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Old 08-08-2014, 09:07 PM   #61
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Great posts!!

There are PNW members here that espouse "solar will never work here and it is ridiculous to even contemplate" in just about every single other thread where solar panels have been discussed. Interesting to see hard data from someone who thankfully thinks outside of that box.
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Old 08-08-2014, 09:52 PM   #62
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You are welcome for the data - I was sooo frustrated when I started things out not being able to find solid answers, I made a vow to collect real info and share it.

Now, I think the one thing that surprised me the most was how close our actuals tracked with the predicted. I went about predictions the hard way, and then found this tool: PVWatts Calculator

It is designed for land installs, but with some simple tricks can be used to product very accurate results for a marine/boat install as well. For fun, I used this tool just now - and looked at the differences between Friday Harbor up in the PNW, and Key Largo, down in the Sunshine State. Here is what I got for our 480W/12v system:



Kind of interesting to see that during the peak 'cruising' months predict more out of our Solar Panels up North then in Florida! Because the modeler uses actual data as its input (you pick a reference point to use), it can make adjustments not only for latitude, but also typical cloud cover.

I have some more details about this tool, and how to make adjustments for 'marine' use here: mv.VikingStar: Solar Panels on the Boat - Modeling and Performance

And before folks start abandoning Florida for the sunnier PNW, better remind folks about all the floating debris/logs waiting to hole your hull - Mosquitoes with first and last names, and what every I can come up with
Boy, you can see the longer days for the PNW in those stats. It looks like my rule of thumb of 3.5 x wattage of the panels for daily production in our area during the cruising season is not far off....
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Old 08-11-2014, 10:40 PM   #63
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On a different twist for solar, has anyone constructed a solar arhray above their flybridge bimini ? This appears to my largest unobstructed area. Large enough to support four 250 watt panels if needed. Attempting to determine my system requirements and any requirement to reconfigure my existing battery / charging configuration. I've seen a lot of panels laid out over the hardtop or in front of the flybridge. On sailboats I have seen smaller systems over the biminis but not sure if the weight of that many panels would be a problem with high winds ?

To me this seems like a win/win. The panels above the bimini, should make the flybridge cooler by absorbing the heat and protect and canvas below it. Interested in any feedback. My current house batteries are four 8D AGM and 4 GLT-6CT AGM. They seems to supporting the demand fine.

Thanks in advance for any recomedations
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Old 08-11-2014, 10:56 PM   #64
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On a different twist for solar, has anyone constructed a solar array above their flybridge bimini ?
Rebel (John), occasional poster,did exactly that. Works fine, I believe holes were made and reinforced in the bimini canvas for the bolts securing the panels.
Sailboats with no bimini often fit a full width ss "square arch" carrying panels, at the stern.
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Old 08-13-2014, 06:45 PM   #65
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As Bruce has written I placed 3x130w panels above my canvas bimini, I constructed an aluminum frame to support the panels bolted through the bimini frame. As Peter B commented at the time I was doing this, watch for chafing between the canvas and the frame. I added some rubber strip between the frame and the canvas at the fixing points. This system has been in place for about two and a half years now and so far so good. The pictures are not that clear I know but if you look carefully you will see some of the frame in my avatar. I guess the other aspect to watch out for is the size of your bimini frame. Mine is a solid one and a half inch s/s with strong attachments to the flybridge. I found a picture that is as close as I can get.

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Old 08-21-2014, 08:11 PM   #66
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2500 watt system on woman2blame

I will take pics but I have a 2500 watt solar set up, 24 volt with 800 amp/hr batt. System.Just got back from 3 months in exumas , Here's how it washed out. First off equipment, Full size frig. , freezer , sat tv system with 3 boxes and 3 big screens, dish washer, 40 amp batt. Charger for house bank. , micro / convection oven, 110 v head hunter pump for heads and fresh water, led bulbs in all 12 v lights, coffee pot, 2 lap tops and wifi modem , stereo sys. And misc. chargers. My gen is 15 kW and burns 1 gal / hr , I ran gen 2 hrs a day to make 60 gals of water each day. We watched 2 tvs approx 4 hrs each nite, frig runs 24 hrs . We anchored out every night so 22 hrs times 90 days = 1980 hrs gen didn't have to run equals 1980 hrs times 1 gal = 1980 gals times $4.00 per gal equals $7920.00 and govt. gave me 33% off taxes on a system that cost me $11,000.00 . I will show pics if anyone is interested.Plus my gen will last a lot longer and don't have to factor in replacing .And no noise.
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Old 08-21-2014, 10:10 PM   #67
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Pics? You bet!! Sounds like the perfect balance to give you just what you need on the hook! If I could scale that system to about 1/4 size, it might be just perfect for my little 34 footer.

