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Old 12-06-2015, 23:27   #16
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Re: Help build my solar setup

Personally, I think the arches look like ugly add ons. Why not install flexible panels onto a Bimini or spray hood?
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Old 14-06-2015, 10:08   #17
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Re: Help build my solar setup

Bamboosailor, how can you get 500W out of 2 x 230W panels? Max should be 460 if my math is correct. And then I do not factor in the % loss for the less then perfect sun orientation of most of boat installed panels.
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Old 14-06-2015, 18:17   #18
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Re: Help build my solar setup

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Originally Posted by sailormed View Post
Bamboosailor, how can you get 500W out of 2 x 230W panels? Max should be 460 if my math is correct. And then I do not factor in the % loss for the less then perfect sun orientation of most of boat installed panels.

the OP stated the panels where 260 watt kyocera panels. that adds up to 520

and while yes sometimes the losses from wiring, shading, sun angle, clouds and such will limit the output and may not trip the unit. on those clear sumer days it most certainly will trip the unit and will be a royal pain to have to disconnect everything, wait and hope it resets and then reconnect everything. if it happens while you are away from it for a while you will not begetting any charge till you reset it. perhaps this could cause your batteries to rundown to the point they are damaged and lose capacity. or they rundown and your bilge pump fails to keep your boat afloat? i am speaking on personal experience with this charge controller. 405 watts of nominal 12v panel going to a nominal 12v bank was too much and would often trip the system. it became too much of a pain and i now run signifigantly less that 400 watts so i have a reliable system.
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Old 16-06-2015, 10:29   #19
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Re: Help build my solar setup

We have moderate power needs, about 80 to 125 Ahr per day. We have all LED lighting, fridge and separate freezer.

Our boat had an arch so it was easy to add solar. Beefed up the bimini frame a bit and added two aft supports off the pushpit. I went with one large panel (Kyocera 325W) to max the voltage, so then only needed 10 ga wires to connect it up. The controller is a Rogue MPPT, very impressed with the quality. Informative display, easy to scroll back over the past weeks to see each day's performance. We move the boom off to the side when anchored or in a slip and seldom have a shadow from the mast, and nothing else to shadow the panel.

The cost was minimal. The panel frame was scratched in shipping to the distributor so I got it for $376, the controller was $400, hardware about another $200, and about $40 for wire.

Using the boat this past winter in Florida and Bahamas we found if we had 3 out of 4 days sunny our bank was at 100%. We have 400 Ahr AGM house bank. Usually we would hit 100% by noon hour and then use the extra to charge laptops, iPads etc. The controller often shows 300 watts coming out of the panel at midday.

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Old 16-06-2015, 11:16   #20
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Re: Help build my solar setup

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Originally Posted by Clipper4730 View Post
Hey all, so we are about to get started with our DIY solar install on our new to us boat. Been looking at all the other threads and such as we'll as looking at other sites and this is what we have so far on the list.

1. Tower in a box arch/davit system (on the way)

2.BlueSky SB3024DiL 12v/24v charge controller

3.BlueSky IPNREM Remote display

4. Two Kyocera 260 watt solar panels

So any thoughts on anything else we might need to do or think about. We think it should be plenty of power but we really don't know how much power we actually use on a daily basis.

Thanks in advance

Will
Will, have you bought any of this stuff yet?

The reason I ask is because in another thread, someone was having a great deal of RF noise from their Blue Sky solar controller, and I haven't heard of others complaining of RF interference with other brands of controllers. I have a Blue Sky in an RV and while it does work, the adjustments are all on the back of the unit, other brands are much easier to adjust. It works OK, but I wouldn't buy another one.

As opposed to most people here, I prefer higher output panels because contrary to what most people think, they are actually more efficient panels, meaning they provide more power in the same amount of space, or less. So they're actually easier to position in a shade free area.

Take Sunpower 327 watt panels for instance. You'd have to buy 6 x 100 watt panels to make 600 watts, and only 2 of the 327s to make 654 watts, almost 10% more power. They would take up less space, allowing you to position them farther away from shade, for example each mounted on the far end of the tower, away from the potential shade of the mast right in the middle. With 6 panels, at least 2 of them are going to be right in the middle, producing nothing when the mast shades them.

Aside from that, the Sunpower panels are proven to be far less affected by shading, since only the shaded cells are affected instead of the balance of the string, as in all other brands of solar panels.



Since space is at a premium on a boat, it makes sense ot me ot use the most efficient and least shade affected panels, even if they cost a little more.

Since the shading problem is handled at the panel, you don't necessarily need a dedicated MPPT controller per panel, although the redundancy is a nice feature, if one fails.

