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Old 10-22-2013, 11:05 PM   #1
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SunPower Solar Panels

Hello,
I am looking to install four 327 watt solar panels on my boat. I am looking at the SunPower panels. Anyone else have any experience with SunPower products?
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Old 10-23-2013, 12:01 AM   #2
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Wow, that's serious power Henry. I only have a 11w (start batt), and a 40w (house batt), solar panels, as I also have a wind genny, and apart from engine running charging, we have no other form of generation, yet we can stay out on the hook more or less indefinitely. But apart from the frig, which is 12v, we have gas cooking, and all lights that matter are now LED, and we run no AC out on the water at all.
What will you be powering when you are out..? You'll need a large batt bank, preferably all AGMs, and very good controllers on them.
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Old 10-23-2013, 12:07 AM   #3
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Peter,
We draw between 22-30amps consistently. I have a 1500ah battery bank (AGM L-16s). The cooking is electric. Almost all lighting is LED.
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Old 10-23-2013, 01:08 AM   #4
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In that case you may well need all that sun power, but I am unable to make comment re that specific panel type. I would expect they are all pretty comparable, as competition in that market is now quite hot. Poor performers are flushed out quite quickly. My only remaining question is why, and why now, when I imagine she has had a generator up to now..? Is it to be able to not use (or replace) the genny, or some more fundamental altruist and green-driven desire..? The latter I can understand...that's what I like about my set-up - less noise, free power, greener. However, I'm not an obsessive greenie, so if I had to reliably pay back a 30amp draw all day long, I suspect I'd use a generator. Besides...not many vessels have enough room on a flat surface for that much panel area, but you do have quite a nice roof area on that pilothouse roof.
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Old 10-23-2013, 02:01 AM   #5
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HenryD, go for it. I can`t know US brands, they are probably Chinese (your only panel maker went spectacularly broke) just using a name a focus group liked. Compare panels on things like framing quality, connectors, and type; mono crystalline is preferred I think. I bought mine on Ebay, no issues.
Use good digital controllers. Put fuses in the + wire just before the battery. Ensure air space under the panel for cooling. Try for panels 100% unshaded, a tiny shadow has disproportionate effect.
Battery electric cooking sounds a challenge. Good luck
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Old 10-23-2013, 08:36 AM   #6
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I have been considering semi-flexible solar for the bimini. I did a little research and more is definitly better. By your avitar it looks like you could probably put more panels on your top.
Here is a very informative link from a TF member. mv.VikingStar: A Year with Solar, or is it: “Wait until he figures out what a monumental waste of money that was”. . . . .
I think 600 watts would be what I need. I have room for 8 -100 watt panels
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Old 10-23-2013, 01:33 PM   #7
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My boat came with 85 watt Kyrocera Panels on the pilothouse roof. While not particularly productive, they were the "truck" of panels. I've cleared my pilothouse roof of all devices and reskinned it for solar use only. I should be able to fit 10 panels with a walkway in the center. Since I can't mate my old Kyrocera's with the higher wattage late models, I figure to replace those too. Sun Power panels are something I haven't heard about, but it's worth investigating. Reubin Trane would probably be the guy to comment on that one.
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Old 10-23-2013, 05:22 PM   #8
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SunPower seems to have a good rep, but you'll need a battery bank and some other electronics to make use of them.

I'm not a fan of solar power because sunlight only hits the Earth's surface with an energy of about 1kw/square meter.

On the other hand, if your application already HAS a battery bank, and presumably you do, then it's a different story.

My only real suggestion is to figure out if you really need four panels to keep your bank topped off.

Oh wait, there is one other...

I have no idea if they are built for boats, but solar WATER heating is a very effective and mature technology. There are several things you can do with heated water.

For reference, my folks had a 3 panel set of water panels in the 70's and in the dead of winder with overcast skies the water still came down at about 90 degrees. In the summer sun it came down at more than twice that.


I hope there's something in that post that is useful for you.
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Old 10-23-2013, 11:42 PM   #9
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fryedaze, one aspect the excellent article does not mention is the beneficial effect of constantly well charged batteries. Batteries left undercharged have a shortened lifespan.
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Old 10-24-2013, 05:49 AM   #10
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There are any number of charge controllers that will work .

IF a shadow can fall on any of the panels be sure to use a charge controller that will allow the rest to function fully.

Home Power mag has loads of this type info, online archives.
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Old 10-25-2013, 12:40 PM   #11
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My charge controller is a Pro-30 by Morningstar. It does not do MPPT like the newer charge controllers but is very adequate for my home use.

