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Thread: Solar Power, Panels, Charging, Etc.`

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Williamsburg, VA
    Posts
    39

    solar power peripherals

    I'm going to take the plunge into solar power shortly and need some advice. Aside from the panel, what other peripheral gear do I need to allow it to charge the batteries. Bear in mind my understanding of things electrical is fundamental at best. I currently have two batteries in the port cockpit locker that I've been charging with a portable charger. My energy needs are minimal - all I have right now is a VHF, bilge pump, running lights, and interior lights. I may add a couple other things (more lights, GPS, depth sounder, etc., but nothing major like refridgeration). I was thinking of getting a Siemens 10w kit from BoatUS that has mounts, a regulator and other stuff for about $150. They don't seem to be selling it now and it probably wasn't enough anyway. I just saw a Unisolar 32w panel at Sailnet for $199. I think that would provide plenty of charging power for what I have and expect to add, but if I go that route, what other things do I need to get to tie it all together.

    (Steve, next time I see you at Whitehall I'd like to take a look at your setup)

    Dan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Williamsburg, VA
    Posts
    39

    solar

    Steve, you're getting at my question - what other stuff do I need besides the panel and what does it typically cost? I know I'll need mounts and cables. Do I need a regulator? What does it do, exactly? Prevents overcharging? Anything else?

    Like I said, I can get a decent panel at a reasonable price at Sailnet right now. I'm just trying to understand what goes into the whole system and how it would add up. Thanks,

    Dan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    Asst. Vice Commodore, NorthEast Fleet, Commander Division (Ret.) Brightwaters, N.Y.
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    1,823

    Disaster At Sea

    Or, how Commanderpete got his solar panel.

    Wednesday night my friend and I were going out for a night sail. My friend is an excellent sailor and owns his own boat. I gave him the tiller as we motored out of the canal. Meanwhile, I got busy taking off the sail cover and getting ready to hoist the sails.

    Somehow, my friend got distracted coiling a line or something. When I turned to look, we're heading straight for a piling about 15 feet away. Yikes! I slammed the tiller hard over.

    Ever so slowly, the boat starts turning away as we approach the pole. (Now I know how the Captain of the Titanic felt). We give the pole a glancing blow and rubbed past it. Ugh.

    I could barely stand to look at the hull. Now I have a smear of tar and cresote about 6-12 inches wide running along the hull for 6 or 8 feet. I had just painted the hull this Spring. Double Ugh.

    We scrubbed the hull for a while, got most of it off, and went for a sail. My friend is really more upset than I am. I shrugged it off as best I could and told him to forget about it.

    Yesterday he went down to the boat and finished cleaning the hull. He also left me a new flexible solar panel. I guess I had mentioned wanting one of those. What a guy!

    The flexible panel is about two feet long. I think it will work as a "trickle" charger and I don't need a regulator. I'll have to read the instructions.

    In the past, I used to take the battery off and charge it up at home whether it needed it or not. My outboard also charges the battery.

    As for the hull, it looks good from a distance. I haven't mustered up the courage to give it a close inspection and see the scratches in my paint job. I'll deal with that next Spring I suppose.

    Oh well. All's well that end well. It took a brush with disaster to bring me in to the modern world of solar energy.

    I wonder what its gonna take before I install that depthsounder I bought?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    Asst. Vice Commodore, NorthEast Fleet, Commander Division (Ret.) Brightwaters, N.Y.
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    Never thought that Steve would be a tree-hugging, sprout eating, save the whale type environmentalist and alternative power champion. Go figure.

    Don't know if this scan will work, but here is some literature from my new Unisolar panel.
    Attached Images  

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    Asst. Vice Commodore, NorthEast Fleet, Commander Division (Ret.) Brightwaters, N.Y.
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    1,823
    Yep, by owning a sailboat we're all reducing America's dependence on foreign oil. Gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

    Hey Steve, you got a blender on that boat of yours? If I come down there you're going to need 50 amps just to make enough Margaritas.

    Here is what Unisolar says about needing a regulator. Anything more than a 10 watt panel you're definitely going to need one.
    Attached Images  

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    Asst. Vice Commodore, NorthEast Fleet, Commander Division (Ret.) Brightwaters, N.Y.
    Posts
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    DVD player..........hmmmmm.........next person that crashes my boat is gonna owe me one of those.

    Then I can go below and watch "Captain Ron" while underway.

    Sailboat's got the right of way, after all.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Asst. Vice Commodore, NorthEast Fleet, Commander Division (Ret.) Brightwaters, N.Y.
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    1,823
    I understand that July 15 to August 15 is Summer in Maine (when the Black Flies fatten up).

    The other 11 months is Winter.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    76

    Black Flies & 3 Seasons

    Nope it's not winta yet - still black flies around - and the 3 seasons are - July, August & Winta.
    I wrote a couple of pages about my season's sailing and went to post it and was prompted to log in ...:PO: Somehow I got bumped.

