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Solar Sailors-I need help…

Jun 17, 2012
152
Hunter 356 Mackinaw City, MI
Hello,
if there are any sailors out here that have personally installed solar panels (owner installation) on their vessel…I need your expertise. I have a Hunter 356. A few seasons ago I installed 2 flex panels on top of the Bimini (110 watt each rated). I used a simple controller. I am a 100% DIY sailor. I’ve installed my refrigeration and windlass. That said I seem to be a bit weak on solar connection options. I’m usually not into big sophisticated hardware…just the basic function. My battery bank only consists of 2- 12v lead/acid batteries. Ok so we are about to head up north to Mackinaw City, MI and give our SamiDog the annual big splash. We live in TN but sail the Great Lakes between June and Sept every summer. So this year I would like to add 1 more flex solar panel of the same rating. We spend lots of time ‘on the hook.’ Finally-here are my questions; 1. Can I expect to incorporate this 3rd panel into the outputs of the original 2? And 2. Should they be wired series, or parallel, or series parallel? And 3. What would be the best basic controller for 3- 110 watt panels? Thank you for your time and advice.
 
Jan 18, 2016
595
Catalina 387 Dana Point
1. Yes you can incorporate another panel, as long as the output Open-circuit voltage (Voc) of all three are the same. Or it's on it's own controller.
2. Parallel. There's arguments for series here but you'd need to know the bypass situation of your panels and you'd need a MPPT controller - parallel is simple and easy. But only if Voc is the same.
3. Any controller that can handle 300W or so (~22-~27 amps @ 14.4/12v). Best? that's an opinion, but I really like the Victron MPPT controllers. You could get some cheapie PWM 30A controller if you want. You can run more than one controller, if'n that works for your expansion better.
 
Jun 17, 2012
152
Hunter 356 Mackinaw City, MI
Thank you jeepbluetj. I noticed you are in Dana Point. I lived in Sac for years but worked up and down the coast. Dana Point was my fav -always.
 
Nov 6, 2017
43
Catalina 30 5611 Stratford, Ct
The following link will bring you to two excellent sites that should answer all your questions. Understanding how solar works and the components needed for a system is the best and only way to do what you are trying to do. I have spent many hours reading and watching videos about boat electrical systems and I can tell you that I have purchased equipment only to remove it and replace it with what I should have installed in the first place. Getting it right the first time will not only save you money, but it will also save lots of time re-wiring your boat.
Google YouTube channel Pacific Yacht Systems with Jeff Cote. He has many videos there about all things electrical. Also, follow this link Solar & Renewable Energy Archives - Marine How To This guy explains in great detail how to use solar on your boat. Good luck and happy boating.
 
Jun 17, 2012
152
Hunter 356 Mackinaw City, MI
Thank you cagreen75…for the ‘Jeff Cote’ reference. I viewed one of his videos and it was very helpful and gave me what I needed. Happy sailing….