I have very basic electrical needs; I have one group 31 battery that I use to run the stereo, keep cellphones charged and run navigational lights when needed.
Me, being the way I am, don't like to leave the power cord connected to charge the batteries while I'm not there (I'm afraid to come back to a charred piece of fiberglass on the bottom of my slip) so, when I go sailing I don't spend too much time in the slip, therefore, I never get enough charge to sustain the battery. The solution: solar panel.
I looked for something small that I would not need a controller (keep it simple) and found a 5watt panel at Harbor Freight for $39.00 (great deal compared to a similar 5 watt panel at WM for $69.00) I actually like the aluminum construction of the frame a lot better than the plastic one at WM.
Then I considered the best place to mount it on the boat and came up with the stern pulpit, the only challenge was to come up with some sort of bracket or something to hold it in place, I dug through my garage scraps and found an aluminum "L" section that was perfect for the job, a couple of "U" bolts, nuts and washers from the store and some fabricating....
Here it is mounted to a pipe in my garage
Here's a closeup of the mounting bracket
Here it is on the boat
I installed it last Friday when the battery was showing 90% charge, came back on Sunday for a sail and the battery showed 100% charge, so, I'm pleased with the results.
I forgot the cable ties, so I still have to finish the installation.
Panel cost: $ 42.00
Miscellaneous nuts, washers and bolts: $ 5.00
Aluminum L bracket (garage scrap) $ 0.00
Not having to worry about charging the battery " Priceless"