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Old 13-01-2012, 14:15   #46
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

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Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
Almost none of the solar panel makers warranty them in the marine environment.
They are built for storms and hail on a roof, but they do not test them on boats
Kyocera warranty works on boats as far as I have read.
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Old 13-01-2012, 14:40   #47
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

In December of 2009, I bought 2 Sun 205 wall solar panels and an Outback 60 MPPT charge controller from Sun Electrics in Miami. In the generous spirit of, "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything nat all", I will not gush about the service or performance of Sun Electrics. I will, however, state flatly the equipment has worked well and I have no complaints whatever concerning the quality of the comp[onents. I have a Log Website - -www.blueschoonerworld.com - - where the complete building and use of my boat is documented. Starting in December of 2009, anyone can see how I bought and installed the panels, as well as my (almost daily) yield during the first six months or so. While in Marathon for 6 months, I recorded as much as 170 AH per day and, were it not for my dying gel cells (7 years old) would never have had a shortage of power.

Having said that - I paid $306 each for the two panels and $300 for the Outback MX60 - all solar panels and batteries slowly lose their crisp performance over time. If you want 120 AH per day, build for 150 and you'll still have 120 ten years down the road. I am now preparing to run 12 size 31 AGM 2 volt batteries (two sets of six make2 batteries, 12 volt, 630 AH) and I'm expecting at least 10 years out of the batteries.
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Old 13-01-2012, 15:11   #48
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Do the two controllers have comparable input voltage ranges? Many of the bigger panels (200W plus) have voltages well over 12V (nominal). A wider input voltage range will give you more latitude in panel selection and parallel vs serial wiring of the panels. If you end up constrained by BOTH physical dimensions AND panel voltage, you may end up with a very short list of workable panels.
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Old 13-01-2012, 15:41   #49
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

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In December of 2009, I bought 2 Sun 205 wall solar panels and an Outback 60 MPPT charge controller from Sun Electrics in Miami.
~ - I paid $306 each for the two panels and $300 for the Outback MX60 - all solar panels and batteries slowly lose their crisp performance over time. If you want 120 AH per day, build for 150 and you'll still have 120 ten years down the road. I am now preparing to run 12 size 31 AGM 2 volt batteries (two sets of six make2 batteries, 12 volt, 630 AH).

Perfect setup. I would have picked the Sanyos for the goal.
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Old 13-01-2012, 17:53   #50
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Higher voltage PV panels will start charging your banks sooner in the day than a nominal, but you need the expensive mppt controller.
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Old 13-01-2012, 18:21   #51
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

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Higher voltage PV panels will start charging your banks sooner in the day than a nominal, but you need the expensive mppt controller.
+1 t'is the truth. The reason MPPT controllers make the difference.
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Old 13-01-2012, 20:08   #52
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Sort of a no brainer to buy a good controller and the residential pv market is getting saturated. Especially if you can compromise with "yesterdays" panels.
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Old 14-01-2012, 05:41   #53
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Wink re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Having bought my panels and controller, I'm now turning my attention to the design of a mount to be placed on top of my existing dinghy davits. My thoughts so far are:
- construct an aluminum frame from 1-1/2 X 2 inch angle such that two panels drop into it oriented end-to-end and placed athwartship on top of dinghy davits. Overall size will be 116" X 39"
- build a support structure from 1" OD stainless tubing that creates a horizontal tube 67" long in the athwart ship direction and approximately 20" above the dinghy davits. The shape will be that of an inverted 'U' with right angle corners to maximize width. This height will minimize shading from bimini and provide clearance to raise and lower outboard from its mount.
- attach the frame to the tube using 2 or 3 of those plastic rail clamps available from West Marine (can't find them anywhere else). This allows panels to be tilted in the fore and aft direction and isolates aluminum frame from stainless tube.
- weld a perforated aluminum semi-circle to underside of frame just outside the 1" stainless support structure. A tab on stainless tube will allow the panel to be locked at the desired angle. Use a stainless aircraft pin to lock.

My concerns at this point is:
1. the amount of overhand of the panels which amounts to 24-1/2 inches on either end. The frame will have to be stiff enough to support this. If the boat is pitching in heavy seas this could cause considerable flexing.
2. I'm hoping that the simple tilt lock mechanism will be stiff enough.

