A quick getaway on your boat or in a recreational vehicle (RV) can turn ugly when the batteries that power the pleasure go flat during storage. But if the sun shines on your boat or RV cover’s small, flexible solar panel during its dormant days, the battery will always be ready when you are. “Batteries are expensive and are made to be used regularly, so by trickle charging, owners increase the life of their batteries,” says Sam Paterson, director of Cover Systems Intl., Mt. Eden, New Zealand, manufacturer of shelter and storage systems, including covers pre-fit or retrofit with flexible solar panels.
The solar cover systems include the flexible panel, solar charge controller and either a cigarette socket connector or lead with alligator clips to transfer the energy collected to the battery. The covers are water-, humidity- and UV-proof, recommended for any vehicle that spends time in storage. Some boat owners are installing the solar systems on canopies or biminis to charge cell phones or GPS units in case of emergencies on the high seas.