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Old 09-22-2018, 10:50 PM   #1
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1.2-1.6 KW solar?

I really want to have a solar charging system, but most of the kits I find on the web are designed for sailboats. They go up to 300W, but not more. On my trawler, I have plenty of space on the top, so I could easily mount 4 large panels. LG and others are selling 400+W panels now, although, not cheap. The sun is scares in the PNW, so I want to oversize it for that little light we get here during winter months.
Has anyone built a large capacity solar system on their boat? Or, do you know anyone? Perhaps, a company, which can design one like this for marine environment? I have seen many land based systems with huge capacity, but not for boats.
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Old 09-23-2018, 02:29 AM   #2
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My first system was 7 x 260W panels, installed in Port Townsend by the CoOp guys. It is not that complicated to do. The only issue I had was shading of some of the panels in some boat orientations.

So I relocated a number of items, including my KVH dome, and increased capacity slightly by installing 6 x 345W panels in a way that there is a lot less shading, although I still get some at times.

Its best to install the panels in parallel to minimise shading effects. With large panels you will have relatively high panel voltage, which is an advantage in that voltage drop on the wiring from panel to controller is less of a problem. But still use wire size bigger than calcs say is necessary.

With a number of panels you can easily exceed the output current capacity of the solar controller if you are not careful. One solution is to have a higher voltage house bank, say 24V instead of 12V, but if you don't have 24V on board already then your other option is to add a second controller. There can be some tricks to making the two (or more) controllers work together, depends on brand.

My system is 2070W, 12V house bank and 2 xOutback FlexMax 80 solar controllers (with a Mate 3). I have had the panels putting a total of 160A into the house bank. It works well.
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Old 09-23-2018, 05:50 AM   #3
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just an fyi...


you can get micro inverters for each panel that pretty much eliminates shading issues and simplifies the system overall.


https://www.wholesalesolar.com/brands/enphase-energy
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Old 09-23-2018, 06:54 AM   #4
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just an fyi...


you can get micro inverters for each panel that pretty much eliminates shading issues and simplifies the system overall.


https://www.wholesalesolar.com/brands/enphase-energy
No. Those are for grid-tie systems. You don't want to invert each panel's output up to a high AC voltage for an off-grid or boat solar system.

You want a controller (or many, perhaps even one per panel although it is not necessary) to charge a low voltage DC house bank. And remove, as much as possible, whatever is causing the shade.
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Old 09-23-2018, 06:55 AM   #5
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Inverters whether micro or not are used to connect to the grid. I think you are talking about individual solar controllers which will do what you are saying but will be expensive.

The design of solar panel systems isn't difficult and I wrote two articles on this subject that are in the Library section. Click on Library in the upper right corner of this screen.

If you use the big 400 watt panels then one controller for each panel makes sense. It will take at least a 30 amp MPPT controller for each panel and wire them to the controller with #10 gauge MC4 cables. Then use #8 wire or better from the controller to the house battery bank.

You will need a big battery bank to absorb 1,600 watts of power though, at east 600 AHs.

Dhays had an extensive thread on installing a solar panel system for his boat.

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Old 09-23-2018, 08:01 AM   #6
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My system is 2070W, 12V house bank and 2 xOutback FlexMax 80 solar controllers (with a Mate 3). I have had the panels putting a total of 160A into the house bank. It works well.
Does this cover all your needs, or you still need to run your Gen.?

I have two banks, 12V, total of 840 AHR (4 Trojans 6V each bank).
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Old 09-23-2018, 08:07 AM   #7
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You will need a big battery bank to absorb 1,600 watts of power though, at east 600 AHs.
Dhays had an extensive thread on installing a solar panel system for his boat.
David
Thanks David. I will read your article in the Library and check out Dhays' as well.

My two banks are 420 AH each, so I have total of 840 AH.

I like the idea to have at least 2 controllers for the panels.
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Old 09-23-2018, 08:41 AM   #8
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I like the idea to have at least 2 controllers for the panels.
My house bank is also split in 2 and I agree that a controller for each bank is an asset. Using the MC4 connectors, splitters and cables it's not difficult at all to design and set up a solar array. Just use good quality components and be careful to size wire runs appropriately. As someone else said, solar is the gift that keeps on giving.

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Old 09-23-2018, 11:27 AM   #9
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Can any of you list a complete set, part by part? I mean, not just the panels, but the controllers, wiring, connections, etc.
I am not trying to copy it. I just want to see, what do I need to buy for a complete system.
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Old 09-23-2018, 12:52 PM   #10
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OK, here goes, all from Wholesalesolar.com and Amazon:

Solar panel, most bang for the buck- https://www.wholesalesolar.com/19774...ly-solar-panel

Controller- https://www.wholesalesolar.com/39300...rge-controller

MC4 Cables- https://www.wholesalesolar.com/99910...-male-1-female

Just an example. Amazon has MC4 cables in various lengths. Or buy marine cable and hook up MC4 connectors to panel end and use spade terminals at the controller end.

MC4 Cable pigtail. Use to make last connection to controller- https://www.amazon.com/Extension-Con...70_&dpSrc=srch

Or just cut off the MC4 connector at the controller end, crimp on a spade connector and hook up to the controller.

Solar panel mounting brackets- https://www.amazon.com/XOOL-Solar-Mo...brackets&psc=1

Fuse holder. Mount within seven inches (per ABYC) from battery terminal- https://www.amazon.com/InstallGear-G...nl+fuse+holder

8 gauge tinned wire between controller and fuse- https://www.amazon.com/BNTECHGO-Sili...ge+tinned+wire

8 gauge is ok for a single panel if the fuse is 80A. For four panels/controllers all connected to the fuse then use #4 wire and the 150A fuse shown.

