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


July 11, 2012

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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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

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

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.


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.


Great design and excellent use of materials. I would love to have one.


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.

Mv Ilona

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.


Great job Dan Baker! You should sell plans.

Billy Brooks

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!

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