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Old 26-11-2015, 14:33   #31
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

I previously owned a Catalina 25 and outfitted it with a solar panel, charge controller, Engel refer and a small freezer. I constructed the solar panel mount from SS bimini rails and the clamps from a Magma grill. Here a few photos:











It was an 80 watt Kyocera. They no longer produce that size panel, but you can find similar sized panels by other manufacturers. Let me know if you want more info.
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Old 26-11-2015, 14:36   #32
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by CAELESTIS View Post
I'll take a different approach to the solar question.
1. How do you plan to attach them?
2. What panel or panels give you the maximum wattage for your intended mount?
3. Then pick brands and a MPPT controller.
Don't stop at 200w, get the most you can fit or afford.

1. A friend who is a fabricator is working on a solution for attachment
2. Still researching this bit
3. What does MPPT stand for?
4. My heaviest load will probably be my refrigerator, and currently, a 150 or 160 watt should be ample for battery charging etc. I would think. But then there's the stray heater/air conditioner depending on where I end up. In either case I might have to consider forming an array. I would prefer to limit myself to a single panel keeping the overall "footprint" as small as possible.
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Old 26-11-2015, 16:03   #33
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

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Originally Posted by NorwestR View Post
Am in process of converting cabin lighting, I have two group 27 AGM batteries, but plan to buy two or three Optima's before departure. I do not have an inboard with alternator, so I am also purchasing a Honda EU1000I generator. No folding portable units for me, I prefer to have more power than I need. I read somewhere (I think) that there is a device that equipment can be plugged into and current is measured as it flows. Do you know what that might be?
Have a look at modern LiPo batteries that are "drop in " replacements for the normal automotive batteries. Check these - - ALL PURPOSE BATTERIES PTY LTD .
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Old 26-11-2015, 16:07   #34
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

The Balmar Smart Gauge mentioned by ZBOSS in post 9 is really neat. I put in the Victron mention in that post and am happy with it but I put that in before the Smart Gauge became available.

The current "amps per dollar" battery champs are golf cart batteries. Sam's Club sells Duracell GC2 branded batteries in some states that are made in USA and a great value.

I talked with a couple last week on a 34'-36' trawler that had 200 watts of solar. He said that he set it up so he could add another 200w if necessary but was happy the way it is. They were solidly mounted level with NO shade issues. They were 3/4 of the way around America's Great Loup.
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Old 26-11-2015, 20:02   #35
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorwestR View Post
1. A friend who is a fabricator is working on a solution for attachment
2. Still researching this bit
3. What does MPPT stand for?
4. My heaviest load will probably be my refrigerator, and currently, a 150 or 160 watt should be ample for battery charging etc. I would think. But then there's the stray heater/air conditioner depending on where I end up. In either case I might have to consider forming an array. I would prefer to limit myself to a single panel keeping the overall "footprint" as small as possible.
MPPT=maximum power point tracking. MidNite Solar Inc. Renewable Energy System Electrical Components and E-Panels

I have 480w and wish I had 1000w. That feeds a 550 @ 24v house bank. You also have to allow for cloudy days . . .

Sunpower (if you can get them) followed by Panasonic/Sanyo are the most efficient. Maximum wattage for the space available.
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Old 26-11-2015, 20:20   #36
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

480w on a Iverson bimini.
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Old 26-11-2015, 21:14   #37
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Hello,
Solar Panel are mostly affordable. Some brands are better than others.
The MPPT controller is important and the cheap brands make noise (on and off when they lost the sunlight). I have changed mine for a Morning Star who works perfectly.

Also be sure you have the good wire size from panel to controller to Batteries.
Good luck
Sylvain
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Old 26-11-2015, 21:24   #38
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

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Originally Posted by TCC View Post
Also be sure you have the good wire size from panel to controller to Batteries.
Good luck
Sylvain
As a hint for that - you may find that many MPPT or PWM controllers only support a smaller wire size natively, for example 10 AWG.

You will also find that most MC4 connectors only support 10 AWG (well, all that I have seen).

There is nothing wrong with making a very small 10 AWG pigtail on each end and making the rest of the wire 4 or 6 AWG. This will significantly cut down on voltage losses if done well.
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Old 26-11-2015, 22:13   #39
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

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Originally Posted by NorwestR View Post
Hello everyone,
I'm rigging my sailboat for an upcoming cruise and I'm adding a solar panel to power my house lights, battery charging etc. I know virtually nothing except there are two types, monocrystaline and something else. I'm looking for as much info as I can get before I actually start spending money. who makes the best, Germans, Chinese, American, hpw do I figure out how much or how large a panel I need, which give the best service?

I am attaching a pic and link of a complete unit found on ebay, any advice?
100 Watt 100W Solar Panel Kit with LCD Solar Controller 12V RV Boat Off Grid | eBay

Thanks,
Rico
The short answer is there is no short answer. This topic has been discussed at length on several threads on CF. Look in the FORUMS tab for the SOLAR discussions. What you choose will depend on your loads and how you plan to use the system. 100 watts is pretty small. Consider that you may only get 1/2 that depending on shading and sun angle.

