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Old 04-10-2014, 17:07   #16
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Re: Solar

Quote:
Originally Posted by peteh007 View Post
Great!! 1120W seems quite a bit.. is it enough? Would you ideally like more?
P
I believe solar is like good wine or money there is no such thing as to much.
I went with 5 x 327W Sunpower and I would like moor. I also went with a 3kW Inverter and if it was just a bit bigger, I could then run my Water maker of it instead of running the Gen set. Then you want moor Battery capacity, so is it big enough, never but you will make do with what you can afford and Physically fit on your boat.

The question to ask yourself when fitting out the Electrical system on your vessel, am I going camping for a year or two or am I going to live on board.

Dumping excess Solar capacity into hot water, means hot showers when ever required.

Using a microwave/toaster/electric jug that is powered by solar energy as opposed to using up bottled gas.

Having enough refrigeration/freezer space available to enjoy whatever you want without having to run to land to resupply every five minutes.

I want (no need) my long black from the coffee machine when I wake up.
I enjoy having access to all the computing power and communications I can afford on board.
The first cold beer at the end of a day when the pick is set and the sun is going down.

The number of times in other peoples blogs I have read that they miss there good cup of coffee or ice cream and look forward to it when going ashore, well solar gives you the ability to have your coffee and eat ice cream as well.

There are those that will cross vast oceans on the smell of an oily rag, with only 20lt can of water and eat dry biscuits and salted beef for the duration.
Navigate via a magnet floating on a cork in a bucket of water. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that if that's what you want to do, but it's not the way I want to live.
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Old 04-10-2014, 20:18   #17
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Re: Solar

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulinOz View Post
I believe solar is like good wine or money there is no such thing as to much.
I went with 5 x 327W Sunpower and I would like moor. I also went with a 3kW Inverter and if it was just a bit bigger, I could then run my Water maker of it instead of running the Gen set. Then you want moor Battery capacity, so is it big enough, never but you will make do with what you can afford and Physically fit on your boat.

The question to ask yourself when fitting out the Electrical system on your vessel, am I going camping for a year or two or am I going to live on board.

Dumping excess Solar capacity into hot water, means hot showers when ever required.

Using a microwave/toaster/electric jug that is powered by solar energy as opposed to using up bottled gas.

Having enough refrigeration/freezer space available to enjoy whatever you want without having to run to land to resupply every five minutes.

I want (no need) my long black from the coffee machine when I wake up.
I enjoy having access to all the computing power and communications I can afford on board.
The first cold beer at the end of a day when the pick is set and the sun is going down.

The number of times in other peoples blogs I have read that they miss there good cup of coffee or ice cream and look forward to it when going ashore, well solar gives you the ability to have your coffee and eat ice cream as well.

There are those that will cross vast oceans on the smell of an oily rag, with only 20lt can of water and eat dry biscuits and salted beef for the duration.
Navigate via a magnet floating on a cork in a bucket of water. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that if that's what you want to do, but it's not the way I want to live.
Many thanks PaulinOz. I guess I am very much aligned to your preferred life style.. Im looking at exactly this kind of question. Your 5x327W panels seem to occupy the Bimini in a very efficient way. I assume you have a DC-DC MPPT box on each panel to minimize shading losses?

So Beyond this I guess we would need a form of Arch, located above the davits, to be able to mount even more, Another 5x perhaps, sitting above the dingy.. .... and thus to be able to make fresh, pressed, coffee, icecream and eat it in a air conditioned spot with freshly 'squeezed' water...in silence?

?

I was thinking anyway to add an Arch , from hill to hull. to boost the strength of the davits, so as to support a heavier dingy, and.. with a PV support frame and array on top. And Yes, extra batts and chargers, MPPT boxes and a beefier inverter. ~5Kwatts enough for comfort.. .you opinion? I Imagine there is room enough for Batts; if we switch to LiPO? .. and Yes it will cost... but might be worth it for years of use.. 'silent running' ?

Would you care to offer up an upper number in terms of Watts that you think would be "very comfortable" in a perhaps, overcast, rainy intermittent weather, part of the world? And how important is MPPT on each panel to you?
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Old 25-01-2015, 23:11   #18
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Re: Solar

Lots of good information and feedback on Helia solar systems in this thread. All useful and worthwhile.

