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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking at purchasing a 34' boat. I would like to get a rough estimate about how much it would cost to add solar, charger/inverter, and an appropriately sized house bank for a boat this size to be used as a full time cruiser. The ice box is 6 cu/ft and I'm thinking of using a frigoboat Capri 35 conversion kit to turn it into a refrigerator/freezer. The autopilot is a Raymarine st4000

Any rough ideas on how much Solar and battery capacity that would be needed to run the fridge and the usual electronics and autopilot would be greatly appreciated.

thanks,
Hugh
 

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Hard solar panels are ~$1/watt. Solar controllers are ~$100-500 depending on how much solar they need to control. A battery bank should be sized for at least 2 days of electrical usage, and costs range from ~$200-8,000 depending on type of battery and size of bank. You will need to have an understanding of your reefer insulation quality to know how much it will run. A good reefer will cycle 50% of the time, and if so that unit will use ~50Ah/day as a guess. Don't know about your electronics, but they will double your electrical usage on passages, and not contribute much otherwise. A charger/inverter will be ~$1200-2000 depending on size and brand.

Mark
 

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The minimum would be something like a house bank of 4 golf cart batteries, 100 or 200 watts of solar, and a smaller inverter. Could do this easily for under $1000. From there, larger bank, AGM or lithium batteries, more solar, large charger/inverter, etc. and the price can run many times that.
 

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Are you installing everything yourself?

If so double a conservatively high estimate based on delivered component cost.

If paying for professional labor use 5x as a ballpark
 

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If so double a conservatively high estimate based on delivered component cost.
Are you talking about shipping? It isn't double. I just had a 400W solar panel shipped for $36, and many places selling other bits and bobs like inverters, controllers, etc ship for free. Batteries are usually bought locally. Even added wiring and connectors shouldn't double the cost.

Mark
 

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I'm looking at purchasing a 34' boat. I would like to get a rough estimate about how much it would cost to add solar, charger/inverter, and an appropriately sized house bank for a boat this size to be used as a full time cruiser. The ice box is 6 cu/ft and I'm thinking of using a frigoboat Capri 35 conversion kit to turn it into a refrigerator/freezer. The autopilot is a Raymarine st4000

Any rough ideas on how much Solar and battery capacity that would be needed to run the fridge and the usual electronics and autopilot would be greatly appreciated.

thanks,
Hugh

about $3000

300W solar +controller, wiring, do it yourself frame
2000W charger/inverter
440AH FLA batteries

but if you could squeeze in about 300W panel for extra $300-400 that would definitely be something to seriously consider
 

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No just the net net after all is settled in confirmed working will always be higher than anyone can predict ahead of time.

Getting surprised by leftover money is always nice, the other way not so much.
 

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You have got to remember that even the best solar angle only lasts a few hours, hopefully without clouds, so your actual total input won't be 25 amps per hour of daylight with 300 watt panels. Once you have figured your consumption needs then you can design a system that will provide it.
So shop for your autopilot, and the other gear adding up the amp hours they will require, then add 10 or 20% because most of us use more than we expected (for a TV, charging computers, phones and tablets, etc). It is straight math.
Once you've got your numbers, then you can price the solar, controller, inverter/charger and batteries. An inverter/charger is a lot more money than a straight inverter and you'll need shore side power or a genset to operate the charging mode, so consider if you'll have that 110/220vac power often, before you buy one.
 

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Expensive inverter...
Learn what you'll really need
I never wired in a big inverter..still in box..and have been satisfied so much with the little 300w bestek sine that I bought a spare..approx 40 bucks
 

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Expensive inverter...
Learn what you'll really need
I never wired in a big inverter..still in box..and have been satisfied so much with the little 300w bestek sine that I bought a spare..approx 40 bucks
Not to be argumentative, but 300 watts of 115vac is not a whole lot of power. A lot of our 115vac stuff runs 900 to 1500 watts ac minimum.
 

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You're rite
Learn what charging power you will really need too
I put in a nice 50amp..same physical size as a 40..but never use it

Learning...can be expensive
 

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First step is to determine your electrical usage per day. And guess what’s it’s not all refrigeration ( though that’s a big chunk) and electronics, you have pumps ( fresh water, shower, bildge) , you have lights ( unless LED figure on 1 amp per bulb per hour, includes anchor, running , house) add each bulb together.

once you have your electrical diet then you can figure the size bank, the type of bank, the inverter you need . I’m not sure why you would need a 2000 watt one, what are you running off of it. I hope you don’t say air conditioning. We have a smaller 1500 watt. Here’s a 2000 watt one for $550 but better brands and prices are available.


