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Old 15-02-2021, 19:25   #1
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Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

We just moved onto an Endeavour TrawlerCat 48, and I'm working toward a pretty bonkers power setup (30kwh of lifepo4, 48v powerwall, 10kva split phase inverter setup), and the last thing I need to finalize is the solar aspect.

The hardtop currently has a bunch of stuff on it, shown in the mockup. An old KVH tracphone dish, which I'll take down and sell, an old FLIR, which I'll do the same, and an older radar mast, which I have a new one coming from Seaview in early March to replace.

The main hardtop area is 131" wide, with a 10" wide lowered gutter below it on each side. The fully-cored-fiberglass hardtop is 168" inches from the back lip to the front of the KVH dish in the picture, then there's another ~3 feet past that of mostly-cored center section in the center, with a weak support on the leading edge that tapers to the sides (makes more sense in the picture). The new mast will have an 11.5" square tower base on the very back edge of the hardtop.

I'm trying to figure out the best solar setup for this. From emailing and calling around, it appears that you can't get sunpower panels unless they install it for you, and the local dealers only do residential, not marine. So, the next best panels appear to be the LG V5 panels, and I'm looking at the LG380Q1C-V5 ones most likely. They're 67" long by 40" wide. This would theoretically let me put 8 of them in two 2x2 pods with the panel lengthwise going side to side on the boat. There'd be a tiny overhang over the gutter section on each side, but still plenty of walking room around the sides with the gutter. Then with the two 80" wide pods, I could put a ~10" walkthrough side to side between them and still have everything except the far corners on the outboard bow units supported in the thick cored fiberglass, and just plate-back those far corners in the thinner stuff.

That setup would give me a hair over 3000W, which would be good enough for most of my purposes. Are there other panels I should consider for this setup that anyone can think of? Looking around, everything else appears to be lower efficiency than the LGs and Sunpowers in this size range.
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Old 15-02-2021, 19:33   #2
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

Others may be slightly lower efficiency, but depending on their exact dimensions, it may not reduce the wattage you can fit. I'd pick a few of the highest wattage panels out there and do the math on how they'd fit.
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Old 15-02-2021, 20:11   #3
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

These pretty much maximize the space. The length is perfect to just fill the width of the boat when 2 of them are end to end. Then it's just a matter of how much space I want for maintenance, so I figure one gap down the center outta do it. That pretty much fills the roof. I guess the bigger question is whether there's anything more efficient or better for boats that I'm missing.
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Old 15-02-2021, 23:17   #4
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

Just last week I got a price on solar panels (installed) for the house (I think it came to $4500). Then he said "Since you are almost on the beach I'd spend more to get solar panels that can handle the salty environment. If you don't...."

Maybe keep that in mind?
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Old 16-02-2021, 00:09   #5
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by codingparadox View Post
We just moved onto an Endeavour TrawlerCat 48, and I'm working toward a pretty bonkers power setup (30kwh of lifepo4, 48v powerwall, 10kva split phase inverter setup), and the last thing I need to finalize is the solar aspect.

The hardtop currently has a bunch of stuff on it, shown in the mockup. An old KVH tracphone dish, which I'll take down and sell, an old FLIR, which I'll do the same, and an older radar mast, which I have a new one coming from Seaview in early March to replace.

The main hardtop area is 131" wide, with a 10" wide lowered gutter below it on each side. The fully-cored-fiberglass hardtop is 168" inches from the back lip to the front of the KVH dish in the picture, then there's another ~3 feet past that of mostly-cored center section in the center, with a weak support on the leading edge that tapers to the sides (makes more sense in the picture). The new mast will have an 11.5" square tower base on the very back edge of the hardtop.

I'm trying to figure out the best solar setup for this. From emailing and calling around, it appears that you can't get sunpower panels unless they install it for you, and the local dealers only do residential, not marine. So, the next best panels appear to be the LG V5 panels, and I'm looking at the LG380Q1C-V5 ones most likely. They're 67" long by 40" wide. This would theoretically let me put 8 of them in two 2x2 pods with the panel lengthwise going side to side on the boat. There'd be a tiny overhang over the gutter section on each side, but still plenty of walking room around the sides with the gutter. Then with the two 80" wide pods, I could put a ~10" walkthrough side to side between them and still have everything except the far corners on the outboard bow units supported in the thick cored fiberglass, and just plate-back those far corners in the thinner stuff.

