In December I installed two 85 watt Kyocera Panels with an Outback controller all from Wholesale Solar
as someone previously also reported they had also done.
Size and available mounting space with the decision for the 85's, I have space to add one more which I'll do on my next trip down in April giving me a total of 3. With the two panels I can run my AB Freezer
and Refig 18 to 20 hours a day and it will freeze solid along with the typical lights and assorted light weight electronics
, my GPS
, instruments, fans, radios ( AM/FM and VHF), CD and DVD
and chargers for Cell Phones and other portable radios. I have converted about 30% of lights to LED including the Anchor
light and will complete the process this year for near total LED and reduce my power need several percent.
I'm adding a SSB
and at least one more 4D when I add the 3rd solar panel. I'm still considering adding a Wind Generator
since we typically have nice winds at night when the solar panels are off line and almost always when we have clouds with also have higher winds so it appears to be a good alternative.
Panels as large as 130's that I was looking at are just too cumbersome to install and mounting space is tight on a boat my size.
My set up has no ability to tilt the panels which I would have liked to have done. Discussions with fellow cruisers here seem to indicate those that can tilt 15 degrees or so gain about that amount of added effencicy.... IF they take the time to actually do the tilt and if your boat can operate with out boom interference
with the panels. I'm on the Bimini
and can not effectively tilt much if I had built in the ability.
All in All... I also wish I had added the panels and controller earlier. It should repay in under 2 years. My lose of Ice is almost 0 due to melt since the panels have been installed and no soft or spoiled foods probably will result in a pay back in less than I had calculated base only on engine
I'd recommend you go for it as soon as you select your best fit.
PS. I'm flying back to the States from the West Indies tomorrow and having to de-ice the freezer
. I had two water
jugs in the bottom which were allowed to freeze and when I added loose Ice the entire thing froze solid after a day at the slip getting loaded and a day at sea. Never had any melt down even with a couple of consecutive cloudy days and minimal to no use of engines under way or at anchorages
. I was also able to make ice when I wanted to but it is simpler to get a bag or block every few weeks since some places here offer free bags when you take a mooring
... one at Saba
Rock on Virgin Gorda's North Sound also gives 250 gallons of water! We found that going in every couple of weeks and only taking 80 gallons or so and a bag of Ice made life much nicer and cheaper!
Over the past two months I'v been in the Virgins, I've only felt the need to run the engine
boost twice, each after consecutive days of low sun light due to fronts moving through. I typically push in a min of 750 amp hours on the two panels in an average day. I have 3 house 4D batteries and a separate Starter battery
in my 36 footer in a warm climate