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Old 08-05-2012, 21:53   #1
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Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

Finally pulled the trigger on our solar setup. The below components are either being shipped or awaiting my pickup. Will post more details, pictures, and actual power outputs post-install.

3 - Sanyo HIT-215 watt panels - 645 total watts
- All panels are going to be put on the hardtop.
1 - Outback FX60 MPPT
1 - Outback Flexnet DC
3 - Lifeline GPL-8DL AGMs - 765 total AH

We currently have an Outback VFX2812 Inverter/Charter (2000 watt / 120 Amp) coupled with a Northern Lights 6KW genny.

The goal of the setup is to allow us to cruise with minimal concerns with power usage / generation. We've already seen how important having a solid energy plan is to comfortable cruising. We learned a lesson in the Bahamas for only 2 weeks with the old batteries and 40 Amp charger.

We're hoping to get 30+ Amps/Hr out of the solar setup. Another gentlemen said he was getting 25 Amps out of two panels so perhaps we'll see up to 40 Amps with three.

I found a source for Sun Power panels, which were my preference, but getting the Sanyo's at $1.19/watt I just couldn't justify the price difference.

Welcome any suggestions and/or lessons learned.

More to come...

Gene
S/V Kalalau
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Old 09-05-2012, 00:05   #2
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Hi Gene,

I will be installing a similar setup on my Leopard43 only I will be using LifePO4 batteries.

That is a great price on the panels. Would you mind sending me the info on where you got them.

Do you belong to the Leopard Yahoo users group?

Thanks,
CJ s/v Holiday
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:41   #3
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

Great set up
I think you need an outback mate and hub for the system to work properly, so hopefully you have these as well.
You should see 40 A quite easily in good conditions.
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:45   #4
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

Nice setup i also will be installing something like this next year- pictures ??
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Old 09-05-2012, 04:44   #5
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

The only thing I'd change is wet cells instead of AGM.s.
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Old 09-05-2012, 05:25   #6
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

This is from 330w a few minutes ago, to give you a taste of what is to come, of course you will get almost double this.
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:14   #7
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

@ CJ | Yes we frequent the Leopard owner's forum. Currently looking for replacement gaskets that will work with our freezer/fridge. I sourced the panels from ontility.com. I worked with a gentlemen named Hollis Miles. I believe they mainly deal with larger solar installs so they had 4 of the panels I was looking for remaining and were closing out of a particular model. They may have other panels in a similar closeout situation.

@ Noelex | We forgot to mention the Mate 2 controller that we have for the VFX2812. It will also work with the Outback MPPT and Flexnet DC but since it's Ethernet based I'm also looking for a SW solution which will provide greater functionality/ease of use.

@ Vasco | Why Wet instead of AGMs? Rather than having to type a point-of-view that I'm sure has been previously vetted do you have a link you could point me to that you feel draws an unbiased comparison between the two when considering a Marine/PV/Genny setup?

Also, for anyone looking for Outback equipment I haven't been able to find a better supplier than dcbattery.com out of Miami. Wholesale prices and I can drive and talk to someone.
- Outback Flexnet DC $280
- Outback FM60 $500
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Old 11-06-2012, 10:41   #8
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

Got 2 of the 3 panels installed last night. It was getting too late for the third panel so we'll have to get to it either this weekend or next. The panels had to be wired in parallel due to the voltage limits on the Outback 60 MPPT.

Once again we're out of Ft. Lauderdale. I checked the power output 20 mins ago and we were making 32 A/Hr. Not too bad... With the other panel up we'll hopefully see a peak power production in the 45 - 50 A/Hr range.

Will post a few photos later this evening.

Gene
S/V Kalalau
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Old 18-06-2012, 15:44   #9
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

Full Solar Install:
3 - Sanyo HIT-215 watt panels - 645 total watts $900 w/shipping
1 - Outback FX60 MPPT - $500
1 - Outback Flexnet DC - $235
1 - Outback Hub - $120
3 - Outback Shunts - $65
1 - Fuses, wiring, connections, etc... - $400

Prior Install:
1 - Outback Mate 2 Controller
1 - Outback VFX2812 Inverter/Charger

Total Install Solar Setup: $2235


Pics: Still only have 2 of the 3 panels installed, haven't really run the batteries down during the day to see what the panels will output when the batteries are at a lower voltage. With batteries topped off I'm seeing an average of 22 - 26 Amps/Hr. Looking forward to getting the third panel on then drawing the batteries down overnight to see what full sun will provide. I'm hoping for 40 - 45 Amps/Hr.









Now to really tweak the settings in all of the Outback devices to make them work together. I plan on getting on the phone with Outback to talk through their ideal settings for the boat and batteries.