Below is our approach.....probably not a solution for all, but accomplishes our goals of minimal impact on the aesthetics and lines of the Helia, adds no further windage, minimal additional weight, no generator and provides all the power we have so far required cruising from La Rochelle, France to Hammamet, Tunisia where we are wintering our Helia "Bisou". Downside is that it is harder to install than something hanging off the bimini, but in my view worth it!

Base System:

Panels: I installed (10) Soliban flexible SP panels equalling 1235 watts total: (4) direct stick 137w, (1) zippered 137w on soft Helm Bimini, (3) direct stick 100w, (2) fabric backed 125w over a moulded gutter forward. Each panel is controller by it's own Genasun GV-10 controller.

As the photos below will show you, the principle idea behind the spread array in contrast to the standard FP array located in one main position (generally aft of the traveller), I elected to strategically spread the array to maximise the opportunity for more of the separated panels to be unshaded at any given point in time, whether at anchor or underway. What I generally found that I usually had at least 5-6 panels in full un-shaded sun at max output. This seemed to work very well.

Controllers: To control the panels, I laid up a fibreglass moulded controller housing at home in Australia scaled to take the 10 Genasun GV-10 smart controllers. Each of the 10 panel circuits is individually fused into a Blue Sea fused terminal block rated for 100 amps. This controller box has a standard plastic hatch over it to protect the wiring and controllers from the elements. This box is mounted underneath the solid Bimini in the cockpit area in a location selected to minimise wire lengths from the panels the control box and to the house batteries.

Monitoring: I also installed a Philippi PSM monitor w/ temperature monitoring along with two shunts (1) SHC 300 amp for the house battery bank of (5) Varta 150ah AGM batteries, and (1) SHL 300amp shunt to monitor the solar panel output. The PSM monitor also monitors the dedicated engine starting battery.

I am happy to say that the system works very well and we are very pleased that we did it.

Now that we have some practical experience using the panels, controllers and monitor, I am pleased to say it works very well and it still working today on one panel only topping up the batteries while in storage in Tunisia.

We do not cruise from marina to marina and therefore are reliant on our solar system to provide our power for extended periods of time at anchor. We found that even when we did go into a marina in Gibraltar, one night in Majorca and then our two weeks in Hammamet before we left the boat, there was no need to connect to shore power. The rest of the summer and fall season in the Med were spent travelling or at anchor. This solar system was generally able to top up our batteries by about 2.00pm and was just idling watching the demand and the tapering charge the remainder of the afternoon, so by nightfall we were generally at 98% - 100% of our battery capacity.

Loads: We have installed on our Helia, (2) refrigerators, (1) freezer, (1) Aquabase 65L water maker and (1) Bosch washing machine and a 2000w Victron inverter charger. These are our largest loads. Plus the usual nav equipment, lights, computers etc that are typically on while at anchor.

What we have found is that when at anchor for more than a week at a time we do not have to run the engines to charge the batteries. We operate the (3) refrigeration units continuously day and night. We typically run a load or two of wash every few days and run the water maker. It is no problem as long as there is some sun. The controllers quickly adjust the output coming from the panels to suit the load and it seems there is sufficient capacity to take a larger load on the battery bank. I never saw any reading lower than 77% on our house battery monitor overnight.

When using a solar system like this it is smart not to be silly with your power use choices. For instance, simple things like making choices about washing clothes or making water.....if the sun is not shining we generally wait a day until it is...simple! We have the capacity to wait and use what is available rather than be forced to generate power that we don't have or want to make.

We find with the refrig units running and either the washing machine on or the water maker or picking up the charge from the last night, typically solar panel output ranges from about 22ah to just under 40ah, that seems to be the normal range against the discharge status of the house batteries after a typical night, and then a typical tapering charge after the bulk charge is finished.

The solar array and controllers do not seem to have a problem with keeping up with whatever loads is applied to the battery bank.....granted we do not run water makers or washing machines overnight, but the 3 refrigeration units never stop.

In summary: For us this system was the best solution given our reluctance to suffer the weight and noise from a generator, desire to not effect the Helia's lines with more structure and to give ourselves as much independence from shore facilities as possible. This was our solution.
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Old 25-01-2015, 23:44   #19
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Re: Solar

PaulinOZ and TPF,

Certainly seems for many 1.2KW is the minimum on 44/45 cats thesedays.

