Dec 5, 2020 > Solar
We install 960 watts of blazing solar power
Panasonic HIT technology atop an Atlantic Towers stern arch
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Product review Panasonic HIT 320W Solar Panels
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REVIEWED BY Eric Dove 9 reviews, 1 follower
Hunter 46LE SailAway
Solar technology has come a long way, especially in the last 10 years or so. That means there are a lot of options to choose from when it's time to feed your batteries that sweet, sweet sunshine. I believe the options can be categorized into two basic categories - cheap and expensive. In the cheap corner you have a lot of brands whose names will not ring a bell. These are available on Amazon or any number of online sites. In the expensive corner you'll find brands like LG and Panasonic, among many others. These are substantially more expensive, but come with much better documentation about their technology, life span, and output. While bucks are bucks, we decided we'd rather part with a few extra and have a better idea of what we were getting. Within that "expensive" category, the Panasonic HIT panels are about "mid/high". At about $320 per panel, they weren't cheap, but also quite a bit shy of the most expensive out there. And after reading the spec sheet and product literature - not being an expert on solar at all - I felt pretty convinced it was a good product. Not to mention that what reviews I could find were all good. I'm happy to say those reviews were very correct. The model we bought were the Panasonic HIT 320. I believe this model has been phased out in favor of the 325, though I can't profess to truly understand the exact difference. The specs are almost identical, but at the time of purchase, we saved a substantial amount by getting the 320's from the dealer closest to us. As the name suggests, these panels are rated at 320 watts. Having been told by many other boat owners to only expect maybe 50% of what any given panel is rated for, we have been utterly blown away by the output of these panels. At peak sunshine, it's not unusual at all for us to see over 1000 watts from our 3-panel array. They are also very sturdily built, with a very substantial aluminum frame. This was a big deal for us as it would be for most when installing them on a sailboat stern arch. We didn't feel the need to overbuild the mounting structure in fear the panels weren't strong enough to withstand the wind pressures pushing and pulling on them in ways that wouldn't likely exist on the roof of a home. After over a year of use every day while cruising and living at anchor 95% of the time, we are thrilled with these panels. Like most panels, once the sun is blocked, the wattage goes way down of course, but the stunning output during sunny times more than makes up for it. Be sure to check out our reviews of the Atlantic Towers arch these babies are mounted on, as well as the Firefly Carbon Mat AGM's they're powering. Cheers!
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