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Old 07-05-2010, 07:59   #1
Xen
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Idea for More Solar Panels

Ok so I recently bought a Lagoon 470 used. I am doing the math on the ampere i need and its not adding up. What I would like to do is not run my generator at all if possible,if i add 2-3 more panels I can run everything without having to turn the gen on. So my idea is this. I wonder if there is a company that makes solar panels that float and are water proof/resistant. I could store it under the boat and use a wench to bring it back under. like a ramp type thing with a latch on the backend to hold it up at night.and release in the morning to float behind and collect sun. between the hulls you know. anyway any insight or even if you have some bad news would be appreciated. The question is about the floating solar panels not what im running or why i need or any of that just if its possible to get the solar panels my bimini is full and the davit. thanks alot guys
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Old 07-05-2010, 08:36   #2
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haha I saw this in the multihull forum and posted this response...hope it is helpful.

Almost all solar panels are water poof because they are designed to be outside and to withstand weather (which includes rain). If you wanted to drag some panels behind your boat I'd recommend you guy some marine panels meant for a bimini and do a little custom wiring (waterproofing connections and long cables etc) and making a custom flotation platform.

Frankly, it seems like dragging the panels is an extra unnecessary step. The lagoon 470 had LOTS of deck space. Why not just rig up some panels that you can place on the deck of the boat and move/stow when they are in the way (or in the shade)? Aside from less hassle, the panels on the boat will work better because they will be in a stable orientation and can be placed in an optimal position to catch sunlight. Also, they wont have water washing over them as much and drying up leaving salt deposits and blocking the sun.
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:00   #3
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Originally Posted by Event_Horizon View Post
Almost all solar panels are water poof because they are designed to be outside and to withstand weather (which includes rain). If you wanted to drag some panels behind your boat I'd recommend you guy some marine panels meant for a bimini and do a little custom wiring (waterproofing connections and long cables etc) and making a custom flotation platform.

Frankly, it seems like dragging the panels is an extra unnecessary step. The lagoon 470 had LOTS of deck space. Why not just rig up some panels that you can place on the deck of the boat and move/stow when they are in the way (or in the shade)? Aside from less hassle, the panels on the boat will work better because they will be in a stable orientation and can be placed in an optimal position to catch sunlight. Also, they wont have water washing over them as much and drying up leaving salt deposits and blocking the sun.

thats actually a good idea, while i like the trampoline thing i guess i could rig it up for one side to be solar, that was good thinking about the salt deposits. hadn't thought of that. or leave the trampolines and put some hinges on the sides with a cable to hold them or something to that effect.
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:08   #4
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I know you don't want to hear this, but if you can't get enough solar on a 47' cat's bimine and davits.....well......turn off the landing lights.
More like what you're looking for though, you can also hinge these things off of the lifelines so underway they're laid flat, at anchor they hinge up flat to collect sun.

Solar Panel Lifeline Mounts?

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Old 07-05-2010, 09:20   #5
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What may sound like the crazed idea of a mad inventor could be tomorrows must have.

But as Event-Horizon says have a look at the acreage of a 47 foot cat!! You can lay out enough solar to power a town and not see them.

Anyway, with airconditioning 4 or 5 175watt panels would take the load day time. Wouldn't it?
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:39   #6
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Hi, Xen, and welcome to CF --

You might have missed a step or two in thinking about this. The 470 is a big, beautiful boat with lots of great features, but energy efficiency is not one of them and the factory never thought about that in the design and execution. Then, depending on what the previous owners have done, you could have all sorts of things to sort out, or, very little.

So, step one is to make an inventory of all the electrical consumers on the boat. Start at one end and methodically go through to the other, and from top to bottom. Make a list of the item, voltage (12? 110v? 220v?), amperage, location, etc. This will be a good list to have, anyway and you will end up knowing your boat far better, too. Don't forget the lights, either -- is your boat using the usual Lagoon halogens? Big time energy hogs.

Now, estimate your consumption under different conditions. At the dock, under sail, at anchor. This will give you an idea of what you will have to replace on a daily basis, with your system "as is". (Except, because of charging inefficiency, if you use 100 amp/hrs/day, you will need to generate 125.)

Now, you need to look at how you can make your system more efficient. Replacing those halogens with LED's is a big one -- search the forum for LED threads, there are several very good ones. If you're spending a lot of time at anchor, that incandescent anchor light (and tricolor when under sail) also churn through the electrons. Shockingly so. Replacing with LED's will make a big difference. Not that much cost, either.

Refrigeration. Using the factory installed refrigerators? Most of them are quite poor and have relatively little insulation. However, refitting with well designed and well insulated frig/freezer is an expensive change. If you're going to spend a lot of time off the grid, though (and why would you buy a boat like this just to stay at the dock?), it will be a worthwhile upgrade.

