Stus-List Seeking thoughts on solar panel installation

Marek Dziedzic dziedzicmj at hotmail.com
Fri Aug 18 09:37:53 EDT 2017


Damian,

you have to calculate how much power you would need. That depends on your cruising usage (how much extra charge you want to get to keep your refrigerator going) and the size of your batteries (the larger the bank, the more power you need to keep it topped up).

Regardless of what panels you select, the charge controller is the most important. The better ones are the MPPT, but (and I know I can invite the ridicule of some purists) the older (PWM) controllers may offer quite good value for money. Buy the best controller you can afford. Genasun controllers have great reviews (and some are quite affordable). Morningside is another decent brand (I have one of theirs).

The rigid panels are usually cheaper and more effective, but they are more cumbersome (they are heavier and rigid, so they have to be properly and generally, permanently, installed). Semi-rigid (or semi-flexible) are next and the fully rollable are the most expensive (for the comparable power), but obviously offer the most flexibility.

If not for your refrigerator use, I would suggest a semi-flexible or rollable panel on the bimini. This should give you enough power to top up the batteries when the boat is on the mooring between sails. If you use the motor at all, it would do the bulk charging and the panel would top it up. This is how I use my solar panel and it works.b For keeping the batteries in shape, you don’t need too much current; rather, you need it for a very long time.

Your fridge needs probably around 7-8 A, which translates into a 120-140 W panel; larger if you have (and probably you do) anything else using power when you sail. If you want to be serious about running on solar, as the main source, you would need 200 W panels. If they are rigid, they would require special solid support on the bimini.

I strongly suggest a single battery controller (and a good one) plus an ACR (as opposed to a dual battery controller (even if I use one)).

Read up on Maine Sail’s web site (http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/boat_projects); he has plenty of information.

Good luck

Marek
(Powerfilm panel, Morningside Duo controller)
Ottawa, ON


From: Damian Greene via CnC-List
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2017 07:45
To: C&C E-Mail List
Cc: Damian Greene
Subject: Stus-List Seeking thoughts on solar panel installation

I’m deliberately keeping this question broad, as I’m at an early stage of my planning:

As we keep our boat on a mooring, a constant concern is maintaining charge in the batteries. Already on my winter list is to install a Blue Seas ACR (automatic charging relay), to eliminate having to remember to switch 1/all/2.

In addition, I’m thinking of installing a solar panel system. At a minimum, I’d like a system that would bring the batteries from partially depleted to full charge over a couple of days, so I’d be fairly confident in having a full charge when I go out to the boat.

Next step up would be a system that would at least extend how long we can run the refrigerator on a cruise without having run the engine a couple of hours/day.

In terms of panel location, I’m thinking on top of the bimini, as it’s 1) out of the way, and 2) close to the batteries.

I would welcome any advice/experience on selection of brand, how many amps, and installation.

Thanks,

Damian

1982 C&C 34 GHOST (for sale)
1986 Sabre 38 (name still under debate 😊)
Bass Harbor, Maine


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