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svlamorocha 06-03-2015 15:49

Please help me with the detail of my new solar setup
I am planning the installation of a solar panel and controller in my own little boat (Beneteau 323).

The “big picture” is that I want to install one 135W flexible planel made with Sunforce cells ($259 from Ebay vendor discountsolar) and Genasun GV-10 MPPT controller ($146 from The panel will be mounted on the bimini canvas in a way that can be removed when we put away the boat for hurricane season, and probably reinforced with a polycarbonate backing. Wire size between panel and controller (round trip about 40ft) will be AWG 10 that is easy to install and will give me voltage drop of 1.9% assuming peak power point of 17V. Between controller and battery (short distance) I will also use AWG 10

Now I need to define the detail to get all the parts and have them shipped to the boat. I would appreciate informed thoughts on the questions below:
  1. Does anyone have any experience (good or bad) with the “Semi-Flexible 135 Watt Solar Panel, High Efficiency Sunpower Marine Rated” panels sold in ebay by a vendor called “discountsolar”?
  2. What is a sensible location for the solar controller in a 33-ft monohull? The house battery (200Ah) Lifeline AGM is located in the engine compartment behind the companionway steps. That is a dry place that is close to the battery but it may get hot at times. Another possible place close to the battery is below the master bed in the aft cabin, where all the big fuses are. This place is cooler but it is very low and to one side of the boat, so it could get wet if there is some flooding inside the boat while it is heeled.
  3. What type of cable should I use between panel and controller? I would prefer to use round cable that will seal better at the gland, but my usual suppliers (Defender and do not have it. Is there a good source of round marine tinned AWG 10-2 cable?
  4. How to connect the cable to the MC4 connectors in the panel? I want to keep the MC4s there because it will be necessary to remove the panels at times (hurricane season, etc). I would appreciate help in identifying the type of MC4 connectors I need and how do I install them in the AWG10-2 cable to make the thing waterproof. Or should I just use separate cables for positive and negative, to make it easier to seal against the MC4 connectors (or just cut in half a ready-made “MC4 extension cord” and make two cables out of it)?
  5. How to seal the cables where they go through the deck? Given that the bimini bases are articulated, I need to pass the cables through a hole in the deck. I am afraid I cannot find in the US a good cable “gland” to seal the hole. Where can I find something like this?
  6. What fuse/breaker should I install close to battery end? I am thinking about installing a 15A breaker between the controller and the battery (close to the battery), which will let me disconnect the controller from the battery to reset the absorption time, and also protect the AWG 10 wire (ampacity 20A in engine space) against shorts or overload. I was thinking of a surface-mount breaker such as this but cannot find it in 10 or 15A rating. Any ideas of a cheap 15A breaker for surface mount that will work on a boat?
  7. Do I need to install a fuse close to the panel end? My first guess is that, given that the panel is limited to its design current Isc= 5.8A that is not greater than the AWG10 ampacity of 15A, I do not need a fuse close to the panels. Am I missing something?

Bill_E 06-03-2015 16:43

Re: Please help me with the detail of my new solar setup
Try reading a couple of Maine Sail's articles. They may give you some ideas.

Installing A Solbian Solar Panel Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at

Installing A Small Marine Solar System Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at

I'd put the controller close to the fuses. That should be a dry area anyway. I'd hate for my fuses to get soaked.


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