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Old 30-08-2012, 06:11   #121
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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Originally Posted by Wotname View Post
FWIW, I am really enjoying this thread, all good info, someone else is doing the hard part - the learning curve - and I can just enjoy my own drop of red while waiting for all the issues to be resolved.

Thanks VV ; trust it will all be sorted soon.
I've piggy-backed on other cruisers threads for so long I guess it's time I was the guinea-pig...
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Old 30-08-2012, 07:32   #122
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

New readings on the Balmar alternator are pretty unexciting.
Once again the regulator appears to be off with no sign of life on the screen, and the alternator is room temp.
Pos. terminal wire .5, .79, and .42
Thinner red wire that goes to the regulator -.86, -.76, -.81, -.68
Blue field wire .37, .83, .24, .89

I have just made a new discovery.
There is an unlabelled switch on the pedestal that switches the ingnition on, seperate to the key's two positions.
There are a bunch of lights and switches left over from earlier stuff that don't do anything, so I was trying all switches and the Balmar screen came back to life.
So before this gremlin hunt, the ignition has been on all the time.
That must account for current draw and the warm alternator.
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Old 30-08-2012, 08:01   #123
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

well..........you now know how your charging system works!

next job.......give all the cooling fins and fans on the fridges cooling system a good clean.
check that the thermostats have not been bridged,and they do actually cycle on and off.

check if the airflow to the fridge coolers canbe improved and is not restricted.
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Old 30-08-2012, 08:16   #124
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

another thought you said there was a constantly running fan for air circulation,it might be an idea to rewire it so it only comes on when the fridge cycles.

alternatively leave it turned off,that will save another 50AH a day
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Old 30-08-2012, 11:04   #125
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VirtualVagabond
New readings on the Balmar alternator are pretty unexciting.
Once again the regulator appears to be off with no sign of life on the screen, and the alternator is room temp.
Pos. terminal wire .5, .79, and .42
Thinner red wire that goes to the regulator -.86, -.76, -.81, -.68
Blue field wire .37, .83, .24, .89

I have just made a new discovery.
There is an unlabelled switch on the pedestal that switches the ingnition on, seperate to the key's two positions.
There are a bunch of lights and switches left over from earlier stuff that don't do anything, so I was trying all switches and the Balmar screen came back to life.
So before this gremlin hunt, the ignition has been on all the time.
That must account for current draw and the warm alternator.
Aha! Having the ignition on would be a huge constant draw. That is a significant find
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Old 30-08-2012, 14:07   #126
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

Well, we've identified where the current has been going... thirsty refrigeration and a permanently 'on' ignition being the biggest culprits, and there are some good suggestions here to reduce consumption/increase efficiency.
A huge thanks Drinks all round


Ok... NOW can I get some solar panels???

Is there any advantage or disadvantage when it comes to mixing different manufacturers products?
Eg. there is a Kyocera 315w 27v panel that fits with little overhang on the space I have on the davits. But I would probably find a better fit with another brand on either side of the sliding hatch on the doghouse. I'm assuming they can take it if I need to stand on them occassionally.

Also, early suggestions for quantity in the thread varied from at least 3 x 135 w to as many as I can fit!
Any more suggestions?

I'll go back and read the Best Bang For Buck thread, but suggestions regarding brands, good deals, and any negative experiences to watch for would be welcome.

Vic
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Old 30-08-2012, 14:35   #127
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

Well now you are back to the start, need to determine how many amp-hours/day you want to get out of the panels so you can size them.

far as the different panels go from my understanding a lot will depend on what type of controller you use (but I'm still trying to decide on what I what my system to be like and I'm been called an idiot recently )
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Old 30-08-2012, 14:40   #128
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

I don't think you should stand on the panels. Seems to me to be a quick way to kill them.
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Old 30-08-2012, 15:22   #129
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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I don't think you should stand on the panels. Seems to me to be a quick way to kill them.

A wise suggestion!!!!
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Old 30-08-2012, 15:33   #130
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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Originally Posted by VirtualVagabond View Post

Ok... NOW can I get some solar panels???

Is there any advantage or disadvantage when it comes to mixing different manufacturers products?
It's great you are solving some of your other problems. This will make a big difference.

You cannot walk on rigid panels, not even occasionally.

If you mix different types of panels, particularly high voltage panels thier Vmp needs to be matched closely, which is hard to do with different high voltage panels, or you need 2 controllers for the different panels.
As good MPPT controllers are expensive, this can signifficantly add to the cost, but if you need different panels to fit different areas 2 controllers are often needed.

If you can fit identical panels it will reduce the cost of suitable controllers.

Fit as many watts as you can.

Without knowing your amp hour consumption there is difficult to know the effects of solar. Some high power users are disappointed that even a large solar array only reduces their generator run times slightly. With your recent changes hopefully your consumption has reduced significantly, but with out any measurements the effects on generator run times are very difficult to predict.
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Old 30-08-2012, 15:38   #131
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

Quote:
Originally Posted by VirtualVagabond View Post
Well, we've identified where the current has been going... thirsty refrigeration and a permanently 'on' ignition being the biggest culprits, and there are some good suggestions here to reduce consumption/increase efficiency.
A huge thanks Drinks all round


Ok... NOW can I get some solar panels???