Why not.
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Old 26-01-2015, 10:32   #20
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Re: Solar

Quote:
Originally Posted by TPF View Post
Lots of good information and feedback on Helia solar systems in this thread. All useful and worthwhile.

Below is our approach.....probably not a solution for all, but accomplishes our goals of minimal impact on the aesthetics and lines of the Helia, adds no further windage, minimal additional weight, no generator and provides all the power we have so far required cruising from La Rochelle, France to Hammamet, Tunisia where we are wintering our Helia "Bisou". Downside is that it is harder to install than something hanging off the bimini, but in my view worth it!

Base System:

Panels: I installed (10) Soliban flexible SP panels equalling 1235 watts total: (4) direct stick 137w, (1) zippered 137w on soft Helm Bimini, (3) direct stick 100w, (2) fabric backed 125w over a moulded gutter forward. Each panel is controller by it's own Genasun GV-10 controller.

As the photos below will show you, the principle idea behind the spread array in contrast to the standard FP array located in one main position (generally aft of the traveller), I elected to strategically spread the array to maximise the opportunity for more of the separated panels to be unshaded at any given point in time, whether at anchor or underway. What I generally found that I usually had at least 5-6 panels in full un-shaded sun at max output. This seemed to work very well.

Controllers: To control the panels, I laid up a fibreglass moulded controller housing at home in Australia scaled to take the 10 Genasun GV-10 smart controllers. Each of the 10 panel circuits is individually fused into a Blue Sea fused terminal block rated for 100 amps. This controller box has a standard plastic hatch over it to protect the wiring and controllers from the elements. This box is mounted underneath the solid Bimini in the cockpit area in a location selected to minimise wire lengths from the panels the control box and to the house batteries.

Monitoring: I also installed a Philippi PSM monitor w/ temperature monitoring along with two shunts (1) SHC 300 amp for the house battery bank of (5) Varta 150ah AGM batteries, and (1) SHL 300amp shunt to monitor the solar panel output. The PSM monitor also monitors the dedicated engine starting battery.

I am happy to say that the system works very well and we are very pleased that we did it.

Now that we have some practical experience using the panels, controllers and monitor, I am pleased to say it works very well and it still working today on one panel only topping up the batteries while in storage in Tunisia.

We do not cruise from marina to marina and therefore are reliant on our solar system to provide our power for extended periods of time at anchor. We found that even when we did go into a marina in Gibraltar, one night in Majorca and then our two weeks in Hammamet before we left the boat, there was no need to connect to shore power. The rest of the summer and fall season in the Med were spent travelling or at anchor. This solar system was generally able to top up our batteries by about 2.00pm and was just idling watching the demand and the tapering charge the remainder of the afternoon, so by nightfall we were generally at 98% - 100% of our battery capacity.

Loads: We have installed on our Helia, (2) refrigerators, (1) freezer, (1) Aquabase 65L water maker and (1) Bosch washing machine and a 2000w Victron inverter charger. These are our largest loads. Plus the usual nav equipment, lights, computers etc that are typically on while at anchor.

What we have found is that when at anchor for more than a week at a time we do not have to run the engines to charge the batteries. We operate the (3) refrigeration units continuously day and night. We typically run a load or two of wash every few days and run the water maker. It is no problem as long as there is some sun. The controllers quickly adjust the output coming from the panels to suit the load and it seems there is sufficient capacity to take a larger load on the battery bank. I never saw any reading lower than 77% on our house battery monitor overnight.

When using a solar system like this it is smart not to be silly with your power use choices. For instance, simple things like making choices about washing clothes or making water.....if the sun is not shining we generally wait a day until it is...simple! We have the capacity to wait and use what is available rather than be forced to generate power that we don't have or want to make.

We find with the refrig units running and either the washing machine on or the water maker or picking up the charge from the last night, typically solar panel output ranges from about 22ah to just under 40ah, that seems to be the normal range against the discharge status of the house batteries after a typical night, and then a typical tapering charge after the bulk charge is finished.

The solar array and controllers do not seem to have a problem with keeping up with whatever loads is applied to the battery bank.....granted we do not run water makers or washing machines overnight, but the 3 refrigeration units never stop.

