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Old 11-06-2015, 14:34   #1
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Help build my solar setup

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
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Old 11-06-2015, 15:09   #2
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Re: Help build my solar setup

Some things that cropped up after I installed solar on my boat:
1. How much to angle the panels depended on the time of year and which way the boat usually points at rest. Having the ability to seasonally adjust the angle is beneficial.
2. I was surprised at how greatly a shadow from the boom or mast would cut power from my single panel even on a bright sunny day. You didn't mention how you intend to wire your panels (series or parallel), but if parallel, I believe shading one panel with boom or mast won't cause the same degree of degradation it would if they're wired in series.
3. Installation nit: how to run the wires from the panels. My mount is 1" SS tubing and I didn't want to compromise the strength of the tubing by drilling holes in it so I ran the wire externally and provided UV protection by wrapping it in a length of vinyl chafe guard tubing.
4. If you have a dedicated starting battery separate from your house bank(s), consider a combiner if you don't already have one and if you do already have one, make sure you can set it so the power from the panels tops up both banks. I had to wire my combiner so higher voltage on either side closes the connection. The alternator is connected to the starting battery and my panel is connected to the house bank.
5. If you have flooded batteries, be sure to keep an eye on their fill level after you're up and running.

FWIW

Jim
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Old 11-06-2015, 15:48   #3
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Re: Help build my solar setup

Thanks Jim for the insight. I think definitely wiring parallel to alleviate the shade issue. The tower in a box I believe already has pre drilled holes for running wires for solar or other electrical stuff. Didn't even think about the starting battery thanks. We have agm sealed batteries so not sure what we need to look out for with those. Anyway thanks for the insight.

Will
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Old 11-06-2015, 16:42   #4
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Smile Re: Help build my solar setup

you've got a lot of power in those panels- big panels are nice but they are also harder to handle when mounting etc. You may want to give thought to 4 smaller panels and using two smaller controllers- this gives you redundacy if you are going to go cruising. Also by having 4 seperate panels you can minimize the loss from shading- shading of one part of one of your larger panels will really cut 50% of your capacity whereas a small shaded area that only affects one of your smaller panels will not decrease your power harvest by near as much. Another thing to consider is to run the biggest guage wires you can possibly fit over any long runs- this makes a big difference.-- dont forget that the distance of your run is "there and back". I just wired in solar and wind on my Gulfstar 51- the hardest part was mounting everything so that it stayed clear of shading and pulling the large guage wires iver the long runs. If shading is definitely not going to be any issue then wire in series and you can use a much smaller guage wire without losing anything. good luck
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Old 11-06-2015, 16:51   #5
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Re: Help build my solar setup

"The tower in a box I believe already has pre drilled holes for running wires for solar or other electrical stuff. "

Nop, just put my Tower in a Box up, No Holes. I ran wires on the outside for now as I will be putting the davits up soon and will have to drill holes for that, did not want to have to remove wires to drill. Will re run all wires later.

John
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:19   #6
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Re: Help build my solar setup

Hi Clipper,

Your post is very timely as I'm where you are...planning a solar installation. Which vendor did you use for your arch in a box?

Thanks.
Mike S.

Sorry about tailgating your post⛵️
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:58   #7
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Re: Help build my solar setup

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.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:59   #8
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Re: Help build my solar setup

Personally, I don't think most people angle their panels much. I've got mine attached to the dinghy davits (cruising cat) and they ahve two possitions: horizontal, and angled about 25 degrees from horizontal. Horizontal is fine in the Caribbean, I probaly should ahve used the 25 degrees up in Maine, but the difference just wasn't worth that many amphours.
-Steve
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:34   #9
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Re: Help build my solar setup

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailsw00 View Post
Personally, I don't think most people angle their panels much. I've got mine attached to the dinghy davits (cruising cat) and they ahve two possitions: horizontal, and angled about 25 degrees from horizontal. Horizontal is fine in the Caribbean, I probaly should ahve used the 25 degrees up in Maine, but the difference just wasn't worth that many amphours.
-Steve
I agree with you. Two boats ago we had the facility to angle the solar panels. This worked OK in a marina environment - only having to reangle them once a day. However, when at anchor and the boat swings to the wind / tide it became a mission to have to keep going and adjusting the panels. We eventually fixed them in the flat position. We also feel in that in very high winds they are more secure. It is equally important to keep them clean - they soon build a crusty layer otherwise.
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:42   #10
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Re: Help build my solar setup

Hi Clipper,
We just finished our solar install a couple of weeks ago. If you check here, there are details that you may find useful. In a nutshell, the 500 watts of solar is running the whole boat now....
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Old 12-06-2015, 11:52   #11
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Re: Help build my solar setup

Quote:
Originally Posted by mserafi1 View Post
Hi Clipper,

Your post is very timely as I'm where you are...planning a solar installation. Which vendor did you use for your arch in a box?

Thanks.
Mike S.

Sorry about tailgating your post⛵️
Hi Mike we ordered from Atlantic Tower. Free shipping if you have it sent to a business i.e. your marina or boatyard. Think we paid 2300$, since it is larger than their standard sizes it takes a little longer to get it.

I like the idea of the four panels with two controllers. Just need to see if they will fit side by side on each side of the Dish Dome.

Thanks again for all the responses

Will
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Old 12-06-2015, 14:54   #12
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Re: Help build my solar setup

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
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Old 12-06-2015, 16:38   #13
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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
12 panels? Did I read that correctly?

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Old 12-06-2015, 19:20   #14
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Re: Help build my solar setup

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that controller is not big enough for those panels. If your charging a 12v battery bank your controller will shut down for over current protection at 400 watts. Your 520 watt is way over. Even if your boat battery bank is 24v you will still get shut downs on clear sunny days. I have that very controller and it would shut down on clear days with 3x 135 watt kyoceras. It drove me crazy trying to figure out what went wrong. Sometimes i would have to disconect everything for a day before it would rreset. It would never reset on its own even overnight. You might be fine on cloudy days, but even then you can only run the panels parallel or you will go way over the max voltage. I found i can run around 375 watts on a 12v bank with no shutdowns. While i have had my setup a few years i just downloaded the current manual and double checked the specs.
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Old 12-06-2015, 23:08   #15
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Re: Help build my solar setup

Quote:
but that controller is not big enough for those panels
I was going to say the same thing.

Clipper, you do not say whether your system is 12 or 24V. BlueSky SB3024DiL is not big enough for 12V system with two 260W panels. It will work but will not give you maximum possible preformance. If I may, I'd suggest to take a look at Morningstar TriStar MPPT 60A. I recently installed it when my Outback FlexMax 60A died, and I like it so far, mostly because:
- it produces power even at dawn/dusk (no snoozing)
- seems to use better MPPT algorithm (much more frequent power curve sweeps) and to produce more power
- it has built-in web server, I connected it to my router and I remotely monitor it using any device (phone, PC, tablet) that has browser - no need for extra remote panel
- comes with a temperature sensor
- price-wise comparable to others
- 5 years full warranty (instead of 12 months as BlueSky)

I have two 230W panels. Today was a colder day, but sunny at times, I saw 500W coming into batteries. I know that electronic equipment lasts longer if not pushed to its limits and any 40A MPPT will be close to its limits with two 260W panels.
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