The ability to mount the panels in the least amount of shade is almost more important than the brand or rated output of the panels. I also agree that panels should be wired in parallel, and use the thickest gauge possible - if 8 AWG is recommended, I'd use 6 AWG just for good measure.

I'd also recommend using the MC4 connectors that come on most panels. You can buy the connectors cheap on Ebay (about $1 per pair) and you can easily shorten and put new connectors on the cables that are on the panels, if you like. They're weather proof and reusable, I like them.

As for good controllers, check out Morningstar, Rogue, Midnite Solar, Apollo, Outback, etc.

Post up if you have any more questions!
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Old 16-06-2015, 11:34   #21
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Re: Help build my solar setup

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
2 MPPT controllers is a good idea. It provides redundancy and completely eliminates the shading issue.

I bought 3 of these controllers and have been using them on my boat. So far I have been pretty happy. There are some software issues as detailed on Youtube, but they don't seem to be an issue on a boat. I did a post with a teardown and was very impressed with the quality and components (not all chinese stuff). For $30, you can add the remote screen.
Wholesale Product Snapshot Product name is Tracer2215BN MPPT 20A 150V professional grade die-cast aluminum design for home system, outdoor lighting, signals, RVs and boats

You may need to go up to a 30A controller for 260W panels.

While I strongly advocate MPPT controllers, even for low power systems, I don't see how multiple MPPT controllers can completely eliminate shading. Shading can only be cured by removing the shade, MPPT controllers can harvest the max. possible out of a shaded panel, but if it's only putting out 25% or 50% due to shade, the MPPT controller can't fix that.


As for your controller, it's made in China, so very likely all of the parts are sourced locally. For $99, they're not going to get MILSPEC parts from US sources.

THere's nothing wrong with being made in China, millions of items we use every day are made there, including most cell phones. That's a stigma that just doesn't hold much water any more. There's also another 20 A controller for $102 delivered with excellent build quality and the display is built in, it has a very comprehensive menu and wide adjustability. It just depends on if one prefers a remote install with display for $130 plus shipping, or mounting the entire controller somewhere where you can see it.

Lately I'm in favor of mounting the controller in the optimal location based on solar panels vs power bus location and using a precision voltmeter/ammeter display with shunt in the power panel to show me exactly how much power is going in or out. I found one with 2 digit voltage precision and 3 digit current precision, (1/100V, 1/1000A) with shunt, for only $12 on Ebay.

0 100V 200A DC Digital LED Voltmeter Ammeter Amp Volt Meter 200A Shunt 12V 24V | eBay
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Old 16-06-2015, 11:43   #22
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Re: Help build my solar setup

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
While I strongly advocate MPPT controllers, even for low power systems, I don't see how multiple MPPT controllers can completely eliminate shading. Shading can only be cured by removing the shade, MPPT controllers can harvest the max. possible out of a shaded panel, but if it's only putting out 25% or 50% due to shade, the MPPT controller can't fix that.


As for your controller, it's made in China, so very likely all of the parts are sourced locally. For $99, they're not going to get MILSPEC parts from US sources.

THere's nothing wrong with being made in China, millions of items we use every day are made there, including most cell phones. That's a stigma that just doesn't hold much water any more. There's also another 20 A controller for $102 delivered with excellent build quality and the display is built in, it has a very comprehensive menu and wide adjustability. It just depends on if one prefers a remote install with display for $130 plus shipping, or mounting the entire controller somewhere where you can see it.

Lately I'm in favor of mounting the controller in the optimal location based on solar panels vs power bus location and using a precision voltmeter/ammeter display with shunt in the power panel to show me exactly how much power is going in or out. I found one with 2 digit voltage precision and 3 digit current precision, (1/100V, 1/1000A) with shunt, for only $12 on Ebay.

0 100V 200A DC Digital LED Voltmeter Ammeter Amp Volt Meter 200A Shunt 12V 24V | eBay
Multiple MPPT controllers completly eliminate the issue of a single panel in a network being shaded and causing overall reduced output. It eliminates the Series vs Parallel argument!

I suggest you look for my teardown post of that controller where I clearly take pictures of the parts. You will be surprised that they did indeed use USA/Japan sourced parts (have no idea if they are MILSPEC, and don't care). You will also be surprised by the well thought out and designed heat dissipation.

As to the $102 controller you suggested. There is nothing wrong with it (its quality is not quite on par with the EpSolar one), but for moral reasons I cannot recommend it. The Chinese company that makes it, broke a deal with the company they were manufacturing it for and began shipping it on thier own. With cheaper components than the original spec.
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Old 16-06-2015, 11:58   #23
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Re: Help build my solar setup

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Originally Posted by kudukuguam View Post
I have a question. There are three reasons to use a controller that I know off: 1)impedance matching (maximum power transfer), 2) reverse current elimination, and 3) turn off solar upon completion of charging. These are all very important. On my boat (12 volt system), I used multiple 50 watt panels so that maximum voltage would be under 17 vdc. This means that if the controller goes bad, I can bypass it for short term directly into the battery bank without worrying about "cooking" the batteries or my equipment. Kind of a hassle installing all the panels for a 600 watt system but not so bad. 36' Morgan, btw

You are correct about the 3 reasons for an MPPT controller.


