Solar Everywhere

by Adrian on March 22, 2013

In this winter of projects, one that I am particularly pleased with is the upgrade of our solar power system.

Solar panels from aboveWe already had two 65 watt panels installed on the coachroof as a factory option when the boat was built, but the intention was always to install another set of high efficiency panels on top of the arch at the stern.

This was always one if the items I wanted to install myself to get the best value for money.

During the build I had the factory install a cable from the arch to the technical room, I just had to get a frame made up and find the panels.

I designed and drew the plans for the solar panel mounting shelf and the antenna tree necessary to mount the antennas that would have to be moved because of the space taken up by the panels.

I found a local engineering company that would produce both items out of Aluminium and powder coat them for £500.

The two 135W high efficiency glass panels cost £900 and a good quality MPPT solar regulator was £220.

Total price £1650. There was obviously a lot or running round, supervision of the metalwork build and installation work by me, but it worked out exactly half the € price.

Working out the thread pitch for the standard antenna tree mounting (1″ 14TPI)
Working out the thread pitch

The solar frame in the factory
Solar panel frame in factory

The completed antenna tree
The completed antenna tree

Solar shelf and antenna bracket installed
Solar shelf and antenna bracket installed

The design of the mounting brackets allows the whole frame to be easily angled forwards or backwards to point towards the sun and obtain better efficiency when in port.

Solar panels installed and running
Solar panels installed and running

The panels are high efficiency (21.5%) monocrystalline versions, which are some of the best currently available. They are German made and sourced from UK distributer Clever Solar.

CleverSolar

Martyn (the owner) was extremely helpful and gave good advice and provided an excellent and knowledgeable service. He also sourced my Victron 30A MPPT charge controller at a very competitive price.

We haven’t had too much decent sunshine yet to test it, but I hope to get at least 10amps charge current out of the new panels. This will radically improve our electrical self-sufficiency when anchoring, and coupled with the other panels and wind generator will allow us to run the fridge, freezer and other electronics most of the time totally from renewables.

Getting almost 10amps charge current
Charge current

Renewable inputs:

Rear solar panels – 2 x 135W
Coachroof panels – 2 x 65W

400W (at peak efficiency, which will never happen) of solar panels.

The wind generator is a Rutland 914i, which will produce a realistic 10amps charge current in 15-20 knots of wind.

Panel Specification (Each)
Model: CS-135
Peak Power: 135W
Rated Voltage: 18.4V
Rated Current: 7.46A
Open Circuit Voltage: 24.1V
Short Circuit Current: 8.69A
Series Fuse Rating: 14A
Maximum System Voltage: 70V
Temperature Co-efficient – Power: -0.38%/ºC
Temperature Co-efficient – Voltage: -66.0mV/ºC
Temperature Co-efficient – Current: 3.5mA/ºC
Module Efficiency: 21.5%
Weight: 12.0 kg
Unit Dimensions: (mm) 1082 x 796 x 35

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve March 28, 2013 at 12:05

I like the display is that on your inverter?

I’ve got the Victron battery monitor but you have to scroll thru pages of info, its nice just to see simple quick to understand stuff?

Steve

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PR March 23, 2013 at 08:24

Nice installation !
Wish that there would have a pic that shows the entire boat looks with theses panels.
What about a hydro generator ?

Reply

Adrian March 23, 2013 at 08:46

Have added a view from above. (One of our coach roof panels was half covered due to it being repaired)

Hydrogenator = £4000 = nice to have but not quite yet.

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