We just went live on our solar system. We have 3 panels 220 watts each and a Morningstar controller. Research, Design, Acquisition, Manufacturing, installation has taken two years.

I started by reading Handy Bob Solar. You might find some useful advice here as well. https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/
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Old 26-11-2015, 23:10   #40
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Most moderately sized two way fridges (110v & 12v) draw around 2.5-4 amps when running on 12v... the three way (110v & 12v & propane) fridges were are the ones that suck (literally) on 12v, they draw 10 plus amps, only designed to run on 12v when driving then you have to switch to 110 or propane when you stop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtM View Post
My experience with RV refrigerators (I don't know if this carries over to boats) is that they ran HORRIBLY bad on DC. I gave up trying and always ran them on propane.
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Old 26-11-2015, 23:12   #41
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

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You are partially right, the device is called an ammeter, and true, it must be inserted inline(in series) to measure the current. Most modern day "multi-meters include all three functions of measurement. The device I had in mind, I believe, was somehow inserted between the device and the battery for a real time accurate reading on current draw. I was researching this a few years back, but can't find my notes ...

I just now leapt out of bed when I realized I had said "ohmmeter" instead of ammeter - thanks for not being too severe on me for that.

Yes, an ammeter would be inserted between a device and the battery, which is "inline". I just don't think a multimeter with it's itty bitty gauge wire would be appropriate. The ammeter would have to be designed to be put inline into a 12V high current circuit, and of course be readable from somewhere in the boat, extending your battery leads. If you're only trying read one circuit at a time, a standard multimeter would work.

A voltmeter is a simpler device because it does not have to carry the current and is placed across the circuit. It doesn't give the real time output of usage, though, just gives an idea of battery drain over an extended period of time.

There are ammeter designed for race cars that would probably work. Curiously, a quick Google search turned up a number of articles about how to install one, but no photos or sources to purchase. More in depth searching will surely return something, though.
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Old 26-11-2015, 23:14   #42
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Good quality marine fridge should draw between 2.5 & 3.5 amps (check Engle drop ins or Norcold conversions for specs), and that's not even constant load... much more frequently what dooms fridges to high power use is inadequate insulation.

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Originally Posted by ebsail View Post
I think you are vastly underestimating the draw of the frig. Probably 8 amps when running.
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Old 26-11-2015, 23:28   #43
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Is fridge 12v or 110 only? I would not try running household current fridge off battery power through an inverter, very inefficient as you lose some in conversion but mainly because no fridge is as efficient (because they feel they don't have oto be I guess) when running at 110

As example, take Engel SCQT 4408F-U1-L ice box conversion...
12v is 1.3-2.5 amps or 16-30 watt draw
110v is 0.7 amps or 77watts... Same fridge, twice the watts... and you probably lose 10% through inverter so need of provide 85 watts to the inverter to have it output 77 watts.

If at all possible find 12v specific appliances when dealing with higher power draws.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorwestR View Post
The fridge is a bit larger than the standard cube, but not as tall as some miniature fridges. I hope to complete the initial survey this week. I am open to a larger panel, as I would like to end up with 30 amps. I feel fairly confident that I won't really need that much though
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Old 27-11-2015, 01:40   #44
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Definitely go for monocrystalline as it will give more power for the same area than polycrystalline. Do not be tempted by cheap amorphous panels.

If you need to mount the panels where they will be walked upon you will certainly need a high quality marine module. Otherwise rigid aluminium framed panels are the most cost efficient. Semi-flexibles have come on a great deal also and can be mounted onto a sprayhood or bimini top with velcro, for example.

There is a great downloadable guide available from this site. It covers most aspects without being too technical.

Happy sailing!
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Old 27-11-2015, 08:58   #45
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by basssears View Post
Is fridge 12v or 110 only? I would not try running household current fridge off battery power through an inverter, very inefficient as you lose some in conversion but mainly because no fridge is as efficient (because they feel they don't have oto be I guess) when running at 110

As example, take Engel SCQT 4408F-U1-L ice box conversion...
12v is 1.3-2.5 amps or 16-30 watt draw
110v is 0.7 amps or 77watts... Same fridge, twice the watts... and you probably lose 10% through inverter so need of provide 85 watts to the inverter to have it output 77 watts.

If at all possible find 12v specific appliances when dealing with higher power draws.
Sorry but your math doesn't add up if you have a draw of 30 watts it doesn't matter what voltage its still 30 watts which would mean 30 watts 12.5 volts nominal = 2.4 amps and 30 watts 110 volts= .27 amp draw thru inverter I would say you would draw about 3 amps at 12.5 non to provide .27 amps at 110 v ac.
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