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Old 09-06-2016, 09:11   #1
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Are you happy with your solar setup?

I am about to add solar panels to my boat. I have been speaking to many boats in the various anchorages I am visiting in Mallorca. I am surprised at how many people are not very happy with the performance of their solar systems.

Are you happy with yours, if so what setup do you have?

I am thinking of adding two 100 what panels. I will have to attach them to my gaurd wires next to the cockpit for the time being as I do not have an arch.
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Old 09-06-2016, 09:26   #2
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Re: Are you happy with your solar setup?

The secret to getting the most out of your solar system is to mount the panels where they will not get any shade. Even a little bit of shade will drastically reduce your solar harvest. Also, spend a few $ more and get an MPPT controller, it will harvest a little more than a PWM controller.

If possible, mount the panels on a tilting frame to face the sun directly, if you don't mind shifting the panels every hour or two. It's all of the little percentages that add up to more power in the end.
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Old 09-06-2016, 09:51   #3
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Re: Are you happy with your solar setup?

I'm happy with my solar. I have a single 290W panel with a MPPT controller. My boat sits out on a mooring alone all week with the refrigeration on and the batteries stay mostly fully charged. Most days I get 60AH because that is the daily refrigerator load and rest just maintains them.
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Old 11-06-2016, 09:01   #4
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Re: Are you happy with your solar setup?

Happy here. 80W panel to run VHF, Lowrance GPS, TP-32 AP, amchor and navigate lights, interior lights, and device charging. Depending on how I massage the assumptions, I should be able to sail 6 to 12 hours/day in perpetuity. Some of the trailer sailors made fun of me on the north channel cruise for having such a large panel on a 19 foot boat, but I sail the entire season with nary a though about electricity.

It really is the same problem as described by Dickens: income 20p, expenses 19.5 happiness, expenses 20.5 misery. Do an honest energy budget, mount the panels in the clear, and you are golden.

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Old 13-06-2016, 02:18   #5
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Re: Are you happy with your solar setup?

We have been in the Med for 4 years now and very happy with ours. Our panels are on top of our bimini -- we have 500watts with a blue sky 3024i controller - very happy with it -
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Old 13-06-2016, 02:46   #6
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Re: Are you happy with your solar setup?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AFKASAP View Post
I am about to add solar panels to my boat. I have been speaking to many boats in the various anchorages I am visiting in Mallorca. I am surprised at how many people are not very happy with the performance of their solar systems.

Are you happy with yours, if so what setup do you have?

I am thinking of adding two 100 what panels. I will have to attach them to my gaurd wires next to the cockpit for the time being as I do not have an arch.
As others have said, watch out for shading, it is the biggest problem for solar. I've watched our two 140 watt panels putting out 200 watts one moment, then drop like a rock to 90 watts a minute later as the shadow of the windgen falls across them. Ours are up high at the stern, well clear of the mast but bifurcated by the aft stay. Then they are also under threat from the wind generator, and at low sun angles, the radar.

Other than that, the actual size you choose depends on your energy needs. Do an energy budget first, it may radically change your shopping list. Sure, I am happy with 2 x 140 watt panels, but our energy needs are pretty trivial and we have a big windgen as part of the equation. Our energy needs may look nothing like the next boat.

MPPT controllers are nice for the extra power they can extract from larger panels, but they may be a pointless expense if your energy budget does not need them. Whatever controller you buy, try to find one that gives you flexibility with your battery chemistry choices. That's one area I think is changing pretty fast at the moment. I chose a German design controller that had a whole stack of pre-programmed battery chemistry settings, but, most important, had one programmable setting for an extra battery chemistry. Currently using the presets for AGMs, but that is likely to change at some stage.

Matt
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