In summary: For us this system was the best solution given our reluctance to suffer the weight and noise from a generator, desire to not effect the Helia's lines with more structure and to give ourselves as much independence from shore facilities as possible. This was our solution.
TPF, very impressive Solbian/Genasun/Philippi installation!
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Old 20-02-2015, 16:21   #21
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Re: Solar

Uchimata made a very nice installation of 2x130W + 2x100W aft of the main traveller (with almost no overhang) plus 2x130W at the port side, with a total of 720W, and it costed the same as the 400W of the factory! Very clean and well done!
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Old 20-02-2015, 18:44   #22
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Re: Solar

We liveaboard our FP Mahe 36 and are also contemplating the jump to solar. Not quite sure about placement other than one on the davits and two atop the bimini although I'd have to watch my step when stowing the main. The cabintop isn't out of the question but again must watch my step. Like (I presume) most, we're looking for the highest output panels available so as to keep the number required down. Cotemar, where did you get your Sunpower 345 watt panels from and is there a 'standard' panel size across manufacturers?
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Old 20-02-2015, 20:38   #23
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Re: Solar

The Standard in Solar panel sizes is there is NO standard but there probably should be.
When sizing and selecting Panels don't only think about the Maximum output of the panels but what are they going to do on an overcast day. My 5 x 328 watt Sunpower's are currently putting out between 480 and 900 watts IE: 36 and 68 amps and the sky is completely overcast, not enough sunshine to cast a shadow on the deck but still putting out respectable power. This has been the biggest surprise to me the output on overcast days. I have the capacity left in one of the MPPT controllers to add one more panel and will do this because I have decided there is no such thing as to much power.
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Old 21-02-2015, 06:59   #24
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Re: Solar

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatBrazil View Post
Uchimata made a very nice installation of 2x130W + 2x100W aft of the main traveller (with almost no overhang) plus 2x130W at the port side, with a total of 720W, and it costed the same as the 400W of the factory! Very clean and well done!
See the pictures at: http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...p?albumid=4027
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Old 25-02-2015, 01:39   #25
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Re: Solar

I'm looking at putting a larger solar array on the Helia where FP puts the factory option. I would like to use SunPower X21-345 watt panels which are 41" wide. Ideally it would be nice to fit 5 of them lengthwise hanging off the back of the cockpit roof just aft of the traveler. That would be just over 205" (over 17') so I might only be able to fit 4. Can anyone tell me the length of that roof?
Also any recommendations on high quality solar installers in Europe, preferably near La Rochelle.
Lastly how can I get the SunPower panels I'm looking for in Europe.
Thanks!
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Old 14-03-2015, 03:53   #26
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Re: Solar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
Here are a few pictures of Gordon’s Solar panel upgrade from the factory 400 watts to 800 watt.

Great job Gordon.
This installation was done by our team before Gordon departs for the Atlantic trip. This year we did it for a Salina owned by a Kiwi. These are 6x150 W and the owner says that he has seen 50+ Ah.

Cheers

Yeloya
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Old 14-03-2015, 06:02   #27
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Re: Solar

50+ Ah out of 900 watts of solar? Per day? That's very poor.

Or do you mean 50+ Amps output?
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Old 14-03-2015, 07:24   #28
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Re: Solar

50 Ah means 50 Amps per hour output. Sorry, I tought that was only thing that "Ah" could mean..

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Old 08-06-2017, 09:53   #29
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Solar by Pochon in France

Helia 44 Owners,

Pochon in France does a lot of electronic installs on the FP cats, but they also do some great Solar system installs.

Here’s some pictures of our friends Helia 44 Evo 800 watt Pochon Solar install.

Pochon & Uchimata Sailing Service, both do Solar system installs on FP boats right in La Rochelle France.
.
.
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Old 30-06-2017, 10:21   #30
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Re: Solar

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Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
The FP factory install of 400 watts is not enough and you will still have to run the generator to top off the batteries everyday.

I would not order the factory system and just add 2 or 3 SunPower 345 watt panels.
SunPower panels are the lightest, smallest and most powerful panels made.
They are 61 x 41 inches at 41 lbs (1559 x 1046 mm at 18.6 kg).

I have been using SunPower panels for the last five years and you forget what is powering your boat. These panels even pump out power in foggy or over cast days.
I looked at the X21 345W panels online, but can't seem to find a vendor who will sell individual panels. Everyone wants to come bolt a bunch of them to your roof. We have a local dealer for SunPower, they told me no.

Do you have a dealer I can talk to?
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