However...

After installing 13 solar systems now, I have only seen 2 controller failures, both of them were Go Power! PWM controllers. Junk, compared to quality controllers. I've never seen any other brand fail. However, a lightning strike sure would do it, but who knows if the solar panels, batteries, or anything on the 12v power bus survived ,either.

if your Vmp is actually 17.0V, there is a chance that on very sunny days, your solar panel voltage will drop down into the 14 or 15v range due to heat, plus voltage drop due to cabling, making it difficult for your controller to provide (let's say) 14.8v if only 14.7V is coming in, due to internal voltage losses. I'm not saying you are suffering from that, but your voltages are marginal. Personally I would have wired them in 3 strings of 2 ea with an input voltage of 34V, just to be on the safe side.

It all depends on what your Power Temp. Coefficient is.



I'm in favor of higher voltage panels, like 40+ volts. I installed 2 systems with 3 x 230watt panels, 42 v ea, in series, feeding 60 amp Morningstar MPPT controllers. The incoming voltage was around 120v, so minimal cable losses (especially with huge cable) and very high input right from dawn. They both had 660AH battery banks and after heavy overnight usage, both of them were fully charged by 10 am, while running loads off of the inverter.

I was willing to run them in series because there was no chance of shading at all, otherwise I'd have wired them in parallel.
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Old 16-06-2015, 12:10   #24
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Re: Help build my solar setup

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
Multiple MPPT controllers completly eliminate the issue of a single panel in a network being shaded and causing overall reduced output. It eliminates the Series vs Parallel argument!

I suggest you look for my teardown post of that controller where I clearly take pictures of the parts. You will be surprised that they did indeed use USA/Japan sourced parts (have no idea if they are MILSPEC, and don't care). You will also be surprised by the well thought out and designed heat dissipation.

As to the $102 controller you suggested. There is nothing wrong with it (its quality is not quite on par with the EpSolar one), but for moral reasons I cannot recommend it. The Chinese company that makes it, broke a deal with the company they were manufacturing it for and began shipping it on thier own. With cheaper components than the original spec.

I'm not arguing about serial vs parallel. Never even mentioned it, since it's a very basic concept.

You claimed that multiple MPPT controllers eliminated the shading problem, and they don't. One shaded panel will not produce any power, and having multiple MPPT controllers will not correct that. Yes, you will get power out of the other panels if wired in parallel, but the shaded panel will produce zilch.

I'm just pointing out the semantics. I understand what you're trying to say - each MPPT controller is unaffected by shading of any other panel/controller in the system. What you typed was:
Quote:
2 MPPT controllers is a good idea. It provides redundancy and completely eliminates the shading issue.
It doesn't. Removing the shade is the only way to completely eliminate the shading issue. Perhaps your definition of "shading issue" is a bit different than mine.

I do prefer multiple MPPT controllers, using cheap 20A controllers with 300 watt panels would be ideal for my purposes.

As for your teardown post, can you please provide a link to it? That would be easier, thanks.
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Old 16-06-2015, 12:43   #25
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Re: Help build my solar setup

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how can you get 500W out of 2 x 230W panels? Max should be 460 if my math is correct.
I was surprised as well. Your math is correct, but physics is another story. I assume that 230 watts is not maximum power that panels can produce, but power produced during standard test conditions. I do not want to hijack this thread, I plan to start another one about this experience (it happened twice with two different MPPT controllers).
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Old 16-06-2015, 14:06   #26
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Re: Help build my solar setup

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
I'm not arguing about serial vs parallel. Never even mentioned it, since it's a very basic concept.

You claimed that multiple MPPT controllers eliminated the shading problem, and they don't. One shaded panel will not produce any power, and having multiple MPPT controllers will not correct that. Yes, you will get power out of the other panels if wired in parallel, but the shaded panel will produce zilch.

I'm just pointing out the semantics. I understand what you're trying to say - each MPPT controller is unaffected by shading of any other panel/controller in the system. What you typed was: It doesn't. Removing the shade is the only way to completely eliminate the shading issue. Perhaps your definition of "shading issue" is a bit different than mine.

I do prefer multiple MPPT controllers, using cheap 20A controllers with 300 watt panels would be ideal for my purposes.

As for your teardown post, can you please provide a link to it? That would be easier, thanks.
I was not clear in my original post. I meant eliminates the argument between series and parellel.

