While it might not be the world’s largest solar boat or the fastest, this modest home-built solar-powered boat does the job and comfortably accommodates six passengers. Dubbed “Firefly,” it was built by Canadian eco-enthusiast Dan Baker for an impressive CA$2,900 (US$2,845).
The Firefly was custom built to cruise lakes, providing a leisurely experience without air or noise pollution. Baker fitted the roof of the boat with a home-built solar panel featuring 6 x 6 photovoltaic cells which he purchased on eBay. Energy is stored in a lead-acid battery, which powers two brushless DC electric motors. Each motor is mounted on opposite rear corners of the boat to provide thrust and steering.
According to Baker, the roof-mounted solar panel is capable of generating 140W of clean energy. The boat is able to manage a top speed of 4 mph (6.5 km/h), which is about “as fast as a leisurely canoe ride,” says Baker. He’s not worried, however, boasting that the cells are independently fueling his 2012 boating season.
The cabin of the boat has been modestly fitted with a Bluetooth stereo, two rear storage seats, two lounge chairs, center console, navigation light, spreader lights with strobe function, LED lighting on the canopy and handrails, marine safety kit, fire extinguisher, air horn, life jackets, removable swim ladder, beverage holders and anchor. The base of the boat was fitted with eight flotation barrels purchased via a local classified ad for CA$20 (US$19.50) each.
We definitely think that Baker deserves the thumbs-up for his eco-initiative. Should readers like the idea of owning a boat like Dan's but don't want to build it themselves, they can always check out the Loon, an electric pontoon boat built by Canada's Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company.