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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 03-27-2008
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More on solar panels.

Ive been looking for some solar panels to keep the batteries in my Pearson charged up. Now im going to admit right out, im broke so cheap is my only option. Ive been looking at the Sunsei line from WM, but they are still high priced. Ive got one of the $99 SE-500 panels, but it doesnt do alot for keeping up with my useage. Ive been looking at the SE-1500, but at $179 plus another $40 for the controller, its still a bit high for not much power output.

Now ive just found that Costco sells the same panels under the Coleman name for ALOT less. They sell a kit that has three SE-1500 panels and a controller for $289. Now this is alot cheaper than west marine. I know these arnt high output panels, but for what i need, they will do fine. Im going to have 2 Trojan T-105's soon. My power useage isnt that much. Ive got a Davis Megalight for my anchor light, i use maybe 2 hours a night of my cabin lights. Now my cabin lights are the old style house sized bulbs. I know they are high power. I dont have any other way to charge than solar or my generator and that sucker is noisy.

Costco - Coleman¬ģ CL3600 Solar Back up Power Kit 54 Watts by ICP
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Old 03-27-2008
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With a 54 watt output you should be able to get around 15-20 amp hours to your batteries on average. Standard 12V house bulbs typically use 1.5 amps/hour or so...and the Davis will use just a few for all night so if this is all you are running and you don't use a LOT of house lights, the panels should be able to keep you going. Given your budgetary concerns...this seems like a good choice.
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Unfortunately you get what ya pay for. Try to find a monocrystaline panel that you can afford. (you can see each cell) They are much more efficient for the area of panel. That colemane kit will take up a lot of realestate for what they put out. Go for as much mono panel you can afford then add in future. Those panels will last a life time as well. For $300 I would think you can get a good selfregualating panel in the 20 watt range or better. Try ebay.
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Old 03-27-2008
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Actually, most of the modern panels are polycrystalline, not monocrystalline—but you can still see the individual cells. The Coleman panels appear to be Amorphous silicon thin-film panels, which have a much lower efficiency and require a lot more surface area.
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Yes, I stand corrected. My feeling exactly about the Amorphous.
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Old 03-27-2008
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Well ive got the top of my bimini that i plan on mounting them on. For the most part i use oil lamps for light in the cabin unless im cooking, then i do turn on the light over the galley. Over all my cabin lights get an hour or two use each night. The only other major power item ive got is a TV/DVD combo that runs on 12v or 120v. Most of the time i fire off the generator to use it anyway.

This is a boat that never moves from its mooring so taking up some space inst much of an issue. Im a liveaboard on the Pearson 36 and use the Bayfield as the boat to go out and sail on. The Pearson hasnt moved from the mooring field since May 2007.
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Old 03-27-2008
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Okay experts, how much in amp hours can I expect my Kyocera 80w panel to get me in the Chesapeake area on a average day?
I've always figured 40 amp hours per day or so - is that about good nuf?

I have 3 Optima's as my house bank - 210 amp hours, and I've never seen my charge below 85% come my early morning check on my XBM monitor. My pre-bed time check usually has me at 98 - 99% so I think I'm okay given current usage.

I could see adding some of these less expensive panels as 'portable add on's' that I toss on top my pilot house when at anchor.
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Quote:
I've always figured 40 amp hours per day or so - is that about good nuf?
Looks to me that 40 amps would be under perfect conditions, which you don't have most of the time. I would think it be closer to 35 amps. CD also says my 260 watts of solar would give me 100 amps per day. 260 watts is 3 times what you have, so I think 40 amps per day is very high.
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The formula is 75% of the wattage divided by voltage times hours of sunlight per day. That should get you in the ball park.
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I've seen the formula before - using it I come up with 80x.75 / 12 * 7 (hrs, summer time) = 35. BUT - I often exceed 12v - in good sunlight. My batteries are AGM, Optima's can take more, my controller is set for 14.5 and I've seen that on my XBM monitor. Hence my 40 amp hour estimate.
I don't think I'm pushing the line with 7 hours, and my panels tilt to get more sun.
I'll stick with 40, and track it this year. I didn't have my onboard pc set up to track last year.
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