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Old 08-08-2011
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Question Buying Solar Panel

I am in the market to purchase a solar panel but I find the choices and specifications confusing. My needs are simple I have a 30 ft S-2 Sailboat
inboard diesel and two batteries which operate the usual lights, small fan, radio and possibly a DC cooler. I want the correct size panel to keep the batteries charged to operate these items when the engine is not running and keep the batteries trickle charged when the boat is not being used for several months. Any suggestions with brand name, model and/or specifications I should be looking for to purchase this item. Thank you calmharbor
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Old 08-08-2011
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I would speak with this site, or Hamilton Ferris....both offer "complete kits" to do what you are seeking.

I would think for your boat, a reputable 75-85 watt panel, charge controller, mounts, cable and a few bits would be good, and may be under $1K. You need to make sure that the panel can "see" the sun when not being used and that your usage does not exceed the batteries or the panel rates. IE you likely can not run all items for long hours with no sun, etc.

All the best.
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Old 08-08-2011
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85 watts could be about right. The first thing you should do is tally up an electrical budget; how much power do you use? How long do your batteries last when you go over night? Since you have batteries in reserve, if you compare your usage to 5 hour x solar pannel output, you should get an idea.

Then decide where you can mount pannels where they will be niether broken nor shaded. Can be tough.

Then there is the wiring, both routing and safety. Don't forget the fuse, use good wiring practice, and you will need a charge controller.

This is my expereince:
Sail Delmarva: Solar Panels

Good luck!
(when asked how he reached the starting holds on a difficult rock climbing problem that clearly favored taller climbers - he was perhaps 5'5")

"Well, I just climb up to them."

by Joe Brown, English rock climber

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