Solar panels how we love thee

I highly recommend that you install your solar panels just before summer solstice so you can first experience them at their high point (groan – bad pun). We have previously estimated that we use somewhere around 75-80 Amp hours (12 Volts DC) per day. This will increase as we start using our SSB regularly for email and when we install a watermaker next year. With our 245W of solar panels we wake up with a deficit of about 40 Amp hours and by noon we are fully charged again. Because we are fully charged, and the panels keep up with any ongoing drains, we end up inverting and running AC stuff like the laptop for large sections of the day, just for fun, because otherwise the extra amps are just lost. We go to bed most nights with a full battery bank - if we've inverted ALL DAY as we did while doing some last minute paperwork in Alert Bay and it is overcast then we don't make up the deficit.

Normally, motoring out of the harbor means putting some juice in the battery bank, especially with our nice Balmar higher amp (than stock) alternator, but with our solar panels it is not a big positive because we would have topped up the battery bank without it.

We realize that winter, and it’s lower sun angle, will mean less incoming amps, but for now we are extremely impressed with how effective the panels are even at such a high latitude. We thought we would have to wait for the tropic to see this many incoming amps.

- Livia

4 comments:

  1. In next month's Sailing Today we have a six-page spread on the first part of our journey from Turkey to India. In it we list the five best things we have bought for the boat. Top of the list? Solar panels! The greatest thing on the boat after the sails. Or the cat.

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  2. I guess you'll just have to travel south in the winter... to keep that sun angle up

    bob

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  3. Rob Fitzpatrick09 July, 2010 08:50

    Have you considered getting DC power supplies for some of your more common AC devices? They would post your efficiency? Laptop ones aren't usually too hard to find.

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  4. @Jamie - Cool @ the article.
    @Bob - OK :)
    @Rob - Definitely. It's a great idea. We ordered one for the main laptop which is sitting at my folks waiting for us to grab.

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