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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related) > Recommended Solar Panel.....
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Thread: Recommended Solar Panel..... Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
04-06-2011 04:13 PM
travlineasy When it comes to boat stuff, there's no such thing as overkill! Kinda' like having too much fun--oh yeah.

Good Luck,

Gary
04-06-2011 12:43 PM
AdamLein
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpcAlan1 View Post
BUT.... after spending 2 nights on the boat, and off the shore power for 2 weeks now - both batteries are still 'full'. maybe the 15watt is overkill, but cost/watt is better than the 5 watt trickle charge.
Also, margin of error. You won't regret it.
04-06-2011 09:07 AM
SpcAlan1 I did buy the Solar Force 15watt solar panel at west marine for about 70 bucks. and another 25 for the controller.
I have not installed either yet, will keep you updated.

BUT.... after spending 2 nights on the boat, and off the shore power for 2 weeks now - both batteries are still 'full'. maybe the 15watt is overkill, but cost/watt is better than the 5 watt trickle charge.
03-16-2011 04:50 PM
travlineasy It was an inboard, 30-HP Universal Atomic -4 gas, 100-amp alternator. It charged the batteries in no time at all.

Gary
03-16-2011 03:59 PM
LauderBoy The values I was just taking from what I could find reported by others.

Anchor lights:

http://www.sailnet.com/forums/gear-m...tery-draw.html

"20 watt incandescent bulb and it drew 1.7 amps per hour"

Anchor Light Replacement - SailboatOwners.com

"Our amp draw went from 2 amps to .2 amps"

So I was guesstimating around 1.5 per hour. Interior cabin lights I was rating at 1 amp per hour of draw for non LED.

I don't think those are too out of line, but could be off and again, it all depends on how you use it.

Was your Catalina inboard or outboard? Any chance you had an alternator charging the batteries when you were motoring?
03-16-2011 03:43 PM
travlineasy 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
03-16-2011 02:40 PM
SpcAlan1 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?
03-16-2011 01:46 PM
LauderBoy
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.
03-16-2011 12:52 PM
SpcAlan1 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
03-16-2011 12:49 PM
AdamLein 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).
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