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Old 30-04-2013, 10:44   #1
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Where to tie in solar

I've got a solar panel with a charge controller. Our boat is only 22' and as of yet, I really don't have a place to mount the panel - the current plan is to mount it to some plywood and secure it in the cockpit when we are not on board. I figure this will keep the battery in good shape and we can also use it if we were to spend the night aboard and need to charge the next day.

So, to the question - Where should I tie it in to the electrical? Our current electrical is very basic. Battery to switch panel to electronics (lights - cabin/nav right now) back to negative bus to battery.

I'm planning on adding a bilge pump, battery on/off switch, amp meter and the charge controller.

I was thinking I could add a bus between the battery and switch and connect the solar there. Could I also connect the bilge there so I can shut off the battery when we leave the boat?

And where's the best place for the amp meter? After the switch connected to a positive and negative bus?

Any other better ways to do this?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 30-04-2013, 11:05   #2
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Re: Where to tie in solar

I keep my main bilge wired to 12V before the battery on/off switch so it is always on.

Am adding a solar panel and will wire that the same way.

Both of course properly fused.
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Old 30-04-2013, 11:19   #3
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Re: Where to tie in solar

Thanks. Would you just use an inline fuse for the charge controller? Would you put one from the solar to charge controller as well as charge controller to bus?
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Old 30-04-2013, 15:05   #4
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Re: Where to tie in solar

I installed a 290W panel last month and connected the solar controller output up to the my main DC panel. This was the easiest way by installing a new breaker into the panel.

Been working fine with no measurable voltage drop between the solar controller output and the volatge at the batteries.

PS - I used an inline fuse for the inout to the controller that I put in the bottom of the controller.
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Old 30-04-2013, 15:21   #5
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Re: Where to tie in solar

Why don't you connect the solar panel through a cigarette lighter outlet (assuming you ahve one). It should already be fused/breaker protected. Use at least 14 gauge wire from the lighter to the controller/solar panel.

Some other answers:

You only need a fuse/breaker on the battery side of the circuit. Look at the Isc spec on your solar panel. That's the most that it can put out and will be well below the amp carrying capacity of the wire.

A battery switch is a good idea. But wire the bilge pump directly to the battery. That is the one load that you never want to turn off.

You probably only need a 0-30 amp ammeter. Put it in the positive circuit that feeds your switch panel.

You have two choices for the solar panel. Do you want to see the net current of the panel and loads. Then connect it to the switch panel through a spare or underutilized breaker or use the cigarette lighter outlet.

If you only want to read loads, then connect the solar panel to the battery switch before the switch panel feed. You will have to install an inline fuse sized to protect the wire to the solar panel. If you are using 14 gauge use a 15 amp fuse, 20 amp for 12 gauge and 30 amp for 10 gauge.

David
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:00   #6
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Re: Where to tie in solar

Thanks for the input.

David - we don't have a cigarette lighter yet - I do plan on installing one though, but since I'm making the wiring changes, I might as well wire it in.

Thanks for the advice on wiring - I think I'll wire it between the battery and switch.
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Old 05-05-2013, 19:20   #7
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Re: Where to tie in solar

Thanks again for all the advice - got things mostly wired this weekend. One question I did have though is the charge controller has a positive and negative for both connection to the solar and battery. With the connection to the solar end, could I just connect that to our negative bus and then connect the solar panel to the negative bus as well?

This would allow me to use an existing negative line run aft where I'll be connecting it rather than running a new line. I'll just set up a negative bus in the after section for this, just wondering if there'd be any issue with it.
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