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Old 07-08-2013, 08:10   #31
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Re: Solar Panels?

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Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
SunPower panels are the lightest, smallest and most powerfull. I have been using 2 x 230 watt, 33lbs each 31 inches X 61 inches X 1.8 inch panels for the last five years and you forget what is powering your boat. These panels even pump out power in foggy over cast days.

I live in the Northeast USA and had no problem buying 4 for a friend and myself.
Five of my friends have purchased the SunPower panels with no issues.
Do not call a dealer or installer. Call an electrical distributor and they will sell SunPower panels to you tax free in most states.

Sanyo also makes a panel that is pretty good.

Remember with solar panels you want to do it right the first time, so go big or go home.
Interesting, I'll do so more research on that then. It will be a while until we can have them shipped properly but I'll put it on the radar (not literally).
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:10   #32
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Re: Solar Panels?

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Originally Posted by Frigoboat Info View Post
Not to worry, Rebel. There is no warranty on Kyocera panels when used on a boat.
Well, they replaced our 8 year old panels on Ocelot, flying the new panels to Malaysia & paying all the air freight both ways (apparently they had some bad panels in 2001 when we bought ours).
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:14   #33
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Re: Solar Panels?

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I, and everyone I personally know, buys kyocera. Altenergystore.com has good prices and smart people.


That's what I have. Two K135 panels (with a blue sky controller) mounted on a one inch stainless steel tubing rack I built over my bimini. If I get the money, I actually have room to put one or two more panels up there, but right now, two panels seems to give me all the juice I need.

When I was cruising, it was enough to run my refrigerator all day and to recharge the batteries from the night before at the same time, on most days, as well as handle my other 12 v electric loads. I can't tilt them, but they seem to generate plenty of juice laying flat. I actually have moved them about another six inches aft than is shown in this picture to make the boom clear them by more (it was pretty close before).
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:28   #34
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Re: Solar Panels?

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Originally Posted by PDA1 View Post
Jon, I read your comments a few weeks ago and saw how well you covered the matter. You mentioned how much you like Kyocera. Why were they replaced?

(P.S. The extensive refit of Ocelot made me re-consider whether to buy a boat. That's A LOT of work!)
Thanks PDA. After several years some of the internal connections started letting go. I was able to repair some of the breaks & they then worked well for a few years, but when they started losing more internal connections (between the cells) I called Kyocera. They weren't at all fussed that I'd repaired them myself, & mentioned that they'd had a bad batch of panels come out in 2001 (when we bought ours).

I like that Kyocera honored their guarantee (at considerable expense, as they paid the air freight to Malaysia). I also like that they quote more reasonable numbers. Most panels are spec'd at 1kw/sq-m of sunlight and 25C. Noon in the tropics will sometimes reach 1kw/sq-m, but there's no way that a panel will stay at 25C when under that much sunlight. So Kyocera also specs their panels at a more reasonable 800w/sq-m & 47C (I think, ~120F). Heat (& shading) have a huge effect on panel output.
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:16   #35
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Re: Solar Panels?

That makes sense. Kyocera sound like a good panel maker.

P.S.....did you ever get around to making beer?
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:51   #36
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Re: Solar Panels?

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I don't mean to be confrontational, but none of those links addresses my argument. I have no doubt that google found sunpower, and gave you a ton of links. The problem is finding links that are selling their products. Even the sunpower official site isn't useful. Also, I am not saying no one sells their products. I am saying that it's hard to find. It's really not something you can convince me otherwise. I know when something has more resistance than normal. I also know that people tend to ignore that when they're enthusiastic.

However, I will keep in mind the appealing selling point that they are possibility more efficient whenever the time comes I need solar panels. Thank you for the info.
+1 I'm sure SunPower is the absolute best panel out there, however, (and a big however) I'm not sure they are a very good value. The only price I was able to come up with was north of $1200/325 watt panel. Besides being nearly impossible to source in the US, the company and dealers tend to just ignore you. As far as purchasing from a distributor, I'm a contractor with a resell licence, and I'm unable to even locate or distinguish any distribution supply chain what so ever.
I've been looking to purchase for a month and have come to the conclusion that if you want a newer generation high performance panel the Sanyo HIT 240 is the way to go. At around $500 it's still "pricey" but if you looking to squeeze in the most wattage in the least space what are you going to do? Besides, compared to SunPower they are a bargain, and apparently they LIKE to sell them.
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:54   #37
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Re: Solar Panels?

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Originally Posted by PDA1 View Post
P.S.....did you ever get around to making beer?
I have some newer kits, but we've been very heads down on this refit so I haven't brewed any lately. Beer in Thailand is pretty reasonable, & it's even cheaper in Langkawi (but none of it has the flavor of a good homebrew)
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:59   #38
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Re: Solar Panels?

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
Speaking of plugs:

Can anyone recommend a good physical connection for panels (or anything else) ? I'd like to be able to remove our panels and put them down below for hurricanes and the such. Chopping the wires and re attaching them is obviously possible but if there's a decent weather-proof plug I'd be interested.
Compass Marine comes to the rescue again:

Terminating Solar MC-4 Connectors Photo Gallery by Compass Marine at pbase.com
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Old 07-08-2013, 16:40   #39
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Re: Solar Panels?

