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Old 06-01-2017, 16:10   #1
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Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

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.
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Old 06-01-2017, 16:18   #2
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

> I want to power everything onboard with solar if possible.

Does that include propulsion
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Old 06-01-2017, 16:45   #3
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

Well that would be neat, but that will be twin engines and sails
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Old 06-01-2017, 17:20   #4
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

I bought a 43ft aluminum monohull sailboat for the purpose of living abroad. It is a John Martin Shipyard England C&C racer with a 7 1/2 foot draft. I am converting it to a cruiser by cutting the keel down to 5 1/2 foot, so I can get it in to Sebastian inlet. I bought a 60v LIFEPO4 system from the electric car company on eBay for $5000+ . It was 1/2 of the system I was building. I wanted to see what I was getting before I committed to the full amount of $10,000. The batteries I received were shipped directly from China and they were not NEW. I am returning them to the Electric Car Company thru eBay's return policy of "not as described ". I hope you have better luck with your project.
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Old 06-01-2017, 17:46   #5
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

The central questions are how much space you have and what you want to do with the energy produced. Solar power takes a lot of horizontal space that can't be used for anything else, plus batteries, sunlight, and a very careful energy budget. Forget refrigeration and AC, for starters. The calculations have to take into account losses from the ideal due to clouds, sun/panel angle, time of year, storage in batteries, resistance in wires, starting spikes for motors, and a bunch of stuff. Look at the figures advertised for a panel you think of reasonable size, then realize that that figure is ideal, noon at the equator with the boat not rocking....
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Old 06-01-2017, 17:57   #6
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
The central questions are how much space you have and what you want to do with the energy produced. Solar power takes a lot of horizontal space that can't be used for anything else, plus batteries, sunlight, and a very careful energy budget. Forget refrigeration and AC, for starters. The calculations have to take into account losses from the ideal due to clouds, sun/panel angle, time of year, storage in batteries, resistance in wires, starting spikes for motors, and a bunch of stuff. Look at the figures advertised for a panel you think of reasonable size, then realize that that figure is ideal, noon at the equator with the boat not rocking....
Why forget refrigeration? That's quite do-able for most.

But forget solar for cooking unless you've got LOTS of it and very expensive battery banks.
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Old 06-01-2017, 18:22   #7
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

I put my four solar panels off my boat onto the roof of my RV while the boat is being repaired, It keeps my RV batterys fully charged,
I had 360 watts of Panels, and a wind generator, It came with my boat,

I will be putting two new Solar panels on my boat, 250 watts in each panel,
They are $280-00 per panel delivered, with a $40-00, 30 amp controller,
21 days at sea, I never even come close to flattening the batterys,
The expensive cost is the Batterys, about $500-00 each for 280 amp hour batterys, AGM's,
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Old 06-01-2017, 19:30   #8
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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.
$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...
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Old 06-01-2017, 20:09   #9
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

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...
Nah, that's WAY too expensive. You can get a 400 watt system complete with cabling and controller for under $800 + shipping at renogy dot com.
https://www.renogy.com/renogy-400-wa...-solar-rv-kit/
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Old 06-01-2017, 20:26   #10
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

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Originally Posted by shotglass View Post
Nah, that's WAY too expensive. You can get a 400 watt system complete with cabling and controller for under $800 + shipping at renogy dot com.
https://www.renogy.com/renogy-400-wa...-solar-rv-kit/
You're missing the inverter, the batteries and the monitor. Also I went a little more upscale anticipating the OP would want to use a lot of power and therefore would need an expandable system.

I actually used Renogy for the some of the pricing I used. We got a 100w suitcase panel and controller system from them we use when we go camping, CPAPs.
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Old 06-01-2017, 20:44   #11
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

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Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
You're missing the inverter, the batteries and the monitor. Also I went a little more upscale anticipating the OP would want to use a lot of power and therefore would need an expandable system.

I actually used Renogy for the some of the pricing I used. We got a 100w suitcase panel and controller system from them we use when we go camping, CPAPs.
True...but a 2000w pure sine wave inverter can be had from defender for under $500...

The point I was trying to make is that a good solar system doesn't need to be $2-4K if one shops wisely.

Every solar system is expandable, if you do it correctly.
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Old 06-01-2017, 21:50   #12
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

You need to shop around for your gear,
The prices fluctuate wildly, Then they hit you with postage, hahahaha
I had to replace all mine after they got submerged,

All These cost me $1100-00 AUD delivered,
The Xantax invertor started at $2000-00 here, I went to the Chinese company that makes Xantax and bought one of theirs, $500-00 AUD delivered,
5000 Watt pure sine, 10,000 watt surge on it.
My new solar panels 250 Watts are worth $280-00 delivered,
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Old 07-01-2017, 00:33   #13
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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 -

SNIP
There are some standard guidelines you can find (look for a Caulder book) to figure out how much power is normally required every 24 hours and how large a solar system you will need to replace that power. Normally the fridge/freezer is the biggest user and a decent system takes maybe 40-50 amp hours. The thing is systems like a Frigaboat can be upgraded with cards that start up the compressor at 25%, after 5 minutes jump to 50%, another 5 minutes to 75%, and another 5 minutes to 100%. Things like a water heater will obviously depend on how often you use it and how much water you use so that is hard to guess. Something like a windless is a real power hog but normally is not used that often. How well the sails are trimmed to balance the boat is a big factor in how much the autopilot will use. I tend to use things like Lucy Lights but some folks light up their boats like a Christmas tree every night.

There are even more variables that can add or subtract from how much power you use on a daily basis. Keep in mind that if your battery bank is say 400 amp hours you really should only be using 200 amp hours a day to maximize battery life. A good set of flooded batteries would last probably 10 years if you did that. Another thing to keep in mind is flooded batteries need water added on a regular basis. There are other more expensive battery options that require less looking after. But I think all batteries should be located where they are easy to access. Unless you are buying and selling the boat quickly you will probably wind up replacing batteries and ease of access is a big OK. I am also a big fan of designing the wiring around the battery bank so you don't need a multi page diagram to understand what is going on. Also use the right size and color of wire.

For a 30 foot cat a 400-500 amp hour battery bank with maybe a 400 watt array of solar panels would fit the bill for most folks. Cost would depend on not just the components, you need a solid structure to mount them on. Something like a frame on the arch or top of the cabin. Also want to mount them where you minimize shade from the mast and rigging.

Another factor in system design is location. In a place like the Florida Keys there are a lot more sunny days than in a place like the Pacific North West.

As for the cost the type of battery you use in the battery bank is a huge variable. Six volt golf cart batteries are dirt cheap compared to some of the exotic choices. Different battery types also require different boxes to charge them up and there can be different prices as well. Same goes for the stuff under the solar panels.

System would be maybe $US1,500 at a bare minimum if you did almost everything your self and scrounged everything you could.
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Old 07-01-2017, 05:19   #14
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

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.
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Old 07-01-2017, 08:12   #15
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Re: Solar basics, cost and where to purchase

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
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