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Old 03-05-2018, 02:51 PM   #1
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Puget Sound solar/wind contractor

Anyone can recommend a reliable and affordable contractor in the Seattle area?
I plan to extend my battery banks, put up solar panels, wind generators. Not urgent, but I would like to be shore power independent one day.
Please, share your experiences. Thanks.
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Old 03-05-2018, 04:28 PM   #2
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Think again about adding a wind generator. Most need 15+ kts of wind to generate significant power. That kind of steady wind is available in the Caribbean trade wind region, but not many other places in the coastal US.

Solar panels, yes. Even in the rainy PNW you will make significant power, lots more in the dry, sunny summer.

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Old 03-05-2018, 04:36 PM   #3
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Thanks David.
I do have plenty of flat surface on the top, but a frame needs to be built for the panels. I try to avoid welding, so I need to find easy mount solutions.
What do you think about this one, it only requires 7 m/h wind to start:
https://www.emarineinc.com/categorie...e-Wind-Turbine
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Old 03-05-2018, 05:57 PM   #4
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Although I have not yet installed solar panels, I've always been impressed with the knowledge of Chris B (owner?) at Revision Marine in Port Townsend. They do solar, wind and specialty battery systems. He has had a booth at the Seattle Boat Show for several years.

revision marine - marine electric propulsionWelcome to ReVision Marine | revision marine
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:18 PM   #5
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Thanks David.
I do have plenty of flat surface on the top, but a frame needs to be built for the panels. I try to avoid welding, so I need to find easy mount solutions.
What do you think about this one, it only requires 7 m/h wind to start:
https://www.emarineinc.com/categorie...e-Wind-Turbine
The output curve says it takes almost 25 mph to put out 6 amps which is what you can get out of a 100 watt solar panel (admittedly in full sun at noon and the wind blows 24hr.)

But a realistic speed is 15 mph (7 m/s) which the curve indicates it produces maybe 2.5 amps or 60 watt hours over 24 hours. The 100 watt solar panel will do that in one hour of mid days sun and 5 times that much in an average sunny day.

Stick with solar.

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Old 03-05-2018, 07:56 PM   #6
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Leo, a good PNW source for solar panels is Platt Electric. They have several outlets in Washington and you can buy individual panels from them. When I was shopping for panels, most sellers had a minimum order of far more panels than I wanted, which was two.

Also, there are a couple articles on solar panels and their installation at this site, both worth reading it you are contemplating such a project. The authors are Bob Cofer and David Marchand.
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Old 03-05-2018, 08:02 PM   #7
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Ken.
I have read few threads here already, but I will do it again. I also check out your recommendation. All I want for now, to talk to few contractors and see, if I want to buy and install my own, or just hire it out? This is a budget issue now.
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Old 03-06-2018, 10:09 AM   #8
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The first step is to understand your power consumption. Typically, though you put as many panels as you can fit on your surfaces. Go with solid panels where possible. Flexible panels are more expensive and there have been reliability issues with flexible panels in the past.
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:33 AM   #9
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The first step is to understand your power consumption. Typically, though you put as many panels as you can fit on your surfaces.
That is solid and oft repeated advice. Since I will only be able to fit one panel conveniently on my boat, I've ignored it. I am not, like the OP, looking for energy independence. For me, solar won't get rid of needing to run the genset to charge the batteries. I am simply looking to reduce the run time of the genset and to bring the batteries up to full SOC.

As such, I want to get the highest wattage 60 cell panel I can afford connected to a MPPT controller. It won't be an ideal setup, but should be workable and achieve my aims. Even with such a simple setup, it is a big learning curve for me.
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Old 03-06-2018, 02:16 PM   #10
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That is solid and oft repeated advice. Since I will only be able to fit one panel conveniently on my boat, I've ignored it. I am not, like the OP, looking for energy independence. For me, solar won't get rid of needing to run the genset to charge the batteries. I am simply looking to reduce the run time of the genset and to bring the batteries up to full SOC.

As such, I want to get the highest wattage 60 cell panel I can afford connected to a MPPT controller. It won't be an ideal setup, but should be workable and achieve my aims. Even with such a simple setup, it is a big learning curve for me.

