solar install

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J.Sarge
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Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:34 am

solar install

Post by J.Sarge » Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:45 pm

Hey Everyone!

Just installed a 200W solar array on the Bimini top--two HQST 100W flexible panels that were installed on the Bimini itself via zippers that were sewn onto the panels and the Bimini. the panels are wired in parallel going to one 20 amp HQST mppt controller. the negative from the controller is wired to the load side of the Victron 702 BMV shunt. the positive from the controller is wired to a 30 amp circuit breaker. from there I have 2 positive wires going out: one to each battery. my battery set up is two independent 12v, 4D Interstate batteries that are connected to the battery selector switch: 1, 2 or both. I'm wondering if this is correct.... when the batts are fully charged via the Charles 30 amp charger, the BMV shows only +.40-.80 amps going into the batteries...as long as there aren't any loads on the system (connected to shore power). as soon as I add the solar array into the equation via the circuit breaker, the BMV shows +3-4 amps going into the batteries... I've clocked this for as long as 10 minutes before tripping the breaker for fear of cooking the batteries. Am I missing something here? I thought I did my due diligence with research prior to installing everything but maybe not? any suggestions? I'm not looking for extended cruising...we are only planning on doing overnights on weekends with the odd extended 3-4 night stay every now and again...just looking for something that will augment us running the fridge and freezer at anchor for a couple of days....any advice would be greatly appreciated. thanks!
Jason
s/v Serenity
Hull #418
Richmond, VA

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keeljoy
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Location: Wilmington, NC

Re: solar install

Post by keeljoy » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:08 pm

May I ask what type of panels you put on your Bimini?

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TBOT422
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Location: Clearwater, FL

Re: solar install

Post by TBOT422 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:37 am

Jason,

What does the battery monitor say the voltage is when the batteries are 'fully charged' by the Charles 30-amp charger? I believe both the Charles charger and your solar charger will have a charing profile based on the battery voltage. Both will charge the batteries up to some maximum voltage, then drop off the current to some 'float voltage' that is below the maximum. If the C-Charger is already in a 'float' state when you turn on the solar panels, the solar charger will attempt to charge the batteries up to it's setting for maximum voltage, then drop off to it's float state. You should check the manuals for both chargers and see what the maximum and float voltage settings are and compare them to what the battery monitor shows.

As the 2 charge controllers probably have different charge profiles, you may want to eliminate one or the other when at the dock. If your solar panels create sufficient power to keep the batteries fully charged under the load you have at the dock (i.e. do you leave the fridge on when away from the boat?), then I would suggest turning off the C-Charger. If not, then just use the solar panels when you are away from the dock.
Gary & Janet
The Best of Times (Hull #422)

J.Sarge
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:34 am

Re: solar install

Post by J.Sarge » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:35 pm

keeljoy wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:08 pm
May I ask what type of panels you put on your Bimini?
as I'm not cruising full time yet :( I went with a fairly inexpensive option with pretty good reviews from amazon... I just need something to augment our power consumption when we sail and are at anchor for a night or two here or there. the panels are 100W HQST flexible panels. I sewed zippers onto them and the Bimini so they could be removed fairly easily if necessary. the kit I got was $499.
Jason
s/v Serenity
Hull #418
Richmond, VA

J.Sarge
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:34 am

Re: solar install

Post by J.Sarge » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:40 pm

TBOT422 wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:37 am
Jason,

What does the battery monitor say the voltage is when the batteries are 'fully charged' by the Charles 30-amp charger? I believe both the Charles charger and your solar charger will have a charing profile based on the battery voltage. Both will charge the batteries up to some maximum voltage, then drop off the current to some 'float voltage' that is below the maximum. If the C-Charger is already in a 'float' state when you turn on the solar panels, the solar charger will attempt to charge the batteries up to it's setting for maximum voltage, then drop off to it's float state. You should check the manuals for both chargers and see what the maximum and float voltage settings are and compare them to what the battery monitor shows.

As the 2 charge controllers probably have different charge profiles, you may want to eliminate one or the other when at the dock. If your solar panels create sufficient power to keep the batteries fully charged under the load you have at the dock (i.e. do you leave the fridge on when away from the boat?), then I would suggest turning off the C-Charger. If not, then just use the solar panels when you are away from the dock.
during the float stage from the Charles, they are showing right around 14.5 volts with .3-.8 amps going into them. I'm headed out for a day sail this weekend so i'll see what they do when not connected to shore power. I think your advice to use one or the other while at the dock is going to work perfectly for my situation. thanks so much for the response. I'll continue to research and try different configurations and report back. thanks again!
Jason
s/v Serenity
Hull #418
Richmond, VA

J.Sarge
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:34 am

Re: solar install

Post by J.Sarge » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:52 pm

correction to my last reply, during float charge, the victron BMV shows the battery voltage at 13.5 for each batt.
Jason
s/v Serenity
Hull #418
Richmond, VA

belladonna
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:20 pm
Location: White Stone,VA - mid-lower Ches Bay

Re: solar install

Post by belladonna » Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:25 pm

Hey Jason - This is Jim, Commodore of the RPYC, responding. I'm looking at installing SunPower flexible 110w panels (2) either on the dodger or bimini, depending on how they will or will not fit. These panels are 46" X 22", can flex up to 30 degrees and I would control them with a Victron SmartSolar MMPT 100/15 controller. I have a Victron Smart battery monitor now. At this stage I'm figuring out the best place to mount them and how to wire. I would love to hear your experience and perhaps talk at the upcoming RPYC Seafood Festival on Oct 19th, hopefully you and Lindsay are coming to that. Thanx, Jim
Jim Lassiter
USCG Master - 50 tons - power & sail
2005 Catalina 350 "Bella Donna" # 368
White Stone, VA (mid Chesapeake Bay)

JohnNorton
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:27 pm

Re: solar install

Post by JohnNorton » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:06 am

Jim: On M. Kai we install two 100w flex panels on top of the bimini . We use elastic ties running thru the holes for backstays as well as secondary attachments over the forward end of the bimini. We have the panels connected through the backstay opening, down the backstay and thru and extra opening above the swim step lazaret. From there the oversized (long run) power cord runs inside the aft cabin (port side, upper run) thru the boat system wiring panel area to the MMPT unit we have under the nav station. All has worked great for three or four years. We take them off when hooked to shore power; love the solar input when away from home port ! John

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Olivia Mae
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Re: solar install

Post by Olivia Mae » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:08 pm

More solar ideas...

