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Old 11-02-2012, 19:20   #1
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Solar Experiences

New to the forum, Hello to all out there in the wind!

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I seek any advice you may have on recommended solar panels. I have calculated my current solar needs at only 100w or there about to keep banks up and supply some extra when needed. Very efficient boat with few frills, but would like to have some backup for coastal cruising needs here in Maine. Only 220 AH of house bank on board. New lifeline AGM's isolated from the starting bank so a charge regulator is an absolute. Thanks for any input.

Capt Dave
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Old 11-02-2012, 20:48   #2
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Re: Solar Experiences

Here is a good source of solar panels and all of them are reputable brands. Also there are lots of controllers, etc.
Solar Electric Power Systems For On & Off Grid
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Old 11-02-2012, 21:01   #3
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Re: Solar Experiences

Lots of good assistance here. Plan on plenty of time - its a long read. Take notes. I happened into this blog yesterday just befor I was ready to buy the wrong stuff for me. It is not as easy as stickin' on a panel etc. BTW, I will probably buy Sanyo HIT 225 panels at 18% efficient. Charge controler needs to be a good fit with the panels etc. For single small panels it is easier and less costly. Shadows will kill the output so think about location.

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/
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Old 11-02-2012, 21:29   #4
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Re: Solar Experiences

My advise is to double the calculated wattage. The panels rarely ever give what they are supposed to, for various reasons: Sun angle not 90 deg, shadow of sail, mast, windgenerator or other installation partly covers a panel, dust or dirt on the glass, aging (yes, I noticed that with age they produce less!) etc. As Nicholson58 states, a correctly matched charger/regulator is very important. Also consider that your boat now has few frills, but as years pass you may very well add a few more. It never hurts to have too much power, specially if you plan coastal cruising (fridge, laptop, lights and fans...)
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Old 11-02-2012, 21:56   #5
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Re: Solar Experiences

I have two Kyocera 135 watt panels. They are friggin huge and sometimes I wish they were smaller but they put out a ton of power. 10-20 amps for ~8 hours a day. So 80AH on a bad day, 160AH on a good day. String a couple of bad days together and the engine needs to be run for a bit, which it should be anyway.

Some tips:

- Wire all your charging sources to the house (alternator, solar, etc).
- Put a blue sky acr between your house and starter. I don't think it matters that you have different battery types; it's just about allowing charging current to hit the starter once the house is looking good.
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Old 11-02-2012, 22:16   #6
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Re: Solar Experiences

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post
Lots of good assistance here. Plan on plenty of time - its a long read. Take notes. I happened into this blog yesterday just befor I was ready to buy the wrong stuff for me. It is not as easy as stickin' on a panel etc. BTW, I will probably buy Sanyo HIT 225 panels at 18% efficient. Charge controler needs to be a good fit with the panels etc. For single small panels it is easier and less costly. Shadows will kill the output so think about location.

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/
He sounds like a knowledgeable guy about most of the stuff he posts, but imho, he's still in the backwoods about MPPT controllers.
I've watched the input and output of mine enough to be convinced of its effectiveness.
Even on very cloudy days with very low solar irradiance (only one amp input), I get an average 15% boost from input to output current.
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Old 12-02-2012, 06:36   #7
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Re: Solar Experiences

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Dave.
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Old 12-02-2012, 08:14   #8
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Re: Solar Experiences

We installed a pair of the Kryocera 135s on our boat last year. Added the Blue Sky 3024i controller, and can tell you, right now, 10am, panel shows 8.0 amp in, and 10.2 amp out. I am very happy with the units.

The nice thing with buying the larger MPPT controller, is the flexability to add additional panels if I decide I need more capacity.

The panels are fixed mounted on the rear arch, without too much shading.

That is the reason I went with 2 panels as if one gets shade, I am still able to generate power.
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Old 12-02-2012, 09:07   #9
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Re: Solar Experiences

These are the lightest and most power output in watts for their size.
Sanyo 225 watts, 35 lbs 31x62inch
SunPower 230 watt, 33 lbs 31x61inch
Work great with a Blue Sky 3024i controller
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Old 12-02-2012, 10:04   #10
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Re: Solar Experiences

For good prices on solar panels check out Sun Electronics at Solar Panels, PV Systems and Inverters Distributor.

I've had good experiences with them and their prices are very competitive -- especially if you can buy larger quantities (maybe a group buy).
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Old 12-02-2012, 10:37   #11
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Re: Solar Experiences

Thank you everyone for your great input. I have completely rewired and reconfigured the DC system on the boat and do have a Blue Seas ACR isolating the house and starter banks. Works great. Replaces the charge to the starter almost immediately and ties in the house just after a few minutes. I will look at good charge regulators and check out all the advice here in regard to panels. The high output alternator has an external regulator (Balmar), I'll have to figure out where in the system to insert the charge. Cheers!
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Old 12-02-2012, 11:24   #12
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Hook the Balmar regulator direct to the house bank.
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Old 12-02-2012, 14:26   #13
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Re: Solar Experiences

Dave, when you say you have determined you need 100W, have you calculated your needs in watt-hours or amp-hours and are you aware that a 100W panel may actually deliver 400 watt-hours in one day, not 100 watts for eight hours?

In any case, if you buy a pricey MPPT solar controller it may boost your effective power 20-30% to the batteries. And since you have Lifeline batteries which can and should be equalized, look for a charger that also provides an equalizing charge--most solar controllers don't.
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Old 12-02-2012, 16:20   #14
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Re: Solar Experiences

Quote:
Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
He sounds like a knowledgeable guy about most of the stuff he posts, but imho, he's still in the backwoods about MPPT controllers.
I've watched the input and output of mine enough to be convinced of its effectiveness.
Even on very cloudy days with very low solar irradiance (only one amp input), I get an average 15% boost from input to output current.
He is not aniti-MPPT. He just says its overkill on small systems IF your panels are voltage matched to your batteries. he agrees it is needed if you operate high voltage large pannels.
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Old 12-02-2012, 17:05   #15
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Re: Solar Experiences

I wouldn't worry about equalizing with solar panels, even though some controllers have that capability. I would equalize with shore power, instead.
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