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Old 25-11-2015, 16:31   #1
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Opinions on solar please ...

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
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Old 25-11-2015, 16:39   #2
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorwestR View Post
how do I figure out how much or how large a panel I need,
Something like this will help: http://www.cbcamerica.com/microsite/...Calculator.xls
I'm Dutch so my spreadsheat -more comprehensive than this one- is in Dutch.
However, you can find more calculators with Google

First, calculate what you need, than find what system best fits your needs & budget (and boat).
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Old 25-11-2015, 16:54   #3
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Thanks for your reply! I've been to Amsterdam for a visit! LUVDIT! I have already converted all my nav lights to LED and am in the process of converting the cabin lights. I have also purchased an AC/DC refrigerator. If I have no manuals for the equipment, whats the best way to monitor draw inexpensively? I did download your spreadsheet by the way ...
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Old 25-11-2015, 19:08   #4
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Solar panel technology is changing rapidly, and the panels are currently sold as a commodity item. Whatever you find at a good price that meets your output requirements is the right one for you.

The kit you've shown contains standard components that you need to install. Other, simplified units can be purchased that are more portable in nature, though they might not have the output or versatility.

The unit you've listed can become the basis for a more extensive solar system in the future.

Do you want to do an installation for a unit that will provide, probably, more power than you need? Or do you want a very simple, fold-up device that will top off a battery or charge a cell phone? A foldup unit is probably not going to provide refrigeration.

If ALL your lights are converted to LED, your power requirement will be very, very small and you're really only going to be concerned about the refrigerator.

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.

A simple way to monitor battery draw, is with a voltmeter. A "12-volt" battery actually varies from about 13.4 to 10.8 volts, depending on it's charge.

A "12V" device SHOULD be designed to operate in this same range, but it might actually lose effectiveness (or possibly even be damaged) if voltage drops too low.
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Old 25-11-2015, 19:39   #5
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

We have an HSL-250W panel, MC-50 cable, an In-LINE-30 fuse kit and Midnight MPPT KID Solar Controller 30A.
With mounting brackets it was, $785.00 CAD. I installed the panel on a stainless arch. That arch was 3.5 times the cost of the solar system.
Our "Samurai" is 30 feet with a 12V cabin & 12V starter battery. The system has run well since November 2014, cloudy skies or not, on Vancouver Island.
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Old 25-11-2015, 20:02   #6
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Quote:
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
First off we have the windy nation panels 200 watt kit that comes with a controller that will expand up to 400 watts. For us the 200 carries the boat just fine YMMV
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Old 25-11-2015, 20:09   #7
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

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.

A simple way to monitor battery draw, is with a voltmeter. A "12-volt" battery actually varies from about 13.4 to 10.8 volts, depending on it's charge.

A "12V" device SHOULD be designed to operate in this same range, but it might actually lose effectiveness (or possibly even be damaged) if voltage drops too low.
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?
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Old 25-11-2015, 20:14   #8
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

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First off we have the windy nation panels 200 watt kit that comes with a controller that will expand up to 400 watts. For us the 200 carries the boat just fine YMMV
my boat is 25' and some change and I was hoping I could get along under 200W, only the survey will tell ... Thnx
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Old 25-11-2015, 20:22   #9
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

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Originally Posted by NorwestR View Post
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?
Its called a battery monitor. A device called a "shunt" is part of how the monitor works. Lots o companies make them. For example:

BMV-700 series - Victron Energy

Here is one of the best:

Balmar SmartGauge Battery Monitoring System
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Old 25-11-2015, 20:32   #10
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by hapibeli View Post
I installed the panel on a stainless arch. That arch was 3.5 times the cost of the solar system. Our "Samurai" is 30 feet with a 12V cabin & 12V starter battery. The system has run well since November 2014, cloudy skies or not, on Vancouver Island.
Wow!, That's rather disconcerting! I was thinking of having a custom arch made for my panel(s) by a friend. We haven't yet discussed cost as I had not yet decided on a departure date. BTW, took a 30' S2 to Vancouver Island in the early 90's. That and namesake on the mainland are personal favorites. I sure miss Oil Can Harry's!
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Old 25-11-2015, 21:22   #11
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorwestR View Post
my boat is 25' and some change and I was hoping I could get along under 200W, only the survey will tell ... Thnx
OK didn't notice that part the 200 runs our 42 with refer and all on my 24 I am planning on a single 100 watt mounted on the push pit here is a thread that gives some ideas Mounting Solar Panels
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Old 26-11-2015, 08:44   #12
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

I think you are vastly underestimating the draw of the frig. Probably 8 amps when running. I installed on a friends 38 ft Morgan, a 100 watt solar panel on an arch. Also 500 amps of house batteries and a 100 amp alternator. We also added 2 more inches of insulation to the original fridge. With this set up he can go about 3 days before he has to crank up the engine to recharge the batteries. And this is in the summer and in the sun They are down to 50% after 3 days. In my opinion, a fridge is not practical on a 25' boat. I'm sailing one. Try super insulating the box and stick to ice. Block ice. Much cheaper and you know when refrigeration will end.
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Old 26-11-2015, 08:56   #13
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

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Originally Posted by NorwestR View Post
my boat is 25' and some change and I was hoping I could get along under 200W, only the survey will tell ... Thnx
Where will you put all that gear on a 25' boat?

Honda generator, solar panels, batteries...and then there are the appliances to use all that power...flat panel tv, stereo system, refrigeration, microwave, coffee maker, etc. Remember you also need space for your dinghy, outboard, bedding, clothes, WWGear, anchors, spare lines, fenders, food, water, fuel, spare sails, tools, and maybe a bottle of beer in case you get thirsty. And if you invite a guest aboard, you'll need some space for their suitcases and some empty lockers for their personal gear.

I had a C&C25 with one group 24 lead acid battery and no charging source other than shore power. With LED lights, and an autohelm1000 I could go (with 2 young kids) more than a week before the volts got down near 50%. A few hours plugged into shorepower would recharge to 100%, and I would be good for another week of cruising/anchoring.

At one point I purchased a cheap, self contained solar panel. I kept it below, and brought it out on sunny days if I wasn't sailing. Unfortunately, being "portable", at my home dock it grew legs and walked away all on it own. If I ever get another solar panel, I will bolt it securely to the boat.
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Old 26-11-2015, 09:02   #14
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

First thought was why buy a 100W marine panel when you can buy domestic 260W panels at a way lower price. I have three domestic 280W panels and a Outback 60A MPPT which runs two fridges and a freezer plus auto pilot when sailing. I upgraded from two panels because during cloudy the winter found batteries not getting fully charged. I would also recommend a wind turbine rather than more panels as usually windy during the cloudy days!
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Old 26-11-2015, 10:09   #15
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Re: Opinions on solar please ...

FWIW, we have 4-80watt panel installed, connected to a MPPT controller and then to the batteries. On a typical day in the Caribbean (reasonably high sun) we see approx 1-2 amps in the morning (~0800), rising to 12-14 amps by mid-day, and then falling to 1-2 amps by late afternoon........when the sun is shining full! Cloudy days and/or shading reduces the output. Depending on what your energy audit shows, be sure to install enough wattage to meet your needs-or you'll be disappointed. By the way, we also have a windgen installed...it adds a little, but not much. Spending $$ on solar,especially if you're sailing in the lower latitudes, makes alot more sense I think.
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