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Old 17-10-2012, 17:45   #1
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Solar Electric System from Craft

Hi Sailors!
Im about to purchase a 30' Piver trimaran with absolutly no electric system.
Does somebody have any idea about the cost of getting installed a full electric system with solar panels able to handle the life aboard daily needs?
Any estimation would be very helpfull as I have to place a decision shortly either or not I purchase this lovely boat
Thanks a lot for your help!


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Old 17-10-2012, 18:45   #2
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Location: daytona beach florida
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Re: Solar electric system from craft

basic setup

charging side -
135 watt solar panel - $400
simple controller - $50
2 golf cart batteries - $160

drawing side
simple circuit breaker/fuse panel - $30
nav lights - $75
vhf radio - $120

and keep adding anything else you like. just keep in mind that it's a basic
setup and won't provide more than 40 or 50 amps a day (on sunny days) so
keep track of your power usage.

i didn't mention wire and terminals. buy ancor brand wire or it's equivalent and
quality terminals. you want this stuff to last...

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Old 17-10-2012, 18:50   #3
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Re: Solar electric system from craft

should have added -

antenna and cable for vhf - $50 to $150, depending on what you want.
some jerry rigged mount for the solar panel - $100?
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Old 17-10-2012, 22:30   #4
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Boat: 1981 Endeavour 37 & 1990 MacGregor 26 Classic
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Re: Solar electric system from craft

I guess all of our needs are different so really hard to answer the question but here are our approximate prices for the solar alone.

200 watts on our MacGregor:

40 watt panel, 60 watt panel and a 100 watt panel (200 total)= $293.00
MPPT controller = $225
Wire = $100
Frame = $100
Labor = $0.00
2 batteries = $180

Total = 898.00

This worked fine for a portable EdgeStar fridge and a lot of computer time on a 7+ week trip. We ran a gen-set I made about 4 hours total on the trip so the solar provided over 90% of the power.

Most of the info is here....

Macgregor 26S Outside Mods page 33


480 Watts on the Endeavour (6 80 watt panels).

I don't have the whole breakdown handy but the other day I figured it pretty close and the panels, larger MPPT controller, wiring, aluminum for the uprights and frame all came to about $2300 and that didn't include 4 batteries, so add about $400 more for 6 volt deep cells. Again I did all of the work so no labor in that. Since the fridge/freezer on this boat is more efficient than the portable and we have similar other uses as on the Mac I hope to never run anything else for power and we might get away with some other luxuries also.

You can find the solar mod for the Endeavour here....

Endeavour 37 Electrical Mods Index

and the fridge here....

Endeavour 37 Interion Mods Index


I can't believe the boat your looking at has no electrical at all. What about navigation lights and interior lights. It must have something??

If nothing at all and I had to wire our Mac from scratch and had to buy lights and such I'd add at least $1000.00 doing the work myself. On the Endeavour at least double that.

If you can't do this work yourself the costs will really go up. Good luck,

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Old 18-10-2012, 04:43   #5
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Thanks a lot for your very precise answers!
Actually the boat has a 12V battery but electrical system has been damaged and is everything but reliable, reason why I would have set it up from scratch if I decide to finally buy this boat..
Thanks Onestep and Sumner for sharing your experiences! Very helpfull!
I think I would go for a 200W system similar to your Macgregor, that should be quiet enought to start
Have a great day guys!
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Old 19-10-2012, 08:03   #6
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Re: Solar electric system from craft

No offense, but you're going about this completely backwards.

What you want to do first is determine your consumption. That is, look at all of the electrical devices that you will use, for how many hours each day, and calculate how many watt/hours (or amp/hours @ 12 volts) you will normally consume.

Second step is to decide how long you want to be able to go on battery power alone. Two days? Three days? Maybe only a day, and be willing to run the engine/generator if you get several days of clouds? This is simply a decision you need to make, but you may want to take into account the "normal" cycle of sunny/cloudy days where you are going to be.

Now that you know how much you use, and how long you want to be able to go on batteries alone, you can calculate how large of a battery bank you need. Typically it should be at least twice the number of amp/hours you get by multiplying your daily consumption times your days on the batteries. Since batteries last longer if they are not too deeply discharged, it wouldn't hurt to make your battery bank three times your daily consumption.

Finally you are ready to size your solar array. You need to replace a minimum of your daily consumption, on average, if you want to be energy independent. Depending on where you are located (how much clear sun you get each day) you can usually take the solar panels' total wattage and divide by 3-5 to get your expected average production in amp/hours. Given system losses, making your solar array 1.5-2 times your daily consumption would not be overkill, and of course you have to account for cloudy days.

Some key points to remember: 1) $1 spent reducing consumption is worth $5 spent increasing production. 2) Solar panels are seriously affected by any shadows that pass across them, so mount them (as much as possible) where they will not be shaded by shrouds, the boom, whatever. 3) The only formula that you need to know is watts = volts X amps. With that, simple grade-school algebra will allow you to make all of the electrical calculations.

Good luck!
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Old 20-10-2012, 12:14   #7
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Boat: Gulfstar Long Range Trawler; 53'; BearBoat
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Re: Solar electric system from craft

DIY; $8,000 to $10,000 +/-
Professionally: $20,000 +/-

Charlie Johnson
JTB Marine Corporation
"The Devil is in the details and so is salvation."
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