Note: The information contained in this periodical weblog may be outdated. This was my personal weblog published before January 1, 2015. Since then I have been the co-owner and Principal Solar Designer at Florida Solar Design Group.

Can you install Solar Panels on a Boat Dock?

Just like electrical power is allowed on a boat dock, you can install solar panels on a boat dock. The electrical power would be returned to the home using buried conduit and tied into your existing electrical distribution system. The main consideration is the structural engineering of the system. The key question is whether wind uplift from the solar panels will exceed the capability of the boat dock roof and underlying structure.

Solar Panels on a Boat Dock on Fort Myers BeachPin It
Solar Panels on a Boat Dock on Fort Myers Beach

Given that most boat docks in Southwest Florida are in the coastal region where the design wind speed for structures is relatively high at 130-150 mph. Modern covered boat docks are built to withstand these high wind speeds as required by the Florida Building Code. Generally speaking, if your covered boat dock was build to code recently, we will probably be able to install solar panels on top.

One idea for people building new covered boat docks would be to forego the roof altogether and design the solar panels as a trellis structure over the boat. The solar panels could be mounted to steel or aluminum I-Beams or directly to extruded rails designed for solar panel attachment. It’s always easier to start from scratch than to retrofit an existing covered dock.

If we can contact the builder of your existing dock, we can probably obtain the original engineering documentation and determine whether solar panels can be mounted on top. A site visit is required to look at the condition and construction of the dock. In most cases, it is not only possible, but a great idea to install solar panels on a boat dock!

4 Comments

  1. I am installing a new boat dock with lift in South Gulf Cove in Port Charlotte. I am interested in designing the dock for future solar panels. I hope to make application with FPL for subsidies when they have funds available. The solar panels would be grid tied for the home service.

    1. Author

      We can help with the planning, installation, and even the FPL rebate! I will have solar advisor Dominick Zito contact you. We will want to get the plans for the dock, especially the roof plan if available.

      1. Author

        UPDATE: Since the 2010 Florida Building Code was adopted last year, coastal areas in SW Florida require design wind speeds of 160-172 mph. However, the wind uplift calculations have changed per ASCE 7-10, so the wind pressures are similar in most cases. Regardless, it is still completely feasible to add solar panels to any new and many existing boat docks.

  2. I have a home in Bonita Springs with a single boat dock and lift on a canal leading to the Imperial River.

    I am interested on a Solar Panel Boat Cover to be able to heat my pool!

    Please respond to my email.

    Mario

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