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post #31 of 45 Old 03-15-2011
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I'm using a 15 watter with good results. I've yet to be disappointed. I replaced all my interior lights with LEDs, usually running two of them at night, til bedtime, with the stereo usually running all night at the dock. Might add a second panel one day once I get a chance to sail out and stay over night, running the mast light, nav lights, etc. So far, so good. I've been disconnected from shore power since last October.

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post #32 of 45 Old 03-15-2011 Thread Starter
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That gives me a good feeling about my setup.
I may go with the 15 watts, and mount it off the stern railing as mentioned.
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post #33 of 45 Old 03-15-2011
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That's what I did. I'm going to mount some additional hardware so I can adjust the angles. Have most of the materials to do the job. Latest Good Old Boat mag has an article on how to accomplish this.

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post #34 of 45 Old 03-16-2011 Thread Starter
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I went to West Marine last night to check them out.
the 15 watt Sunforce is 109.99 and is about 2ft x 1 ft - very large panel , this would look like I was hanging a dining room table off the stern!
the 5 watt is 69.99 and is half the size.
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post #35 of 45 Old 03-16-2011
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Figure 5 hours of full charge per day on a 15 watt panel would be 15 x 5 / 12 volt = 6.25 amps of power generated per day. The 5 watt panel would give you around 2 amps per day.

The 15 watt seems like it gives more bang for the buck. Not twice as expensive for 3 times the power gain.
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post #36 of 45 Old 03-16-2011
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You should definitely go with at least the 15 W panel. But price out a 30W panel as well; my 30W panel is not much bigger than that (maybe 1.5 x 2.5).

s/v Laelia - 1978 Pearson 365 ketch
s/v Essorant - 1972 Catalina 27
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post #37 of 45 Old 03-16-2011 Thread Starter
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I am thinking the 15W is already overkill ( for size and power ).

Again, how much power am I ever going to use in one outing?

cd radio
vhf radio
cabin lights and running lights
bilge pump

no tv's, PS3's, microwaves, sat tv/radio, nada
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post #38 of 45 Old 03-16-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpcAlan1 View Post
I am thinking the 15W is already overkill ( for size and power ).

Again, how much power am I ever going to use in one outing?

cd radio
vhf radio
cabin lights and running lights
bilge pump
Let's say a day is

4 hours cd use: 2 amps
6 hours VHF receiving: 3 amps
bilge pump: negligible daily
8 hours of anchor light: 10-15 amps??
6 hours of cabin light use: 6 amps, for 1 light.

So you could easily be consuming 20-30 amps per day, and the "hours of use" listed might be real low. A weekend could see you use 60 amps. The 15 watt panel would take all week to charge up from that usage.

Switching the lights out to LEDs would drastically reduce the power usage. Cabin lights would be .1 amp draw per hour instead of 1, and the anchor light might be .15 per hour instead of 1.5. If you're doing any night running, LED green/red/stern lights would also save a lot of juice.

Of course the above is all guesswork. You'd need to see the actual power stats of all of this gear. It's also very very user specific. Do a lot of talking on the VHF? Transmit is 3 amps per hour while listening only is .5.
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post #39 of 45 Old 03-16-2011 Thread Starter
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Ok, I will double check my equipment.
in the meantime, I do think I am going to LED's now. The bulbs are 30 bucks each at west marine - or I can buy the whole lightset - with bulbs for 20? what gives?
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post #40 of 45 Old 03-16-2011
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Your figures are pretty high for power consumption:


4 hours cd use: 2 amps
6 hours VHF receiving: 3 amps
bilge pump: negligible daily
8 hours of anchor light: 10-15 amps??
6 hours of cabin light use: 6 amps, for 1 light.

Most VHF Radios do not draw a lot of power while receiving. While some draw as much as .5 amps, that power consumption rating is with the volume turned to half. At lower volumes, the power consumption is far less. Unfortunately, it's not a linear equation but at 1/4-volume it could be as low as .25 or less. Now, if you gab on the radio a lot, the transmit draw is nearly 5 amps, which is a chunk of power.

Anchor lights, even incandescent, draw very little power. Most draw less than .5 amps, and a replacement, LED, bayonet base, anchor-light bulb could be installed for under $20 in the same housing. The LED 12-watt replacement, which is really bright, sells for just under $10.

You can also find LED replacement bulbs for those interior lights as well that are inexpensive. Keep in mind that you should try to match the equivalent incandescent wattage rating--not the actual wattage rating. You'll be amazed at how little they cost. And, you should shop locations other than marine stores.

Six amps of cabin lights seems like a lot, especially for a small boat. Most of the time, when I was sailing my Catalina 27, a single cabin light was more than enough, and it didn't stay on very long--even if I was reading a book.

With two of my electrical panel indicator lights on, which were red, I could see very well in the cabin at night. Additionally, my GPS/Depth Finder stayed on 24/7. At night, while at anchor, it was used as an anchor alarm. Of course the screen power was very low and dimmed at night, so it drew minimal current, probably less than .2 amps. This, plus the anchor light was my total drain on a single, multiple use battery. When I rolled out of the sack, which was usually about 7 a.m., the first thing I did was turn off the anchor light, then turned off the GPS Anchor Alarm, fired up the alcohol stove and tossed some turkey bacon in the frying pan, then turned on the VHF for NOAA weather. It only takes about 5 minutes to get all the weather information a person wants to hear for a day. Then the VHF was turned off.

After a hearty breakfast, some orange juice, and a hot cup of coffee, the engine was usually fired up, then I would raise the anchor and slowly motor through the maze of other boats that came in during the night to anchor up in the cove. Once I was clear of the fleet, I pointed the bow into the breeze, slowed to idle speed, locked the tiller in place, raised the sails, and the engine was shut down. For the remainder of the day I would keep a close eye on the battery voltage, which was displayed on the GPS at all times. The single, 5-watt solar panel kept it well above 12-volts throughout the day.

Good Luck,

Gary
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