I recently completed all the electrical mods needed to allow me extended days on anchor. With all the conveniences of home - except washer and dryer - 2 small fridge/freezers instead of one big one, LED lights throughout, 12V 660AH house bank, 55A charger, Honda generator, Balmar 120A alternator, battery monitor, Wifi extender and router, 8-speaker stereo system, microwave, Keurig and Mr. Coffee, 12V HDTV, propane stove and grill and only a 1000W inverter. I need to run the Honda about 4 hrs/day to keep up with demand at a fuel burn of less than a gallon per day.

So generator operating cost is not a big issue but noise can be a problem in a crowded anchorage. I recently spent two weeks on the hook and little of that was in the company of other non-friend's boats, but free (after purchase) and silent is a good thing. I'm considering adding a cockpit cover to my boat....maybe solar panels would make a good addition as a cover in lieu of canvas.

What's the estimated longevity of today's panels? Aside from keeping them clean, is there any routine maintenance required to keep them producing efficiently? Do solar panels degrade over time and eventually become inefficient?

I hear the cost of panels has dropped considerably. I'm thinking a 600-800W system might fit my boat well to realistically restore the 175-185 AH needed, but I might only have room for 400-500W. Shadowing would be an issue in the cockpit aft of the FB and radar mast.
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Old 08-21-2014, 10:40 PM   #68
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Yeah!! I sure want to know everything you did for that system. I don't plan on 2500 watts, but 12-1500 for sure. My needs are much less than those you report.
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Old 08-21-2014, 11:03 PM   #69
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..free (after purchase) and silent is a good thing. I'm considering adding a cockpit cover to my boat....maybe solar panels would make a good addition as a cover in lieu of canvas...

What's the estimated longevity of today's panels? Aside from keeping them clean, is there any routine maintenance required to keep them producing efficiently? Do solar panels degrade over time and eventually become inefficient?

...I hear the cost of panels has dropped considerably. I'm thinking a 600-800W system might fit my boat well to realistically restore the 175-185 AH needed, but I might only have room for 400-500W. Shadowing would be an issue in the cockpit aft of the FB and radar mast.
Al, barring some very clever fitting, panels won`t replace canvas, but they can afford some shade. Sailboats, lacking good places for panels, often construct a ss "square arch" just in from the transom to carry panels.
Most panels come with a 20-25 year guarantee of output, but finding the maker/seller to call on it might be tough. They don`t need maintenance, but the wiring/connections to the controller and to the batts, and any direct run equipment, might.
As to cost,panels do get cheaper. Most are from China, I think monocrystalline types are/were well regarded. I don`t worry about brand. I bought on Ebay, many do, the quality of framing may be indicative. You can get controllers on Ebay too, MPPT are the newest/best to get max out of the panels. Look for panels sized to suit the areas you have. I even separated pairs of "suitcase paired" panels to get what I wanted.
Say 500w, div by 12 = 41A, halve that for reality, = say 20A p/h. Digital controllers will tell you how much was produced, that day and 2 days previous,plus instant info amp output, panel voltage, batt voltage.
You have to accept some shading, dull days, etc. Once you check prices you`ll see it is not that expensive, and as well as saving/buying/storing fuel, peace may be with you. Confession of noisemaking sin may be less.
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Old 08-22-2014, 12:00 AM   #70
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That's what I was talking about a couple weeks ago Al. Replacing my canvas with panels. I'm only in it for the shade anyway and if my shade can create electricity makes it a win-win in my book. The MPPT controller seems key to getting maximum output.
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Old 08-22-2014, 08:58 AM   #71
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There is a company down in South FL that builds tops for boats out of solar panels, apparently with nothing under them except frames, Bimini top frame for instance, using some kind of sealing trim between the panels so the rain will not leak through.
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Old 08-22-2014, 09:13 AM   #72
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Last year at a boat show, they were displaying flexible panels which can be literally zipped into a canvas Bimini top. Sort of forms a double layer, but secured such that there is no leaks, no chafing, and if a panel died, it could simply be unzipped and replaced.
Electric boat motors - Flexible marine solar panels by Solbianflex - electric boat motor
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Old 08-22-2014, 10:23 AM   #73
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[QUOTE=thomasonw;

It is designed for land installs, but with some simple tricks can be used to product very accurate results for a marine/boat install as well. For fun, I used this tool just now - and looked at the differences between Friday Harbor up in the PNW, and Key Largo, down in the Sunshine State. Here is what I got for our 480W/12v system: [/QUOTE]

Is the location data optimized for angle, meaning for the PNW the panels are at a greater angle than for CA? For a horizontal comparison how would the table look?

