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Old 08-19-2015, 01:12 PM   #1
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Solar/wind energy

Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. There is so much info on the web my head is spinning.
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Old 08-19-2015, 01:24 PM   #2
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That is a pretty open ended question, so here are some more to narrow it down:


What kind of boat and where do you plan to put the panels.
How do you use the boat and what are you trying to accomplish with panels
How much battery capacity and how much amperage do you draw in an average day


David
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Old 08-19-2015, 08:11 PM   #3
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Don't have the boat yet, it will be a wooden trawler. I just assumed that the panels would have to go on the roof or there abouts. We live in Canada and so far we plan on just exploring the west coast at first. We would like to have the solar/wind power sustain us and have generator as a back up.
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Old 08-19-2015, 08:36 PM   #4
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I know what you mean about an overwhelming amount of info on the net - and boating forums. We're not adding solar on the boat yet, just not worth it (yet) with a quiet, well running generator on board but I did just buy a semi-flexible 40 watt panel and battery to power small dock lights (like landing lights at the airport) and to light the boat name inset into the dock. The panel is about 20" x 24" and cost around $65, mounted on the lid of our dock box, and tough enough to sit on. I am amazed at what that thing puts out, even on a gray or cloudy day. They've come a long way. The technology is getting really impressive.
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Old 08-19-2015, 09:06 PM   #5
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First response is yes, do it. Specific advice is often specific to a particular boat, but maybe you want a boat which will accommodate solar/wind. I know little about wind power but almost any boat should take a generator. With solar, you want your panels as unshadowed as possible, even a rigging line casting a shadow affects output, and an inch of cooling airspace underneath.
There are good internet articles, you have to separate wheat from chaff. Read up, then ask. Several boats here have significant solar set ups, they may post and help. Mine is just 180w, but the batts are always full, and they run a 12v fridge during daytime with the batts holding well. Plus I have a 25w panel dedicated to the genset batt. Well charged batts last much much longer.You need good controllers, MPPT are state of the art, mine are older but good, most give info on amps/watts in current day and days before.
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Old 08-19-2015, 11:14 PM   #6
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Another benefit of a MPPT controller is higher input voltage allowing the use of residential style solar panels that can be found for under $1 per watt. Also less voltage drop allowing smaller wire.
For my installation I used 2 - 240 watt panels in series feeding 70 volts dc to the MPPT controller. Seems to be working well.

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Old 08-20-2015, 01:03 AM   #7
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Thank you very much, I'm so excited for the next journey to start. I miss the ocean ��
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Old 08-20-2015, 08:49 AM   #8
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The first step is working out how much power you will need away from the dock.

Do you just want to run a few LED lights and a small fridge for a day or two while at anchor? Easily do-able with solar.

Or do you want to run a house sized fridge & freezer, microwave, TV, computer etc for weeks away from the dock? Can be done with solar, with enough roof space, battery space, and money.

A/C, electric stove, watermaker, ice maker…. Buy a generator.
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Old 08-20-2015, 09:21 AM   #9
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I have done this too my last 2 boats the first was my C&L Sea Ranger 60 4x200+wat panels, Blue Sky controller, 14x L16 batteries Approx 2800amps. The payback from not running a generator or using shore power was under 2 years. I calculated this from a cumulative watt meter. Best investment ever made! Plus no noisy genny at anchor etc.
My current boat Cheoy Lee 50 Tri-cabin I did over 2 years ago with 4x235watt panels and a Maverick controller, and 10 XT105Plus batteries (1125 Amps) I would have liked more batteries however no room. It saved $400 a month of my marina elec per month plus the lack of having to run the genny while away. Payback was less than 6 months. I did this work in Sint Maarten where things are much cheaper (Panels are 1$ per watt)
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Old 08-20-2015, 11:14 AM   #10
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FWIW, below is a copy and paste from the DuckTalk.net forum of what a Diesel Duck owner said about his solar and wind generator equipped brand new Diesel Duck 462:

