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Old 15-01-2016, 12:17   #1
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Please critique my solar plans

YAST (Yet another solar thread)....

38' lagoon, with 3 140 AH house (420AH) and 2 starts. New boat, LED lighting, 2 chartplotters, radar, autopilot, refrig (but seawater, so supposedly a bit more efficient, not sure if that is true).

Using for weekly coastal cruising, and maybe some limited charter. Boat is in New England in the summer, Florida in the winter.

Energy inputs are Shore power, standard altenator, and portable 2k honda eu2000 gen (sometimes). Besides the battery charger, there is a battery isolator that will chooses where the power should go from the alternator. Will probably change over to Balmar alt.

There is currently no inverter.

My plan was to add solar, placing it above the davits. I was thinking of 2 Solarworld 285 watt panels in parallel. https://www.emarineinc.com/285-Watt-...285-Mono-Black

My thought is that these are the same width as the Kyocera 260s, but have 25 watts more each. They are a bit longer.

I have not decided on the controller yet. A big question is if I should go with 1 or 2 controllers. Also, the blue sky controllers have a secondary output, which could also put some power into the start battery. So for example, https://www.emarineinc.com/Blue-Sky-...rge-Controller

is a good possibilty. I am looking to get some input from others on what controllers they have had the most luck with. I am not looking to save $ for a headache later. Especially if I have some charter clients, I want a very reliable system. Redundancy on the controller seems good, OTH, it makes things more complex and another thing to break. I am not planning on ever being more than a week away from land at this point.

Also, a remote battery monitor with a shunt. All of the batteries are under the aft berth which is where the charger is, as well as battery switches. So short cable runs.

Appreciate comments from above and specific questions below.

1. Choice of panels. Know lots of Kyocera, nothing of solarwind.
2. Recommendations on controller. Single or dual, and what brand.
3. Fused at the battery post, or put a breaker between controller and battery?
4. Breaker or on off switch between solar panels and controller, to shut down solar input?

Anything else I might have missed.
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Old 15-01-2016, 12:25   #2
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

More batteries would be good. 420 a/h only gives you < 200 useable, (or you risk shortening their lives) which can go pretty quickly.


When it's sunny the 570 Watts of solar should be enough, obviously again more would be better if you have the room to fit it.


These days I'd go with a small MPPT controller for each panel, rather than one bigger one for all of them.
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Old 15-01-2016, 12:35   #3
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

#1 no comment

#2 1 mppt controller. Run panels in series to lessen size of wire.

#3. Fuse close to battery. Fuses protect wire run.

#4 switch at controller for panels. Panels will never overload wire run from them, if wired properly.

Look at the Balmar battery monitor. No shunt needed.
Smart Gauge Battery Monitoring Unit Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com

Use Yandina combiner to charge start batteries. Yandina.com

Good luck
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Old 16-01-2016, 07:48   #4
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

Appreciate the comments. Was hoping to hear what brands of controllers perform well, and least problems.

Can I use the balmar monitor with any brand controller?

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Old 16-01-2016, 08:51   #5
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

I'd check out sun power panels. Try compare the efficiency W/m2. You will probably find you can fit 800W on the davits comfortably, but 600W sounds like enough for your plans. I'd size the battery bank similar to the panel wattage. On our lagoon 380 we had 660W solar and 660Ah batteries which allowed us to be antonymous most of the year, running watermaker etc. the Morningstar controller worked flawlessly. Currently on our L400 we have a larger setup with 1180W/ 800Ah and the victron mppt controller, which also works flawlessly.
I don't think you will need additional charging sources such as alternator or generator with 600W solar unless you want to stay unplugged for more than a month at a time, but even then it's likely you would manage with the solar.
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Old 16-01-2016, 08:53   #6
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

I have a ~650AH bank, with 420W of Kyocera panels and a Tristar 45amp mppt controller. The setup works beautifully. I have been extremely pleased with Kyocera and the Morningstar MPPT controller. For your plans, I think the amount of solar you've decided on should be more than adequate.
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Old 16-01-2016, 10:12   #7
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

Your set-up is sound. I too have a morning star controller and paid the extra for the remote display. Although the display is not compulsory if you have a battery monitor, I still get a kick out of seeing all those free amps flowing into my system and if you get one, you will find yourself glancing at it regularly as a good way to monitor your system. You only need one controller as long as it's not loaded to full capacity all the time. If you have a controller that can handle an extra 20% or so of your max amps, then one will suffice. My Morning Star has always worked perfectly.
I have a breaker between my panels and controller. It's important to be able to easily turn them off if you are working on the electrics, not to mention the protection they afford. It's not necessary to have another one near the battery (assuming that we are talking about the solar system only). I wired mine in parallel. Although it needs larger cable to handle the current, the panels effectively work independently in the event that some of them get shaded.
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Old 16-01-2016, 10:17   #8
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

What is your daily ah load?
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Old 16-01-2016, 10:35   #9
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

A stand alone battery monitor will work independent of any controller.