Not affiliated with Morningstar but they have very good Photovoltaic products.
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Old 10-25-2013, 05:12 PM   #12
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Guys

Having read the above, reamains a question. If you cannot afford a marina and decide to live on a hook, what system is more reliable to charge your bateries in order to have power for the bilge pumps, the solar pannels or the wind mill? Have in consideration that you plenty of both sources, wind and Sunlight

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Old 10-25-2013, 05:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigJim View Post
My charge controller is a Pro-30 by Morningstar. It does not do MPPT like the newer charge controllers but is very adequate for my home use.
I too have a ProStar-30 by Morningstar. As a bit of data:
275 watts on 3 panels
I'm at the 29th parallel (FL/GA border)
The highest incoming I've seen is 17.01 amps this past summer. This time of year I'm seeing 14.
It's 1715 right now and sunny; the meter shows 3.3 amps incoming.

The Morningstar30 is a strange beast though. When my batteries are full before it goes into HVD (High Voltage Disconnect) it will lessen the amount of amperage going to the batts. When I turn on something the incoming will almost double. Just an aside.

I like that the regulator is visible -- and having a couple extra volt meters wired in (one by my bunk and the other in the galley) allows me to see the state of my batteries with ease. Yes, I've got the BlueStar meter analog but the switch isn't functional. BlueSeas did send a new switch but I've not yet installed it. Such is life.

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Old 10-25-2013, 07:20 PM   #14
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Most boats in the Eastern Caribbean have solar panels. The few trawlers that are down there the majority have panels. My neighbor in a couple of anchorages has six panels on a Nordhavn 46 and hasn't run his generator in years. Another Nordhavn 46 which is now completing a circumnavigation has covered his pilot house roof with panels and has also installed them on the side rails. He survived quite well on solar power.

All three of these trawlers used Kyocera panels.

The nice thing about the hard panels is that you install them and forgot them. They just crank out the amps without maintenance.

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Old 10-29-2013, 07:20 AM   #15
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and hasn't run his generator in years.

I hope he followed Da Book before putting it to bed , for years.
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Old 10-29-2013, 11:44 AM   #16
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Most boats in the Eastern Caribbean have solar panels. The few trawlers that are down there the majority have panels. My neighbor in a couple of anchorages has six panels on a Nordhavn 46 and hasn't run his generator in years. Another Nordhavn 46 which is now completing a circumnavigation has covered his pilot house roof with panels and has also installed them on the side rails. He survived quite well on solar power.

Marty


Sure sounds good to me. I'm in favor of doing anything I can to reduce noise-maker usage. Heck, I'm spending big bucks moving my genset into a new veranda hatch now. I'd love to do without it, but the genset gives a level of backup security that I'm not ready to abandon.
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:04 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by janice142 View Post
I too have a ProStar-30 by Morningstar. As a bit of data:
275 watts on 3 panels
I'm at the 29th parallel (FL/GA border)
The highest incoming I've seen is 17.01 amps this past summer. This time of year I'm seeing 14.
It's 1715 right now and sunny; the meter shows 3.3 amps incoming.

The Morningstar30 is a strange beast though. When my batteries are full before it goes into HVD (High Voltage Disconnect) it will lessen the amount of amperage going to the batts. When I turn on something the incoming will almost double. Just an aside.

I like that the regulator is visible -- and having a couple extra volt meters wired in (one by my bunk and the other in the galley) allows me to see the state of my batteries with ease. Yes, I've got the BlueStar meter analog but the switch isn't functional. BlueSeas did send a new switch but I've not yet installed it. Such is life.

Janice aboard Seaweed
Janice aboard Seaweed welcomes you to my world...
Have you seen the ProStar go into equalize mode? Reading the book it indicates it does this every 25 days. I have tried to duplicate this using a power supply as the Solar input, powering it up/down 25 times. No such luck.

I have asked Morningstar how the Algorithm works, no response yet.
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:42 PM   #18
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I'd love to do without it, but the genset gives a level of backup security that I'm not ready to abandon.
That's the whole point, isn't it. I don't have a gen but wish I did. Just for the piece of mind I'd have if I ever get stuck in the Bay and Boat U.S. has cancelled my tow contract.
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:40 PM   #19
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After multiple emails with tech support at Morningstar with a person who had English as his second language I was informed there is no way to fool a P30 into an equalizing charge mode.

I guess there is a clock chip of some sort that only does an equalize charge every 25 days.
So I have to leave my power supply on until Nov 22. A bad day in history.
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:14 PM   #20
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Going to be watching this thread. Taking notes....
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