Then, what does the battery bank look like? The Lagoon factory standard battery banks are pathetically small. Not only does this mean lots of charging, but the batteries go fast, too. Using lead acid systems (including gel cells or AGM's), if you're burning through 200 amp/hrs a day (after your changes), then you're going to need an 800 amp/hr battery bank.

Now, you can start thinking about charging sources. If you're going through 200 amp/hrs a day, then you're going to need to generate around 250. From there, you can start thinking about panels and/or wind and/or genset. Just guestimating, I think you'll find that 3 or 4 125 watt panels with a good controller will probably do you very nicely and keep you topped up on sunny days, assuming you make the efficiency changes.

Hope this helps!

ID
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:53   #7
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I would reiterate what Intentional Drifter said, beginning with "welcome to the forum."

Merely adding power to the system means that you will be adding unnecessary weight to the boat, and there is always a penalty for that, especially on a cat. A better plan would be to make the boat more efficient. If you can get it to the point where 100 ah per day is sufficient, then you'll be able to make do with a 400 ah battery bank and somewhere between 200 and 300 watts of solar, depending on latitute and whether you use the boat year round.

A 100 ah per day energy budget is not difficulty to achieve. LED lights, combined with efficient 12v refrigeration, will get you there quickly.
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:55   #8
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XEN,

Its all about rethinking your "usage".
You have Solar power to spare right now if you change all your Halogen bulbs to LED.s and replace the electic heads to pump heads.

Floating panels have to be cleaned constantly.
Flexible wire would not last in salt, sun and millions of flexing cycles on a floating platform.
Good panels weigh 35 to 45 lbs each
You would be upset any time a dingy went by and waked your solar platform.

Its all about rethinking your "usage".
Its far cheaper to rething and modify your usage than it is to keep adding more solar panels.

Start by not using an anchor light. We have 6 solar lights that we modified to go on the stanchions. No power required and they also light up the deck for safe walking.

Lighting and LEDs

Mark
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Old 08-05-2010, 04:56   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
XEN,

Its all about rethinking your "usage".
You have Solar power to spare right now if you change all your Halogen bulbs to LED.s and replace the electic heads to pump heads.

Floating panels have to be cleaned constantly.
Flexible wire would not last in salt, sun and millions of flexing cycles on a floating platform.
Good panels weigh 35 to 45 lbs each
You would be upset any time a dingy went by and waked your solar platform.

Its all about rethinking your "usage".
Its far cheaper to rething and modify your usage than it is to keep adding more solar panels.

Start by not using an anchor light. We have 6 solar lights that we modified to go on the stanchions. No power required and they also light up the deck for safe walking.

Lighting and LEDs

Mark
thanks mark that is a great idea.
I know the boat has alot of space but i like to walk around from time to time so I dont like the idea of panels on deck. plus i have a dog that doesnt know what money is.the main problem i think I have is no solid power I was thinking i could bring my guitar and amp and go out to sea and just play as loud as i want. problem is i cant,so i dont want to feel like i wasted my life savings on a toy that doesnt work.that and the radar and nav stuff i can do with no lighting really.i guess its just a matter of understanding really i have to cut back on some things i am use to. thanks for all your help guys.Xen
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Old 08-05-2010, 05:10   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Intentional Drifter View Post
Hi, Xen, and welcome to CF --

You might have missed a step or two in thinking about this. The 470 is a big, beautiful boat with lots of great features, but energy efficiency is not one of them and the factory never thought about that in the design and execution. Then, depending on what the previous owners have done, you could have all sorts of things to sort out, or, very little.

So, step one is to make an inventory of all the electrical consumers on the boat. Start at one end and methodically go through to the other, and from top to bottom. Make a list of the item, voltage (12? 110v? 220v?), amperage, location, etc. This will be a good list to have, anyway and you will end up knowing your boat far better, too. Don't forget the lights, either -- is your boat using the usual Lagoon halogens? Big time energy hogs.

Now, estimate your consumption under different conditions. At the dock, under sail, at anchor. This will give you an idea of what you will have to replace on a daily basis, with your system "as is". (Except, because of charging inefficiency, if you use 100 amp/hrs/day, you will need to generate 125.)

Now, you need to look at how you can make your system more efficient. Replacing those halogens with LED's is a big one -- search the forum for LED threads, there are several very good ones. If you're spending a lot of time at anchor, that incandescent anchor light (and tricolor when under sail) also churn through the electrons. Shockingly so. Replacing with LED's will make a big difference. Not that much cost, either.

Refrigeration. Using the factory installed refrigerators? Most of them are quite poor and have relatively little insulation. However, refitting with well designed and well insulated frig/freezer is an expensive change. If you're going to spend a lot of time off the grid, though (and why would you buy a boat like this just to stay at the dock?), it will be a worthwhile upgrade.

