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Old 07-01-2017, 10:01   #16
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

I just put 600 watts of solar on our 36ft cat. Also put in a MPPT controller and a 2KW inverter. Got everything from Renogy.com. I also went for the high efficiency panels (6x100 watts). Even when cloudy around the winter solstice they were still putting out a good amount of power. They was one of Renogy's packages + 2 additional panels and the inverter.

After installing the system, I found out how bad my batteries actually were. Replaced them with 6 volt Duracell golf cart batteries for $99 each (6 of them).

One thing to say about solar panel ratings that few people (or sales folks!) point out, is saying that you have a 100 watt panel means you get 100 watts out in good/perfect conditions. Clouds, sun angle, etc will drop that amount, so take that into account when making your calculations.
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Old 07-01-2017, 10:08   #17
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

I didn't realise how heavy all this stuff is.

Two 200ah batteries are around 100kg. Add to that the starter battery (one for each engine?), and a lot of people also like a separate battery for the windlass and you're at 200kg before you add the wiring, panels and brackets.

Shame LifePo4 batteries aren't cheaper. A similar actual capacity would only be around 70kg, but would cost over £5,000
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Old 07-01-2017, 10:17   #18
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggbah View Post
How do you determine how much power you need? Galley, a/c, lights, tv, and such.

Is there one company I could purchase a full system from or do I have to piece it together from 10 different companies?

I've remodeled my home, so I consider myself pretty handy. Is the install super difficult if I opt to do it myself?

Cost -

I don't own a boat yet, so I know this is beyond impossible to estimate. Considering a small cat (30ish ft?) to start before my "big" purchase (aka retirement boat). What should I expect cost-wise if you have outfitted a 30ish ft cat with solar? $15-20k for a basic solar setup?


I want to power everything onboard with solar if possible. Not for a green thing, just out of convenience...is it better to have solar?

Flipping thru the threads was a bit overwhelming and I think I am more confused now than when I started (so much information!) and now I need wine.
What kind of seat covers should I buy for a vehicle I don't own and how much should they cost?

Sounds to me like you are trying to finalize minute details, before you have started considering the basics.

To determine what type and cost of solar charging system you need, you first need to know what boat and how you intend to use it. Then a more detailed review of the boats existing architecture and systems, and your energy consumption expectations.

Then an eval of the current technology and your solar charging system financial budget.

If you research the finite details on a solar charging system today, all info may be pretty much irrelevant by the time you purchase the boat to put it on.

So lets just look at the basics as they stand today.

Basically for every 10 A-hrs of daily electrical consumption, you should have 40 A-hrs of FLA battery capacity, and 40W of solar charging system.

For budgeting:

$2/W (+/- 50%) for the electrical components.

$2/W (+/50%) for the mechanical mounting components.

$500 + $1/W for professional installation.

You can tweak and twaddle as you know more specifics about the vessel and whether you should be going with FLA, AGM, L-Ion batteries, what electrical systems exist and may be added, how much panel real estate is readily available, etc., then apply the details and costs of the day for that system.
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Old 07-01-2017, 11:37   #19
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

This is the most down to earth comprehensible/helpful threads on marine solar I have read in over 2 years. Thanks!
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Old 07-01-2017, 11:41   #20
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggbah View Post
How do you determine how much power you need? Galley, a/c, lights, tv, and such.
You need to do a power budget, which is the total of "amps" times "hours" of operation for each piece of equipment you will be running in 24hrs. There are many examples on the net, but here's mine(below)...

Quote:
Is there one company I could purchase a full system from or do I have to piece it together from 10 different companies?
Yes, you can find them on amazon....BUT you will pay about 2 times as much as you would by designing and building your own..

Quote:
I've remodeled my home, so I consider myself pretty handy. Is the install super difficult if I opt to do it myself?
It is an fairly easy DIY job IMO. But the difficulty really comes down to your specific mounting and arrangement. Where are you putting the panels and how are they mounted? I spent $225 on a used bimini frame, cut and welded it up to make my own arch to support 2, 60cell panels. I also fabricated my own mounts... about $300 for the whole mounting solution.