Misc glue, spade crimps, nuts and bolts

Double, triple or quadruple each of the above in parallel (except for fuse) for more capacity.

Please send consulting fee to .......

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Old 09-23-2018, 05:07 PM   #11
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Does this cover all your needs, or you still need to run your Gen.?

I have two banks, 12V, total of 840 AHR (4 Trojans 6V each bank).
Simple enough question, but not a simple answer!

Firstly, the only gen I have now is a Honda. In winter (Jun-Jul for me) I will often run it, but I have not run it in the last two months. Better insolation post-winter, and in part because I've been at lower latitude as well. Also, i have been moving a little each day for a lot of the time and each engine has a 200A alternator.

My bank is 1284 Ah. It is a fairly good match to my solar capacity. I do use a lot of power compared to many: overnight consumption is invariably more than 400 Ah. Reefer and freezer are big users, but I have a lot of other small loads. Many of these could be avoided eg turn the KVH sat dome, TV/set-top box off. But I usually don't bother.

Were I doing it all again I would have a gen, and aircon.
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Old 09-24-2018, 03:59 PM   #12
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OK, here goes, all from Wholesalesolar.com and Amazon:
Please send consulting fee to .......
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What a great list, thanks David!

How many controllers do you recommend for 2+2 panels, 350W/panel?
I want 2 panels charging bank1, and another charging bank2.
I have 4 Trojans combined 420 AH/12V on each bank.
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Old 09-24-2018, 04:07 PM   #13
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Maybe look at your inverter charger.
Ours obviously charges the main bank but it also has a port to trickle charge the starts.
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Old 09-24-2018, 04:16 PM   #14
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Maybe look at your inverter charger.
Ours obviously charges the main bank but it also has a port to trickle charge the starts.
I am not sure what do you mean?
My inverter is a 2700W MagnumSine and I can separate the 2 cranking batteries from the banks.
I want to charge the batteries directly from the controllers.
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Old 09-24-2018, 04:19 PM   #15
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My bank is 1284 Ah. It is a fairly good match to my solar capacity. I do use a lot of power compared to many: overnight consumption is invariably more than 400 Ah. Reefer and freezer are big users, but I have a lot of other small loads. Many of these could be avoided eg turn the KVH sat dome, TV/set-top box off. But I usually don't bother.
Is that right or am I wrong?

We have 12v 220 x 8 batts linked as 880ah @ 24v and use about 150ah 5pm to 6am.
Pretty sure we run more refrigeration than you with 800 litres (28 cf) across three 240v fridge/freezers.

Perhaps its to do with the 12v 24v thing as I am sure we don't get anything like 160a smashing in from our 2250w of panels but we do see 80a

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.

My system is 2070W, 12V house bank and 2 xOutback FlexMax 80 solar controllers (with a Mate 3). I have had the panels putting a total of 160A into the house bank. It works well.
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Old 09-24-2018, 04:22 PM   #16
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I am not sure what do you mean?
My inverter is a 2700W MagnumSine and I can separate the 2 cranking batteries from the banks.
I want to charge the batteries directly from the controllers.
But the cranking batteries are charged by the alternator while engine is running so should only need trickle charging when its not.

Our inverter charger (Victron 5000/100) has a 4 amp outlet for that purpose


Add: I get it now, you don't have a dedicated charger as such?
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Old 09-24-2018, 04:29 PM   #17
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What a great list, thanks David!

How many controllers do you recommend for 2+2 panels, 350W/panel?
I want 2 panels charging bank1, and another charging bank2.
I have 4 Trojans combined 420 AH/12V on each bank.
Well, it is generally best to have one single large bank rather than two that you alternate useage. But, skipping that for now:


That list was put together to use the great cost per watt of the 325 watt Astroenergy panel with the reasonable cost MidNight 30A controller. The two go together nicely. So you just double the list for one bank and double the list for the second one. Use one controller per panel, which separates shading problems.

That isn't the absolute cheapest way for your situation, but close. You could use two panels hooked up in series or parallel to a 60 A controller. Outback makes a 60A controller for $470, so you save $180 vs two 30A Midnight controllers at $325 each. It has plenty high Voc spec so you could wire your two panels in series and save a bit of wiring, but you lose shade resistance. Wiring them in parallel would also work with that controller and they work independently of shading.


I just checked shipping cost for 4 panels from Wholesalesolar's facility in California to my address in Connecticut- $300. Not cheap because they have to be shipped motor freight. That is why it is often better to use 100 watt panels for small systems because they ship free, at least with Amazon Prime.


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Old 09-24-2018, 04:37 PM   #18
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I am not sure what do you mean?
My inverter is a 2700W MagnumSine and I can separate the 2 cranking batteries from the banks.
I want to charge the batteries directly from the controllers.

Am I correct that you are running two separate banks? If so, you may want to consider combining them into one larger bank. It would make the charging simpler and a large bank is more efficient than 2 smaller banks.
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Old 09-24-2018, 04:46 PM   #19
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I just checked shipping cost for 4 panels from Wholesalesolar's facility in California to my address in Connecticut- $300.
David
I have this store here locally. They have a nice list what you can buy there:

https://www.platt.com/platt-electric...SubCatID=11003
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Old 09-24-2018, 05:35 PM   #20
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I have this store here locally. They have a nice list what you can buy there:

https://www.platt.com/platt-electric...SubCatID=11003

I bought a bunch of the stuff that I used for my Solar project from Platt. Their prices were competitive and I didn't have to pay for shipping. I was able to go to their local store and pick them up.


For charge controllers etc... don't forget to check with Compass Marine.
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