You’ll probably want a three stage charger too.

In your post you’ve only described solar as the only means of recharging the batteries. I doubt that will work in the long run unless you are in an area that has that kind of sun.

you will also need to look at your engine alternator as well as a three stage external regulator.

so you question though seemingly simple has many layers. Many on here have done this and will offer opinions, but I would use that to investigate and analyze this before just starting to purchase things.
  • You want to understand your complete electrical diet with all and needed components
  • you want to look at you means of adding power back into the batteries ( engine, solar, wind , shore-power)
  • you want to look at how much and what type of batteries and how to monitor them
  • you want to look at you engine and how to conform it with and powering alternator.
don’t rush into this, as this will get very expensive. Most you can DYI to save some but the components for all these systems are expensive. $3000 is not near enough money. The long term cruisers can tell you specifically what they have, but drill down to the details so as not to forget them. An example is you didn’t see lighting as important , but it can draw off lots of battery power. Remember you get lots of different opinions on here. You’ll have to sift through that with you research.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for all the responses. I'm just looking for a guestimate and if I purchase the boat I'll be able to calculate my actual needs. I expect I'll be doing most of the install myself. The boat has a bimini so I would install the panels there if possible. The electronics are pretty old so may be replaced. The listing shows a Raymarine c70 and B&G wind, speed, and depth.

It's a light boat so I would go with flexible panels and LFP battreries. The boat currently has 3 AGMs . One starter and two in the house bank. It looks like 3 X 100AH batteries would add about $3000 to the cost.

So I'm thinking
300 watts of flexible solar $300-500
2000watts charger/inverter $1200
300AH LFP $3000

Does that seem close ?

thanks,
Hugh
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The boat has a Yanmar 3GM30F and a 50amp charger installed. Besides the fridge and all the usual things like lights and instruments I wold like to run my 50w bass amplifier, and my laptop (which is a bit of beast so may be relagated to only using on shore power).
 

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Do your due diligence ceate your electrical usage diet with facts ( numbers) . Your concern with the periphery ( a speaker and laptop) show you aren’t taking this seriously.

I’m not trying to throw cold water on you, but You minimize the lights , pumps, fans . If lights but are not LED it is substantial current draw. What about fans....they use over an amps per hour. Many boats have at least three. Run 3 fans for 10 hours....that’s 30 amps almost half of your refrigeration.

You cant even begin to estimate cost till you really know what you need. I’m not sure why you want to get to the end and spend the money without analyzing this unless you are on some timeline. Outfitting a boat is expensive and you can throw money away uselessly easily. Some cruisers here are giving good advice, but many of them have researched this extensively.

Bying a combined charger and inverter is foolish. They are very expensive and when one reaches its life expectancy or just fails you are forced to buy a whole dual unit. By charger / inverter separately. Inverters really are not expensive. What are you using the inverter for.

panel placement and panels are varied . Some better than others. Research this....ask opinions. Pricing cones later after you find what you need. Flexible mat seem easier and technology is better, but never as good as fixed. What about the shadow of the boom on the Bimini which can cut the output of the panel 50% , all because you placed it there. Critical if that’s your primary way of charging. you’re batteries.
 

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Bying a combined charger and inverter is foolish. They are very expensive and when one reaches its life expectancy or just fails you are forced to buy a whole dual unit. By charger / inverter separately. Inverters really are not expensive.
One advantage of an inverter/charger combination is getting a high-output charger. Most combos are 100-150A charging. These outputs in a standalone charger are rare and expensive - almost the cost of a combo unit themselves. If shore power or genset runs are rare, or if you install lithium batteries, small output standalone chargers are working against you.

Combo inverter/chargers work by operating in opposite electrical directions (this is simplistic) using most of the same circuitry, so if something breaks, then yes, you need to buy another one or fix the existing, but you aren't throwing away a good half. Any failure mode of an inverter/charger is identical to that which can happen with separate units, so there really isn't any redundancy or robustness to be found with separate units. The better combo units are field-repairable by swapping discreet components, so you don't even need to buy another one, and the replacement parts are less expensive than a new separate inverter or charger.

A good 100A charger will cost ~$1,000. A good 2000W inverter will cost $600-1000. A combination inverter/charger will cost ~1,200-1,500. So there is no economic benefit to separate units, and they are usually more expensive to buy separately.

If one is tight on space close to the battery bank (inverters and chargers should be installed close to the battery bank), then a combo takes up less room and much less wiring.

Mark
 
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