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· islander bahama 24
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Kyoceria warranty PDF says in section C sub section 2h defects and/or failures caused by use on a mobile unit including, but not limited to, vehicles, vessels and any other such mobile unit; here's the PDF link to their warranty KYOCERA Solar » Warranties
So it appears just mounting these on a boat will void the warranty and I have found this same statement in the warranties on all of the panels I have researched
 

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For these cheaper panels, how important is the warranty anyway? After the first few months, how many people are really going to submit a warranty claim on a $100-200 panel? Unless the warranty covers two way shipping from anywhere, the shipping could be more costly than replacing the panel. Not to mention the time spent waiting without the panel. I think especially if I were “out there” I’d sooner try to repair the panel myself or junk it and replace it before attempting a warranty claim.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 · (Edited)
I don't think Renogy is in the same class as Kyocera. From the Renogy Warranty download:

http://renogy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Warranty-off-grid-kits.pdf

"LIMITED WARRATNY: Renogy warrants this product will be free from defects in
...
The warranty does not cover failures result from ...natural elements, ..."

Yes, we all make typos (Warratny ?!) but a real grown-up business sends that stuff past legal and engineering and other people and multiple eyes have to fail to read it. Typos on an important legal document like the warranty mean it isn't a very established business "yet".

The warranty also excludes damage due to natural elements, which would mean rain and salt water spray. So, there's no warranty for exterior or shipboard use. That's even better than the companies that exclude "use on moving vehicles" and boats.

Coming back to the numbers...

"I believe it will use between 24 and 50 amps per day, "
Let's say that's 50, and it would be 50 Amp-hours not amps. It would be important to know if that's at 12.6 volts (battery power) or 14.4 volts (alternator power) since the overall wattage pulled will be different. Split the difference and let's say 50 AH at 12.6 volts for a nearly full battery...

"...one big 160a battery ...I would also upgrade my battery bank to one 220a battery."

" I should have a daily energy requirement of about 50 or 60 amps tops." 10AH for everything else seems conservative, but if you have LED nav and cabin lights, or no night lights, it might be.

"Will I have enough solar panels (total 330w) to reliably meet my energy needs? "
If you are using an MPPT controller, you will get about 15% more power out of the panels than any other kind of controller. That is, an MPPT controller will give you almost the full rated power at battery voltage (330W at 12.8 volts, about 25 Amps) and depending on installation angle, time of the year, how far off the equator you are, you can count on that for the equivalent of about 5 hours per sunny day. So, about 125 Amp-hours per day from the solar panel. Without the MPPT controller, possibly 15-20% less power because other controllers throw out the excess voltage from a solar panel, which might be 17-22 volts for a nominal "12" volt system. Even if you didn't use MPPT you'd probably see 100Ah per day, which would be "enough" but give you less of a safety margin.

If you're making 125 Amp-hours and consuming 60Ah, you'll have plenty of power. I'd even suggest keeping the 160Ah battery as long as it is in good condition, and not replacing it until it weakens or there's some other good reason.

Assuming, of course, I've gotten my math right, which doesn't always happen.
Thanks for the advice Hello. I've heard good things about the Renogy flexible panels so far, but your observations about the warranty are noted! And that typo is inexcusable. I think the fridge will consume less than the 50 amps I stated. That was the worst-case scenario- 45 degrees in the cabin and running it on the coldest freeze setting. I don't recall it ever being that hot in the cabin! (and I have the option of turning it down at night). The rest of my energy consumption is really very low- all LED cabin and nav lights, no pressure water, no gas solenoid or pumps beside the bilge pump, manual windlass, modern energy-efficient electronics etc. I really should work out the amp consumption to be certain, but I think about 10 amps sounds about right (if I don't use the tiller pilot on the windvane). I will take your advice on keeping the 160a battery to see if it can keep up with everything. It's not new, but seems fine. If I could buy the 6v batteries here, I'd get a bigger bank for sure. Cheers!
 

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newhaul-
The Kyocera warranty excludes defects caused by mobile use, but it does not simply void the warranty for all mobile users, as many other makers do. It also does not appear to exclude damage caused by rain, as Renology does. And then of course, there's the question of how any vendor processes warranty claims, and whether you think they'll be around in ten years in any case.
I think BP are still making solar panels that don't exclude marine and mobile use, among a few other vendors.