Quote:
Cost -

I don't own a boat yet, so I know this is beyond impossible to estimate. Considering a small cat (30ish ft?) to start before my "big" purchase (aka retirement boat). What should I expect cost-wise if you have outfitted a 30ish ft cat with solar? $15-20k for a basic solar setup?
NO way! $20k is enough to run a whole house!! First, panels are expensive to ship, so source local if possible. 60 cell panels are standard for house install and should cost ~$1 per 1 watt... I bought two 265W panels for $250 each from AltEstore (near boston) and picked them up b/c shipping was over $100. The wire and MC4 connectors was like $50 (amazon) and I bought a Victron bluesolar 100/50amp charge controller for $20 (amazon). With 60 cells panels, they are higher voltage than the 13V batteries, so you get much better efficiency with MPPT than PWM for larger panels. You need a circuit breaker too ($25 amazon). So... that's $300 for arch/mounts, $500 for panels, $320 for charge controller, $50 wire&connectors and $25 breaker... $1195 Total for 530 Watts which will power me with margin running water maker and refrigeration, etc..

Note, I bought LED lights from Amazon for $3.20 each, not marinebeam, which wanted over $10 for the same bulb.
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Old 07-01-2017, 11:46   #21
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

You might look at the West Marine Website which has tutorials and videos and a spreadsheet for calculating energy usage on a sailboat. Good luck.
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Old 07-01-2017, 16:23   #22
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

Thank you all!! I don't think I would be using a ton of power. The first boat will not even have a washer/dryer combo (I wish, but I need to be realistic or win the lottery or sell a kidney on the black market). Just enough for some lights, small galley, tankless water heater if I can even have one on a boat. I have so very much to learn!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
$2-4K unless you go overboard, then the sky's the limit.

On a cat where you likely have plenty of real estate for the panels, you could put down 300w of panels for $150-220 per 100w panel; $450 to start.
40amp MPPT controller big enough to expand up to 500w is about $250.
2 Trojan 12v golfcart batteries at $180-200 each gives you 300 amp-hours storage for $400.
1kw pure sine wave inverter: $530
Battery monitor: $250

Equipment costs: $1880, let's call it $2k with tax
Add $1k for cabling and DIY installation.

If you want to pay to have it installed add another $2k.

This is a pure solar system with no tie to engine alternator or shore power charging. Add $1k for each of those.

The 1kw inverter will run most appliances, even a laser printer, but you want to be careful not to run too many at once. You could bump up to 1800w inverter for another $500 or so.

Unless you covered your whole boat in solar cells and devoted an excessive percentage of your load carrying capacity to batteries, there is no way to run air-conditioning without shore power or a FULL-TIME generator which would annoy anybody anchoring near you.

I'm hoping to do my whole solar set up for about $1k, but I have a 20' boat.

Get "Boatowner's Illustrated Electrical Handbook, 2nd edition" by Charlie Wing, it will show you how to calc your electrical demands, how batteries work, etc, etc...
So much cheaper than I thought! I will definitely have to grab a copy of that book.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BobLoucks View Post
I purchased a 265w generation 2 panel for $265 Canadian a charge controller for $30 US, and a used 2500w inverter for $200.00 USD. All works well.
Going to replace house bank this year with 6x 6GC batteries. I expect to pay $750 Cdn for these.

Guess I'm a cheapskate
Absolutely nothing wrong with being a cheapskate. I was worried it was going to cost a hefty chunk of change!

Wonder if I can get a tax credit on it, hmm...lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
OK, don't forget refrigeration, unless you're talking about large sized. But, do recognize that it takes a lot of energy relative to lots of other electrical tasks. No one has figured out a way to make an LED refrigerator.
Thank you, I think you just gave my son an idea for a science fair project for next year!

