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Old 06-08-2013, 19:09   #1
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Solar Panels?

Now that I'm an official boat owner (Catalina 30) I would like to add solar panels to my boat....because I want to. The boat's power demand is- refrigerator, auto-helm, electronic gadgets= about 9 Amps. (about 110 W)

The boat has 2- 12V lead-acid batteries.

There's a Bimini and Dodger already installed which would make for a nice mounting area.

I'd like your opinion-

- What would be a good range of PV panel output?
Maybe 150W?

- Where is the typical panel location?
On top of the Bimini?
As "wings" on either side of the cockpit?
Over the Transom?

- Which is better in terms on durablity, output and longevity?
Flexible panels?
Polycrystaline rigid panels?

- Which is a better PV panel manufacturer?
Kyocera sound like they're pretty good.

I do understand most of the variables that are involved and am very competent for installing them myself.

Please, let me know your thoughts.
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Old 06-08-2013, 19:30   #2
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Re: Solar Panels?

I'm definitely no expert on solar but I've been lead to believe that monocrystaline are superior over poly.
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Old 06-08-2013, 22:33   #3
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Re: Solar Panels?

These links maybe of some help:
Installing A Small Marine Solar System Photo Gallery by Compass Marine at pbase.com
Installing A Solbian Solar Panel Photo Gallery by Compass Marine at pbase.com
What is Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)

Just take your time figuring out how you want to spend your money.
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Old 06-08-2013, 22:36   #4
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Re: Solar Panels?

There are a lot of posts on here regarding solar panels, mounting, regulators etc...do a search I'm sure you'll find all the info you need !

I would go for as much wattage as you can fit...we had 2 x 130W panels with an MPPT reg on Diva and it worked very well..
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Old 06-08-2013, 22:41   #5
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Re: Solar Panels?

I'd go with "wings" over on the bimini or dodger. The latter two tend to have shadowing by the boom, backstay, and whatever else is up there.

Either way solar panels are a bit of a pain in the ass on a boat but they are so worth it.
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Old 07-08-2013, 00:24   #6
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Re: Solar Panels?

For solar power on vessels, there are really only two parameters, viz. (1) maximum output per limited footprint and (2) maximum output under limited light conditions.

SunPower are the clear market leaders. SunPower cells are 'officially' rated (under lab conditions) as the most efficient available, but perhaps just as importantly for boats the SunPower cells are also the best under limited light (e.g. sun low in the sky or overcast) conditions.

The next choice is between the hard and soft panels. The hard panels provide both more power per footprint and they are much better value. SunPower hard panels are also proven performers at sea. We use 2 x SunPower E20 panels (327W@) on CatNirvana and they are brilliant. SunPower panels also powered the global circumnavigation on solar power alone by Turanor Planetsolar Sep 2010-May 2012. You can read more about SunPower at sea here...

http://floatingimpressions.com.au/images/Sunpower-E20-Solar-Panels-Floating-Impressions.pdf

So SunPower rules and, if you have the room, the hard panels are a very attractive choice.

Unfortunately, SunPower do not make soft panels, but SunPower cells are available in soft panels from two manufacturers, one Italian (Solbian) and the other (Solarplex) Chinese. The soft panels are appealing for their ease of installation, but they are seriously more expensive. Some soft panel users note issues/problems with wear ability and at least one rep for the Solarplex panels suggest they will be subject to early de-lamination.

You should also (as suggested by kentobin) familiarize yourself with MPPT controllers as these are really worthwhile, if not necessary, for any solar at sea setup...and take your time doing your research.

We agree as well with both rebel heart and Albro359. Fit as much power as you can -- We're back to that power per footprint parameter! -- and expect that putting yourself into solar at sea can be a pain, but silent power is certainly worthwhile!

If you're around OZ and interested in the SunPower E20 hard panels, we'd be happy to source your panels and MPPT controller -- We are a small business and we only market what we use ourselves -- and we always look after CF Members price-wise.

