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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Update on Solar Panels and options - 8.5 year test =

I start this post with a proclamation that the Kyocera Solar Panels are the Second best purchase I have made after buying Gemini Dreams.  The Manson Supreme rules at number one.

A long time ago in a far away bay I bolted two solar panels to the bimini.  That process was an achievement being done with what I had purchased locally and found on the boat.  The overall engineering of the process could have been a lot better but in reality it lasted years.  During the 7 years they were mounted we replaced a couple of mounting clamps because one failed beating into the wind in the Exumas. The panels most likely would still be mounted if the preparation for Hurricane Irma didn't consist of their removal.

Still floating after all the Irma stress.

Since I had to go through the remounting I did some research on what is available and what (If anything) I would do different today. 

First:  After 7.5 years the wiring was still good but I did want to move the breaker and where the ends terminated.  No big deal just a little time.  $0.0

Second: The Blue Sky MPPT 2000e controller was acting up (it never liked humidity).  It had spontaneously started clicking at random times instead of outputting the correct amperage.  My electrical panel was cut specifically for the 2000e and the new version was the 3000i from Blue Sky.  Luckily it fit the location and included a plastic surround housing instead of the metal option the 2000e had  (rusty).  The www.altestore.com had them for around $215 at the time.  The 3000i allows the use of the 20volt panels which opened up a can of worms on my notebook.

Third: Do I keep the Kyoceras or buy new panels?  After several attempts to get answers from people in the business I was getting a little frustrated.  I finally had to pull out the calculator (iphone) and punch some buttons (the screen).  The below information is based on 0 loss.

Fourth: Do I keep the bimini frame and either buy a $1,000 sailrite and make my own new cover or pay to have a cover made for the frame.  What are my other options?

12 VOLT x2 (current) 20 VOLT                     20 VOLT x2
Kyocera 135 watt x2 Seraphin 300 watt seraphin 300 watt x2

SRP-300-6MB-BB SRP-300-6MB-BB x2
62"x28"each total 62"x56"64.6"x39.4"64.6"x39.4"each total 64.6"x78.8"
27.5#each,  total 55# 41.9# 41.9#each, total 83.8#
(7.63a)(17.7v)=135w (9.35a)(32.1v)=300 (9.35a)(32.1v)=300
(9.64a)(14.0v)=135w (21.42a)(14.0v)=300 (21.42a)(14.0v)=300
2 panels = 19.28a 1 panel = 21.42a 2 panels = 42.84a
Cost per watt $1.25 Cost per watt $0.78 Cost per watt $0.78
UPSable beware shipping costs!beware shipping costs!

After all the online shopping, calculations, and stress I will continue with the Kyoceras I have.  The shipping cost on the standard sized 20 volt panels is currently cost prohibitive.  A current 300 watt 20 volt panel would give me about 11% more power than my pair of 135 watt 12 volt  panels.  My panels are also over 8 years old so that 11% could be as high as 20% due to age.  The next trip to Boot Key I may make the change with the ability to easily sale the current ones for a little cash to the new ones, but not at the moment.

Why would I change?
  1. The 300watt 20 volt panel puts out more than I currently have. About 11%+
  2. My panels are older probably loosing 5% or more.
  3. The 20 volt panel is 14 pounds lighter than my two 12 volt panels.
  4. The 20 volt panel is 6.5 square feet smaller than the two 12 volt panels. 
  5. The weight reduction would allow an Air-Breeze for basically the same weight I have now.
Why would I not change?
  1. I have already mounted them again before I finished the re-evaluation process.
  2. Redundancy: If one is damaged the other one will still make power.
  3. The transverse mounting would have a little wider mounting and may interfere with other items I have mounted.
What would I recommend for the Vega after living at anchor 7 out of the last 8 1/2 years?
  1. MPPT controller,  $215.90 at altEstore
  2. 300 watt 20 volt 60 cell, aluminum frame panel, $230.00 at altEstore
  3. 300 amp hrs or more house bank (I have 591 amp/hours, AGM)
  4. AIR-Breeze wind generator $949.00 at altEstore
  5. Fishonsports.com rear tower for mounting.

The new mount for the solar panels

Where the hell did the AIR-Breeze recommendation come from?  Because this cruising season the sun has packed its bags and headed WAY south while the wind has set up camp.  There has been many overcast days at anchor with wind over 15mph.  Those clouds at least broke up partially by late day and created great sunsets.  There have also been many days at the helm under the clouds and at night with time to catch 15mph plus wind.  I have up to this point avoided the wind generator thought process. Well, mostly, once there was a purchase of a used one and then the resale befor ever installing it.  Specifically the recommendation for the AIR-Breeze is from 8 years of living aboard talking, listening, and researching all the options.  The AIR_Breeze can be purchased from the altEstore for $949.00, free shipping and no tax, includes the controller in the unit, has a built in brake, is quieter than most, replacement parts are readily available, and is suited for the FL and Bahamas average wind speed.  The Silent Wind was cost prohibitive at $1649, plus tax $115.43, plus shipping $28..86 = $1793.29 (or over $844 more!!!) for pretty blue, slightly more quiet blades from eMarineinc.com.

I am not affiliated with any of the referenced purveyors above.
key: albin vega 27 gemini dreams wind generator air-x air-breeze kyocera solar panel radar arch sailboat mount cruising Bahamas energy ugly bird primus windpower rutland long run term test happy

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