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I'm looking at putting solar panels on our boat, since we are moving it to a mooring. I have searched Sailnet and the web for reviews on solar panels or solar panel kits, but haven't had any luck. Any recommendations on Products/brand names?
My main concerns are refrigeration, bilge pump, and lights. The boat is not a live aboard, but is used every weekend and on cruising vacations.
 

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I'd recommend you read this post on solar power first. :)

As for name brands... I'd recommend going with an MPPT charge controller. The two most commonly used brands are Outback, which is over kill for a lot of situations as the smallest unit they make is a 60 amp; and Blue Sky, which makes a nice 25 amp unit with integrated display.

If you're looking to expand to wind as well as solar, you'd probably be better off with the Outback, since it has the option for a dump/diverter relay.

As for solar panels. Lots of brands out there. Siemens, Kyocera, Sharp, Mitsubishi and Sunsei/ICP solar are fairly well known and well regarded.

ICP solar makes kits that are fairly reasonable buys, but they don't come with an MPPT type charge controller, which is an oversight IMHO.
 

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SD...I'm still getting used to these concepts. I'm looking at 4 x 130W Kyocera panels or equivalent plus a 24V Air-X wind turbine that I would transform down to 12 V before it went into my charge circuit. My house banks will be circa 840 AH in 4 x 8D lead-acids and these will feed into Xantrex echo chargers, one to a single start battery and the other to a battery in the forepeak for a 1200W Lofrans windlass. The charger/inverter (already purchased) is a Xantrex RS 2000 and I have a Honda EU2000 as a tertiary backup/power tools on deck portable genset.

Could the Outback (which sounds appropriate) MPPT handle BOTH charge sources simultaneously and how does the dump/diverter relay deal with this? I have the impression that a heat sink is involved, and I would rather not have that down below, unless I could use it heat hot water!

I'm not trying to hijack the thread so much as expand it, because your answer will illustrate the function of MPPTs in a well-designed alternative charging system.
 

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SD...I'm still getting used to these concepts. I'm looking at 4 x 130W Kyocera panels or equivalent plus a 24V Air-X wind turbine that I would transform down to 12 V before it went into my charge circuit. My house banks will be circa 840 AH in 4 x 8D lead-acids and these will feed into Xantrex echo chargers, one to a single start battery and the other to a battery in the forepeak for a 1200W Lofrans windlass. The charger/inverter (already purchased) is a Xantrex RS 2000 and I have a Honda EU2000 as a tertiary backup/power tools on deck portable genset.

Could the Outback (which sounds appropriate) MPPT handle BOTH charge sources simultaneously and how does the dump/diverter relay deal with this? I have the impression that a heat sink is involved, and I would rather not have that down below, unless I could use it heat hot water!
The Outback FlexMax 60 will handle approximately 900 watts of panels or wind gen. While, I think it should be fine with the setup you've got listed above, to be safe and give yourself some expansion space, it might be wise to get the FlexMax 80 instead. . The diversion relay can be used to power a hot water heater or feed power back to the braking mechanism on a wind gen, or possibly both, depending on how complex you want to make it. You may have enough power from the four panels and the wind gen that running a hot water heater is feasible.

I'm not trying to hijack the thread so much as expand it, because your answer will illustrate the function of MPPTs in a well-designed alternative charging system.
 

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Has anyone ever heard of or had experience with a Morningstar charge controller? The thing I loke the most about them is that they have automatic and manual equalization and remote interfaces. I am looking at the 60 and 80 amp models.
 

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Has anyone ever heard of or had experience with a Morningstar charge controller? The thing I loke the most about them is that they have automatic and manual equalization and remote interfaces. I am looking at the 60 and 80 amp models.
Why would you want automatic equalization?

Brian
 

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The simple answer is that I am lazy and forgetful.

The other benefits would come if you are leaving the boat for an extended period. First, it will automaticall equalize on a monthly schedule while you are gone. Second, if for some reason there is no sun and/or wind for a week and your batteries discharge too much, it will sense this and equalize early in order to salvage the batteries.

But…to be honest….it is mostly because I am lazy and forgetful.
 

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The Blue Sky controllers, and IIRC, the Outbacks can be set to do so as well. The Morningstar controllers are fairly recent and have no track record as of yet AFAIK.
 

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Blue sky does do automated equalizations, but I believe you need the IPN ProRemote, something you'd want to get with the bluesky anyway.

lgaggie96, if you really want to get a firm grip on this, skip SD's silly little link and just read through this thread real quick. :D :D
 

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LB-

You're just evil, evil, evil....

The low end Blue Sky unit doesn't require the IPN ProRemote, as it has a button on the front panel for doing equalizations.
 

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The Blue Sky controllers, and IIRC, the Outbacks can be set to do so as well. The Morningstar controllers are fairly recent and have no track record as of yet AFAIK.
Yes, the Outback can equalize but it is manual, if I recall correctly. I still do not see why anyone would risk equalizing automatically... especially should they have gells/agms.

Brian
 

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If the system runs well and the threshhold is set correctly, I think it could be fine for any battery type. I wouldn't bet gels on a new controller though...good thing I have wet cells. According to the manual. the morningstar does have a computer program for tracking charging, and if the automatic equalizing is unacceptable, it can be switched to manual only. The program may cost more though.
 
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