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post #1 of Old 07-07-2011 Thread Starter
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Maximizing solar output

I have 325 watts of solar installed in 25 panels spread throughout my boat. I have 60 watts in the form of 4 15 watt canvas foldable panels strapped to my dodger, I have 4 15 watt flexible walkable panels on my cabin top in seldom transgressed areas, I have 60 watts on my companion way hatch, 10 watts on my cabin hatch and 40 watts on my forward scoop hatch. I also have 50 watts strapped to the top of my life raft and two 5 watt panels on my head scoop vent box. I have a cluster of 6 5 watt panels on my foredeck. Some of these are permanent notably the hatches, the walkable and the dodger panels. The ones on the foredeck need to be tucked away somewhere while underway. I have quite the collection of wires. I find around 1pm or so my max output is 12 Amps as read by my charge controller - that was the record peak. Normally it reads more like 6 amps. I have decided that the output is less then expected taking shading into consideration. I wonder if the batteries are full and the morningstar charge controller is only allowing as much current as required into the system or if I should somehow consolidate my wiring. I wired all the panels in parallel as they all have a useful charging voltage for lead acid batteries. I was contemplating shortening up the wires but that would only yield a 5 percent or so gain no? I have a feeling there is a lot of efficiency to be gained by rethinking and rewiring. Is it better to say wire everything up to 8 AWG wire and run that straight to the charge controller in the shortest amount of copper possible or to run independent parallel wires? There may be more seaworthiness/ redundancy in more wires. I feel like I should have seen a lot more amps from 325 watts then I have but that may be the nature of the beast...

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