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Old 26-10-2015, 23:45   #46
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Boat: 53' Amel Super Maramu
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Re: So many solar options. Is there a standard?

Possibly a minor consideration, but you might want to spend some time looking at wire sizing and number of wires for some of your various installation options.

If you're looking to run your wiring inside any tubing or existing raceways from the panels to the controllers to keep the installation clean, with your option of 6 panels to 6 separate controllers you're running quite a few wires. You may have room, but you may not depending on the gauge required (considering run lengths and voltage drops).

I'm not an electrical expert by any means, but I've been involved in a ton of operations and maintenance reliability analysis over my career and any solution that landed on 6 parallel systems being necessary due to concerns of reliability of one of the components wouldn't have made it past the planning stage. A more reliable component would have been the solution.

IMO buying quality components from a source that will likely be around in a few years (or even interested a week later) to support it beats saving a few $ upfront and possible frustration when troubleshooting or replacing components with premature failures. If I was an electrical tinkerer I might feel different...I'm not...sorting through the detailed specs and weeding out the Bad vs Good Chinese controllers just didn't do it for me.......I like pretty much plug and play with good manuals and then enjoying the cold beer from my fridges running off the solar rather than tinkering and looking for YouTube videos to help me get the system working as it was supposed to.

I love the Outback controller I bought and am actually putting one if their Charger/Inverters when we get to NZ.

But I realize it's 'different strokes for different folks'. Good luck either way....you'll love the extra power and reduced reliance on your engine and generator of you've got one.
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Old 27-10-2015, 13:43   #47
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Re: So many solar options. Is there a standard?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hobie_ind View Post
Possibly a minor consideration, but you might want to spend some time looking at wire sizing and number of wires for some of your various installation options.

If you're looking to run your wiring inside any tubing or existing raceways from the panels to the controllers to keep the installation clean, with your option of 6 panels to 6 separate controllers you're running quite a few wires. You may have room, but you may not depending on the gauge required (considering run lengths and voltage drops).

I'm not an electrical expert by any means, but I've been involved in a ton of operations and maintenance reliability analysis over my career and any solution that landed on 6 parallel systems being necessary due to concerns of reliability of one of the components wouldn't have made it past the planning stage. A more reliable component would have been the solution.

IMO buying quality components from a source that will likely be around in a few years (or even interested a week later) to support it beats saving a few $ upfront and possible frustration when troubleshooting or replacing components with premature failures. If I was an electrical tinkerer I might feel different...I'm not...sorting through the detailed specs and weeding out the Bad vs Good Chinese controllers just didn't do it for me.......I like pretty much plug and play with good manuals and then enjoying the cold beer from my fridges running off the solar rather than tinkering and looking for YouTube videos to help me get the system working as it was supposed to.

I love the Outback controller I bought and am actually putting one if their Charger/Inverters when we get to NZ.

But I realize it's 'different strokes for different folks'. Good luck either way....you'll love the extra power and reduced reliance on your engine and generator of you've got one.
You have a valid point about the number of cables necessary. He might have a large enough support post to run them all, or he might just bundle them all up and not care about seeing them ziptied next to his post. It's a matter of taste and priorities.

As for number of controllers and reliability, I think you're getting into "more expensive must mean higher quality" which are dangerous waters. It's not that the cheaper controllers are always less reliable (I haven't seen one fail yet, out of 10 or 12.) You haven't seen one Outback fail yet, out of 1.

Believe me, any electronic device can fail, regardless of cost. All brands of solar controllers have suffered a failure or two. Perhaps the more expensive brands test 100% of the units, but that only covers infant mortality. That doesn't preclude a failed unit 2 or 5 yrs down the road. Take a look at some of the inverter threads, some very well respected and high priced names have been called out as being unreliable. Names I would have thought to be reliable.

IF yours fails on you, how much power will you be harvesting at that point? In solar power, like investing, sometimes it's best not to have all of your eggs in one basket. In a multi-controller system, not only is each controller capable of better tracking of the single panel it's connected to, but if it goes out, it only represents a portion of the harvest until it's easily replaced for $100.

Microinverter installations on home systems are considered the best route, if you can afford to go that way.
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Old 27-10-2015, 15:38   #48
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Re: So many solar options. Is there a standard?

Socaldmax,
I'm don't have all my eggs in one basket. Don't worry. I've also got wind generators, hi-output alternator (and a spare) on the engine and a generator. My systems works well for our needs and our boat.

I'm also not saying more expensive always means quality. What I was saying was two things:
- Not being an electrical tinkerer, I didn't feel like weeding through the multitudes of cheap MPPT controllers sorting out the crap from the good. I know price does not equate to quality in all cases. I also found some of the manuals and support for some of the ones I did look at left a lot to be desired. So I did some research on some of the more established brands, found one I liked and that many other cruisers that I know personally were having good success with. My data point is far from your assumption of 0 failures out of 1.
- Part of the OP's logic was 6 controllers to 6 panels and a couple spares due to an assumed hi failure rate. My point is that if you're considering a component with that type of probable failure rate, even with multiple backups you're not going to end up with a reliable system or one you're happy with as you'll always be working on it.
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Old 28-10-2015, 03:52   #49
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Re: So many solar options. Is there a standard?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hobie_ind View Post
Socaldmax,
I'm don't have all my eggs in one basket. Don't worry. I've also got wind generators, hi-output alternator (and a spare) on the engine and a generator. My systems works well for our needs and our boat.

I'm also not saying more expensive always means quality. What I was saying was two things:
- Not being an electrical tinkerer, I didn't feel like weeding through the multitudes of cheap MPPT controllers sorting out the crap from the good. I know price does not equate to quality in all cases. I also found some of the manuals and support for some of the ones I did look at left a lot to be desired. So I did some research on some of the more established brands, found one I liked and that many other cruisers that I know personally were having good success with. My data point is far from your assumption of 0 failures out of 1.
- Part of the OP's logic was 6 controllers to 6 panels and a couple spares due to an assumed hi failure rate. My point is that if you're considering a component with that type of probable failure rate, even with multiple backups you're not going to end up with a reliable system or one you're happy with as you'll always be working on it.
I don't think the OP is assuming a high failure rate, you're the one who is posting that. Where did you get "probable failure rate"?

Since they're compact and only $100 ea., they're cheap enough to carry a spare or two. If you're out in the middle of the ocean it would be nice to have a spare for anything, even if you never need it. A $500 or $600 controller is a little on the steep side to carry a spare.

I believe in Murphy's law, especially when the chips are down or you're in a remote location. The more prepared you are (multiple power sources, spare parts) the better.
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