The power went out for four+ days on the docks here at the Subic Bay Yacht club in the Philippines. As I walked the docks after a couple of days you could hear beeps coming from unattended boat after boat. One by one the beeps slowly died as their batteries probably died. It was so great that for the four days I did not have to start the generator once. The solar panels and wind generator kept my refrigerator cold, powered my all LED lights, ran my cabin fans, ran my fresh water system and toilets, I was able to cook and it powered my inverter for TV/DVD use. It was also nice to know that if I had left my boat unattended I would have returned to full batteries. Completely discharging your batteries damages them and leads to reduced life span. An 800 amp hour 24V AGM battery bank is $1000s to replace. I can't recommend these type of systems enough. There is basically no maintenance, were inexpensive to install and work phenomenal. It also helped that the systems I mentioned above are all very efficient 24v systems except my stove/oven which is a really neat 3 burner gas, one burner electric model. I specifically equipped my Duck to be 100% powered by renewable energy (if need be) with it's ketch sailing rig, feathering prop, solar panels and wind generator, efficient 24v systems and large AGM battery bank. I am very happy to say I accomplished that.
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Old 08-20-2015, 12:14 PM   #11
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Has anyone used the federal (and/or state) renewable energy credit successfully? I'm told the fed credit applies to boats that qualify as second homes and the savings is off the top of any tax liability.
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Old 08-20-2015, 06:01 PM   #12
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It is pretty straight forward to set up a solar array. I have a wooden boat so I wanted something to keep the batteries up for running the bilge pumps. I have a very simple electrical system (all LED lights, small refrigerator that draws 3.5 amps when running, webasto diesel heater that draws 3.2 amps on full) plus the bilge pumps. I have two 50 watt panels in parallel. Their peak output has been 8.6 amps. They are wired to a dual output controller than allows me to split the output between my house and start batteries in 10% increments. My batteries are always fully charged when I come on board. Today we were totally fogged in. My panels were putting our 3 amps despite the fog (I had the refer on). My panels are mounted on the cabin top where they get zero shade. I am very pleased with the solar system. I do not have shore power and have never had to charge the batteries except at the beginning of the season (the boat is stored inside where the solar panels don't work during the off season.
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Old 08-20-2015, 07:27 PM   #13
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Here in marathon we have a company call S.A.L.T. They do all kinds of solar,wind system. Check out their web site.
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Old 08-21-2015, 01:14 AM   #14
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Thanks, very interesting info. Looks like I have a lot of research ahead of me.
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Old 08-22-2015, 11:04 AM   #15
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Solar/wind energy

I know one V/O who installed both solar and wind on his boat in the PNW. He's very pleased with the solar but wind generator was pretty much useless. I'd like to out ~500 watts of panels on our boat but that project might have to wait for another year.

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Old 08-22-2015, 12:19 PM   #16
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I put 750 watts of solar on our boat when we built it. I would do the same again, but it's important to have realistic expectations.

Speaking generally.....

- Space will limit how much solar you can install.

- given the limit on how much solar you can install, it's worth doing everything possible to get the most out of it. This means maximizing the number of watts you can get from the available space. Pick panels that maximize this. Despite their appeal, this likely means not using flexible panels because of their low output per sq foot.

- once you have the most raw power available, get the most from it. This means using an MPPT charge controller. Also, make sure your panels are not shaded (as in ZERO shade) during primary daylight hours.
- even with all this, it is unlikely solar will power the boat for days on end at anchor. All you should expect is a reduction in generator run time/frequency. We find that our solar pretty much covers the boats power loads during the day when it's sunny, but it's not enough to do any recharging of the overnight draw on the batteries.
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Old 08-22-2015, 10:58 PM   #17
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The semi flexible lightweight panels that I have are supposedly the most efficient on the market at 20 plus percent, they are only less than a year old but so far no complaints.
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Old 08-22-2015, 11:39 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by maxhopper502 View Post
The semi flexible lightweight panels that I have are supposedly the most efficient on the market at 20 plus percent, they are only less than a year old but so far no complaints.
Interesting. You wouldn't have a pointer to a make/model or a spec sheet, would you? The world is always moving so what was might no longer be what is.
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Old 08-23-2015, 12:38 AM   #19
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http://www.alibaba.com/product-detai...38.35.1.VuLfAA

Times are a changing and these are probably already so last year. American made sunpower cells put together in China ( surprise surprise). I have got 15 of the 180 watt 24v panels and all working fine.
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Old 08-23-2015, 04:54 AM   #20
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... allowing the use of residential style solar panels that can be found for under $1 per watt.
I am planning on installing residential panels as well, but the mounting brackets all stand off the surface an inch or more to accommodate the connectors underneath. I would much prefer a flush installation that is fully caulked and sealed.

Are marine panels different, do they install flush? Any suggestions otherwise?
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