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kiwisailor

Solar PV Setup

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In one of my previous blogs I had a request to write up about my solar PV setup. This site has been a godsend of information about my Ericson 38 and various projects that I've had to tackle so I'm happy to oblige with this blog. My boat came with two 85W Solartech PV panels on top of two cross frame mounts on top of the bimini frame, these PV panels then went directly to a Specialty Concepts PWM (pulse width modulated) solar controller and then directly to the two 4D lifeline batteries. This original setup had no isolation switches or fuses! I had decided early on that I wanted the boat to be setup for long distance cruising self sufficiency and decided to upgrade the PV. The bimini cross frame had room for two more PV panels and I subsequently ordered two matching Solartec PV panels, the new panels were rated 90W and cost ~$200/each from http://www.solartechpower.com/ The panels each have excellent junction boxes with sealed glands, the cable wiring from each panel is connected via 14/2 to one main junction box and then via the two 8AWG wires to the PV Controller. The PV supply wire enters the deck through a deck cable gland fitting on the aft port side and then is easily accessed in the quarter berth under the head liner zipper. I'm not that keen on the 80lbs of weight sitting on top of the bimini frame but no issues so far. The following photos show the panels mounted on the bimini frame (note the photos were taken with the winter Fairclough cover installed underneath).
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The PO had installed both flush mount inverter/charger remote control head and the Specialty Concepts PV controller in the quarter berth area around the hidden plastic dorade box (blocked off). With the increase in PV output to 350W I upgraded the PV controller to a MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) Blue Sky Energy - Solar Boost 3000i flush mount PV controller and managed to use the existing mounting hole location. The issue with all of these controllers is that the terminal screw/connections are not designed to be able to safely fit 8 AWG size wire or lug terminals etc. As I was planning to install double pole isolation switches from the panels to the controller, and from the controller to the batteries, I used 8 AWG to 3/8" ring lug style terminals to terminate the large wires on the isolation switches and then used short length (~12") of 10 AWG with Ancor heat shrink 3/8" ring terminals to #8 ring terminals to jumper from the isolation switches to the PV controller. Supposedly the controller terminals can accept 8AWG wire but I've got my doubts if you could actually ensure the wired wouldn't pop out of the terminal block hence my decision to use Ancor heat shrink ring terminals. At both my 4D Lifeline House and the G27 start batteries I also added a 30A Blue Seas fuse terminals to protect the primary house battery circuit wiring and the start battery Auxiliary charging circuit wiring. The MMPT controller also has temperature compensation from the house batteries and has been holding them up very well over the winter. I'm very pleased with the setup.

http://www.blueskyenergyinc.com/prod...ar-boost-3000i
https://www.bluesea.com/products/601...Switch_-_Black
https://www.bluesea.com/products/519...k_-_30_to_300A

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Updated 03-13-2018 at 08:57 AM by kiwisailor

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Comments

  1. Kenneth K's Avatar
    That's a GREAT looking panel and setup. Thanks for all the info. Can you provide any details on the Heart Interface panel? It looks like some kind of "state of charge" indicator plus a lot more. I haven't seen that one before.

    Thanks for posting.
  2. kiwisailor's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth K
    That's a GREAT looking panel and setup. Thanks for all the info. Can you provide any details on the Heart Interface panel? It looks like some kind of "state of charge" indicator plus a lot more. I haven't seen that one before.

    Thanks for posting.
    No problem. My boat came with a Xantrex Freedom Marine 15 Inverter Charger http://www.xantrex.com that was installed in approximately 2001 by the previous owner and is rated for 1500W AC inverted output and 75A DC charging. The following YouTube video shows how the remote control display is used as the Inverter/Charger is installed under the quarter berth where the boat would have had two G27 batteries installed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWOdaPN1Czk

    http://www.xantrex.com/documents/dis...nersmanual.pdf
  3. Dave N's Avatar
    Looks great. How about a picture showing your method of attachment to the pulpit or bimini frame?
  4. kiwisailor's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave N
    Looks great. How about a picture showing your method of attachment to the pulpit or bimini frame?
    The previous owner installed the frame using normal 1" stainless bimini frame tubing.

    https://www.emarineinc.com/categorie...for-Sail-Boats

    https://www.emarineinc.com/categorie...ting-Solutions

    To mount the panel I just drilled holes in the PV underside frame and used stainless steel U bolts to attach the panels to the frame tubing. The Stainless steel bolts are only $4.50 for four versus the $24.00 for two of the quick release plastic type. Maybe if I had to remove the panels in hurry ahead of a hurricane the plastic ones would be useful as the U bolts take ages to install and remove each of the nyloc nuts.

    https://www.emarineinc.com/SS-U-Bolt-1-4-20-x-1-inch-id

    https://www.emarineinc.com/1-inch-Rail-Clamps-Pair