    Will post again as time permits

    rgds

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    Asst. Vice Commodore, NorthEast Fleet, Commander Division (Ret.) Brightwaters, N.Y.
    Posts
    1,823
    If you run down the house batteries using the blender, you can always use this handy backup device

    http://www.boatblender.com/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Northern MN
    Posts
    1,100

    Solar Power, Panels, Charging, Etc.`

    Kent,

    How about a run down on your solar panel and electrical system? What you have, what you like, what it does, where you got it, etc.. Being I don't have an inboard and, currently anyway, don't have an outboard with an alternator/charging system I'm looking at different ways of keeping 113 'electrically unhampered'.

    Here's what I'm looking for-an electric start outboard with an alternator and has virtually no drag when we're sailing. Oh heck yeah, no prop walk either! And weighs 70 to 80lbs. while we're at it. And a big stack of $100 bills.

    Tony G

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Winyah Bay, SC
    Posts
    585
    Tony G -

    I've been looking at solar stuff too, being in a similar situation with an outboard that has no charging ability. I think that solar will be the main source of juice on #370 when she gets to that point. It will be nice to see what Kent has to say.

    You might want to take 6 or 7 of your $100 bills and look at these 2 little 1kW generators - both 4-stroke, under 60dB sound, under 30# weight, load-sensing throttle (saves gas, lengthens run time), have AC and DC output, yadda yadda yadda. I'm thinking that they would make a good backup source for charging, as well as perhaps being able to run a small power tool (jigsaw, palm sander, drill, icemaker, blender). Well, OK, maybe the last two "tools" aren't, really, but one could dream... The Yamaha seems to always be a little cheaper at the sites I've seen.

    Honda



    Yamaha



    Also, one last thing - I stole your boat. Well, a picture of your boats interior, after you'd ripped almost all of it out. I'm using it to "draw" mockups of the interior layout for #370, sometime in the distant foggy future. Hope you don't mind.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    290
    Frank, you are oh so right about what it's like to peel away the last shreds of blue tape, stand back, and admire what one of these pieces of art looks like all shined up, looking brand new.

    I'll post a new solar thread in the technical forum-- or maybe at the end of an old thread. I'll tell you how I figured out what to do with Charisma. I've got an excel spread sheet that helps figure out the right sizing of battery bank and solar panel based on where you live and what your loads are on the boat.
    Kent

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Orinda, California
    Posts
    2,271
    Steve Airing's post #5 at

    http://www.pearsonariel.org/discussi...read.php?t=630

    describes his solar panels . . .

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Northern MN
    Posts
    1,100
    E, I like the generators. I once joked with Ebb about leaving the foredeck clean of LP bottles to make room for the genset.

    Bill, I did the search for solar and panel. got some enjoyable, light reading.

    Kent, That'd be great. Sounds like the kinda stuff I'm lloking for these days.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    290

    Solar Power, Panels, Charging, Etc.`

    At the request of some of the members, I'm providing my views on using a solar panel to run the electrical system on my Ariel. I've been using the system for about 18 months, and I'm happy to say that its works like a champ in Houston's latitude. My system is comprised of:

    *one Kyocera KC-60 solar panel (60 watts) $250-$300
    *one MorningStar SunSaver-6 solar panel controller battery charger--fully automated $50-$65
    *10 GA wire and two panel brackets and rail mounts. http://www.e-marine-inc.com/
    * two approx 100 Amp Hr Deep cycle marine batteries, lead acid type.

    This system has been trouble free. I never think about power. I do check the fluid level in the batteries. The smart controller does a great job-- marinized in epoxy, senses temperature, optimizes the charging curve, can set to sealed gel or wet cell. I think maybe safer than shore power charger hooked up all the time???

    I've never run out of power the way I cruise my boat, and have only used dock power when running my Cruseair airconditioner at the dock. Note in the attached spreadsheet that small loads from two fans run 24x7 adds up to some power, but with the solar panel charging, I don't worry about it at all. I don't use an inverter to run any AC appliances, I don't have refrigeration (ice works fine). To reduce loads, I would recommend replacing 15 watt incondescent cabin lights with the compact screw in florescent type-- more expensive, but way less draw.

    Attached is a spreadsheet that I used to size my system, and to understand the impact of the various combinations of loads, battery size, and panel size. Its not perfect for every application, but it will give you a good idea of what you'd need to run your vessel. This will run on recent versions of excel. If needed, I can save it in an older file format. The intoduction worksheet will give you directions. Ignore the message that asks if you want to update links. The load sheet is filled in with one scenario I used for my boat-- you can change it as needed for your circumstances. Have fun!
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Hull376; 01-27-2005 at 02:21 PM.
    Kent

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