Join Date: Sep 2006
Thanked 15 Times in 14 Posts
Rep Power: 11
The 85 watt panel has been adequate. We rarely get very deep into the one 100 AH AGM house battery with the running lights on all night (LED bulbs). We might pull it down from 13.1 to 12.9 volts, but we have never seen 12.8 volts. However, if the preceding day was overcast and I also used the SSB for more than a few minutes, it is possible to drag it down into the 12.8 volt range, forcing me to switch to "both." Not a big thing, but I like to keep the starting battery fresh, especially with AGM's, just in case of an emergency (like when we hit the whale, or if we ever have to ward off a ship by turning on all the lights, strobes, etc.).
The position on the house requires moving the boom around at anchor. Oddly, this is when we use the most power because of WiFi computer use, stereo use, etc. At sea, we are usually limited to only a half day of charging if we are on the same tack all day, which is usually the case. But, that results in the conditions described in paragraph #1 above. Still adequate. I positioned the panel where it is now to keep it away from boarding seas, etc. It has worked very well there.
The reason we would like the more power (say 150 watts), that I mentioned in a previous post, is to allow us to use the stereo, SSB and lights at sea without skimping or switching to both. This would require another panel or a bigger one. Both cases would require a different spot. We have been thinking of a stainless framework at the stern that would get the panels above the boom and keep them charging on any tack. I have seen this on other boats. It could also support a bimini, as you mentioned. Care has to be taken to make this structure strong to withstand weather and sea. The usual bimini frame is not adequate in my opinion. The design of the frame also has to take into account windflow over the vane steering gear when going to weather.
This upgrade may take us a while to get to. It's hard to find people who can do this kind of work in South Pacific islands. In the meantime, the current arrangement is fine. It does require being frugal with the power, though.
Hope that answers your questions, John.