For land applications I have seen this is definitely the case with a 50 KW array I saw a month ago at Hakai Institute (51 degrees or so N) at about 45 degrees at 2 PM. The same type of array in AZ will auto correct to about 15 degrees in mid afternoon mid summer.

What is the installed weight of your current array and how high above CG?

Good work and it seems you've got a good setup for your cruising style.
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Old 12-07-2014, 11:52 AM   #74
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Solar MPPT charge controller recommendations

I am installing three 150 watt semi-flexible solar panels to my my bridge canvas top. Can anyone recommend a good MPPT charge controller? The panels are 27.5 Vmp. I have a 12 volt system. I assume that I need a 40 amp controller to handle the potential 450 watt output ( I know I wont get 450).
Thanks,
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Old 12-07-2014, 01:21 PM   #75
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MidNite Solar, model the Kid. Great controller.Click image for larger version

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Old 12-07-2014, 01:33 PM   #76
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Kyocera was the brand of choice three years ago.

As far as economics, the value of the solar panels comes if you replace generator usage. Doubt if the panels make economic sense if you are replacing shore power.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:01 PM   #77
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Outback FlexMax 60 would be fine, although a bit oversized for you as it can take up to 750W input for 12 V systems


Quote:
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As far as economics, the value of the solar panels comes if you replace generator usage. Doubt if the panels make economic sense if you are replacing shore power.
Solar can replace your generator provided that you don't want to have aircon. Although I did add a Honda 2000 portable, just in case.
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Old 12-07-2014, 06:20 PM   #78
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To piggy-back... I have 275 watts of panels and a MorningStar Pro-Star30. I'm considering adding two more 100 watt panels for 475 total. That would put me over the top on the Pro30, right? (And mine's not MPPT -- I know that already)

Will probably add four more batts first because it's possible a bigger battery bank would eliminate the need for more solar.

What say the experts? Is the ProStar30 limited to 300 watts as I suspect? The paperwork doesn't say so and I've not researched this yet. Still up to my bilges in engine removal.

Does anyone want a Volvo mooring ball? It's sitting in the middle of my pilothouse. For sale. The price you may ask: FREE. But you have to come and get it. (I did take off the water pump, fuel pump, high pressure fuel pump and starter/generator. Those will cost money.)
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:12 PM   #79
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The ability to run the gen for the least amount of time at its rated capacity will improve your "economy". The idea is to run the noise maker the least amount possible and gain every single ounce of energy from every other source possible. Solar is a big step in that direction. The thought process is intense and requires a deep understanding of energy usage and what you really need.
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Old 12-08-2014, 08:09 AM   #80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janice142 View Post
To piggy-back... I have 275 watts of panels and a MorningStar Pro-Star30. I'm considering adding two more 100 watt panels for 475 total. That would put me over the top on the Pro30, right? (And mine's not MPPT -- I know that already)

Will probably add four more batts first because it's possible a bigger battery bank would eliminate the need for more solar.

What say the experts? Is the ProStar30 limited to 300 watts as I suspect? The paperwork doesn't say so and I've not researched this yet.

The data sheet for the Prostar 30 indicates it is rated for 30 AMPS. Using 12V and 475W of panels would produce almost 40 AMPS. So theoretically, you probably should have a larger controller. I am not an expert but my understanding is the 475W rating for the panels is based on being at the equator at noon and in reality you will never see anywhere near that wattage in FL. Also, the wattage ratings on solar panels are based on higher voltages which suggests the panels produce lower amperage than you would get with a 12V calculation. For example, the Kyocera 140W panel is rated at 17.7 volts and 7.91AMPs under maximum conditions. I suspect you can get by without a new controller but I would check with the manufacturer first. Certainly they would love to sell you a new MPPT.
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