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Old 11-26-2017, 02:50 PM   #1
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Solar Panels in the PNW: One case study.

We have 435 watts of Panels, wired in parallel to a Blue sky energy MPPT controller. The house bank is 1125 AH, 10 Trojan 105's. The starter bank is isolated from the house bank with a Blue Seas ACR which is switched to off most of the time--the starter bank has its own dedicated charger and monitoring of the bank voltages indicated it was fully charged when at anchor. The power demands are typically 200-250 AH per day, depending on the outside temperature. The inverter is switched to off unless we want to use an AC appliance or lighting.

The 2017 cruising season:

May 18-August 29, 2,239 NM with 79 days off shore power. Most of that time was north of Cape Caution, with overcast skies or rain. Genset run-time was17 hours or about 13 minutes per day on average. It could have been about 2 hours less, but we ran the washer and dryer once when at anchor. I can only recall a couple of occasions when the SOC was less than 85%. I should add that I wasn't particularly anal about NOT using the genny. If I was "ultra eco" I could have ran it less. Before solar, we typically ran the genny 1.5 hours twice a day for a total of 3 hours and we never got the bank up past 90% when at anchor.

Yes, the battery bank is typically fully charged after a run and we travelled long distances this year. But we typically arrive at anchorages before 2:00 pm, so there is a considerable period when we are on solar power.


I consider the panels a worthwhile "investment" and they exceeded my expectations for success.

Jim
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Old 11-26-2017, 04:30 PM   #2
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Jim, what was your reasoning for connecting the panels in parallel esp. since you have an MPPT controller ? I hope this thread does not lead to a mass debate etc..... just askin' frank b.
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Old 11-26-2017, 05:35 PM   #3
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Solar Panels in the PNW: One case study.

I had originally wanted to go series, but was advised to go parallel because going series would have been “out of specifications” for this model of controller. The advisor with the vendor had a P.Eng. in electrical engineering and mentioned that in very low temperature situations the voltage from the panels could have exceeded specs. Probably would not occur but that was the advice I received. I hope I represented his reason correctly.

It had been an expensive spring getting the boat in the water and I went with a lower cost controller in this instance. I might upgrade at a later date.

Jim
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Old 11-26-2017, 06:19 PM   #4
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The overriding negative in my mind to series panel installation is that if one panel is shaded it can block the output of all in the string. A minor negative to parallel panel installation is that it takes bigger wire due to the higher current in parallel.

So unless the location is entirely shade free I would wire in parallel. Also check the voltage input spec of the controller as noted above as you can easily exceed its rating if you wire in series.

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Old 11-26-2017, 09:57 PM   #5
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Interesting. Thanks for sharing Jim. I am considering adding solar.....
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Old 11-26-2017, 11:41 PM   #6
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We have 600w in parallel and have similar experience.
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Old 11-26-2017, 11:48 PM   #7
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Good to hear a positive report from north of Cape Caution
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Old 11-26-2017, 11:49 PM   #8
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Thank you for sharing. Ever since seeing an install on a KK42 I've been very interested in solar. Given our ENORMOUS pilothouse roof we could install quite the panel array with little impact to the operation or appearance of the boat.

Good to learn about a real world example in the PNW.
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Old 11-27-2017, 02:56 AM   #9
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I'd love to hear from Jim and Bob what panels you guys are using.

Solar will be a definite addition that I'll be doing in the Spring.
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Old 11-27-2017, 08:52 AM   #10
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Curious as to what you have for refrigeration.

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Old 11-27-2017, 12:04 PM   #11
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Sabre: I have 3 145 watt panels for "hazardous environments" by Invensun. They happened to maximize the footprint I had available for panels.
http://www.invensun.com/solar-panels...-and-hazardous

Tator: I have the larger Novacool side-by-side fridge and freezer units. I don't recall the model numbers. They run at about 4-5 amps each.

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Old 11-27-2017, 12:52 PM   #12
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I have 600 watts in two panels, mppt Outback controller and have not started the generator this year. In fact, I’m neglecting the little monster as she needs an oil change and probably a zinc. The only reason to have it now (except for emergencies) is to heat water. I have only 4 - 6 volt batteries and I am in float by noon on an average day. A total no-brainer for me, now I am investigating a solar collector system to heat my water vs using the inverter on a dedicated circuit and use the excess solar power to heat water.
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Old 11-27-2017, 01:33 PM   #13
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This is what I have installed. I used the SW 300 panels.
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Old 11-27-2017, 08:38 PM   #14
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Jim / xbank......can you give us an idea of the hardware cost for your installations?
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Old 11-27-2017, 10:32 PM   #15
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"About" $1600 I think. I installed it. Best place for solar is the Top of The Hill Market in Powell River. Andy is very knowledgeable and has the best prices. He said he can beat anyone for batteries. Shipping is "creative." Ask him?
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Old 11-28-2017, 01:14 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken E. View Post
Jim / xbank......can you give us an idea of the hardware cost for your installations?
About $1,900. First stuff is more expensive in Canada and my particular panels are for "extreme environments" so more expensive than more generic panels. Second, mine is a parallel install there is 3 times the cost for cabling and breakers. Third, it turns out that my install is meets "code" for residential installation, with over current protection before and after the controller and grounding of each of the panels.

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Old 11-28-2017, 02:20 PM   #17
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Hi Jim, Mine meets the same parameters, before and after breakers, in a nice box, grounding is much easier because I’m aluminum, I used the commercial racking and used an existing railing that I moved from another spot. I used series and have mono panels. My panels are flat-mounted and do not track. I only have 4 golf-cart batteries and normally had to run the genset every day for about 2 hours.
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Old 11-28-2017, 02:38 PM   #18
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Hi Jim, Mine meets the same parameters, before and after breakers, in a nice box, grounding is much easier because I’m aluminum, I used the commercial racking and used an existing railing that I moved from another spot. I used series and have mono panels. My panels are flat-mounted and do not track. I only have 4 golf-cart batteries and normally had to run the genset every day for about 2 hours.
Very Good! I bought $20 of angle aluminum and pre-drilled then cut off 1.5" pieces with a chop saw. I bolted 2 pieces together in a "U" with washers and nylock nuts, bolted these to the 4 corners and then glued to the pilothouse roof with 4200. Prior to positioning I put blocks of wood in place so the panel supports would rest 1/8" above the roof so all the 4200 wouldn't squish out. They are solid 2 years later. I figure if I have to rebed every 5 or so years, that's fine.

Jim
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Old 11-28-2017, 03:25 PM   #19
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Thanks for the details. I might just do something similar. I have a hardtop that would work well for the panels. X-bank's description of less genset time is appealing.
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Old 11-28-2017, 03:26 PM   #20
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Ken E,

I am in the last boathouse on the other side of the Bathrooms from you. If you want to come and take a look let me know.

Bob
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