Will provide one final update once the third panel is on and settings have been modified per Outback's suggestions.

Gene
S/V Kalalau
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Old 18-06-2012, 23:14   #10
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

Congratulations Gene on the instalation.
A couple of points.

1. Are you sure the wire size is adequate. The run from the controler to the battery will take the the full 40A output and the wire size looks small even if the run to the batteries is reasonably short. The wire to the panels will only take 10A, but it is often a very long run. Make sure you do some calculations on both sides to determine the wire losses.
2. You can always turn on some load to measure the true current output of the solar panels. If the controler is displaying "absorbing" (as it is in photo) or "floating" the controler is reducing the output of the panels. So you are measuring how much the batteries will accept, not how much the panels are capable of delivering.
If the display reads "bulk" or "MPPT float" you are measuring the solar output.
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Old 25-05-2013, 13:39   #11
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

Solar Install-New Leopard
I've spent days researching this and my interests are current and in line with the OP.
Batteries: My new Leopard has: 2 x 220ah deep cycle lead acid, 2 x 100ah lead acid
Inverter/chargers: Standard Trace 2kw/100amp

Question: Given the size of the battery bank, what would be the correct wattage of solar panels to keep the current batteries topped off? I don't know my watt usage yet but there must be a maximum amount of watts my 2000W/ 12V, 120A inverter charger can use.

I almost have this down but would greatly appreciate your answers.
Cheers,
YADO
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Old 25-05-2013, 16:51   #12
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

Quote:
Originally Posted by YADO View Post
Solar Install-New Leopard
I've spent days researching this and my interests are current and in line with the OP.
Batteries: My new Leopard has: 2 x 220ah deep cycle lead acid, 2 x 100ah lead acid
Inverter/chargers: Standard Trace 2kw/100amp

Question: Given the size of the battery bank, what would be the correct wattage of solar panels to keep the current batteries topped off? I don't know my watt usage yet but there must be a maximum amount of watts my 2000W/ 12V, 120A inverter charger can use.

I almost have this down but would greatly appreciate your answers.
Cheers,
YADO
You just have to do a consumption inventory. Then add for losses and "new things".
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Old 25-05-2013, 21:05   #13
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

Quote:
Originally Posted by YADO View Post
Solar Install-New Leopard
I've spent days researching this and my interests are current and in line with the OP.
Batteries: My new Leopard has: 2 x 220ah deep cycle lead acid, 2 x 100ah lead acid
Inverter/chargers: Standard Trace 2kw/100amp

Question: Given the size of the battery bank, what would be the correct wattage of solar panels to keep the current batteries topped off? I don't know my watt usage yet but there must be a maximum amount of watts my 2000W/ 12V, 120A inverter charger can use.

I almost have this down but would greatly appreciate your answers.
Cheers,
YADO
Agree an energy use chart is needed. This will tell you how many AH you use in 24 hours.

2000 watts from an inverter is about 200 amps from the batteries. With 220AH usable it is a bit small for any serious inverter use.
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Old 26-05-2013, 01:28   #14
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

The size of the solar panels is determined by your consumption.

Battery size does not have a direct relationship to consumption, so is of little value in predicting the number of watts you will need.

A rough energy budget is not difficult to do.

With solar panels becoming cheaper, many people approach the problem by simply fitting as much solar as possible. This works well for monohulls, but can be overkill (in terms of cost and weight) for some cats.
It can also sometimes lead to disappointment where the output of the panels contributes much less to the boats energy needs than is envisaged.
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Old 26-05-2013, 10:30   #15
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Re: Solar Install In Process - Leopard 40

For a rough guideline, at anchor we use 2 laptops 6-12 hours a day, often watch a 2 hour movie on a 22" TV/DVD with surround-sound, frequently listen to music on the stereo 2-4 hours a day.

We have a standalone DC fridge and standalone DC freezer.

Using the above, our consumption is about 180-220 ah per day, depending on how far south into the tropics we are (we cruise Pacific Mexico). Cabin temps way down south by Guatemala are often 94 F or more for extended periods in the afternoon and evening, and sometimes we are anchored with the freezer side of the hull towards the sun (our freezer is mounted outboard...our fridge is mid-cabin).

If we turn off the standalone DC freezer, our consumption drops to 120-180 ah per day.

We have kept the freezer off for 7 months and have not plugged into shore power or relied on the alternator with 555 watts solar, 710 ah batteries. Actually, the boat has not been plugged into shore power since September, 2011. We've lived on it for 15 of the intervening months.

Sailboat Solar - Installing Solar Power & a Solar Panel Arch on a Boat
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