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  #11  
Old 04-10-2013
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Re: Solar Power for catalina 27

You are right, the OP needs to do a power audit. But isn't 10 - 12 hours a bit optimistic for sunlight hours that far north? The charts I have (for Canada) show about half of that. Are those charts off?

Another issue, although the new panels can be walked on, you also need to keep them out of shadows. That usually means you need to mount them somewhere that you normally wouldn't be walking on them anyway. Mounting them on a dodger or bimini is pretty clean but also usually a problem with the shadows.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
Interesting things in the solar side of things - walk-on and flexible panels that will make mounting them less of an issue..

Steveston Marine offers the Ganz line, flat thin panels you can walk on, reasonable size and if you're not running a fridge they may provide enough to keep you going, esp if you're using LED lighting.

Pacific Yacht Systems (?) offers a line of very flexible panels that can be sewn/snapped/velcroed/zippered onto dodgers or biminis.

Understand that solar is not always reliable in these parts, but summer in Desolation is going to be alright. The problem has always been how to mount them efficiently without turning the boat into a bit of fugly.

You'll also need a solar charge controller to ensure you don't overdo things on a bright sunny day. None of this is cheap, of course.... but the newer panels will/may need less structure that will reduce the overall cost.

Do a power budget.. figure out your daily usage on average and see if there's a panel that can supply that in a 10-12 hour stretch of sun...or less...
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Old 04-10-2013
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Re: Solar Power for catalina 27

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdbee View Post

Another issue, although the new panels can be walked on, you also need to keep them out of shadows. That usually means you need to mount them somewhere that you normally wouldn't be walking on them anyway. Mounting them on a dodger or bimini is pretty clean but also usually a problem with the shadows.
This is the big problem with "walkable" panels on sail boats. At deck level there are often a ton of shading issues. Couple that with a small wire that needs to go through the deck somewhere and a junction box that sticks up above the panel and an expensive panel can be destroyed in one swift trip/kick..

Mounting on dodgers or on the deck under the boom are also terrible places for "performance" for the shade you noted.

One trick I use when an owner is dead set on mounting on a dodger is to use port & starboard 40W Solbian panels and then each panel gets is own GVB-4 boost controller. The panels are strategically positioned to be as far outboard on the dodger as is possible and allow for a proper fit. This allows each controller to maximize the performance of each panel during shading events. A bimini or davits or stern pole are clearly the best locations but not all boats have bimini's or davits.

I have two customers that are adding bimini's this year simply because of solar. The selling points of a bimini made no sense for them prior to solar but when you add the solar to the bimini it makes for a nice package.
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Re: Solar Power for catalina 27

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Originally Posted by mdbee View Post
You are right, the OP needs to do a power audit. But isn't 10 - 12 hours a bit optimistic for sunlight hours that far north? The charts I have (for Canada) show about half of that. Are those charts off?
In June/July we can get sun above the horizon (away from the mountains) for that long at least... but you're right, we're not talking full efficiency over that time, and it certainly doesn't happen every day.... In any event the OP doesn't seem to have particularly heavy loads and will likely do well with a minimal solar setup.

The shading is, of course, a major issue, and one that must be balanced against any aesthetics that one might consider when choosing where/how to install. MS's two panel - two controller plan sounds brilliant.
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Re: Solar Power for catalina 27

On my boat with a meter telling the truth the 40 watt/genasun combo starts putting out useful amounts of power 3/10 amp at 8 am ? and peaks out at 2.5 amps at noon

I keep a simple boat with Led cabin lights and have not had issues on weekend trips after one full season of use

It works so well after the boat was moved home for the winter I put the panel back on and used the cabin lights all winter without any issues as the winter storage area has a southern exposure
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Re: Solar Power for catalina 27

I know it's hard to put a figure on it but how much difference do you think running two controllers makes? And how much more efficient are the Mppt controllers (vs PWM) for panels of this smaller size?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
This is the big problem with "walkable" panels on sail boats. At deck level there are often a ton of shading issues. Couple that with a small wire that needs to go through the deck somewhere and a junction box that sticks up above the panel and an expensive panel can be destroyed in one swift trip/kick..

Mounting on dodgers or on the deck under the boom are also terrible places for "performance" for the shade you noted.

One trick I use when an owner is dead set on mounting on a dodger is to use port & starboard 40W Solbian panels and then each panel gets is own GVB-4 boost controller. The panels are strategically positioned to be as far outboard on the dodger as is possible and allow for a proper fit. This allows each controller to maximize the performance of each panel during shading events. A bimini or davits or stern pole are clearly the best locations but not all boats have bimini's or davits.