In any event, we wish you well in your search!
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Old 07-08-2013, 01:34   #7
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Re: Solar Panels?

For a market leader, they seem pretty hard to buy from. You should be able to find someone's product after 1 minute of googling, not 5 minutes with nothing to show for it.
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:14   #8
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Re: Solar Panels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by o_q View Post
For a market leader, they seem pretty hard to buy from. You should be able to find someone's product after 1 minute of googling, not 5 minutes with nothing to show for it.
Well, we just entered "Sunpo" and by that time the Google drop-down menu was full of places to buy, photos, reviews and so on.

Then we Googled "who manufactures the most efficient solar panels" and found, in an article at Most Efficient Solar Panels -- Which Ones? Cost of Solar | Cost of Solar - Learn the Benefits of Solar Energy the following remark:

"21.5% SunPower solar modules hold the commercial solar module efficiency record. SunPower’s SPR-327NE-WHT-D modules are also the leading solar modules in solar module yield field tests, and other SunPower solar modules come in #2 and #3 in those tests. (For those of you to who this matters or is interesting, SunPower is a US-based solar panel company.)"

...and all that took, perhaps, 2-3 minutes...
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Old 07-08-2013, 03:24   #9
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Re: Solar Panels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by D&D View Post
Well, we just entered "Sunpo" and by that time the Google drop-down menu was full of places to buy, photos, reviews and so on.

Then we Googled "who manufactures the most efficient solar panels" and found, in an article at Most Efficient Solar Panels -- Which Ones? Cost of Solar | Cost of Solar - Learn the Benefits of Solar Energy the following remark:

"21.5% SunPower solar modules hold the commercial solar module efficiency record. SunPower’s SPR-327NE-WHT-D modules are also the leading solar modules in solar module yield field tests, and other SunPower solar modules come in #2 and #3 in those tests. (For those of you to who this matters or is interesting, SunPower is a US-based solar panel company.)"

...and all that took, perhaps, 2-3 minutes...
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.
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:11   #10
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Re: Solar Panels?

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Originally Posted by o_q View Post
The problem is finding links that are selling their products. Even the sunpower official site isn't useful.
Fair enough. Perhaps it's something to do with where we each are based. When we check the SunPower US website, there's a "Find a Dealer" link at the bottom of the home page. In the Australian page, it's a "Get a Free Estimate" link.

Enough of that though. Back to the OP!
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:56   #11
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I, and everyone I personally know, buys kyocera. Altenergystore.com has good prices and smart people.
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Old 07-08-2013, 05:34   #12
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Re: Solar Panels?

To the OP -- I can't answer all your questions, but here's one data point:
To generate 9A in peak sun on a clear day at 40 degrees North latitude, you'll need about 250 watts worth of solar.
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Old 07-08-2013, 05:39   #13
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Re: Solar Panels?

Kyocera are the gold standard for marine panels. They are what I have fitted to my boat.

However, the extra effeciency of these new generation panels like Sunpower enables boat owners to squeeze considerably more power into the same area. The drawback is more cost especially when a suitable controler is factored in. They also have to fit. They are large panels with not many size options, so not every instalation is suitable.

Another alternative are the cheap Ebay panels. These are the value for money option.
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Old 07-08-2013, 05:42   #14
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Re: Solar Panels?

Thanks for the link to Altenergystore.com.

I'll probably try for as much power as practical- maybe in the 200W range. The panel being removable and movable is important- I want it out of the way in the event I have to work where it's located.
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Old 07-08-2013, 05:45   #15
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Re: Solar Panels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailFastTri View Post
To the OP -- I can't answer all your questions, but here's one data point:
To generate 9A in peak sun on a clear day at 40 degrees North latitude, you'll need about 250 watts worth of solar.
Conversely around the 15-20 degree marks, my two 135 panels ( so 270 watts) give me about 22 amps in peak.

On a good day I start up at ~3 amps around dawn, ~9 amps by late morning, ~20 amps throughout mid day, ~9 amps by late afternoon, ~3 amps by dusk.
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