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Solar questions....

Our boat is equipped with one 30w solar panel, hard mounted to the deck just forward of the companionway. I think it is original from the factory, so it could be 32 years old, but still seems to keep the batteries charged. I am currently without power at the marina, its been on solar panel alone for 5 months. Lacking anything else to work on, I was thinking of upgrading to a 50w panel and a new controller. I say 50w panel because the size is right to mount it in the existing location.
Questions... The new panel comes with watertight connectors. Would it be wrong to splice and solder the panel to existing wiring? Does the size of the wire make a difference in efficiency? The original wire is pretty small, should I upgrade that as well to 14ga.? Last question, I have two flooded deep cycle batteries as a house bank and one sealed start battery. I see some controllers have two outputs for the separate banks. My current controller has only one output, its connected to the house bank, so I leave the boat with the battery selector to all. Is that shortchanging my start battery?
Thanks in advance......
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Re: Solar questions....

Unlike my brother who was a radar tech and all around electronics guru I am not a fan of soldered connections on a boat. I would prefer a quality but connector with heat shrink encased in an additional heat shrink. Size of the wire depends on the length of the run. Larger tinned wire always preferred by me but may not be absolutely necessary.
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Re: Solar questions....

At 50w (<4 amps) your wire losses are negligible ( <2%) in 16 awg up to about 20 ft of cable length. They stay under 5% up to about 40ft.
So given the big power upgrade in the panel, I wouldn't think it necessary to upgrade conductor size.

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Re: Solar questions....

I looked around for a solar charge controller that could feed two separate banks and didnít find anything. I ended up using a Xantrex Echo Charger to feed my windlass battery. Feeding the start battery with the echo is a common application.

Battery Chargers | Auxiliary Battery Charger | Xantrex

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Re: Solar questions....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry L View Post
I ended up using a Xantrex Echo Charger to feed my windlass battery. Feeding the start battery with the echo is a common application.

Battery Chargers | Auxiliary Battery Charger | Xantrex
Compared to the solar controller, that is a little pricey.... Would it be possible to just use a second solar controller connected to the same solar panel? All of my batteries are in the same location... The dual battery controllers I have found do not have USB ports, only the single battery types do. Ability to charge a phone or computer underway would be nice....

Is leaving the selector on all, when the controller is only connected to the house bank, not charging the start battery at all?
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Re: Solar questions....

How about an Automatic Charging Relay (ACR)? That way your start battery will charge when you have a positive charge in the system.
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Re: Solar questions....

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichF28 View Post
Compared to the solar controller, that is a little pricey.... Would it be possible to just use a second solar controller connected to the same solar panel? All of my batteries are in the same location... The dual battery controllers I have found do not have USB ports, only the single battery types do. Ability to charge a phone or computer underway would be nice....

Is leaving the selector on all, when the controller is only connected to the house bank, not charging the start battery at all?

If your batteries are in the same location, leaving the switch in ALL while charging should be OK assuming the cable lengths are pretty close to the same. You run into trouble when the cable lengths are different. That said, you probably want to isolate the banks to keep your starter battery from being drained while the house bank is being used.

Regarding the echo charger, it isnít terribly expensive, $108 at Amazon, which was cheaper than the MPPT charge controllers I use. There are also options for battery isolators which act as one way valves to keep the second bank from discharging into the first which could work for you if those cable lengths to the batteries are the same. I suspect they may be a little cheaper than the echo charger, but I havenít looked at the prices for those.

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Re: Solar questions....

I use a dual battery solar charger from EP-ever in my boat, 25 watt panel, 1 house battery for lights and VHF and 1 battery to run an E-winch for the lift keel. Unfortunately no USB, but I would think, this can be fitted easily using a car type charger.

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Epever-1...uBw3yfGLN5Q9_g

As a usefull little gimmick, it comes with a meter (MT1) which can be installed close to the panel to keep you informed about the charging.

Regards,

-Richard

P.S.: Use the connector!

Last edited by Topspin; 1 Day Ago at 08:00 PM.
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Re: Solar questions....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry L View Post
Regarding the echo charger, it isnít terribly expensive, $108 at Amazon, which was cheaper than the MPPT charge controllers I use.
The cost really isn't an issue, my focus is on keeping it simple, and it looks like I would be trying to fix a problem that doesn't really exist. Up until now it seems the alternator has been enough for the start battery. The only load on the battery while at the pier is a bilge pump. Our boat stays dry, other than testing, that pump hasn't run in recent memory.

I think I have decided to just replace the panel with a 50w and use the dual battery controller. That will keep both battery banks topped up without any input from me. I can get a cigarette lighter USB port to charge the phones. That should do it. Its a great thing to have this knowledge base to draw from. It at least gives me more confidence that it is done right the first time.
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Re: Solar questions....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry L View Post
I looked around for a solar charge controller that could feed two separate banks and didnít find anything. I ended up using a Xantrex Echo Charger to feed my windlass battery. Feeding the start battery with the echo is a common application.

Battery Chargers | Auxiliary Battery Charger | Xantrex
This is the dual-battery controller that I have been using for 10 years: Morningstar SSD-25 SunSaver Dual Battery 25 Amp 12 Volt Solar Charge Controller. It can handle more power than you need but if you combine your two panels, or go bigger, you're all set. It works great

https://www.solar-electric.com/modub...hoC7PoQAvD_BwE
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