Kayaks are a some of the most versatile watercraftÂ around. You can fish from them, go on backpacking trips, or just cruise around your local lake for a few hours. Theyâ€™re inexpensive, lightweight, donâ€™t require fuel, and typically donâ€™t require a license or insurance to operate. They also make a great platform for a solar-powered boat like this one with only 150 watts of panels and a custom-built motor with parts from an RC airplane.
[William Frasier] built his solar-powered kayak using three solar panels, two mounted across the bow of the boat using pontoons to keep them from dipping into the water, and the other mounted aft. Separating the panels like this helps to prevent all three of them being shaded at once when passing under bridges. Theyâ€™re all wired in parallel to a 12V custom-built motor which is an accomplishment in itself. It uses custom-turned parts from teak, a rot-resistant wood, is housed in an aluminum enclosure, and uses an RC airplane propeller for propulsion.
Without using the paddles and under full sun, the kayak can propel itself at about 4 knots (7 kmh) which is comparable to a kayak being propelled by a human with a paddle. With a battery, some of the shading problems could be eliminated, and adding an autopilot to it would make it almost 100% autonomous.