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Old 02-07-2022, 07:02   #1
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Single or double solar chargers

I have a Nautitech open 46 in the BVI. The charter company are in the process of changing out the solar panels. They are flexible 6 x 100w 3 on either side of the boom
Currently wired in series 2 strings to a single Outback flex max 60 amp controller.

I was thinking to add a second Outback controller and separate each bank.

Technician gave me 3 options
Option 1: Leave the current Outback in there and simply install the new panels.

Option 2: Order 2 x Victron Energy BlueSolar MPPT 100/30 Charge Controllers one for each string. Happy to rewire to parallel should you wish but you will loose efficiency of charge due to the lower battery voltage.



Option 3: Order 6 x Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 75V 10 amp 12/24-Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth) one for each panel so so they are all independent but might not get the max output from the potential as they are not in series.

=

Any thoughts or comments appreciated
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Old 02-07-2022, 07:28   #2
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Re: Single or double solar chargers

Options #2 or #3 are best.

Probably option number two will be just easier in general. Easier to keep track of. I selected option number two for my own boat.

option number three is perfectly legitimate and even more redundant. And will handle shading even better.

but considering the rig is usually doing the shading, it’s usually just on one side at a time in the shade, so you can get away with just two controllers
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Old 02-07-2022, 07:33   #3
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Re: Single or double solar chargers

What are the panel specifications?
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Old 02-07-2022, 09:38   #4
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Re: Single or double solar chargers

These
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...e_7?smid=&th=1
Thanks
Paul
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Old 02-07-2022, 10:00   #5
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Re: Single or double solar chargers

Each side of the boom should be a series string and on separate controller.

Just put one side on existing controller and add a second controller. You can get a Victron for that, you can mix brands.
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Old 02-07-2022, 10:26   #6
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Re: Single or double solar chargers

Your current series connection to a single solar controller is the least efficient set up possible, especially for panels located on either side of the boom. So there is room for improvement.

The most efficient wiring configuration is normally:

One controller per panel
Two controllers (one regulating the port panels and one the starboard) with the panels wired in parallel.

However, with the above configurations some care is needed with 12v flexible panels mounted on a solid structure in hot climates to ensure that the panels maximum power point voltage does not drop below the charging voltage required (after voltage losses in the wiring etc). This concern is especially a consideration for 12v panels with a lower than average Vmp and unfortunately your panels fall into this category.

So I would not recommend these options in your case.

With 6 panels the best remaining option is:

Two controllers (one regulating the port panels and one the starboard) with the panels wired in series or option 2. This will produce a modest gain from option 1 and add redundancy, but it will be more expensive and involve more installation time.

Whether this extra cost and time is worthwhile for the modest gain is debatable and something you will have to decide for yourself. I would factor in the age of the current controller and the quality of the original wiring. The Outback controllers are very well made, but do not last forever. They can be repaired (the capacitors usually fail first), but this is usually frustrating to arrange on a cruising boat.
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Old 02-07-2022, 11:48   #7
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Re: Single or double solar chargers

Two MPPT controllers, one for the port panels and the other for the starboard panels will probably be adequate. You may often find though that you want to swing the boom out to one side or the other to reduce shading as much as possible while anchored or moored. Having two will mitigate shading issues when swinging the boom isn't practical.
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Old 02-07-2022, 12:39   #8
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Re: Single or double solar chargers

Thanks, Noelex would you recommend a different panel
I need to keep it flexible, the boat is in a charter program and people will stand on them when tending sails.

Regards Paul
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Old 02-07-2022, 13:24   #9
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Re: Single or double solar chargers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steel sails View Post
Thanks, Noelex would you recommend a different panel
To wire 12v panels in parallel, the most important step is to keep them cool, which unfortunately is difficult with flexible panels mounted on a rigid surface. Polycarbonate honeycomb sheeting is sometimes used under the panels and is claimed to be helpful, but I have not personally tried this.

The next step is to start with panels that produce a relatively high voltage under STC conditions. The specifications for your panels indicates a relatively low Vmp of 18.5v. This is fine for series connection, but if the panels are hot this voltage specification is getting marginal for parallel connection. Some 12v panels have a Vmp of over 20v.

Sorry Paul I have not looked seriously at flexible panels for some years, so I cannot offer any specific suggestions that would be helpful.
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Old 02-07-2022, 15:53   #10
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Re: Single or double solar chargers

Go with option 3. With the Bluetooth option you can connect the controllers in a network. One controller takes the lead and manages the output of the other panels to maximize the charge. Works great on our boat.
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Old 02-07-2022, 19:54   #11
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Re: Single or double solar chargers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steel sails View Post
I need to keep it flexible, the boat is in a charter program and people will stand on them when tending sails.

Regards Paul
The panels linked to (and most others) are not designed to be walked on.
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