Here is the link to the teardown.
Affordable MPPT Charge Controller

I have had this controller running on my boat for 2.5 months with no issues. Its currently running 4 75 watt panels connected in series (80v). I will be changing it around in the future once I order new panels. I own 4 of those controllers for my eventual end solution.
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Old 16-06-2015, 14:17   #27
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Re: Help build my solar setup

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
I was not clear in my original post. I meant eliminates the argument between series and parellel.

Here is the link to the teardown.
Affordable MPPT Charge Controller

I have had this controller running on my boat for 2.5 months with no issues. It currently running 4 75 watt panels conected in series (80v). I will be changing it around in the future once I order new panels.
Gotcha! I never "interpret" anyone's posts, I always take them literally, to hopefully not read anything into them that isn't there.

Once, a lady posted that she'd lost her husband. I asked where she had left him. Then a bunch of people jumped in and started yelling about "Her husband died, WTH are you talking about?" My only response was, "She said lost, and I took it literally. If she meant he died, she should have said, "He died."" They each have a specific meaning to me, and (in my mind) are not interchangeable, but I guess a lot of people use a lot of euphemisms in cases like that.

Thanks for the link to your review!

I can already see one thing I like about it - high input voltage! Some of these newer, high efficiency panels output high voltage up in the 65-70v range.
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Old 16-06-2015, 19:45   #28
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Re: Help build my solar setup

I originally thought: "Oh, no, not yet another solar discussion!"

This, however, is a really good one, with a good summary of "issues" and equipment that makes sense.

I've bookmarked it.

Thanks to all.
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Old 18-06-2015, 12:27   #29
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Re: Help build my solar setup

I also would not recommend the BlueSky controllers. I have a 2000e that i have now removed and put onto my less-important boat, replacing it with a Rogue for my cruising boat. It's a big boy but if you've got space it's fantastic.

For me, it made economic sense due to the cost of copper wire to use smaller wires, wire the panels in series to give an OCV of 87V and spend a bit more on a decent controller that can handle those kinds of input voltages.
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Old 30-06-2015, 00:22   #30
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Re: Help build my solar setup

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
While I strongly advocate MPPT controllers, even for low power systems, I don't see how multiple MPPT controllers can completely eliminate shading. Shading can only be cured by removing the shade, MPPT controllers can harvest the max. possible out of a shaded panel, but if it's only putting out 25% or 50% due to shade, the MPPT controller can't fix that.


As for your controller, it's made in China, so very likely all of the parts are sourced locally. For $99, they're not going to get MILSPEC parts from US sources.

THere's nothing wrong with being made in China, millions of items we use every day are made there, including most cell phones. That's a stigma that just doesn't hold much water any more. There's also another 20 A controller for $102 delivered with excellent build quality and the display is built in, it has a very comprehensive menu and wide adjustability. It just depends on if one prefers a remote install with display for $130 plus shipping, or mounting the entire controller somewhere where you can see it.

Lately I'm in favor of mounting the controller in the optimal location based on solar panels vs power bus location and using a precision voltmeter/ammeter display with shunt in the power panel to show me exactly how much power is going in or out. I found one with 2 digit voltage precision and 3 digit current precision, (1/100V, 1/1000A) with shunt, for only $12 on Ebay.

0 100V 200A DC Digital LED Voltmeter Ammeter Amp Volt Meter 200A Shunt 12V 24V | eBay

Firstly, an excellent thread here, learned a lot (as others have commented too).

RE: the linked VAM, a good deal, but you also have a large selection of other meters of varying features available from that vendor and others (one very good vendor I remember on ebay (I've bought from them) is 'elite elements' or something, with a very large selection).
That is part of the challenge, there are so many different types of meters available.
There are many with such features as various cutoff/alarm limits/points too, for all the usual parameters. You have to read the specs and drawings quite carefully to get just the right meter for the usage.
It really is a chore finding just the right meter(s) for the job (app). But so nice, these things used to cost a fortune, as if you could even find most of them.


On another facet of all this solar powered stuff, here's a link to a really fascinating operation going on right now over the Pacific, the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft: Solar Impulse RTW - 8th Leg from Nagoya to Hawaii

Their website is crap (IMO), but you can get an idea of just how much telemetry and control is being used to monitor and control that solar powered 5,100 lb ship, it's effen amazing.

Usually near the top of the page there is a display with some battery charge state info, etc (I wish I could find some of the detailed realtime parameter readings, that would be more fun than following Boatie...).
IIRC, it has a wingspan ~236', about 50hp total propulsion, from 4 electric engines driving 13' props, ~50kw of solar panels and LI batteries.

And the pilot is from 8K-40K feet up, moving from 26-75kt SOG; any problem and it's a long way down (weather has been critical).
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