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Old 31-01-2005, 06:28   #1
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario - 48-29N x 89-20W
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Satisfaction Survey (quantatative ?)

Tell us about your solar system.

1. Can anyone share any quantitative documentation on the actual output they’ve realized (over time) from their Solar Power Installation?

2. Are you (generally) satisfied or disappointed in your Solar Power Installation?

3. Is your Solar Power Installation worth the:
(a) cost ?
(b) bother (installation, obstruction, space & constant adjustment/or not) ?

4. What are the key elements of your installation that have improved (or reduced) your overall satisfaction ?

I’ve never operated a Photo-Voltaic Solar Array on my own boat, so my “knowledge” (ignorance ?) is mostly theoretical (& installation).
Over the years, I’ve conducted informal polling, on cruisers’ satisfaction regarding their Solar installation - but none of them had accurate instrumentation - so their judgments were mostly subjective opinions - which varied from “disappointed” to “ecstatic”.


Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 31-01-2005, 06:50   #2
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1) I have mesured 8 amps output from the solar panels AFTER the wires and the regulator, in strong Florida sunshine.
I estimate about 5 hours of max output, and a few more hours of lesser amps.
Total per sunny day, perhaps 50 amps
Cloudy days with a solid overcast yields 2 amps, that would still be 20 or more amps hours for the day.

2) Very satisfied with the solar panels...Mainly becuase I sail in the Florida and Bahamas sun...Up North perhaps not.

3) Yes, worth the cost and installation...No adjustments, have 2 fixed panels of 75 watts each.

4) Key elements: No maintenance, sturdy system that adds a little shade to the cockpit.

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Old 31-01-2005, 09:18   #3
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Location: Currently, cruise is over and back in Solomons MD, USA
Boat: Voyage/Maxim 380 - Makai
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More solar-Love it

Makai is a catamaran and has acreage for panels.

-4 -120 watt 12volt Kyrocea panels fixed mounted

-Rv Power Products Solar Boost 50 MPPT charge controller with monitor (measured output side)

-Link 2000 Battery monitor

-600 Amp liquid acid houe bank

Clear days in Bonaire we see 1-2 amps with in an hour of sunrise

10:30 to about 3PM an average of 28 amps and peaks at 32 amps

We see this only during peak draws when running the water maker all day. Otherwise the controller reduces the output for 3 step charging.

Our house bank is usaully fully charged before lunch.

We adding more solar. I am expecting to get 160 watts more in 2 panels on the bimini. And possibly 2 140-160s for the arch which will only be deployed at anchor.

Only maintence is keeping them clean. Dirt also impacts the solar panel output.

It is worth the money. We are adding wind to take advantage of the trade winds at night and the low sunshine days. We are power hungry, we like lots of RO water, computers, lights, TV, etc.
Captain Bil formerly of sv Makai -- KI4TMM
The hunt for the next boat begins.
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Old 31-01-2005, 14:52   #4
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My last boat had 200 watts of solar charging to maintain 4 golf cart batteries (house) and a seperate flexible panel to maintain the starting battery. The house circuit was always full unless the refrigeration ran for several days in cloudy conditions which are common in New England.
Only once in three years was it necessary to start the engine to augment the solar panels. I have since sold that boat, but am gathering the equipment necessary to outfit my new boat which should be here in a month or so. I will add 320 watts to the new vessel to ensure that there is no shortage of power since our days are shorter and less sunny than our counterparts to the south.
In the winter, I leave all the navigation instruments on to keep the LCDs from freezing and going south. It is easier than removing the instruments as so many do. I generally disconnect all but one of the solar panels for the winter. The remaining solar panel is sufficient, even with the ice and snow that collects on the panel to keep all the batteries fully charged.

Jim Kane

We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit."
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