Marine

A 100 percent solar-powered boat that cost under $3,000 to build!

A 100 percent solar-powered bo...
The Firefly solar-powered boat was built by Canadian eco-enthusiast Dan Baker for an impressive CA$2,900 (US$2,845)
The Firefly solar-powered boat was built by Canadian eco-enthusiast Dan Baker for an impressive CA$2,900 (US$2,845)
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Baker fitted the roof of the boat with a home-built solar panel featuring 6 x 6 photovoltaic cells
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Baker fitted the roof of the boat with a home-built solar panel featuring 6 x 6 photovoltaic cells
LED lighting illuminates the cabin
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LED lighting illuminates the cabin
The Firefly was custom-built to cruise lakes, providing a leisurely experience without air or noise pollution
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The Firefly was custom-built to cruise lakes, providing a leisurely experience without air or noise pollution
Making of the Firefly
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Making of the Firefly
Barrels installed with rope frame
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Barrels installed with rope frame
Simple wooden base is complete
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Simple wooden base is complete
Home built center console
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Home built center console
6 x 6 solar cells from eBay
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6 x 6 solar cells from eBay
Finished solar panel
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Finished solar panel
The cabin of the boat has been modestly fitted with two rear storage seats and two lounge chairs
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The cabin of the boat has been modestly fitted with two rear storage seats and two lounge chairs
The Firefly solar-powered boat was built by Canadian eco-enthusiast Dan Baker for an impressive CA$2,900 (US$2,845)
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The Firefly solar-powered boat was built by Canadian eco-enthusiast Dan Baker for an impressive CA$2,900 (US$2,845)
View gallery - 11 images

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.

Source: David Baker via EcoChunk

View gallery - 11 images
8 comments
BigGoofyGuy
I think it looks really nice. I can see myself in one on the lake at Mercer County Park. :) It looks very relaxing. it is cool that it is solar powered.
jerryd
Rather crude and not very eff for that price.
Barrels rather su-k as hulls both because the alway leak, rust or colaspe if left in the water for any amount of time. And they need 2-3x's the power to move thus reducing range by 2-3x's.
I'm building a 32' trimaran cruising sailboat with a 1kw PV array for that amount for the materials.
sunelec.com for low cost PV among other places.
scooterdave
Great design and excellent use of materials. I would love to have one.
Mv Ilona
Good Effort and the best of intentions. Unfortunately, I really don't think it qualifies as a boat. It's more of a dock with a couple of trolling motors to move it about. No mention of how long it will run either. I could see it being fun to drive your dock from place to place on a small protected body of water though.
Daishi
Pontoon boats don't have to move fast and the build price is pretty low. This thing would be great for fishing/drinking beer on a small lake but even as a DIY project I think its awesome.
Billy Brooks
Great job Dan Baker! You should sell plans.
CarolinadeWitte
I like it. It really looks like one could have a very nice day on the lake with one of these. I could easily see our family and maybe a couple of friends kicking back and relaxing, eating a picnic meal, drinking a few beers (sodas for the kids, cos it would qualify as a 'special occasion') and either fishing, playing cards or board games, etc. I can actually SEE the entire scenario in my mind's eye. I wish I could actually experience it in real life!
Terrie@FunCats
This is pretty cool, but personal solar watercraft do already exist. If you aren't handy or don't have time to build your own, you should check out FunCats electric-solar catamarans. They're extremely easy to dock and drive, fish, or just putter around. funcats.com if you want to check them out!