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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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  #1  
Old 08-26-2012
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An eye opener for installing solar panels!

In Sail magazine's September Tech Notes Nigel Calder adds a few considerations if installing solar is on the bucket list.

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Old 08-26-2012
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An eye opener for installing solar panels!

Yes,
That was a really good article. The effect of shading on just one cell in a panel reducing the total output of all series connected panels by 35 to 40% was amazing. It looks it is better to use a larger number of small parallel connected panels than a few large panels.
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Old 08-26-2012
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Re: An eye opener for installing solar panels!

Also depends on cost/benefit ratio. How much efficiency do you want to pay for? (or need) Although I only handle smaller systems (more for maintenance), the costs are higher for multiple smaller panels. I do offer multiple panel systems but they are higher in cost. Sometimes it is also easier to install 2 panels than one large one because of space issues.

The effects of shading is pretty well known. Glad to see that article though.
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Old 08-30-2012
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Re: An eye opener for installing solar panels!

Wow I am amazed that article published so fast. My friend Bruce and Nigel were just working on this back in June. They also made some interesting comparisons between solar controllers which I assume will be another article coming out of that testing.

I have been harping on the proper placement of solar panels on boats for a loooong time. So many are poorly installed and result in very poor performance. It is good to see someone like Nigel weighing in as folks seem to listen to what he says.

Bottom line is this:

Poor locations:

Dodger, under boom, on boom etc. all = horrible locations for solar.

More Appropriate Locations:

Bimini top, stern davits, stern pole.


Even the slight shading from a backstay can literally cripple a panels performance...

Here's a quick video I made for a customer who was rather adamant he wanted his solar panel on top of the dodger under the boom.....

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Old 08-30-2012
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Re: An eye opener for installing solar panels!

What kills me from an ROI perspective on the solar project im complete is the cost of components *NOT* associated with power generation!

My 215 watt kyocera panel buy was just a small portion of the total spend. Between frame/fittings to make it fit over the bimini, mounting brackets that were required because the standard holes in the panel weren't right, gland fittings for wiring to go through decks, on and on, the ROI of simply getting a honda to charge up batteries made so much more sense.
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Re: An eye opener for installing solar panels!

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Originally Posted by night0wl View Post
What kills me from an ROI perspective on the solar project im complete is the cost of components *NOT* associated with power generation!

My 215 watt kyocera panel buy was just a small portion of the total spend. Between frame/fittings to make it fit over the bimini, mounting brackets that were required because the standard holes in the panel weren't right, gland fittings for wiring to go through decks, on and on, the ROI of simply getting a honda to charge up batteries made so much more sense.
It's like that with any electrical upgrade.... Try installing a high output alternator. The proper fusing, wiring, pulleys, brackets, nuts bolts and various other accessories will usually cost more than the alternator itself.. Hell a serpentine pulley kit to drive a 100+ amp alt runs about $700.00 alone....

But hey the price of solar has come waaaaaaay down. I just recently ordered two Kyocera 140's for a customer and including shipping it was less than $600.00 for both 140W panels... In fact I treated myself to a new Kyocera 140 a few weeks ago as the price was ridiculously low. We nearly doubled my solar capacity and the bank now goes from where the alt left off to 100% SOC in less than two days.

For about $500.00 or less you can get a pretty sweet solar set up these days.

The ROI really comes down the road. Our 375Ah $210.00 Wal*Mart battery bank is still purring along perfectly in its sixth season. They still test at 96-98% of new. Next year will be year seven and most of this success is due to the addition of solar for our mooring sailed vessel..
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 08-30-2012 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 08-31-2012
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Re: An eye opener for installing solar panels!

I think it's important to consider ROI in terms of more than just dollars and cents. What is the ROI for being able to continuously recharge your batteries without a lick of noise, pollution, or gasoline use, really, without even having to think about it happening? For me, at least, that's worth quite a lot.
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Old 08-31-2012
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Re: An eye opener for installing solar panels!

Take advantage of the low price of solar panels. They are driven by the need to reduce inventory. Once the inventories get back in check the prices will go back up. The solar industry took a huge hit when Chinese manufacturers flooded the market with materials right before the European economy tanked and all of the subsidies dried up. All of a sudden you had a huge supply and no customers. Soon afterwards the prices dropped drastically. Prices you are seeing now do not reflect manufactuing costs with the currently available technology.
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