Is there any advantage or disadvantage when it comes to mixing different manufacturers products?
Eg. there is a Kyocera 315w 27v panel that fits with little overhang on the space I have on the davits. But I would probably find a better fit with another brand on either side of the sliding hatch on the doghouse. I'm assuming they can take it if I need to stand on them occassionally.

Also, early suggestions for quantity in the thread varied from at least 3 x 135 w to as many as I can fit!
Any more suggestions?

I'll go back and read the Best Bang For Buck thread, but suggestions regarding brands, good deals, and any negative experiences to watch for would be welcome.

Vic
when choosing panels it is a good idea to be able to tilt them to face the sun.
so this would be a consideration for the panel/panels on the davits.

on the coach roof you really have no other option but to have them lying flat,and if you need to stand up there consider where you are going to step.

for long distance sailing fitting panels out side of the guard rails at the stern that can be dropped when in a marina to lie against the guard rails work well,especially if they can be tilted fore and aft,and horizontally up and down.

consider your daily AH usage .

under way:
auto pilot, 5 amps
radar,plotter 3 amps
navlights .5 amps
fridge 5 amps
sundry 2 amps.
total 15.5 amps x 24=372 amp hours

so basically you will need to average about 350-400 amp hours a day
if you dont want to run a generator.

so basically you want enough panels to charge at 50 amps for 8 hours a day.
so 600watts of panels
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Old 30-08-2012, 17:47   #132
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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Originally Posted by atoll View Post
when choosing panels it is a good idea to be able to tilt them to face the sun.
so this would be a consideration for the panel/panels on the davits.

on the coach roof you really have no other option but to have them lying flat,and if you need to stand up there consider where you are going to step.

for long distance sailing fitting panels out side of the guard rails at the stern that can be dropped when in a marina to lie against the guard rails work well,especially if they can be tilted fore and aft,and horizontally up and down.

consider your daily AH usage .

under way:
auto pilot, 5 amps
radar,plotter 3 amps
navlights .5 amps
fridge 5 amps
sundry 2 amps.
total 15.5 amps x 24=372 amp hours

so basically you will need to average about 350-400 amp hours a day
if you dont want to run a generator.

so basically you want enough panels to charge at 50 amps for 8 hours a day.
so 600watts of panels
Unfortunately this doesn't end up being "simple solar for the simpleton" - a 600w array is pretty hard core and you should select the best equipment possible.

That is you can start with fewer panels, still rely on the genny a bit and add later but don't scrimp on the controller which will have to have your long term needs covered.
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Old 30-08-2012, 18:21   #133
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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Unfortunately this doesn't end up being "simple solar for the simpleton" - a 600w array is pretty hard core and you should select the best equipment possible.

That is you can start with fewer panels, still rely on the genny a bit and add later but don't scrimp on the controller which will have to have your long term needs covered.
how is that hard core?
6x100w panels on a nearly 60 ft boat
any less panels and he will be running the genny 2 hrs a day!
assuming he has over 10,000 miles to sail over the next 15 months.

assuming you are paying $1.00 a liter for fuel and the genset uses 2 liters an hour,thats $120 a month minimum,estimated days on passage to australia @ 150 mpd= 67 days sailing over 15 months,the extra panels soon pay for them selves.

if the generator breaks down as they are prone to do you become reliant on the main engine to generate power @ 4-6 liter an hour or$240 -360 a month,
the alternative is hand steering and no fridge
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Old 30-08-2012, 18:48   #134
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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how is that hard core?
6x100w panels on a nearly 60 ft boat
any less panels and he will be running the genny 2 hrs a day!
assuming he has over 10,000 miles to sail over the next 15 months.

assuming you are paying $1.00 a liter for fuel and the genset uses 2 liters an hour,thats $120 a month minimum,estimated days on passage to australia @ 150 mpd= 67 days sailing over 15 months,the extra panels soon pay for them selves.

if the generator breaks down as they are prone to do you become reliant on the main engine to generate power @ 4-6 liter an hour or$240 -360 a month,
the alternative is hand steering and no fridge
I simply meant in the context of the array size vs. thread title - "Simple Solar."

A 50 amp array is pretty powerful. Can make big sparks...

No question on the economics.
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Old 30-08-2012, 18:58   #135
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Re: Simple Solar For A Simpleton

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I simply meant in the context of the array size vs. thread title - "Simple Solar."

A 50 amp array is pretty powerful. Can make big sparks...

No question on the economics.
so can any electrical device make big sparks on boat lol

actually the array i suggested is pretty conservative,as in reality on a cloudy day or not directly facing the sun or in the shade of the sails, the array will probably only be putting out 20-30 amps or less,espesialy sailing in the trades were the panels are in the shadow of the sails for half the daylight hours.
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