Then, what does the battery bank look like? The Lagoon factory standard battery banks are pathetically small. Not only does this mean lots of charging, but the batteries go fast, too. Using lead acid systems (including gel cells or AGM's), if you're burning through 200 amp/hrs a day (after your changes), then you're going to need an 800 amp/hr battery bank.

Now, you can start thinking about charging sources. If you're going through 200 amp/hrs a day, then you're going to need to generate around 250. From there, you can start thinking about panels and/or wind and/or genset. Just guestimating, I think you'll find that 3 or 4 125 watt panels with a good controller will probably do you very nicely and keep you topped up on sunny days, assuming you make the efficiency changes.

Hope this helps!

ID
very valid points,i use the fridge alot and it is probably the only one ever on board. I got a navnet 3d thing i keep it on and i have the tv going while i play my guitar mostly. the surveyor was very good and i went on the endless tour with him so he says the wires are tip top.i do need to replace the bulbs tho im sure of that. yea and i didnt buy the boat to sit in the slip. its not even that pretty.florida has noise pollution laws and they get very annoying so i figured i would sail and noone can say anything to me. only problem is battery keeps dying.i think im going to replace bulbs,fridge and turn the tv and antenna off. the batteries look a little old too but i havent had them tested yet and i have no info on them 3 12v marine batteries. I wonder if i can get LiPo batteries for this with a deeper Ah. At any rate i was just trying to get everything for nothing,didnt work out but soon i will actually live on the boat and i have to make it work. Thanks for your help.
Xenos
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Old 19-05-2010, 14:52   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
XEN,

Its all about rethinking your "usage".
You have Solar power to spare right now if you change all your Halogen bulbs to LED.s and replace the electic heads to pump heads.

Floating panels have to be cleaned constantly.
Flexible wire would not last in salt, sun and millions of flexing cycles on a floating platform.
Good panels weigh 35 to 45 lbs each
You would be upset any time a dingy went by and waked your solar platform.

Its all about rethinking your "usage".
Its far cheaper to rething and modify your usage than it is to keep adding more solar panels.


Start by not using an anchor light. We have 6 solar lights that we modified to go on the stanchions. No power required and they also light up the deck for safe walking.

Lighting and LEDs

Mark
While I agree with the sentiment that optimization start with saving energy, it is my experience that LED's are not going to change your usage as much. If you have refrigeration.

Case in point. We will run our interior lights maybe 3 hours in a twenty-for hour period. We have a total of 4 we use regularly at night, they are 15 watts each. So let us say they draw 1.2 amps per hour for those 3 hours. Thats 3x1.2x4 for a total of 15 amp hours. LED use about a tenth of that, say 1.5 amp/hours. so, a savings of about 13.5 amp hours A good solid savings! well worth the trouble, but! Our freezer averages 7 amps per hour, our refrigerator 2.5 amps per hour. That's about 230 amp/hour over a 24 hour period. We would still have a need to provide generation capacity.

We took the route of mount our panel(s) between the dinghy davits. Enough room for 3 200 watt panels back there. You Lagoon is wider than our Privilege, so I don't think you'd have a mounting issue with that capacity. I'd not tow them. Have heard to many horror stories about folks losing dinghies. I'd also be concerned will at anchor. I think they would be highly subject to someone running over them, getting stolen, connection corroding,...!!
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Old 19-05-2010, 19:09   #12
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under the boat and use a wench to bring it back under.
While I agree with the consensus that the power budget should be reconsidered I think he should be allowed to keep the wench.



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Old 21-05-2010, 23:06   #13
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Not even close. I wouldn't go over 48 volts on a boat for safety reasons coming from a series of solar panels. That will top you off around around 700-800 watts going to a MPPT mx60. It will cover everything you need for your systems EXCEPT for air conditioning. To run air conditioning you'd need to increase the system literally 10 fold.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
What may sound like the crazed idea of a mad inventor could be tomorrows must have.

But as Event-Horizon says have a look at the acreage of a 47 foot cat!! You can lay out enough solar to power a town and not see them.

Anyway, with airconditioning 4 or 5 175watt panels would take the load day time. Wouldn't it?
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Old 21-05-2010, 23:28   #14
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Not even close. ....To run air conditioning you'd need to increase the system literally 10 fold.
gee, they must suck some power!

We have never really needed air conditioning as we generally aclimatise better without it, and many areas have trade winds.
Marinas in Asia were a tad warmish! But we found fans OK. Folks with airconditioning were invisable - they never came out.

We found a large domestic fan fine. I guess they would run ok off an inverter. They don't draw much, do they?
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Old 22-05-2010, 03:03   #15
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Yes Xen the wench you intend to use to pull the panels back in could alternatively be put on a stationary bike with a dynamo. :-)
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