I have two customers that are adding bimini's this year simply because of solar. The selling points of a bimini made no sense for them prior to solar but when you add the solar to the bimini it makes for a nice package.
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Re: Solar Power for catalina 27

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Originally Posted by mdbee View Post
I know it's hard to put a figure on it but how much difference do you think running two controllers makes? And how much more efficient are the Mppt controllers (vs PWM) for panels of this smaller size?

For those particular panels, the Solbian 40W, there is only one controller. These are 8V panels and use a "boost" controller that takes the low voltage and boosts it to charging voltages. The controller is specially made by Genasun and works amazingly well...

For a typical 40W panel a Genasun MPPT is quite a bit more efficient. Unlike some MPPT's they are specifically designed for lower wattage panels where you use one controller per panel to maximize MPPT tracking.. You can expect about 8-15% more per day on average...
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Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Solar Power for catalina 27

I am looking to purchase some solar panels to power my cat27. I currently have 2 deep cycle batteries on board. I am new to the solar world and am looking for some advice on what to get to make sure my batteries stay charged.[/quote]

I use a Morningstar "SunSaver Duo" solar charge control regulator that can charge two batteries independently. It charges one then switches to the other once fully charged. I'm not sure if you can force it to charge Batt #1 or Batt#2.
can handle up to 25 Amps and has a digital display. Has worked well for 5 years.
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Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Solar Power for catalina 27

I use a setup similar to the one suggested by Maine Sail and tommays. It's works well for me.

A 30w to 40w panel (mono-crystalline for the best efficiency) is about $100 through eBay or Amazon. The Genasun MPPT controller is about $60 or $70. Mounting hardware actually ends up being the most expensive thing to sort out. On a tiller boat a cheap option is to use some good quality clamps mounted at the midpoint on the panel, with the panel mounted on the back rail. That works best with smaller (lighter) panels. It's not meant to illustrate it, but this is how I had the panel installed on my Catalina 25:


Clamps are visible here in the upper left:


That Catalina 25 doesn't have shore power and it's batteries are primarily charged by the 20 watt panel.

On a wheel boat this doesn't work so well because the panel intrudes into the cockpit space right about where the helms person wants to sit. Maine Sail has a guide on how he mounts panels that fixes that issue, but requires over $100 in hardware:
Installing A Small Marine Solar System Photo Gallery by Compass Marine at pbase.com

That is what I've done on my Pearson 28-2 (not yet wired when this was taken):


That is a 30 watt panel and it puts out a little over 2 amps at noon on a sunny day.

Adding a battery monitor system (http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/battery_monitor) will give you a lot of insight into your power consumption. I didn't have one on the Catalina 25 and was flying blind but with way more battery capacity (2 group 24, so 150 amp hours) than I needed for an all LED boat. I added one to my Pearson and it's really helpful to understand power demands and battery state.
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Last edited by Alex W; 06-07-2013 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Solar Power for catalina 27

This was my solution this year.

I picked up a Genasun MPPT sort of spur of the moment when I saw that it was only $50 and added a 20W panel from Amazon for another $50. Seeing how expensive rail hardware was I went my own way.

First I made fancy PVC lumber clamps. But then after some additional thought I decided to go simply with cable ties. Two of the ties go through the frame and the others go through the PVC lumber support bar running the length of the panel. I needed something to support it in the middle that was flush with the frame. The PVC bar is attached to the panel just with 3M VHB tape. It's basically free and was easy. At some point I'm going to reverse the ties so the latch part isn't visible.

The perko connector in the deck is spaced off the deck with a PVC lumber donut spacer. (I love/hate those perko connectors - they don't prevent momentary reverse polarity connections so I added series schottky diode to protect the controller from being hit with the panel voltage in reverse).



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Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Solar Power for catalina 27

Quote:
Originally Posted by PetePearson View Post
I use a Morningstar "SunSaver Duo" solar charge control regulator that can charge two batteries independently. It charges one then switches to the other once fully charged. I'm not sure if you can force it to charge Batt #1 or Batt#2.
can handle up to 25 Amps and has a digital display. Has worked well for 5 years.
Actually the SunSaver Duo charges both banks at the same time. You can set charging priority to either 50/50 or 90/10 by adjusting the dip switches. 90/10 makes the most sense for a house bank/start bank arrangement on a boat. If set as 90/10 it will charge both banks with 90% going to house bank and 10% to the start battery. After the house bank is fully charged it will divert more current to the start battery if needed. If it is either engine dedicated or an emergency battery it will be charged long before the house bank is fully charged however.
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