I put 420 watts of solar on our 350 this spring. All on the bimini. 2x 160 watt panels and 1x 100 watt panel. One of the 160's and the 100 are paralleled into one Victon controller and the other 160 is on another Victron controller. Panels are attached to the bimini fabric with 3m dual lock. We sewed non-adhesive dual lock to the bimini and used the outdoor adhesive version dual lock on the panels. Panels are Renogy flexible panels.

I beefed up the bimini by installing battens under the panels to add some more support over the bow. Also got rid of the bimini straps and replaced them with rigid struts.

This solar setup had no problem keeping up with the fridge and the rest of our energy needs during an extended cruise this summer.

At the dock I leave both the solar and the shore charger on. No problems doing that, and it keeps my fridge running if someone manages to knock my shore power plug out (this has happened before).

Some pics attached.
solar1.jpg
solar1.jpg (212.04 KiB) Viewed 283 times
solar2.jpg
solar2.jpg (209.42 KiB) Viewed 283 times
solar3.jpg
solar3.jpg (203.2 KiB) Viewed 283 times
Scott and Linda

Olivia Mae
C350 Hull #53
Erie, Pa.

belladonna
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:20 pm
Location: White Stone,VA - mid-lower Ches Bay

Re: solar install

Post by belladonna » Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:11 pm

Thanx for your reply Olivia Mae. I plan to install my panels basically as you have done but I'm curious about your replacement of the fore and aft bimini straps with rigid struts. From one of your pics it appears that you attached the strut for the forward Bimini bow to the bottom of the lower part of the front stern rail tube and the aft bow to the top of the stern rails. Did you not do anything for the middle bow??? And how do you adjust the tension on the bimini cloth when it stretches and contracts mainly due to rain and stretching over the season.
Thanx, Jim
Jim Lassiter
USCG Master - 50 tons - power & sail
2005 Catalina 350 "Bella Donna" # 368
White Stone, VA (mid Chesapeake Bay)

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Olivia Mae
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Re: solar install

Post by Olivia Mae » Mon Oct 28, 2019 9:25 pm

Jim,

You're right that I didn't do anything to adjust the center bow. I just replaced the straps with solid struts. They are adjustable to a degree as I used hinged top rail mounts that have handles built into them like these:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DC ... UTF8&psc=1

You can get fittings that allow you to adjust the length of a piece of tubing by screwing it in and out. They are pretty pricey but would work well for the center bow if you found you wanted to tension it.
Scott and Linda

Olivia Mae
C350 Hull #53
Erie, Pa.

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TBOT422
Posts: 355
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Location: Clearwater, FL

Re: solar install

Post by TBOT422 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 9:34 am

You can also replace the web straps with an angled solid strut as I did.
Resized_20191029_102233.jpeg
Resized_20191029_102233.jpeg (138.42 KiB) Viewed 167 times
They have some adjustment as they can slide along the top stern rail. They also provide some lateral stability in addition to vertical stability.
Gary & Janet
The Best of Times (Hull #422)

belladonna
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:20 pm
Location: White Stone,VA - mid-lower Ches Bay

Re: solar install

Post by belladonna » Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:48 am

Thank you Scott & Linda and Gary & Janet for the info. Do you know where I can find that attachment for the tubing that allows you to adjust the length by screwing it in or out??? I looked on Amazon and found a lot of tubing hardware but didn't see the adjusting one.
Thanx again, Jim
Jim Lassiter
USCG Master - 50 tons - power & sail
2005 Catalina 350 "Bella Donna" # 368
White Stone, VA (mid Chesapeake Bay)

wolfe10
Posts: 368
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:58 pm
Location: League City, Texas

Re: solar install

Post by wolfe10 » Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:52 am

Verify rail diameter, but pretty common item: https://www.westmarine.com/buy/west-mar ... ecordNum=2
Brett Wolfe
C350 #180
"Vindaloo"
League City, TX

belladonna
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Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:20 pm
Location: White Stone,VA - mid-lower Ches Bay

Re: solar install

Post by belladonna » Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:57 am

Thanx Brett but I think the one Scott & Linda were referring to allows you to adjust a tube length without releasing tension and moving it along the rail. May be wrong. Jim
Jim Lassiter
USCG Master - 50 tons - power & sail
2005 Catalina 350 "Bella Donna" # 368
White Stone, VA (mid Chesapeake Bay)

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Olivia Mae
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Re: solar install

Post by Olivia Mae » Sun Nov 03, 2019 8:39 am

Sailrite has them:

https://www.sailrite.com/Adjustable-Eye-End-1

However, if the strut has some angle to it, as mentioned above, (ours do) this bit of extra hardware expense is not necessary. The handle clamps on the hinged top rail mounts I linked to above makes it easy to loosen them and slide them on the rail.

Scott
Scott and Linda

Olivia Mae
C350 Hull #53
Erie, Pa.

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