Hey rebel,

These are what we typically use in the Military. You'll need a good crimper (got mine from Harbor Frieght).

Multipole Connectors
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Old 07-08-2013, 16:50   #40
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Re: Solar Panels?

slightly off topic:

I am assuming it is an issue of the size of panel when considering the size of boat, and other factors I welcome anyone to contribute.

My question is: what is the best I can fit on a Catalina 27?
This can be answered with dimensions or a particular solar panel(s).
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Old 07-08-2013, 16:57   #41
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Re: Solar Panels?

There is a lot of information in this thread, most (but not all) of it is accurate and reasonable. We earlier here disclosed our status as a SunPower Partner in Australia so we will now try to clarify a few remarks about SunPower in particular...

Firstly and like many other manufacturers (including -- we understand -- Kyocera...who, we acknowledge, make good panels that are frequently installed on vessels) SunPower do not warranty marine installations. That said, SunPower's 25 year warranty for other installations is the clear market leader and that confirms the quality of their panels. Perhaps more importantly for CF readers, however, SunPower panels are proven 'blue water' performers after powering the solar-powered global circumnavigation by Turanor Planetsolar; that voyage took ~20 months (including frequent promotional stops) and encountered plenty of rough conditions after which the panels were re-assessed and there was no efficiency loss whatsoever. The Turanor circumnavigation was completed in May 2012 and those panels continue to power her today, now as a travelling ambassador for SunPower marine solar power. We installed 2 x 327W SunPower panels on our vessel (pic below) around a year ago and, like Cotemar's post above, we are amazed and delighted with their output, even under low sun or overcast conditions. So (contrary to at least one suggestion above) SunPower panels are indeed available and suited to marine installations...and in fact SunPower recently posted our installation on their corporate FaceBook page.

Click image for larger version

Name:	Sunpower E20 solar panel on CatNirvana lo-res (1).jpg
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Secondly and speaking now only for our prospective purchasers in Australia, SunPower panels are very competitively priced. We currently offer our 327W E20 panels at A$649@ (altho they are now on 'special' at $599) which places them comfortably 'in the market' albeit above the much cheaper Asian imports...and we know the value is there, in the quality and output of the panels. Many readers here will also appreciate that, if anything, Australia is renown for being rather an expensive place for technology such that we were stunned see dlentz's suggestion of SunPower pricing at "north of $1200/325 watt panel"?!?

Finally and contrary to some suggestions above, SunPower are certainly in the business and eager to sell their panels...and we would be happy to assist anyone in Australia to that end.
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Old 07-08-2013, 17:02   #42
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Re: Solar Panels?

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we were stunned see dlentz's suggestion of SunPower pricing at "north of $1200/325 watt panel"?!?
For whatever reason, this might be what americans are dealing with.
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Old 07-08-2013, 17:10   #43
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Re: Solar Panels?

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For whatever reason, this might be what americans are dealing with.
Perhaps, but it'd be very unusual for Americans to be paying double what Australians pay for technology...
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Old 07-08-2013, 17:33   #44
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Re: Solar Panels?

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Hey rebel,

These are what we typically use in the Military. You'll need a good crimper (got mine from Harbor Frieght).

Multipole Connectors
I've had great luck with those Anderson connectors on shore side applications. They carry a ton of amps & don't cry about it.

I'm curious though, how well do they hold up in a marine environment? I've never tried them around salt water.

Back before I had the fancy 3'-long bench-mounted crimp tool for up to 000 class wire, I used to just place those big crimp connectors on an anvil & hit them with a baby sledge hammer to crimp them. Those old hammer crimps are still holding up well after nearly 20 years. I learned that trick from an old biker up in the Bronx. I didn't believe that it would work. But he proved me wrong. For the sake of decorum, I'll leave out his comments that went along with his suggestions.

I get my best prices on those connectors from a forklift supply place called Helmar Parts. They have a website. They do mail order. They are friendly to deal with.
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Old 07-08-2013, 17:51   #45
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Re: Solar Panels?

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Originally Posted by D&D View Post
Secondly and speaking now only for our prospective purchasers in Australia, SunPower panels are very competitively priced. We currently offer our 327W E20 panels at A$649@ (altho they are now on 'special' at $599) which places them comfortably 'in the market' albeit above the much cheaper Asian imports...and we know the value is there, in the quality and output of the panels. Many readers here will also appreciate that, if anything, Australia is renown for being rather an expensive place for technology such that we were stunned see dlentz's suggestion of SunPower pricing at "north of $1200/325 watt panel"?!?

Finally and contrary to some suggestions above, SunPower are certainly in the business and eager to sell their panels...and we would be happy to assist anyone in Australia to that end.
I would have gladly snapped up a couple of those panels at $649. I don't have any issues with the product. I especially like the black panels, but as someone said earlier, It shouldn't be this hard to spend your money. That $1200/panel price came off of this forum from an earlier thread, and it was related to a SP dealer in Marathon Fl.
I'm in the SW US, I also am a contractor and hold a solar license, and still I either have to work very hard or just plain can't get answers.
I agree with all you have put forth for your clients in AU. SP looks like a very good product and although expensive, they can provide a good value at your prices, particularly on a boat that has limit space (isn't that most?). So I've just decided to use the Sanyo 240 HIT panels, which are equivalent to the SP 230 panels.
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