It is not possible to walk on rigid aluminum framed solar panels. Certain brands produce flexible and semi-flexible solar panels designed to be walked on. Care should be taken, however, because if they are not designed to be walked on, they will be damaged, and you may end up with cut feet.
Solar power systems have burst onto the boating scene and offered the potential to revolutionize our way of life completely.
The only problem is that solar panels use a lot of space, so innovative solutions have to be developed, one of which is to use them as the deck space itself.
🚶♂️ Marine Solar Panels You Can Walk On
There are several marine solar panels that are designed to be walked on.
On many boats, particularly smaller yachts, the only viable location to install solar panels is on one of the surfaces covering the wheelhouse or cabins.
If these are unavailable, some sailors have resorted to installing them directly on the boat’s deck. If the appropriate specification solar panels are selected, it is possible.
This is not a rule that applies to all solar panels. Before installing them in positions where they are likely to be walked on, check the specifications to ensure they are suitable.
There are two types of “walk-on marine solar panels.”
1️⃣ Some panels are designed to be stepped on for very short periods and only occasionally (perhaps to access a difficult-to-reach area.)
2️⃣ Other panels are designed specifically to be walked on and can be installed on decks and other traffic areas.
Once again, you must check the specifications before selecting flexible solar panel marine cells.
Genuine marine-grade flexible solar panels, designed to be walked on, are significantly more expensive than conventional units that can be mounted higher up.
Can You Walk On A Flexible Marine Solar Panel?
The construction of certain flexible and semi-flexible solar panels is suitable for being walked.
Many flexible marine solar panels are made with a durable material that encapsulates the cells and protects them,
This manufacturing method provides the strength necessary for the panels to be installed on a deck, where the crew and guests can walk on it.
The only caveat is that they should not be worn with hard or sharp heels. As this applies to the rest of the boat, it should not be difficult.
Can You Walk On A Semi-Rigid Marine Solar Panel?
Certain brands of semi-rigid Marine Solar Panels are designed to be walked on.
Like flexible marine solar panels, some semi-rigid solar panels can be installed in walkways and on the deck, where they will be walked over.
Semi-rigid panels that can be walked on include the following.
|Walk On / Step On
|100 Watt Marine Grade Solar Panel
|46.4 x 20.8 inches
|Custom Marine products
|120-Watt Marine Grade PV Solar Panel
|26.0 X 38.0 inches
|Custom Marine products
|150-Watt Marine Solar Panel
|26.0 X 48.0 inches
Can You Walk On A Rigid Marine Solar Panel?
Rigid solar panels are not strong enough to be walked on. And there are many other differences between rigid and flexible solar panels. Let’s start with the frames
The frames are normally made from aluminum, meaning they will flex and ultimately bend if enough weight is placed on them.
The surface of a rigid marine solar panel is also generally made from hardened glass. The glass is strong enough to resist day-to-day impacts from items thrown up by wind or other means.
Unfortunately, they are not strong enough to resist the bending motion imposed by someone standing on them.
📉 Does Walking On A Solar Panel Repeatedly Reduce Its Lifespan And Performance?
If the marine grade panels are designed to be walked on, and there are no warnings about doing so, they will not degrade if they are walked on.
Most marine-grade solar panels designed to be walked on are manufactured with a tough aluminum backing (not only the outer frame) and a strong non-skid surface.
Having said that, it is possible to damage or degrade panels by walking on them under the following conditions.
1️⃣ If you walk on the panels with hard or sharp heels, you can damage them.
2️⃣ If the panels get dirty (possibly by walking on them with muddy boots), it will impair the optical properties of the outer layer. This will reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of the solar panels.
3️⃣ If objects with sharp or rough edges are regularly dragged over them, it will ultimately affect the optical properties of the outer layer.
This Is A Handy Feature To Have On A Boat Due To Space
Living in a yacht requires the available spaces to be strictly managed.
With solar panels potentially using up so much of the yacht’s available “real estate,” being able to mount the solar panels where they will be walked on is a real benefit.
In essence, it allows a space to serve more than one function, namely being walked on and being the structure in which the solar panels are mounted.
📍 Sailboat Marine Solar Panels Location
The number of locations on which marine solar panels are mounted on a boat is only limited to the captain’s imagination.
Common mounting spots include the following.
- On a separate solar panel rack that is installed over the davits at the stern of the boat.
- On cabin roofs.
- Sewed into the Bimini cover.
- On top of a small mast (pole).
- On frames mounted on either side of the hull.
- On a frame that is mounted near the bow.
These are the most common spots. However, there are many more locations selected by innovative sailors.
🔑 Key Takeaway
Some flexible and semi-rigid solar panels have been designed to be walked on. These help with maximizing the space utilization on a bait. Unfortunately, these solar panels are very expensive.