A high-tech hybrid boat powered by solar energy: Sobe Sunset

Our client, Cyril Silberman, CEO and founder of Uni Engineering, was the one who trusted our solutions to create a small “floating innovation center”: The Sobe Sunset. A hybrid boat equipped with solar panels and batteries to improve efficiency.

Cyril Silberman – CEO & Founder of Uni Engineering

“It was a pleasure working with Epic Power. They were the only firm in the world that could supply the high output voltage combined with the important features associated with MPPT technology.”
General view of boat with solar panels and batteries with bidirectional dc dc converters from epic power

Why to install solar panels in your boat?

Boats ranging from 18 to 34m, reaching high speeds at mid-throttle have a very high fuel consumption. Therefore, the relatively small tanks need to be filled every day.

Added to this are many other additional energy consumptions of the boat, and the idea of the project was to enhance the overall efficiency.

And… How to achieve it? Hybridization.

Bidirectional DC/DC converters as part of the solution.

The Sobe Sunset is a 30m. recreational boat, built in 1999. Its owner acquired it in 2019 and noticed the existing market need for this type of vessel.

Quickly, he got to work, implementing a superstructure combined with additional space on the foredech capable of accommodating 11kW of solar panels, consisting of 28 panels of 120W, nominally at 20VDC, wired in series to obtain 40V for a maximum output of 48A.

This voltage is boosted to the 750VDC bus by a 3kW galvanically isolated Epic Power DC/DC converter, with embedded maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithms specially developed for floating solar panels.

Bidirectional dc dc converters from epic power and batteries installation in a recreational boat

Two epic power converters convert different low voltage to 750V and vice versa. A bank of variable frequency drives converts DC input to a 3-phase AC at voltages specific to the boat´s numerous AC induction motors.

The superstructure array, where shading is not an issue, consists of two parallel strings of eleven 335W panels, nominally at 33VDC, wired in series.

The two series strings are tied together in parallel to deliver a nominal 363VDC, 20A output to an 8kW Epic Power DC/DC converter, also employing the aforementioned MPPT technology.

Aerial view of recreational boat equipped with solar panels and bidirectional dc dc converters from epic power
You can find more information on the project here: Atlantic Marine Electric

Energy Storage

Lithium-ion battery packs were also installed to be able to anchor (even using air conditioning) for at least 24 hours without the need to use a generator and continue operating in standby mode, solely thanks to solar energy.

Together, the battery packs create a 300 kWh system. A target is to limit the maximum charge rate to no more than 0.7C (i.e., 210kW).

Hybrid boat with solar panels and bidirectional dc dc converters schema

Here we can see an example of the monitoring screen:

graph showing power sent from converters to batteries from solar panels
Solar energy captured from panels and sent from bidirectional dc/dc converters (Bow and Roof) to batteries.

If you need help with your hybrid marine project, we can help you to find the best solution.

Write us and let´s talk!