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Anyone have experience with Sunforce/Coleman Solar Panels ?

Discussion in 'Catalina 22' started by Leeward Rail, Apr 24, 2016. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Macboy


    Joined Aug 8, 2014
    194 posts, 9 likes
    Macgregor 26S
    CA Sherwood Park, Alberta
    Sorry to resurrect an old thread but it seemed a good place rather than starting an overlapping one in the MacGregor forum. These are the same panels I have been gathering for the time being - 40W and came with the 7A charge controller. I think (if I recall correctly) that I can connect two of these through a single of the supplied charge controllers. But if I have two sets of two, can I then connect the controller outputs together and make the run to the battery wayyyy up front? I've also read that I want the controller as close to the battery as possible which would then mean I actually want to run the individual outputs all the way up front, then into the controllers and finally then to the batteries. Or could I merge each bank of two into two outputs therefore running four wires fore instead of eight? And then run the 4 gauge all the way back to the outboard.

    Why four panels? Paranoia perhaps? I have two iEnabled children and need to make sure the Admiral has all the creature comforts her heart desires as I ease them into the life of a sailing family. Sadly no dishwasher but I'll take that one for the ship ; )

  2. Leeward Rail

    Leeward Rail

    Joined Mar 20, 2015
    1,243 posts, 195 likes
    Catalina 22 New Style
    CA SHYC, Lake Winnipeg
    I can't see why you can't hook them up in parallel so the output is the "same" voltage and run them into a bigger controller.
    The controller the sunforce/coleman controllers come with are an older inefficient design.
    I'd buy a better controller (MPPT or at least PWM) that can handle the output from 4 panels and use bigger cable to minimize loss over a long cable run.

    I have my single panel running into a chinese PVM unit that I bought for $20. Based on testing it is better than the one that came with my colemand/sunforce unit, and even has a LCD display to monitor battery voltage, panel output etc.

    There is a youtube channel where a guy has been testing various models.

    I'll be buying a good quality MPPT unit, if this doesn't do the trick.
    I have yet to spend a full week on the boat, which is my ultimate use case scenario.

    IMO idevices and other crap detract from spending quality time together. Everyone has their nose in a device instead of interacting with each other and the environment around them.

    You may just find that once on the water, their "need" for the devices may temporarily fade away and you won't need as much power.
    We've had guests on board in the past,and the best thing is when the cell signal fades. That is one reason my wife and I love sailing.

    That said, if you have room for 4 panels, go for it. You can almost never have too much capacity when it comes to solar.

    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018

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