And that’s typically the main constraint: space limitations for the panels. You accommodate what you can. Every boat and situation is different.
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Old 03-06-2018, 07:19 PM   #11
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That is solid and oft repeated advice. Since I will only be able to fit one panel conveniently on my boat, I've ignored it. I am not, like the OP, looking for energy independence. For me, solar won't get rid of needing to run the genset to charge the batteries. I am simply looking to reduce the run time of the genset and to bring the batteries up to full SOC.

As such, I want to get the highest wattage 60 cell panel I can afford connected to a MPPT controller. It won't be an ideal setup, but should be workable and achieve my aims. Even with such a simple setup, it is a big learning curve for me.
I just put solar panels on the pilothouse roof after years of thinking it wouldn't do much good. My thinking was I already have a generator, big battery bank, and high output alternator, so why do I need another charging source? Especially one that's dependent on weather and daylight. And would solar really make a dent in my power consumption?

Turns out I really like solar! After paying for the hardware and install, it's like free power with no maintenance, and it really can make an impact on generator use.

These are the panels I used: LG365Q1C-A5 | LG NeON® R Module | Forward Energy | GridReady | Products | Solar | LG USA

They were among the most efficient I found. Platt Electric had them locally for as good a price as I could find anywhere online once shipping was factored in.

I installed a Victron charge controller with the bluetooth dongle. Very cool to be able to check solar output from a smartphone or tablet anywhere on the boat! It makes me want to replace all the electrical stuff onboard with Victron just so I can monitor and control everything from the app!

More about my solar choice here: Safe Harbour | Solar in the PNW? – Slowboat
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Old 03-06-2018, 09:18 PM   #12
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I just put solar panels on the pilothouse roof after years of thinking it wouldn't do much good. My thinking was I already have a generator, big battery bank, and high output alternator, so why do I need another charging source? Especially one that's dependent on weather and daylight. And would solar really make a dent in my power consumption?

Turns out I really like solar! After paying for the hardware and install, it's like free power with no maintenance, and it really can make an impact on generator use.

These are the panels I used: LG365Q1C-A5 | LG NeON® R Module | Forward Energy | GridReady | Products | Solar | LG USA

They were among the most efficient I found. Platt Electric had them locally for as good a price as I could find anywhere online once shipping was factored in.

I installed a Victron charge controller with the bluetooth dongle. Very cool to be able to check solar output from a smartphone or tablet anywhere on the boat! It makes me want to replace all the electrical stuff onboard with Victron just so I can monitor and control everything from the app!

More about my solar choice here: Safe Harbour | Solar in the PNW? – Slowboat
Thanks. Interestingly enough, I was looking at that very solar panel a couple days ago. Expensive, but a lot of power for the square footage. I would love to be able to fit two panels on my PH roof, but unless I move some stuff around there, I can only fit a single 60 cell panel.

The other nice thing is that I have a Platt Electronic location near me here in Tacoma. While they may not stock those, I bet they could get them delivered to the store pretty easily.

Do you know what Victron charge controller you used? I have to admit to a lot of ignorance on the charge controller and how it would interact with my genset, alternator, and/or shore power.
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Old 03-07-2018, 03:54 PM   #13
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Thanks. Interestingly enough, I was looking at that very solar panel a couple days ago. Expensive, but a lot of power for the square footage. I would love to be able to fit two panels on my PH roof, but unless I move some stuff around there, I can only fit a single 60 cell panel.

Platt didn't have them at my local store but they shipped them to the store for free.

The other nice thing is that I have a Platt Electronic location near me here in Tacoma. While they may not stock those, I bet they could get them delivered to the store pretty easily.

Do you know what Victron charge controller you used? I have to admit to a lot of ignorance on the charge controller and how it would interact with my genset, alternator, and/or shore power.
Yes, the panels were expensive compared to most, but they're the most efficient that I could find in that size range. And the overall difference in cost wasn't really that big...a few hundred dollars as I recall.

This is the Victron controller I got: https://www.amazon.com/Victron-BlueS...01BPLJASU?th=1

It's slightly undersized for 730 watts of panel, but the larger Victron controllers were out of stock everywhere I checked and the installed thought it was unlikely the panels would make more than 50 amps with any regularity.
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Old 03-07-2018, 04:06 PM   #14
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I would never install an undersized solar controller. Sure it might reach 50 amps only 1% of the time, but each time you do you are over heating the electronics and overheated electronics don't last long.

