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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems > Maximizing solar output
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Thread: Maximizing solar output Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
07-12-2011 06:51 PM
mitiempo norse

How large is your battery bank?
07-12-2011 05:53 PM
norsearayder i have 2 85 watt kerocea panels on a arch toggether they are rated for 10.4 amps. i have seen them put out 10 amps but only when the bank is down enough to allow it.[after a day or so of rain and then bright sun]
07-12-2011 04:53 PM
hellosailor 25 panels?

I'd suggest you throw them out and buy 2 or 4 real panels. With 25 panels there's just no way to avoid a rat's nest of wiring and splices and other issues. Put 'em all on eBay for ten bucks a piece. And those tiny 10w panels you have? Inevitably are not rated for marine or simple exterior use, I'd bet half of them are water damaged already.

Sorry, but...that's packratitis, not a charging system. They were never intended to be used that way.
07-12-2011 02:35 PM
tomperanteau I'd love to see some pics of the solar layouts people are using, along with mounting suggestions.

This does beg the question: Where would one sit without blocking or breaking a panel?
07-09-2011 01:14 AM
mitiempo If you sold your boat and bought a trimaran you could easily install 40 or 50 panels.
07-08-2011 11:12 PM
MSter You stated in your post these panels are all wired in parallel. You may want to consider establishing serially connected banks of "like" panels where possible. This will accomplish two things:

1. clean up and simplify much of the on-deck wiring
2. multiply each solar bank voltage output while reducing the collective voltage/amperage drop due to wire loss (as you already indicated)

Let your Morningstar MPPT (assumed as not stated in your post) controller handle the useable voltage/amperage conversion.

You may also want to consider not all solar panels are equal in terms of efficiency. For instance, poly is less efficient in converting solar to voltage when compared to mono panels. Flexible panels are even less efficient than poly panels. Most advertized panel voltages are measured under optimum conditions in a controlled environment. This is not likely to compare to a "real world" implementation. It is not realistic to expect to achieve advertised performance especially in an environment whereas most everything on deck is coverd by a shadow at some point.

As an interesting confirmation, compare the input voltage/amperage to the controller vs. the output to the batteries.

I do agree with the other opinions regarding battery charge. It is very important to appropriately size your battery bank to your usage. Too small a bank will require you to deplete it too deeply during normal usage. Its like digging a hole in the ground and filling it back up....it will take more dirt to fill it than was removed to begin with.

Like others, I am very interested to see your panel installation....thats a lot of deck real estate!
07-08-2011 10:20 PM
Stu Jackson And to add to Maine Sail's questions:

#6: Are your batteries fully charged?

If so, their ACCEPTANCE, will be close to zero, which accounts for your low solar panel input.

Your questions and topics have been a source of great information to many of us on the message board. But, I say, but, there are some "basics" that you may need to want to reconsider, or to consider in the first place.

Like battery acceptance.

I'd just love to see a picture of your four million watt solar array. Really, how do you keep them attached. I am NOT kidding. Your description of your installation has me very puzzled.

All the best,

Stu
07-08-2011 06:03 PM
Maine Sail #1 Are you sure your batts will take more than 12A of charge current?

#2 I have a single 80 watt panel and regularly see about 4.6-4.8A. For 25 panels, and all that wire, mess etc. and expense you really should have considered a dedicated mount for some mono or polycrystalline panels of decent size.. Even a single 130W panel like a Sharp or Kyocera will give you around 7A of charge current.

#3 You likely have some serious shading issue with all those panels which really hurts solar output.

#4 What Model Morningstar controller are you using?

#5 How is it wired gauge wise? Where are they all tied together?
07-08-2011 05:12 PM
donradclife I've not had much luck with flexible panels--but do borrow an ammeter and check the output for each panel--a clamp-on makes it much easier.
07-07-2011 07:04 PM
craigtoo Oh...no...! That's a load of panels.

Did you every try a Solar Stik? (Ok.. I'll stop. Sorry mods...)
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