Which Solar panels?

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September 27, 2013 at 09:24 #6741
Jeff
Jeff
Participant

‘morning all,
I’d like to install 1 or possibly 2 solar panels on the cockpit roof, behind the 2 clear perspex panels, & hopefully covering the whole width of the roof for maximum input.
Can anyone recommend which or whose panels are the most reliable & would give me the highest input, as I’d like to try for complete independence & not have to use Marina power.?
Also, fixed or semi-flexible.? What about the curvature of the cockpit roof.?
I’ve already installed a Rutland 914 on the Mizzen feeding into its Marlec HRDi regulator, so I’m thinking the panels could feed into the same unit.
Thanks for any suggestions…
Jeff

September 27, 2013 at 20:18 #14311
Arild Jaeger
Arild Jaeger
Participant

Jeff,

I met a friend on a Nic 35 this summer. He had just installed one panel covering the whole width. He said this didn’t work well because often half the panel would be in the shadow of the boom. Unfortunately, the panel needs to be fully illuminated by the sun to function properly. My friend has therefore decided to sell the single panel and to install one on each side of the boat instead (since the shadow would normally cover only one side).

Arild
Far Out, Oslo

September 28, 2013 at 00:44 #14321
Van
Van
Participant

We have two panels installed just forward of the pushpit against the lifelines. The previous owner installed panels there back in the mid 80s (he was ahead of his time) and they were nominally rated at 45W each but were now putting out about 15 each. I upgraded them to 85W panels from BP Solar. Model BP 485J. The issue was finding something small enough to fit between the pushpit and the stanchion, and not too wide (tall) that it would protrude too far above the lifeline.

Based on the PO’s original design, I built a frame out of 90 degree angle aluminum, with a s/s piano hinge at the top that was riveted to the frame of the panel. They can lie vertically (ie against the lifelines), or be raised up with a stick so they are parallel to the ground. Very often, part of one is in the shade and does not produce useful power.

The wires run down the aft scupper and into the engine room – the PO did this and I just reused them. He somehow managed to get the wires down below the deck level, and then punched through the sides to get into the interior of the boat – and gooped it up with some kind of polysulphide goop to seal it. I would not have done this – but fact is it does not leak (so far!).

In hindsight, I should have wired some kind of connector inline, so that the panels could be taken off and stowed below. They surely create a lot of windage, and a big wave would smash them to bits or worse. Would be nice to be able to remove them if a serious storm were due.

I use a Blue Sky Solar Boost 2000e MPPT controller. Only complaint is that it has bad RFI – if it’s producing power, I can’t use the SSB, eg for the evening net around here at 6pm local on 3.5MHz.

In sun here at Lats 48 – 52, we get 10 – 12 amps at >13.2V for most of the day, ie over 100 amp hours.

With this power input, we can run the boat indefinitely – if the sun shines. For instance, I spent three weeks in June on the boat running the fridge and computers and lights, etc, with no shore power and no engine/alternator power. But it was sunny!

More power would be good so I do toy with the idea of two panels in the area you are considering. Will be interesting to hear what you learn!

Van, in cloudy Port Townsend rebuilding the rudder….

September 28, 2013 at 09:13 #14331
Ronar M
Ronar M
Participant

Hi Jeff,

I have installed two semi flexible panels just where you describe. Fantastic! Ronar is on a swinging mooring and there is therefore no access to shore power but I never have any trouble with low batteries because the panels just keep things topped up. On a 5 day passage from Plymouth to N Spain I had the auothelm on continuously and the fridge and didn’t need to run the motor to charge the batteries.
They each rate 35w and I got them through Barden Energy in the UK. They came with their own junction box, regulator and wires. The wiring runs forward under the cockpit roof, then to starboard and down into the nav table area. Easy. Cheers. Trevor

September 29, 2013 at 08:22 #14341
Ronar M
Ronar M
Participant

Hi Jeff,

Since writing the above I have checked out my solar panels and found they are branded as ‘SOLARA’. Trevor

September 30, 2013 at 07:28 #14351
Jeff
Jeff
Participant

Thanks very much for the advice fellas’ & I’ll keep all that in mind. I’ll check out BP & Solara, & talk to Barden as well. Good point about having 2 seperate panels Arild, & I think that’s what I’ll do.
All the best…
Jeff

September 30, 2013 at 12:57 #14361
michael bennett
michael bennett
Participant

I have 2 smaller panels which i originally fitted, never arrive at the boat now with low batteries (the med sunshine helps)have also installed a 100w larger one, I can get up to 5 amps looking now volts are 13.3 and with fridge on have 1.2 amp charge. batteries are at 95% readings from my BM-1 compact

October 16, 2013 at 21:38 #14481
Swyn-y-Mor
Swyn-y-Mor
Participant

Hi all
This is a question for Ronar: Did you put your semi-flexible panels straight onto the Cockpit canopy? I did this 4 years ago in prep for going to the Med and they rusted! got the money back but lots a hassle. I would like to try again so interested in your experience.

Many thanks- James

October 19, 2013 at 10:43 #14491
Ronar M
Ronar M
Participant

Hi All

Yes, I fixed the solar panels straight onto the roof with s/s bolts and penny washers. I put penny washers on the inside too. I sealed the whole thing with white mastic and have had no trouble. One of the solar panels has now ‘popped’ and needs replacing after 8 years. Cheers, Trevor

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