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Exploring the Arctic With a Repurposed Solar Powered Boat

There’s a lot to unpack in the title of this article…

A solar-powered boat? In the Arctic? Seriously?!

It sounds far-fetched, but as you’re about to learn, with the proper setup and a whole lot of hard work, a solar-powered boat is possible – even one that can safely explore the Arctic.

The video above from our friends at Sunflare Solar recounts the incredible adventure of Guile Simmonds and David Schnabel, both architects, and their quest to turn a 100-person lifeboat, the Stødig, into a self-sufficient vessel capable of traveling through the Arctic.

The adventure began early in 2018 when the duo bought the Stødig. Over the course of a year, Simmonds and Schnabel converted the craft into a surprisingly comfortable and capable vessel that allowed them to set sail in May 2019. The journey began in Newhaven, a southern British port, and progressed along the Belgian, Dutch, and Swedish coasts, past Copenhagen and Gothenburg, before heading north along the lower tip of Norway.

Eventually, the Stødig reached Tromsø, a city in the far northern reaches of Norway. All told, the trip was about 2,200 miles.

The Stødig stayed in Tromsø over the winter, taking various forays along the coast to explore the breathtaking winter landscapes around the city. But these trips weren’t just for fun…

Instead, the duo set out to demonstrate that a solar-powered boat isn’t just possible but that solar power can provide the necessary comforts to help maintain a self-sufficient vessel, even in the harshest of conditions.

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Sunflare’s Role in this Solar Powered Boat

adding solar panels to a boat

Since the Stødig started out as a lifeboat, it has a long, relatively flat deck ideal for solar panel installation. And since Simmonds’ and Schnabel’s trip was taking them north in the summer, the abundance of daylight made solar a no-brainer. Thus, a solar powered boat was born!

The Sunflare XPLOR series of solar panels was also a no-brainer for the trip. These panels are flexible, meaning Simmonds and Schnabel could attach extra panels on the curved sides of the boat in addition to laying a field of them on the mostly flat deck. Since the vessel is fiberglass, it isn’t completely flat, so panels that could adapt to those imperfections were a must.

And since these panels are ultra-lightweight, they don’t add much weight to the vessel or make it top-heavy – two very important considerations for a boat!

XPLOR solar panel options

What’s more, since Sunflare offers three different sizes of XPLOR panels, Simmonds and Schnabel could customize how the panels were laid out on the deck of their solar power boat to maximize the system’s light-gathering power. Larger 180-watt Expedition panels filled the main portion of the deck, while smaller 105-watt Weekend and 126-watt Adventure panels filled smaller areas.

With all these panels in place, the Stødig became totally self-sufficient. There was no need to find a port and connect to shore power to charge up the boat’s batteries because the Sunflare XPLOR panels provided all the electricity the boat needed.

A Solar Powered Boat Needs Durable Solar Panels

solar powered boat with sunflare panels

The ruggedness and durability of these panels were also a primary features of installing them on the boat. The upper deck is needed for inflating the dinghy and walking to the ship’s bow. Simmonds and Schnabel, as well as Simmonds’ dog, Shackleton, could walk on the solar panels without causing any damage.

Therein lies one of the primary benefits of solar power – not just for this particular expedition – but for any outdoor adventure in a large vehicle or craft. Not only do these panels do their job of collecting power for your rig, but they do so unobtrusively and without impacting the functionality of the vehicle.

boat deck covered with solar panels

You can walk on these panels, sit on them, and, as the video demonstrates, allow your dog to walk on them and not suffer any damage. When your ability to live depends on your solar panel system, having something this rugged and durable is paramount. The peace of mind that panels like the XPLOR series provide is worth every penny invested into the system.

Additionally, with the number of panels on the Stødig, the duo could incorporate some creature comforts and necessities into the boat that lesser systems might not accommodate – laptops, toasters, power tools – you name it!

This is the Path to Self-Sufficiency

solar panels on boat

If you have an adventurous spirit like Simmonds and Schnabel and want to outfit your rig with a proper solar system, Sunflare XPLOR has what you need to get the ball rolling.

As I mentioned earlier, there are three different sizes of XPLOR panels that you can use to customize to your needs, whether you have an RV, a travel trailer, or a solar powered boat of your own. I have two 180-watt Expedition panels on the roof of my tent that provide me with all the power I can handle for long-term off-grid trips. These panels are rugged, durable, and incredibly easy to install, too.

Sometimes, it’s hard to plan and execute our dream adventures because we have so much trouble unplugging and being self-sufficient. But with a solar power system from Sunflare, you can achieve those goals, escape reality, and finally seek out those adventures you’ve been dreaming of.

Get in touch with Sunflare today to learn more about their lineup of XPLOR solar panels.

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