Of course, if panels are "half price", you may choose to roll the dice in favor of the discount up front anyway.
 

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· islander bahama 24
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The Kyocera warranty excludes defects caused by mobile use, but it does not simply void the warranty for all mobile users, as many other makers do. It also does not appear to exclude damage caused by rain, as Renology does. And then of course, there's the question of how any vendor processes warranty claims, and whether you think they'll be around in ten years in any case.
I think BP are still making solar panels that don't exclude marine and mobile use, among a few other vendors.

Of course, if panels are "half price", you may choose to roll the dice in favor of the discount up front anyway.
The part everyone skips in the warranty " The warranty does not cover failures result from incorrect handling, product modifications, installation, conversion or additions, supplements, operation, natural elements, excessive or deficient energy supply, chemicals, the effect of solid bodies or deliberate damage. If Renogy determines that the problem with the Product is not due to a manufacturing defect. And here's kyocerias language Note : This limited warranty shall exclude cracking of the front glass surface due to external shock from flying objects or external stress. Also.
This Limited Warranty shall not cover defects and/or failures of the PV Module(s) from the following causes even though such defects and/or failures are discovered within the applicable warranty period: defects and/or failures caused by use on a mobile unit including, but not limited to, vehicles, vessels and any other such mobile unit; end quote. Nowhere in either one does it say that the performance warranty is voided by mobile installation
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Denise, do you have one of these Engel fridges? I'd love to hear about daily amp draw and if they make any noise when running. My current propane fridge is silent- something I've come to take for granted. :)
 

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I have a norcold but they use the same "swing compressor" very very quiet it's very very low torque start and slowly comes up to speed. which is why the are even lower draw the the units using the Danfoss compressors. None are 100 % quiet but you won't really hear them running.

Your propane fired fridge uses a fairly old technology called absorption cycle, how did you vent it??

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~mnr/fridge.html
 
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I have a norcold but they use the same "swing compressor" very very quiet it's very very low torque start and slowly comes up to speed. which is why the are even lower draw the the units using the Danfoss compressors.
Denise

Which Norcold uses a swing arm compressor? They certainly aren't bragging about it.
 

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I believe it will use between 24 and 50 amps per day, depending on the ambient temperature and whether I run it as a fridge or freezer.
First, you're talking about amp-hours, not amps.

Amps is a measure of current.
Amp-hours is a measure of charge.
Amp-hours * Volts is a measure of energy.

If you talk about how many amps you'll use in a day, you're going to confuse anyone trying to help you with the electrical stuff.

MMy energy use is low (all LED, tiller pilot on windvane, manual everything) so I should have a daily energy requirement of about 50 or 60 amps tops. I like keeping things simple. My questions are:
If in a day you're using 50-60 Amp-hours @ 12 Volts, that's 600-720 Watt-hours of energy each day. Ah * Volts = Watt-hours. Yes, all this stress is over less than 10 cents worth of electricity.

Will I have enough solar panels (total 330w) to reliably meet my energy needs?
330 Watts of panels won't generate 330 Watts except on a clear, sunny day at noon with the sun directly overhead (i.e. near the equator). To get the actual average power generation, you need to multiply by something called capacity factor, which takes into account angle of the sun due to the seasons and time of day, average weather conditions, and night. Unfortunately, figuring out the capacity factor for your geographic area can take a lot of research poring over weather data. Fortunately, the U.S. government has already done all that for you.

PVWatts Calculator

Just type in a location (mostly U.S. sites, but a few foreign locations work too). Click the right arrow.

For the DC system size, put your panels' max generating capacity in Watts. Yes I know it says to put in kW, but the site is designed for large home PV solar installation, and you'll get a lot of roundoff if you put in a dinky sailboat's numbers in kW. So put in Watts. We'll correct this later.

Set the array type to fixed (open rack). Tilt is 0 (your panels are mounted flat facing straight up). Azimuth doesn't matter since tilt is 0. For DC to AC derate factor, put in 1 - we're not converting to AC so there are no efficiency losses. Or if you happen to know the efficiency of your battery charging system, you can put that in. It'll probably be around 0.9 for a slow trickle charge system like solar, so won't make a big difference. Put 0.9 or 0.8 instead of 1 if you want to be more conservative. The rest you can ignore (you can put in your local electricity price and cost of your panels+charger in $/Watt if you're curious). Click the right arrow.

