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Old 21-10-2007, 16:31   #1
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Winter Layup Solar Charging

I'm using a new in water winter storage site and I would like members to comment on the following.

Shiva spends the summer on a mooring with 2 - 50 watt (I think) Siemens solar panels connected to a Flexcharge PV14 regulator. Under typical conditions these panels will maintain the batts (2-AGM 8G8D) in topped up condition... afyer weekend use with 5 days to lift them up... so my Link 20 tells me.

In the past I've used a Trucharge 20 on shore power set to float with a lower batt temp setting for winter bat maintenance.

I'm thinking about no boat cover and just let the solar cells trickle charge the batts to maintain them. There are obvious advantages... such as not having a shore power connection, risk of short/fire and electrolysis...

Is there enough sunlight in the winter in LIS? Would it make sense when I do visit for a check once a month to flip on the true charge for the day?

What say you?

jef
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Old 21-10-2007, 18:05   #2
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If you're not using any juice on the boat, the solar panels will be fine. The only wildcard, and this is just a million-to-one "what if", is if you get a leak, the bilge pump won't go on forever since there's no shore power.

If you know your shaft gland well enough, and you close your thru hulls, I'd leave it with the panels no problemo.
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Old 21-10-2007, 18:21   #3
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I bring my boat in to the dock in the winter and do not connect to shore power. I have been doing this for the past 12 years with no negative effects. I find my batteries to be fully charged in the spring.
I would, however, suggest that while you are plugged into shore power, you equalize your batteries using your charger.
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Old 21-10-2007, 18:22   #4
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Down here in VA my 75 watt panel did a nice job keeping batteries full. Current boat has more watts but I would think 100 that far north would still be more than enough. We don't generally haul out here and I don't need to cover the boat. I would think you'll keep the topped batteries fine.

The bilge pump would be the issue though. If you can watch it then I doubt you will have a pump problem getting much worse given you are not doing anything but sitting there.
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Old 21-10-2007, 18:43   #5
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Jeff, your only problem would be heavy snow, sitting on the panels and blocking them if it iced up and sat for a while.

I'd treat the panels with RainX or something similarly slick, make sure they are angle to take best advantage of the low winter sun, and just check on 'em once a month. (Or every two weeks in worse wx.)

All yyou really need to fight in the winter is the leakage current in the batteries, and that's next to nothing compared to the 100W you are putting in.
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Old 21-10-2007, 19:23   #6
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The big leak would definitely ruin my day, but I don't think the boat would sink in the depth at the slip. Hopefully the manager would notice something and take some steps.

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Old 22-10-2007, 07:57   #7
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Couple of years ago my friends' boat got pulled up in a storm, and the launch boys (who went down to the docks that night on their own to check out the moorings) saved it from substantial damage. You can bet they got a nice tip--and passed word around to the others about it.

I make it a point to tell the launch driver "You see that big white boot stripe? If you ever DON'T see that big white boot stripe, you'll be well paid for making a phone call." (Of course it helps if you treat them with respect the rest of the time, too.[g])
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Old 22-10-2007, 08:58   #8
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Shiva, Hook a cheap 12v hourmeter to your bilge pump and check it a few times. If you have a a lot of time on it start looking for leaks (Shaft, keel etc.) A second float switch a bit higher with an alarm that wakes the dead will help the yard boys pay attention.
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Old 22-10-2007, 09:36   #9
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I don't think you get cold enough to worry about to0 high a float voltage in winter.

Solar charge controllers are available with a temperature compensation circuit, that reduces the float voltage as a function of battery temperature.

At say 0 C I think you are down to about 13.2 V rather than 13.7 at 30 C, something like that any way.

They only cost like $50 or something.
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