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Old 24-08-2015, 15:31   #1
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Finally mounted my solar panel!

It was hard too, I could not find the right piece of hardware to mount it.

I started out with a 130 watt, very nice Sharp electronics panel. I got two bbq mounts at my friends advice and drilled them into one side of the panel. The expensive magma grill mounts that grip the stern rail.

But I was not thinking and these aren't strong enough to hold a 34 pound panel up horizontal when they are only attached to one side. So I tried to think of a telescoping pole idea to attach to the other, non mounted side of the panel to push it in and out. I couldn't find anything.

LUCKILY AT HOME DEPOT I FOUND TWO STURDY L BRACKETS TO MOUNT ON THE DECK oops, where did caps come from, oh well. And aluminum l shaped poles with holes drilled along them and I drilled holes in the other side of the panel and mounted one side of the aluminum pole to the deck and the other to the solar panel. One on each side. It would be a little work, but I could change where it is bolted to the poles to swing it up and down.

The question in all of this is isn't a wave going to come and knock my panel off or crack it in half or something? I see so many bolted to the stern rail somehow, but I don't know how they survive the sea?

I'm also going to go attach the wires now. I have a genusun controller, so I can wire the solar to the genusun, and then the genusun to the batteries, right?

Direct to batteries? My batteries are connected together with a black thick wire, can I just hook one battery to the solar panel and it will charge them both?

Does anyone have any links to making my first energy budget? I have also a Diesel engine with a 40 amp alternator, so how can I figure out how much power I use vs. how much I produce? I've been told before but it is hard to remember. Thanks so much.
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Old 24-08-2015, 16:15   #2
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Re: Finally mounted my solar panel!

Quote:
Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
It was hard too, I could not find the right piece of hardware to mount it.

I started out with a 130 watt, very nice Sharp electronics panel. I got two bbq mounts at my friends advice and drilled them into one side of the panel. The expensive magma grill mounts that grip the stern rail.

But I was not thinking and these aren't strong enough to hold a 34 pound panel up horizontal when they are only attached to one side. So I tried to think of a telescoping pole idea to attach to the other, non mounted side of the panel to push it in and out. I couldn't find anything.

LUCKILY AT HOME DEPOT I FOUND TWO STURDY L BRACKETS TO MOUNT ON THE DECK oops, where did caps come from, oh well. And aluminum l shaped poles with holes drilled along them and I drilled holes in the other side of the panel and mounted one side of the aluminum pole to the deck and the other to the solar panel. One on each side. It would be a little work, but I could change where it is bolted to the poles to swing it up and down.

The question in all of this is isn't a wave going to come and knock my panel off or crack it in half or something? I see so many bolted to the stern rail somehow, but I don't know how they survive the sea?

I'm also going to go attach the wires now. I have a genusun controller, so I can wire the solar to the genusun, and then the genusun to the batteries, right?

Direct to batteries? My batteries are connected together with a black thick wire, can I just hook one battery to the solar panel and it will charge them both?

Does anyone have any links to making my first energy budget? I have also a Diesel engine with a 40 amp alternator, so how can I figure out how much power I use vs. how much I produce? I've been told before but it is hard to remember. Thanks so much.
What gauge wire are you using in the run from the panel to the controller? Is it marine grade wire? You will want a breaker between the panel and the controller. Are you putting in a fuse or fuses between the controller and battery connection? For our panels I purchased the seastow rail clips, but our panels only weigh four pounds apiece.

https://www.emarineinc.com/75-inch-1...il-Clamps-Pair
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Old 24-08-2015, 17:17   #3
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Re: Finally mounted my solar panel!

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Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
Does anyone have any links to making my first energy budget? I have also a Diesel engine with a 40 amp alternator, so how can I figure out how much power I use vs. how much I produce? I've been told before but it is hard to remember. Thanks so much.
The All-Important Energy Budget:
Energy Budget


Battery monitors are used to determine use.

How to Wire a Battery Monitor by Maine Sail: Wiring & Installing A Battery Monitor - SailboatOwners.com
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Old 24-08-2015, 22:19   #4
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Re: Finally mounted my solar panel!