On the Results page, the middle column (AC Energy) is the number you're interested in. The site says kWh, but because we put in the panel's capacity in Watts, the number is actually Watt-hours. This is how many Watt-hours on average you can expect your solar panels to generate during a month or during a year for the location you entered.

To figure out how many Wh it generate during an average day, simply divide a monthly value by 30 or the yearly value by 365. If the Watt-hours generated by the panels in a day exceed how many Watt-hours you expect to use by a safe margin (say, 30%-50%), then you are good to go.

The solar radiation values are for your locale. The Energy Value is off by a factor of 1000 since we put in Watts instead of kilowatts. And unless you put in the price of electricity on the previous page, it'll be wrong anyway. For a 300 Watt panel we're probably talking on the order of $80 or so worth of electricity a year for the U.S. (about $200 for Europe).

Will my house battery bank of one 220a deep-cycle battery be enough? Batteries are expensive here and, unfortunately, we can't get the 6v golf cart batteries that are so popular in the US.
220 Amp hours is enough for about 4 days at 50-60 Ah used per day (less actually since you don't want to cycle it too deeply). You'll have to judge based on what the weather is like where you're at if having enough juice for 4 days of cloudy weather is enough.

220 Amp hours * 12 Volts = 2640 Watt hours. You can use the numbers you got from the above site to determine how many days on average it would take to completely charge up the battery after you drained it for 4 days. Remember though that the figures the site calculates are the average energy generated - taking into account both cloudy and sunny days. If you happen to get a few days of bright sunshine, the battery will be charged a lot faster than average.
 

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220 Amp hours is enough for about 4 days at 50-60 Ah use
220 AH total is 110 AH usable. If you cycle below 50% you will be buying batteries very often.

The above post complicates this more than necessary. Figure 5 hours at full output on a sunny day. The panels will start in the morning with a low output, climbing to midday and then declining in the late afternoon to sundown, but the total is close to 5 hours at full - if close to the equator add an hour.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Another thing I'm seeing is that the big 240w panels put out around 30 volts. From what I have read, I would need a better quality MPPT controller to take advantage of the high voltage. Perhaps the best solution after all is two 100w panels on cheaper controllers.
 

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220 AH total is 120 AH usable. If you cycle below 50% you will be buying batteries very often..
Less than that for those off the grid regularly. Most cruisers cycle between 50% and 80%. If you anchor in a windy and sunny place (most of us anchor in more benign conditions) and have a good bit of wind and solar power AND you are light on power usage you can get up to 100% periodically. I suggest it is unwise to count on that.

0.3 x 220 Ah = 66 Ah available for usage between charging cycles (probably per day, ignoring cloudy days with no wind).

This is why a LOT of cruising boats have battery banks between 650 and 1000 Ah. It's also why those with enclosures have "hard-tops" of high output solar panels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 · (Edited)
Auspicious, I intend to upgrade my battery bank in the future when I can get hold of some decent batteries. Ideally I'd have about 400ah and my 70a starter battery. The problem here is I can't get 6v golf cart batteries, only those sealed 12v deep-cycle ones (and if you saw the price, you'd have a heart attack!!). I don't like them because you can't get at the cells to top up the water. I can get those fancy Optima (AGM?) batteries here, but I'd have to sell one of my children first :). Again, if anyone wants a free sailing holiday in Brazil and can fly down with panels or batteries, just let me know!

If I go with the two 100w panels is it worth it put each one on its own PWM controller? I can get cheap 10a or 20a PWM controllers here (made in China). Both panels would be oriented the same way, but I suppose there would be moments when the mast or rigging could cast a shadow over one panel and not the other. If there is a big gain, I'd go with two controllers, otherwise I prefer to keep things as simple as possible. Sorry to ask so many questions, but I'm as thick as a whale omelet when it comes to things electrical....
 

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220 AH total is 120 AH usable. If you cycle below 50% you will be buying batteries very often.

