Solar Panels

We wanted renewable power on board. Solar looked like the best option for sailing in the tropics. We now have 400W installed on our custom frame.

2nd Solar Panel
First two panels going on (Dan and Jay)
4 Solar panels and extra supporting fixings
All four panels in place with extra support for the corners

Thank you Jay and Ella for your help getting the first two on.

These also provide a nice bit of shade at the back of the boat.

They stop the rain but while we are on calm pontoon it tends to puddle on top and then pour itself onto you when you walk under them and tip the boat slightly.

They provided enough power to keep our fridge going in a northern hemisphere winter while we aren’t on board and keep us in power for about 3 days between charges.

We hope that when we are further south with a  bit more sunshine they will keep us going indefinitely at anchor and enough for 3 or 4 days on passage.

Since we don’t know exactly how much our autopilot uses or our fridge when it gets hot it is all a bit of a guess at the moment.

The Specs

Solar Panels: 4 x 100W from Photonic Universe.

  • Peak power: 100W
  • Maximum power voltage: 17.5V
  • Maximum power current: 5.71A
  • Open circuit voltage: 21.6V
  • Short circuit current: 6.17A
  • Power allowance range: +/- 3%
  • Dimensions: 945*670*30mm
  • Weight: 7.2 kg
  • 4 mounting holes 9 x 11 mm
  • 2x5m of high quality single core solar cable 4.0mm cross section
  • Male and female MC4 connectors

Charge Controllers: 2 x Victron Energy BlueSolar MPPT 75/15

These should maximise our output from the panels and having 2 will give us some redundancy. It was also cheaper to buy two of the smaller controllers than one that was big enough for all 4 panels.

Wiring:

The panels are wired as 2 sets of panels. Each set wired in parallel to two charge controllers. Wiring in parallel although theoretically slightly less efficient should minimise any effects of shading on a single panel.

All the connections have been done with MC4 waterproof connectors. These were easy to use and means that it is straight forward if we need to change the way the panels are connected.

Each panel has 4mm2 cable running from it. Each pair of panels has 6mm2 to the MPPT controllers and connected directly to our house battery bank.

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