I use a TriStar TS- MPPT-60. I do not have the remote display. You can view live or 120 day history of data over a network cable and a small software program, MSView.

The display is not a subustute for a monitor. The display shows input to the batteries only, a monitor measures in and out to give you a state of charge.
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Old 16-01-2016, 11:16   #10
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

Here are my thoughts.

I like the Solarworld 285 panels, that's what we're using for the 4 panel system that we're installing that has a max. theoretical output of 1140 watts. However, I think you need to find a better place to buy them, we got them for less than $285 ea.

I'd recommend connecting the panels in series, unless shading is a big issue.

Any of the name brand controllers are great (Morningstar, Rogue, Midnite Solar, Apollo, Outback) but I have a Blue Sky SB2000e and I don't really like it. It doesn't seem to put out as much power as a cheap Chinese unit with comparable panels on it, the face plate is the heatsink (not a good design), and all of the adjustments are potentiometers on the back of the unit, nothing is set via menu. All of the newer designs allow you to set all parameters via easy pushbutton menus.

I'd recommend doubling your battery bank capacity.

Once you get your solar system setup, you might notice that your batteries are getting fully charged before noon and going into float mode for the rest of the day. This is natural because your batteries now only power your boat overnight and the solar panels power it during the day, as well as charge the batteries. I needed to change my habits and use more power during the day, when power was plentiful so as to not waste potentially free solar power.

Of course all of the usual recommendations apply about using the thickest boat cable you can for minimal loss, mount them where you get the least shading, etc, etc.
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Old 16-01-2016, 11:21   #11
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

You might talk to the folks at Ocean Planet Energy (bruce@oceanplanetenergy.com). I'm at the same juncture and have talked to them, but haven't pulled the trigger yet. They seem quite knowledgable for what it's worth.
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Old 16-01-2016, 19:36   #12
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

Thanks. Stu, refrigerator, autopilot, electric winch to raise the main. 50 to 100 ah a day.

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Old 16-01-2016, 19:45   #13
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

Quote:
Originally Posted by Privilege View Post
Your set-up is sound. I too have a morning star controller and paid the extra for the remote display. Although the display is not compulsory if you have a battery monitor, I still get a kick out of seeing all those free amps flowing into my system and if you get one, you will find yourself glancing at it regularly as a good way to monitor your system. You only need one controller as long as it's not loaded to full capacity all the time. If you have a controller that can handle an extra 20% or so of your max amps, then one will suffice. My Morning Star has always worked perfectly.
I have a breaker between my panels and controller. It's important to be able to easily turn them off if you are working on the electrics, not to mention the protection they afford. It's not necessary to have another one near the battery (assuming that we are talking about the solar system only). I wired mine in parallel. Although it needs larger cable to handle the current, the panels effectively work independently in the event that some of them get shaded.
Do you know what brand of breaker, and I am assuming the amp brating of the breaker is based on the panels w/voc?

Also, to hook 2 panels into a larger single controller do you just put each panels wire onto the same input terminal, or do you make a terminal block first.

Do you have 2 breakers for 2 panels?

Trying to get the actual implementation rather than just concept so I can purchase components.

Finally, i was told to use 10 guage wire from controller to battery, less than 5 ft away.

Thanks.

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Old 16-01-2016, 19:57   #14
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

Quote:
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Thanks. Stu, refrigerator, autopilot, electric winch to raise the main. 50 to 100 ah a day.

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heres our L380 power budget
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Old 17-01-2016, 00:24   #15
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Re: Please critique my solar plans

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbinbi View Post

Finally, i was told to use 10 guage wire from controller to battery, less than 5 ft away.
I would use 8 gauge or larger. The run from controller to batteries should have as little loss as possible.

Wire an ACR (Blue Seas, Yandina) between the batteries. Run solar as well as any other charge sources to the house bank. The ACR will take care of the start battery.

Only wire the panels in series if there is zero chance of shading. Likely there will be shading at times.

My preference would be a good controller for each panel.

The fuse at the batteries should be sized for the wire, which should be oversized for low loss, as mentioned above. Smaller fuses have more voltage drop than larger fuses.

Controller should be MPPT and major brand. I like Victron or Morningstar for programming flexibility.
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