The above post complicates this more than necessary. Figure 5 hours at full output on a sunny day. The panels will start in the morning with a low output, climbing to midday and then declining in the late afternoon to sundown, but the total is close to 5 hours at full - if close to the equator add an hour.
Well, not necessarily. I used the calculator for Seattle and found that the monthly variance is incredibly high. Expected output in July is over 10X the expected output in December and the rate of change in spring and fall is very high. If you sail in the off seasons or live on a boat without consistent shore power access, the NREL site can be extremely helpful in designing a system.
 

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Hi Copacabana,

Auspicious, I intend to upgrade my battery bank in the future when I can get hold of some decent batteries. Ideally I'd have about 400ah and my 70a starter battery. The problem here is I can't get 6v golf cart batteries
I know that Brazil has some domestic product requirements that make some imports difficult. I still find it difficult to believe you can't find 6V golf cart batteries somewhere. The energy density alone make them very attractive for many applications. Have you tried industrial supply houses that sell batteries for electric fork trucks? Check golf courses and see where they get batteries. Try large-scale computer facilities and telephone infrastructure for their suppliers.

The Optima batteries are pretty dear here in the US also. The best bang for the buck comes from flooded batteries, whether 12VDC or 6VDC. You might try writing to Penn/Deka and ask what distribution mechanism they have in South America.

The size battery bank that makes the most sense for you depends on your sailing and cruising style. 400 Ah is pretty small for long-term cruising with refrigeration and lots of electronics. For weekend cruising with ice and phones 400 Ah should be fine.

If I go with the two 100w panels is it worth it put each one on its own PWM controller?
Probably. I don't use a lot of PWM anymore (although that is still what I use on Auspicious). With only a couple hundred watts PWM should be fine. If you build much beyond that MPPT starts to really reap benefits.

If you or friends ever get to the US or EU you may find better prices on controllers. Big things like solar panels and heavy things like batteries are more problematic.
 

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WOW, All the technical help and advice thrown out here! I am impressed. I find it most interesting.

I have a bit of actual experience that might be interesting for this topic.

We cruised FULL time 24/7/365 for a few (about 5) years.

On Guenevere I installed a Norcold reefer back in 2002
See; Guenevere's Projects, Ice box replacement

I also have and use a Waeco portable unit. I have now replaced the Norcold with an Engel portable unit. I LOVE IT!!!!

We have about 300 Ah house battery bank. We have a mounted 85 Watt Kyocera solar panel.



In the San Francisco Bay area (when we were there) it was capable of running our boat (with a LOT more toys than you are running) for about a week without ever going to 50 % of our total battery.

When we were in the Sea of Cortez, we added another 80 Watt of solar power and this worked well for us.

NOTE, we only needed this extra due to the fact that we were running about a gallon or two through the reefer, cooling it by about 20 Degree F so it was drinkable in the 100 F+ heat of summer! If we did NOT open the Engel unit it worked OK on the 85 panel.

We have belay pin rails on board and I can now "wing out" solar panels when at anchor. You can see a photo of this on our web site if you look close. I have 2, 40 Watt Kyocera panels that I wing out for mostly unlimited use of all except the watermaker. I am about to add 2 more panels that will fit and wing out on the rails.

IF the temp is under about 95 Deg F and it does not cloud over a lot, I will be able to run even our water maker for a couple of hours each day.

A note on the Engel, if you watch our Youtube video on our Energy Monitor Mini Op-Eval
you will see that the Engel starts at rated power usage, but quickly lowers it power consumption!

Hope this helps a bit! :)

Greg
 

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Well, not necessarily. I used the calculator for Seattle and found that the monthly variance is incredibly high. Expected output in July is over 10X the expected output in December and the rate of change in spring and fall is very high. If you sail in the off seasons or live on a boat without consistent shore power access, the NREL site can be extremely helpful in designing a system.
It varies a great deal by local area as well. Brenerton gets about 49" of rainfall annually, Vancouver B.C. about 63", and Victoria about 24". We haven't had snow in Victoria proper more than 1/4" deep for over 3 years. Solar in Victoria and the low lying Gulf Islands works quite well in the colder months. Solar panels even gain a bit of efficiency when they are not as hot.
 
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