That setup would give me a hair over 3000W, which would be good enough for most of my purposes. Are there other panels I should consider for this setup that anyone can think of? Looking around, everything else appears to be lower efficiency than the LGs and Sunpowers in this size range.
don't give up on getting sunpower, where there is a will, there is a way. I got my 4 x 327w Sunpower from a distributer overstock years back
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Old 16-02-2021, 05:02   #6
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by coopec43 View Post
Just last week I got a price on solar panels (installed) for the house (I think it came to $4500). Then he said "Since you are almost on the beach I'd spend more to get solar panels that can handle the salty environment. If you don't...."

Maybe keep that in mind?
Yeah -- I'm having a hard time getting useful weatherproofing ratings on panels. They all give IPX ratings for the junction boxes, but not for the panels themselves. Annoying.
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2004 Meridian 408 - For Sale! Kitted out for ICW/Great Loop cruising, turnkey sale!
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Old 16-02-2021, 05:25   #7
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by codingparadox View Post
Yeah -- I'm having a hard time getting useful weatherproofing ratings on panels. They all give IPX ratings for the junction boxes, but not for the panels themselves. Annoying.

I did a DDG search on "solar panel ratings marine corrosion" (assuming you are in the USA) and came up with a few links that may help.

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=solar+pane...=v204-1&ia=web
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Old 16-02-2021, 05:39   #8
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

Try https://www.sunpoweredyachts.com/ for advice. They helped me a lot with my planning.
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Old 16-02-2021, 06:20   #9
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by coopec43 View Post
I did a DDG search on "solar panel ratings marine corrosion" (assuming you are in the USA) and came up with a few links that may help.

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=solar+pane...=v204-1&ia=web
Basically all panels have the severity 6 rating, which is the highest salt spray rating. So, it's hard to tell if that's really good enough for literally getting waves of salt water up onto the roof that splash them or not.
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Old 16-02-2021, 06:25   #10
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peeew View Post
Try https://www.sunpoweredyachts.com/ for advice. They helped me a lot with my planning.
Thanks! Emailing them now.
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Old 16-02-2021, 09:54   #11
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by codingparadox View Post
Basically all panels have the severity 6 rating, which is the highest salt spray rating. So, it's hard to tell if that's really good enough for literally getting waves of salt water up onto the roof that splash them or not.
I think the biggest concern in yacht instalations is the potenial racking moment and stress when the boat is in rough weather

That is far more severe than a land installation and while the wind loading is the same, the G forces are not

So I chose to make heavy alloy racks that the Sunpower panels fitted into quite tight to stiffen up the panel's own frame.
2 panels per side
Used sealant to bed them down and sealed top to prevent any salt water getting trapped inside.

Salt spray does not seemed to have been an issue after about 6 years on.

By the way, what is the expected electrical generating lifespan of solar panels ?

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Old 16-02-2021, 10:14   #12
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

"By the way, what is the expected electrical generating lifespan of solar panels ?"

My Sunpower panels came with a slowly descending output graph over 25 years.
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Old 16-02-2021, 10:44   #13
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

We sold our house to purchase our dream boat and cruise full time.

Our house had 22 solar panels and generated more electricity than we used. It was a sweet setup.

A previous owner of our boat installed a hardtop (105" wide) over the center cockpit and installed two solar panels on it. I was surprised to see that they were the exact same solar panels I had on our house! (Canadian Solar)

I would estimate they've been there for at least 5 years before we bought our boat, and now we've been cruising full time for 3 years. In that time our boat has been to Hawaii and Mexico before we bought her for PNW cruising that we do now.

So, perhaps we don't really need expensive marinized solar panels...
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Old 16-02-2021, 10:53   #14
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

I live on the beach in Hawaii on the windward side of the island. When I had my grid-tied and battery backup systems install there were only three solar panel manufactures whose warranty covered salt air damage. Better check into this for any panel that will go into a boat.
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Old 16-02-2021, 11:03   #15
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Re: Which Solar Panels for this giant hardtop?

We put 3 LG 375 watt panels on our Manta 40 hardtop a year ago. Extremely happy with them and no issues noted. We run them in serial through a 150/100 Victron. We’ve seen voltage out of the panels as high as approx 123 volts, amps pushing over 80, and watts over 1000 (1125 would be max rated). Most of the time, we don’t even need what we have but nice to have on cloudy days. We’ve all but eliminated our need for generator except to run AC at anchor and heat hot water, although I’m going to look into a 12 volt heating element for our water heater. Good luck with your install. Here’s picture from last 4 days of solar generation while at anchor in the Florida Keys.
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