Definitely not a large fridge, mini - whatever the next size up is that fits under the counter (if there's another size).
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Old 07-01-2017, 16:59   #23
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

Quote:
Originally Posted by zstine View Post
You need to do a power budget, which is the total of "amps" times "hours" of operation for each piece of equipment you will be running in 24hrs. There are many examples on the net, but here's mine(below)...

Yes, you can find them on amazon....BUT you will pay about 2 times as much as you would by designing and building your own..

It is an fairly easy DIY job IMO. But the difficulty really comes down to your specific mounting and arrangement. Where are you putting the panels and how are they mounted? I spent $225 on a used bimini frame, cut and welded it up to make my own arch to support 2, 60cell panels. I also fabricated my own mounts... about $300 for the whole mounting solution.

NO way! $20k is enough to run a whole house!! First, panels are expensive to ship, so source local if possible. 60 cell panels are standard for house install and should cost ~$1 per 1 watt... I bought two 265W panels for $250 each from AltEstore (near boston) and picked them up b/c shipping was over $100. The wire and MC4 connectors was like $50 (amazon) and I bought a Victron bluesolar 100/50amp charge controller for $20 (amazon). With 60 cells panels, they are higher voltage than the 13V batteries, so you get much better efficiency with MPPT than PWM for larger panels. You need a circuit breaker too ($25 amazon). So... that's $300 for arch/mounts, $500 for panels, $320 for charge controller, $50 wire&connectors and $25 breaker... $1195 Total for 530 Watts which will power me with margin running water maker and refrigeration, etc..

Note, I bought LED lights from Amazon for $3.20 each, not marinebeam, which wanted over $10 for the same bulb.
Thank you! The bimini idea rocks. If I don't have the horizontal space, I can definitely figure something out.

The prices in this thread so far have really put my mind at ease. I didn't want to pay $15-20 thousand for a system - that made me sick to my stomach!

I've never ventured outside of $1 solar stake lights so I didn't even know what I needed to look at and I did not want to get screwed over.
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Old 07-01-2017, 18:27   #24
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

If you talk to twenty people, you will get twenty different answers. If you want to get an answer from the horses mouth, go to E-marine in Fort Lauderdale. They are the most experienced, honest and well stocked supplier in Florida. Can't recommend them enough.
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Old 08-01-2017, 08:44   #25
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggbah View Post
Definitely not a large fridge, mini - whatever the next size up is that fits under the counter (if there's another size).
Choose carefully, some of those off the shelf mini-units from the big box stores are not the most efficient!
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Old 08-01-2017, 09:24   #26
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

Spent under 3000 for complete 720 watt system, including stainless rack to mount panels above the davits (on a cat). all DIY except the stainless work. Easy job.
Bill
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Old 08-01-2017, 12:30   #27
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

Buy a boat that already has the solar equiptment installed,
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Old 08-01-2017, 18:14   #28
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

Krakato, I just checked out Renogy.com. I'm curious, do you have to stick to the marine/rv set ups or can you run the home/cabin set ups?

Aren't they all the same? I wasn't sure if their rv/marine sets were coated in something to handle the saltwater... (the exposed parts)



Quote:
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Buy a boat that already has the solar equiptment installed,
That would be an absolute dream! It is on the wish list!
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Old 08-01-2017, 20:43   #29
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

We run the whole boat except a/c on 2 250watt panels and an outback controller. That includes 2 refrigerators, one requiring an inverter. I have 5 group 27 deep cycles. The solar system (panels and controller) were about $850 from Sun electric in Miami Fl. All the support structures were another $300. Oh the paneled were $250 total. The controller was $500.
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Old 08-01-2017, 20:51   #30
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

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Originally Posted by cottonsail View Post
We run the whole boat except a/c on 2 250watt panels and an outback controller. That includes 2 refrigerators, one requiring an inverter. I have 5 group 27 deep cycles. The solar system (panels and controller) were about $850 from Sun electric in Miami Fl. All the support structures were another $300. Oh the paneled were $250 total. The controller was $500.
WOW! That's it??!?! With each response, I am feeling more and more hopeful! And you guys/ladies have saved me thousands!


That means a bigger boat, right?

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