteries.

It’s able to power both 12 volts and 24-volt batteries and provides the ideal off-grid power solution to solar newbies because it's straightforward to use. It also comes with 100-watt power capability so can fully charge your battery for a long trip.

What We like

  • It features a charge controller with an LCD
  • The ease of use offered by this panel makes it an excellent purchase for newbies to solar energy
  • It runs quietly
  • Easy to mount and setup, with 20ft 12AWG adaptor cables, a set of Z brackets and pre-drilled holes
  • This panel comes with a 5-year material and workmanship warranty and a 25-year power output warranty, as well as a 1-year material and workmanship warranty for the accessories

What We Don't like

  • There’s nothing to complain about here

WindyNation 100 Watt Solar Panel Off-Grid RV Boat Kit

Designed for off-grid and remote power use, this polycrystalline panel has a 100-watt power output capacity, an LCD charge controller with an innovative Battery Temperature Sensor, MC4 connectors, mounting hardware, a 40ft 12AWG solar cable and a handy installation manual.

Apart from the simple setup, this panel is also easy to operate and maintain through the LCD screen which shows you facts like the amperage rate, voltage, amp-hours left on your battery.

What We like

  • The LCD charge controller features an intuitive Battery Temperature Sensor
  • It comes with all the implements that you need to install it, including a handy installation manual
  • ​Made to handle and charge 12 to 24-volt batteries
  • The LCD screen provides you with a readout of the battery’s amperage rate, voltage and amp hours left​
  • ​It works immediately after you hook it up
  • Great overall quality product

What We Don't like

  • There’s nothing bad to say about this solar panel charger

Let the Sun Shine In!

Having a solar panel battery charger gives you peace of mind knowing that you’re using a clean source of energy, and this experience is further enhanced by the ease of installation and use that most of these chargers provide. Most solar panel battery chargers start working immediately after you install them, and if they’re reinforced with aluminum and thick tempered glass, then it means that they’re also resistant to corrosion and can provide you with a reliable source of power regardless of weather conditions.

Most importantly though, solar panel chargers are lauded for their quality and longevity, as most are built to last for up to two decades or more. And as technology continues to develop, solar panel chargers are only set to get even better, and so are definitely a viable option to consider.

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