I've attached a crude hand-drawn sketch which hopefully will be worth a 1000 words! Comments and suggestions appreciated.
Pete
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Old 14-01-2012, 06:32   #54
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

prroots,

With that much solar panels, your asking a lot from that tilt mechanism. These may give you some other ideas.

Titling mount
Solar Panels and Associated Systems

Static mount
Solar Panels and Associated Systems
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Old 14-01-2012, 06:42   #55
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

The Outback MX60 Controller can accept up to 150 volts in and will provide up to 60 amps out. Output voltages can be set at 12, 24, 36, or 48. It is fairly obvious that using high voltage panels (mine are 28 max volts) in series means better transmission with smaller conducters. I still use #6 wire as going too small still means higher loss. My input voltage gets up to 55 volts. I might add 2 more panels later on. They will be identical in size and mounted on 500 pound capacity drawer slides, right over the top of my existing panels, allowing me to roll them out while at anchor. I would still maintain the series connection and the controller and feed cables are plenty big enough to handle the load. Of course, the pricey controller allows very precise output voltage control so you don't overcook Gel cells. The manufacturer tells me my version of the MX60 is now rated at 72 output amps. I will only add the other two panels if I insist on being such a power hog at anchor that the new batteries wont make it through the night. without more daytime charging. I write and use a power hungry dual monitor desktop - and have a habit of working all through the quiet, peaceful tropic nights, taking short breaks to go outside and stargaze.
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Old 14-01-2012, 06:47   #56
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

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Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
prroots,

With that much solar panels, your asking a lot from that tilt mechanism. These may give you some other ideas.

Titling mount
Solar Panels and Associated Systems

Static mount
Solar Panels and Associated Systems
Thanks for those links. With respect to the tilt mechanism the larger the radius of the semi-circle the stiffer and stronger it will become. I'd like to keep it as small as possible just from an aesthetic standpoint. I've also started to worry a bit about the strength of the 1" stainless tubing. That can be stiffened up as needed by providing addition vertical piece(s) within the 67" span. Overall, I think it can be fine tuned as needed. One nice aspect is that the 1" stainless support is welded to a part of the dinghy davit that is removable. This will make removable rather easy if or when required.
Pete
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Old 15-01-2012, 08:29   #57
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

The mount will include an aluminum frame made from angle. Can anyone recommend the type of aluminum for best strength and corrosion resistance? I'm wondering if it should be anodized. I want to be sure to include the type in the spec for the fabricator.
Pete
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Old 15-01-2012, 09:53   #58
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Personally, I'd go with a fixed mount, and have a hard look at improving my fridge.

You would hate to watch your panels go overboard during a blow with nothing much you could do about it.
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Old 15-01-2012, 10:04   #59
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

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Personally, I'd go with a fixed mount, and have a hard look at improving my fridge.

You would hate to watch your panels go overboard during a blow with nothing much you could do about it.
Thanks. We will have the option of going for fixed or tilt versions ie, the tilt lock would be the last step. At this point I'm mostly concerned about the stress applied to the vertical 1" OD stainless tube at the point where it is welded to top of dinghy davits. We plan to brace it in fore and aft direction, but haven't decided if we need to brace it in athwartship direction. Fortunately, the fabricator is taking a very flexible approach and will most likely work with us to strengthen as required.

We will probably be renewing the gaskets on our refrig and freezer; they are looking a little tired. We're also looking for LED bulb replacements. We've recently bought 3 really nice (and inexpensive) LED reading lights which will be a big help.
Pete
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Old 15-01-2012, 16:56   #60
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Not to hijack the thread, but my Aerogel insulation on the "from scratch refrigerator build is done. It's ready to install.
All new including door gasket, liner built from 1/8" FRP, LED lighting with door switch, evaporator and compressor with keel cooler.

It has almost twice the interior room as the original and better R value as well, even though very little extra space for insulation (thus the Aerogel).
I installed between 2 and 5 layers of Cryogel insulation spray glued together and all taped up with aluminum foil tape.

We're expecting to save around 20 amp/hrs a day, while INcreasing the box interior size.

Saving electricity isn't always easy. This has taken almost a month of on and off work.
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