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Old 15-11-2014, 05:56   #1
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GrowleyMonster's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: New Orleans
Boat: 1976 Cal 2-27
Posts: 1,003
serious solar, 180 square feet available

Some of you have seen my thread on re powering my boat with electric. I went pretty much the cheapest route I could come up with, and now I have a 5kw motor and 220ah, 48v bank, for a net outlay of about $2500. Not a record, by any means, but you see how important low cost is to me, even at the expense of "quality". I refuse to let a little thing like not being rich stop me from doing this.

Okay, now it is time to start thinking about my renewable energy setup. I will be taking the mast and rigging down, and constructing a hard canopy over the entire boat. Hey, I like my shade, and I like to go places with low bridges. Plus, that will give me about 180 square feet of surface for mounting solar panels. My boat will stay cooler. The $89 5kbtu window ac won't struggle so hard. I can sit on the raised coachroof, in the shade, drinking beer and catching trout. But mainly I want to be able to charge my 48v bank with a reasonable degree of efficiency.

I looked at the simple PWM solar charge controllers and decided that unfortunately I really need to go with MPPT type control even though it is more expensive. Ouch. Well that's okay. And no, I won't be going with top dollar panels. And they won't be walked on, and don't have to be flexible. The final output to the batteries needs to be adjustable Of course, from trickle charge up to a 62v equalizing charge. I will probably want to manually control the equalizing charge, when i do that, but i would like for general charging to be automatic 3 stage "smart" charging if possible.

Okay, i also will have shading issues in my slip. So i want to have a very high peak voltage into the controller, meaning lots of panels in series, and I don't mind a parallel/series setup as long as i have sufficient volts into the controller under most conditions. So, i need a controller that can handle the power of a very large spread of panels, and a high max voltage, and a proper variable output.

Boat has a beam of 9'3" and length of 27'. Some stern overhang is okay. With the above parameters in mind, anybody have any suggestions on sources? Not sure i am comfortable with building my own controller so an off the shelf solution would be great on that. I can see mounting individual solar cells, though. It would sure make covering the canopy properly a lot easier.
1976 Cal 2-27 sloop, MR WIGGLES
Now with clean, dependable electric propulsion!
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