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  • 1 Post By erps
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Old 06-23-2012
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Thinking about solar

I have a PY26 Paceship and am thinking of adding solar so I can go on a extended sailing/camping trip to Isle Royal. I have 3 batteries(2 house/1 starter) and don't use a lot of juice just running/anchor lights, my radios, an hour or two of cabin lights and a fan or two. What I am asking for is advice on what type of solar panels to get, what size, what controler and where to mount the panels. I am planning a 2 week trip this fall followed by a 4-6 week trip next spring. While at Isle Royal there is only 1 marina with a shore power hook-up so I will need to be self charging. Is my 2 battery house bank big enough or should I add another? I have new Sam's club batteries so adding 1 or 2 more would not be a problem. Any and all advice will be a great help. Richard
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Old 06-23-2012
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Re: Thinking about solar

We boated for years without worrying about charging until we got refrigeration. We were a family of four on various small boats with a single battery house bank and a single battery starting bank. When we got refrigeration, we eventually went to solar power, as we didn't like running a generator in quiet anchorages. From the sounds of your power demands, I frankly wouldn't invest in additional charging technology. The best bang for you buck would be to have a smart regulator on your main engine alternator and charge your battery bank when you're motoring between anchorages.
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Old 06-23-2012
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Re: Thinking about solar

I Like solar on my current boat and use the heck out of it. My last boat was smaller, had few toys, an we got by quite well with 2 batteries and a marina every 3rd night. Much depends on how much you motor; it works for some but many sailors hardly motor. I think solar might be good for you. It's come down and gotten better.

First, figure out how much you use. Amps x hours for every thing on the boat. This is so personal that few rules apply. However, I will remind you that you will use far more hours of cabin lights in the fall (shorter days).

Then figure out the AH of the battery bank; only count about 1/4, to allow for battery age, cloudy days, and the fact that you should stay above 50% for best life.

Figure out what you will get from running the engine. Full amps require high RPM.

Then figure out what you deficit is. Panels generally add (watt rating/13v) x 5 hours, as an allowance for low sun angle. They do better in the summer, and worse in the winter because of shorter days.

Given the size of the boat, I would think a single 60-85 watt panel should be about right, with a conventional charge controller; MPPT wouldn't really be justified at this scale. Make certain the panel will NOT be shaded, as even 10% shade can shut a panel off. This will be the greatest challenge on a small boat.

This is not cheap, perhaps $450 if you're handy. For short trips, up to 4 days, another battery will be smarter. That is what I did on my first cruising boat. LED lights are another option; instead of generating more, use less.

Perhaps this post will help, though there is a lot on the web.
Sail Delmarva: Solar Panels
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Last edited by pdqaltair; 06-23-2012 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 06-23-2012
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Re: Thinking about solar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard61 View Post
I have a PY26 Paceship and am thinking of adding solar so I can go on a extended sailing/camping trip to Isle Royal. I have 3 batteries(2 house/1 starter) and don't use a lot of juice just running/anchor lights, my radios, an hour or two of cabin lights and a fan or two. What I am asking for is advice on what type of solar panels to get, what size, what controler and where to mount the panels. I am planning a 2 week trip this fall followed by a 4-6 week trip next spring. While at Isle Royal there is only 1 marina with a shore power hook-up so I will need to be self charging. Is my 2 battery house bank big enough or should I add another? I have new Sam's club batteries so adding 1 or 2 more would not be a problem. Any and all advice will be a great help. Richard
Richard,

What other means of charging do you have? OB motor? What model?

Feel free to read this article on installing solar panels.

Installing A Small Marine Solar System
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Old 06-23-2012
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Re: Thinking about solar

PDQ is right, you need to figure your usage first. However I can give you a little idea by what we have just done.

We have a Mac26s with a Honda 8hp so we rely strictly on solar. With an amp gauge we knew we draw about 1 amp when operating our chartplotter, depth gauge, VHF with remote mic. That is usually all that we have on during the day when sailing. When anchored we may have one or two fans on @ .3amp each. Lamps may add another 1 - 1.5 amps.

We have 2 AGM batteries
(Optima 34m) each:
Cold Cranking Amps 750
Cranking Amps 870
Reserve Capacity 120
Capacity (c/20 rate) 55

We typically go out for 2 or 3 days then it may sit for a week or a month between trips out. We normally use a 20 watt panel which will build the batteries back up before our next trip out.

Recently when we tried to make part of the Texas 200 and wanted to keep the batteries charged up daily, I pulled a 40 watt panel out of stock and used it. It kept everything charged up daily for our needs. I was going to try one of our 80 watt panels but that would have been overkill for our needs.

We are in Texas with plenty of sun and the panels are adjustable so we can adjust them for optimum output whether sailing or anchored.

I also use a Morningstar PWM SSD-25RM Sunsaver Duo. It's designed to charge 2 batteries. The PWM works fine for a smaller solar system. No need for a MPPT.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard61 View Post
I have a PY26 Paceship and am thinking of adding solar so I can go on a extended sailing/camping trip to Isle Royal. I have 3 batteries(2 house/1 starter) and don't use a lot of juice just running/anchor lights, my radios, an hour or two of cabin lights and a fan or two. What I am asking for is advice on what type of solar panels to get, what size, what controler and where to mount the panels. I am planning a 2 week trip this fall followed by a 4-6 week trip next spring. While at Isle Royal there is only 1 marina with a shore power hook-up so I will need to be self charging. Is my 2 battery house bank big enough or should I add another? I have new Sam's club batteries so adding 1 or 2 more would not be a problem. Any and all advice will be a great help. Richard
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Old 06-23-2012
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Re: Thinking about solar

I was thinking about adding more solar panels ,until I discovered the new, high efficiency LED lights. Their draw is so tiny that the panels I have are suddenly 50% redundant. On a cloudy day , my voltmeter says 13.5 volts. Problem solved.
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Old 06-24-2012
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Re: Thinking about solar

Thanks everyone the tips and links are very helpfull. I think I will go with 1 full size panel and charge controler. I am pricing a Kyocera 140 panel and a Morningstar charge controler on-line now and will likely pull the trigger next week. I know everyone is sugesting led lights but this is not a big concern because I have two wall mounted oil lamps that throw all the cabin light I need. I have stayed summers in a cabin with no electrity for years and oil lamps work fine. The link above showed some great ways to mount a panel to the stern rail so thats what I am planning. Only downside is that my overnight rate at the marina I stop at will go up a buck or two with the increase in length. I wonder if I will be able to tell people with a straight face that I now sail a 28ft sailboat I am not going to add any more batteries now because if I have the juice my son will want to bring a tv/dvd and his blasted video games. The reason I want to go to Isle Royal is to get away from them. Richard

Last edited by Richard61; 06-24-2012 at 06:50 AM.
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