How much solar panel(s)? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 15 Old 08-06-2012 Thread Starter
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How much solar panel(s)?

Adding solar panels to go cruising and debating how much do I need. Am looking at Kyocera 140 watt panels coupled with an MPPT controller (morning star or blue sky) and not sure if I want 2 or 3 panels. As I am new to the boat and have not lived on it yet not sure what my consumption would be. Suspect refrigeration will be the big draw, then charging laptops, using the stereo, some lighting at night, will have a 120w HDTV for occasional movie via the laptop and hdmi cable.
The boat has 4 brand new wet-cell 24s for the house.
Does anyone have a suggestion number of panels to mount? I'm looking for a good rule of thumb here.
Thanks

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Deale Md, to Caribbean Oct 2012-Aug 2013
Boat Type Irwin 43 Mk III Center Cockpit--Sold it
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-07-2012
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Re: How much solar panel(s)?

We have two 135W Kyoceras, an MPPT controller, and a 600 AH house bank. We never have to worry about it if the sun is out (winter is a different story). We charge two cell phones and two laptops, refrigeration, lights, inverter, etc. The panels have everything back to full charge in no time.

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post #3 of 15 Old 08-07-2012
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Re: How much solar panel(s)?

There is no "rule of thumb." Some people use a lot of electricity. Some use very little. Only you can guess how much you will use.

Look at each device that you expect to use, estimate how many hours a day you expect to use it. Simple math to figure out how much your consumption might be. If your refrigerator is well insulated, guess on it running half the time.

Or just put on as many solar panels as you can fit. If you produce excess electricity, you'll probably find some way to use it.
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post #4 of 15 Old 08-07-2012
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Re: How much solar panel(s)?

Three things

1. Energy budget - what you plan to use
2. Size of house bank - the bigger the better since batteries last longer is they are not drawn down
3. Size of your panels and output

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post #5 of 15 Old 08-07-2012
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Re: How much solar panel(s)?

Might want to look into a battery monitor before building your system. Here is a classic Maine Sail post on installing the Victron 600. You can buy that unit for under $160. I love it -- it is definitely one of the first steps in understanding your electrical system.

Wiring & Installing A Battery Monitor - SailboatOwners.com
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post #6 of 15 Old 08-07-2012
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Re: How much solar panel(s)?

"how much do I need."
You know the CapitolOne commericals? "SHOW ME YOUR WALLET!"

Buy till it hurts, then stop. That usually fits the bill.

Otherwise, really, you've got to do an energy budget. Find out how many watts you really burn. Then decide how fast you want to be able to replace that, and how much battery you can afford to toss in, in case the sun goes byebye for a couple of days. And of course, whether you want to spend the bucks for an MPPT controller, which should give you a 10-15% boost (more watts) from your panels.

But first, the energy budget. Or, "show me your wallet."
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post #7 of 15 Old 08-07-2012
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Re: How much solar panel(s)?

2 panels will do on sunny days but you will need three on the partially cloudy days.

I have similar power requirements and have 400 watts. I need to run the engine maybe once or twice a year.
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post #8 of 15 Old 08-07-2012
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Re: How much solar panel(s)?

John

What type of refrigeration do you have that is supported by solar, are you talking about AC or just the freezer/refrigerator?

thanks
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post #9 of 15 Old 08-08-2012
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Re: How much solar panel(s)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"how much do I need."
You know the CapitolOne commericals? "SHOW ME YOUR WALLET!"

Buy till it hurts, then stop. That usually fits the bill.

Otherwise, really, you've got to do an energy budget. Find out how many watts you really burn. Then decide how fast you want to be able to replace that, and how much battery you can afford to toss in, in case the sun goes byebye for a couple of days. And of course, whether you want to spend the bucks for an MPPT controller, which should give you a 10-15% boost (more watts) from your panels.

But first, the energy budget. Or, "show me your wallet."
The guy still has a job...whats a budget then, when you still have something in your wallet?

Put up 3 of those 140 watters while you can...


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post #10 of 15 Old 08-08-2012
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Re: How much solar panel(s)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TQA View Post
I have similar power requirements...
No offense intended, really, but given that he has provided absolutely NO indication of his actual energy usage, how can you claim to have similar power requirements?

Maybe his refrigerator draws far more than yours. Maybe he uses more lights for more hours. Maybe he has a monster stereo that uses gobs of electricity. Or maybe all of his appliances use LESS than any of yours. Without at least SOME indication of his actual usage, any assumption that your requirements are "similar" is completely unfounded.
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