Wow, how did you know I had a blue sea systems battery monitor I wanted to install?m Awesome! Now I can, I shelved it because I have been doing a lot and didn't understand it. But it really helps, I used to have a boat with one.

Say, since it is a pressing questions. I went for my first sail with my new autopilot today and it worked well. The conditions were nice so I didn't push it too hard, but every time I turned it from standby to auto, or at least many of the times, it flashed an alarm on the screen, LOw BATTERY.

I don't think I have low batteries. I just unplugged from shore power so they should have been charged, but more importantly, I have a really cheap voltmeter that came with my solar panel that you can touch to the battery and it has about six colored lights such as 13.2 full, 12.6 good etc. . . . So I touched it to my batteries and they read 12.6 or above, I have a better one on board my friend left but don't know how to work it, it always says OL when I touch it to a battery. I am learning about electronics. Just a month ago I couldn't hook up a chartplotter to my switch PC, but now I can install almost an entire system by myself!

But since I don't know the state of the batteries, they should be good but who knows. Their history in brief, they are 100 ah gels, I bought them new two years ago for a previous boat. I probably used them and that boat fifty times, not drained down, just used at all. Then I pulled them from that boat and they sat around for nine months and I hooked a 15 watt solar panel to them each for a week at a time once every couple of months. But when I got back to my boat this last time I touched that cheesy voltmeter to them and they read over 12.6. Now they are installed in my new boatand short power daily. I tried to copy the exact way the previous owner had the lead acids installed.

So wow, I didn't mean to type so much, but why is my new autopilot reading low battery? It's weird but now that I think about it, my vhf was doing that too. Even plugged into shore power, when I hit the transmit button at 25w it sometimes flashed low battery, so I have got something going on and I need help figuring it out. Thanks.
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Old 24-08-2015, 22:58   #5
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Re: Finally mounted my solar panel!

Is your autopilot a Raymarine ST4000?


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Old 25-08-2015, 00:38   #6
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Re: Finally mounted my solar panel!

Yes it is, why?
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Old 25-08-2015, 07:13   #7
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Re: Finally mounted my solar panel!

They have been known to be moisture prone and can give false errors if damaged. Do a search on it and you will find a lot of info.


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Old 25-08-2015, 08:09   #8
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Re: Finally mounted my solar panel!

The wire size for the autopilot could also be too small causing the voltage drop, or since your radio is also doing the same thing, loose or corroded connections
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Old 25-08-2015, 16:54   #9
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Re: Finally mounted my solar panel!

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They have been known to be moisture prone and can give false errors if damaged. Do a search on it and you will find a lot of info.


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Thanks. No corroded wires, I installed new ones myself. The wire size should also be good, I went by their recommendation for size based on the distance they are running.

I'll install the battery monitor and see what it says. The autopilot runs well after I get it going. It just says the erro message and I hit ok and then it works. I don't know..

I know moisture never got in there or it didn't get damaged because I bought it new.m we'll see, I. Going sailong ow, I'll see what it says or does.
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Old 27-08-2015, 10:30   #10
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Re: Finally mounted my solar panel!

Low Voltage Alarm -


Most common issues:


1. Too light wire gauge. Should be sized for length of return run, and 3% voltage drop, typically 10 AWG duplex.


2. Poor (high Z) wiring connections creating excess voltage drop.


3. Loose battery connections (creating excess voltage drop).


4. Poor battery maintenance (low water, or tap water, fill with distilled water only).


5. Discharged batteries (not charging properly).


6. Dead batteries (won't hold a proper charge and deliver rated current).


7. Excess load (other loads diminishing current available to autohelm circuit.)
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Old 27-08-2015, 10:53   #11
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Re: Finally mounted my solar panel!

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Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
The question in all of this is isn't a wave going to come and knock my panel off or crack it in half or something? I see so many bolted to the stern rail somehow, but I don't know how they survive the sea?.
If a wave takes this panel off the stern rail, that that will be the least of my worries. So far it has survived a couple of British winter storms okay.

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Old 27-08-2015, 20:41   #12
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Re: Finally mounted my solar panel!

I would recommend that you not wire your autopilot or your radio through your main breaker panel. Wire them from a bus bar that is close to your batteries through properly rated fuses or breakers. Increase the size of the wires by at least one size greater than the recommended size.
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