Boom Boom Solar

Solar power is doing more on boats these days, even making coffee! Photo by Christopher Birch

December 2023

By Christopher Birch

Lately, I’ve been fantasizing about what will come next in boat design. Happily my crystal ball has a lot to say on the subject. Walk with me into the future and down the red carpet at the 2026 Eagle Seven Sailing Yacht Design Awards gala. Let’s check out the winners and their innovative offerings:

2nd Runner up: Boom Boom Solar

Solar power is addictive. Every cruising sailor wants more of it. But the question of where to mount the panels has never been easy to answer – until now. Boom Boom Solar has introduced a 2KW solar stack-pack that turns any sailboat’s boom into a power plant. The innovative sail cover is built with a combination of Sunbrella fabric and an array of exquisitely crafted semi-flexible photovoltaic cells. The product provides for all onboard electrical needs AND works as a fully functional sail cover. Like other fabric stack-pack covers, a top zipper opening allows it to stay in place when the sail is up and in use.

Big consumers of battery power like water makers, Starlink, and navigational electronics all make the cruising life better. Many sailors, like the full-time cruisers aboard Sundance, a 36-foot Morris Justine, now cook with electric power to reduce or eliminate the need for propane. But where is all the power supposed to come from? Everyone would prefer silent, clean, unlimited solar over noisy, smelly generators and/or engine charging, but up until now, all solar panel mounting options relied on cumbersome arrangements that require functional and aesthetic sacrifices. The common 75 or 100 watt panel sizes that can be awkwardly wedged aboard are woefully undersized for the job. But Boom Boom Solar’s 2000 watt product essentially occupies zero space onboard because it simply takes the place of an existing piece of gear, the sail cover.

The BBS product lineup accommodates six of the most common boom lengths with further customization available. The fabric portion of the cover can be ordered in any Sunbrella color to match existing canvas onboard. Chafe protection is sewn in to protect against contact with the shrouds when sailing downwind. The semi-flexible solar cells add shape to the cover, reduce wrinkles, and deliver a sleek, modern, and attractive look.

The wiring consists of two duplex cables, one for each side of the boom, that enter the mast near the gooseneck. They bundle with the other mast wiring and exit the spar just above the mast step. From there, they run to a pair of Victron MPPT controllers and on to the house bank. Compared to other common solar wire runs, this installation is a breeze. The wiring from the mast step to the batteries on most boats is well established, easy to access, and completely hidden. No need for a farm of deck plugs, and gone are the days of pulling down headliners and fishing wires from one odd spot to the next.

An obvious downside to Boom Boom Solar’s product is that both sides of the stack pack can’t be in the sun at the same time. Onboard solar has always faced this dilemma. Unlike a land-based solar array that can be easily situated to maximize orientation and avoid shadow, boat solar systems suffer from constant reorientation and shifting shadows. The best we can do onboard is to increase the total wattage and get the array out there where the sun is going to hit it more often than not.

Samantha at Boom Boom says their greatest challenge has been dispelling the myth that solar panels need to point straight up. “Horizontally mounted panels kill it from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., but their production declines dramatically at either end of the day. The angled panels in our stack pack, on the other hand, crank away from dawn till dusk, banking amp-hours all the way. It’s like the fable of the tortoise and the hare where steady production wins out in the end.”

I know what she says to be true. My lifeline-draped panels that face the horizon routinely outperform the identical panels mounted on my Bimini top. I love the combined production from my panels but they get in the way on the boat, and I’m not crazy about the way they look. Boom Boom’s product is a stroke of brilliance. I can’t wait for my name to come off their waitlist so I can retire my old fashioned rectangular panels and modernize my boat.

Samantha goes on to say, “Every new boat comes with a steering wheel and a bilge pump, but where’s the solar power? This essential equipment should be built into the new boat design by the builder rather than forcing the consumer to MacGyver a tacked on contraption later. ‘Built in, not tacked on’ is our motto, and we’re partnering with several boat builders to include our product on their new boats.”

It’s uncommon for an electrical system to win a yacht design award. But in this case, I can see why the judges bestowed the award on Boom Boom Solar. Most older solar panels are an affront to yacht design; this new one isn’t. Boom Boom Solar finally provides a way to add 2KW of solar power to a boat with zero mounting complexities or aesthetic sacrifices. A simple swap from the old stack-pack to this new one is all you need.

1st Runner Up: Tender Is My Transom Yachts

Read all about this award winning company of the future in the next issue of Points East magazine . . .

Christopher “Shark Tank” Birch is the founder of Birch Marine Inc. on Long Wharf, Boston. He is now out cruising full-time with his wife, Alex, aboard their 36-foot Morris Justine. Follow their voyage at