Consider midday sun directly overhead with your batteries well discharged so that it only takes 12V to charge at 50+ amps. That controller will put out 730/12 less 5% efficiency losses = 58 amps. That 50+ amp rate won't last lon. The sun will move reducing the solar output and the battery voltage will rise as it charges reducing the amps.

But any over current in my book is too much.

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Old 03-07-2018, 04:20 PM   #15
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I would never install an undersized solar controller. Sure it might reach 50 amps only 1% of the time, but each time you do you are over heating the electronics and overheated electronics don't last long.

Consider midday sun directly overhead with your batteries well discharged so that it only takes 12V to charge at 50+ amps. That controller will put out 730/12 less 5% efficiency losses = 58 amps. That 50+ amp rate won't last lon. The sun will move reducing the solar output and the battery voltage will rise as it charges reducing the amps.

But any over current in my book is too much.

David
I was told that it's not hazardous to the controller, but that in the rare circumstances when the panels could make more than 50 amps they'll be limited. Is that not the case?

Update: I just asked Victron, and will report back what I hear. I also played with the Victron calculator and it says my configuration is "Accepted" but output will power limited to 50A.
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Old 03-07-2018, 04:27 PM   #16
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Dave, I have to plead ignorance on the controller. I had used the calculator on the Victron site and for a single 365w panel with. Max voltage of 43v they said that any of their 75/10 or 75/15 controllers would be adequate. However, since I don’t understand what the controller is actually doing I have no idea....
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Old 03-07-2018, 06:07 PM   #17
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MPPT controllers and PWM ones for that matter are rated as to the amperage that the controller delivers to the batteries. When I did the calculation above I used 12V because that is what a controller would deliver to a severely depleted battery.

Now the Victron controller may have a current limiting circuit, which would be great and should not harm the controller when you very occaisonally exceed its current spec.

David
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Old 03-07-2018, 06:20 PM   #18
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MPPT controllers and PWM ones for that matter are rated as to the amperage that the controller delivers to the batteries. When I did the calculation above I used 12V because that is what a controller would deliver to a severely depleted battery.

Now the Victron controller may have a current limiting circuit, which would be great and should not harm the controller when you very occaisonally exceed its current spec.

David
I think I'm fine. From Victron: " If more PV power is connected, the controller will limit input power."

So all I lose is charging output above 50 amps on the very rare occasion the panels might make that much.
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Old 03-07-2018, 07:00 PM   #19
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I think I'm fine. From Victron: " If more PV power is connected, the controller will limit input power."

So all I lose is charging output above 50 amps on the very rare occasion the panels might make that much.
I believe (but remember I am ignorant) that the Victron controllers have a max voltage input that they can handle as well as a max output amperage that they will deliver. I need to do some more reading however to try and get it figured out.
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Old 03-07-2018, 10:54 PM   #20
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Dave, I have to plead ignorance on the controller. I had used the calculator on the Victron site and for a single 365w panel with. Max voltage of 43v they said that any of their 75/10 or 75/15 controllers would be adequate. However, since I don’t understand what the controller is actually doing I have no idea....
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Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
MPPT controllers and PWM ones for that matter are rated as to the amperage that the controller delivers to the batteries. When I did the calculation above I used 12V because that is what a controller would deliver to a severely depleted battery.

Now the Victron controller may have a current limiting circuit, which would be great and should not harm the controller when you very occaisonally exceed its current spec.

David
David, I went back and looked at the Victron calculator again, this time on my computer instead of my iPad. I must have screwed it up.

Based on the specs of the panel I am looking at, the same ones Retriever used, I would need either the Victron 150/35 or 100/50 controller. Not sure which one would be better. Is it better to have more overhead in the voltage capacity or the amperage capacity?

I could use a 100/30 but could potentially be sacrificing some amperage on cool, sunny days. The controller would start limiting charge current to 30amps at around 60 degrees F. Now, how many times in the PNW will the sun be directly overhead and clear day with no shadows, no clouds, and the temperature of the panel be under 60 degrees? It could happen. We have lots of cool days in the summer and if there is a breeze it is picking up the 50 degree temps from the Sound. OTOH, the controller would only be limiting by an amp or two... and that is when the panel is brand new and absolutely clean... The more I think about it, the better that 100/30 sounds as it would save me $100.

In Retrievers example, the 100/50 controller that he has would be limiting the charge amps to 50amps throughout the entire temperature range on that mythical perfect sunny day. He would be losing about 10 amps of charging. I wish I could fit two panels like he did.
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