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Old 18-09-2014, 00:15   #31
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Re: Solar Panel Options on a Cat

We're flattered to see our CatNirvana's panels in the OP, the first image.

Responding to the OP's concerns, we (and others posting here) have been in very rough weather with no problems at all with our panels...other than to wipe the salt off them afterwards, although even that may not be necessary! In any event, our panels are now >3 years in use and they are one of the greatest additions we put on the vessel. We now rarely need to call on the generator...and the silence is bliss!

Responding to several other posts in this thread, we spent a long time looking at which panels, and what type. When we were looking the flexible panels were hideously expensive for any sort of decent output -- Although that picture is quite different now, the rigid panels are still better priced for similar quality cells -- and the rigid panels offered both longer life -- Some suggest the flexible panels' life may be as short as 3 years -- and greater output.

The biggest factor favouring our particular panels (SunPower E20's) was output...and, very importantly, output in all the sorts of conditions we experience when cruising, viz. hot weather, overcast skies and low sun angles. Per square meter of available area (the greatest limiting factor on any vessel of course) the SunPower panels were a 'category-killer' in all conditions...and we are aware of no new developments that would suggest otherwise today.

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Old 18-09-2014, 02:27   #32
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Re: Solar Panel Options on a Cat

The Sunpower arrays use exactly the same cells as the flexible panels. I purchased the flexibles at A$4 per watt. I purchased the Sunpowers as floating panels at $2 per watt. When you allow for the additional fitting cost of permanent Sunpowers the difference to flexibles is not that great.

Having said that there is a difference in output due to heating effects. I will be able to quantify this directly comparing one to another.

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Old 18-09-2014, 08:36   #33
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Re: Solar Panel Options on a Cat

I greatly appreciate everyone who has chimed in on this thread. My original intention was to look at the pros/cons of different mounting solutions (bad choice of a thread title I guess...) but all the additional discussion has been very helpful.

On our boat, we're going to have a mixture of solar + genset. I'd like to have it set up so that we can manage most of our energy supply with solar and supplement with genset when we want to run AC or do laundry, etc. This is a fun project, but coming up with the right mix is definitely the tricky part!

We're leaning towards installing flexible panels on the cabin hardtop as one of the reasons we chose the Helia was for its aesthetics. A frame with an array off the hardtop is a great way to get a lot of power, but in our opinion it does take a bit away from the original lines of the boat.
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Old 18-09-2014, 21:04   #34
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Re: Solar Panel Options on a Cat

Originally Posted by EllesBelles View Post
Roetter, Can you please share what brand you went with for the 300W panels, and where you bought them too if you're recommend them.

I bought ET-Solar panels from Civic Solar and had them shipped to a UPS distribution center in Florida. Picked them up there. The delivery from there to you is more than across the country.

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Old 19-09-2014, 00:01   #35
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Re: Solar Panel Options on a Cat

Certainly production manufacturers such as Lagoon and FP with their Helia and other models are not serious about the benefits of solar for cruisers.

A survey of what real cat cruisers are doing with solar quickly shows best practise.

Seems a min of 750w-1kw with panels mounted an an extension of the cockpit hardtop braced to the davits such as D&D and Roetter have has a lot going for it. Shade is one of the biggest needs cruising the tropics and an added benefit of such an array is adding to the shade in the cockpit if done that way.

I certainly can't fault the arguments of Roetter to fit as much as possible as a much cheaper option than upgrading alternators.

My observations suggest fit the max possible rigidly mounted. In my situation where I need a genset to run a scuba compressor and at times AC having a genset would not preclude to option of first maximizing your solar capacity.

A good link. Help Needed with Solar Power


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