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Old 05-14-2011
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Upgrading batteries, solar etc.

My main goal is to upgrade my electrical system- mainly from a standpoint of charging and having enough power on hand to run lights at night, maybe a car dvd player for the kids, radio etc.

Here is what I have:

Outboard motor that charges a 12v deep cycle battery (unknown age), but is not electric start.
Small 5w solar panel that trickle charges a gel battery (also unknown age) never gets much above 13v.

I do not have a shore power hook up or charger, and in fact I pay less for my slip as I don't use shore power so this suits me fine.

Here's the question......

For days that I minimally use the outboard I really can't charge the batteries.

If I buy a bigger solar panel I read I can charge one of the batteries, but I understand I should not group batteries of different types and ages. So I think if I do get a bigger solar panel I should replace the gel battery and have the panel charge that, using the battery the motor charges as backup. Or try to charge up the gel battery and use that as primary.

So I should purrchase a (?) W solar panel, charge controller and maybe a new deep cycle battery if the gel doesn't seem to cut it?? Is that my best option? I am considering an inverter but know one battery won't give me a lot of juice.

Any advice appreciated.....I'd like cheaper options!!
1984 Watkins 25
Sassafras River, MD
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Old 05-14-2011
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1. If the engine is not electric start then having a two battery system is not so essential, but is nice to have.
2. If you are not going to install shore power, then you should size the solar panel and associated gear to keep both batteries fully charged and ready to go and be able to recover from one night's use the next day for a multiday excursion.
3. Batteries are transient things so don't play your system around what you have and having a gel cell and a wet cell complicates the charge controller part of the system.
4. Outboard engines have pretty puny alternators and are not very effective battery chargers.

Your most economical system will be two group 27 deep cycle batteries with solar panels that produce the amp hours you will use during one discharge period less the number of amp hours of bulk charging you are willing/able to put in with the engine plus a fudge factor to give you confidence that a shortage of juice won't disrupt the enjoyment of your sail. Plus a charge controller that will manage your two charging elements.
Hope this helps,
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Old 05-14-2011
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I will also be upgrading in the next few days. Based on some other threads here about batteries, I'll be getting 4 6v golf cart batteries connected in series and parallel.

This thread has a lot of info House bank and things.

Edit - Called Sam's Club today. They have the batteries in stock at $78.00 each. Each one is 225ah. Set up the way mentioned in the link above will give 450ah.
My complete refit is taking completely too long!

Last edited by SailingWebGuy; 05-14-2011 at 05:10 PM. Reason: add more info
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