Whilst in Cooley’s Landing Marina, we thought that as we were backed up “stern to” (backwards) and it was easy to lift kit on and off of the boat easily, it might be a good idea to get the solar panels fitted. We found a great company called “E-Marine Systems” here in Fort Lauderdale that did us a great price on three LG Neon 365w Panels to replace our much older unbranded four 150w panels that had been on the boat for nearly 6 years.
Technology has moved on a bit in the PV arena over the last few years and panels today are much more efficient than those of 5 or 6 years’ back. Because of our wind turbines however we thought we were restricted by width. The original replacement panels we were looking at were made by Canadian Solar at 990mm wide, however, there was a huge lead in time and extortionate shipping costs from California. Also most others were in the region of 1000mm – although only 90mm difference we couldn’t fit them in. However after a bit of “Jiggery pokery”we found that by adjusting the turbine pole support brackets we were able to fit the new ones in and with a little extra stainless work to make new support brackets and we were done. (And of course a new tool in the form of a cordless ratchet which made light work of difficult access areas and halved the fitting time and bolt breakages).
The new install means we’ve upped our wattage from the old 4 x 150w = 600w to the new 3 x 365 = 1095w! This coupled with a pair of new 160w semi-flexible panels to the Bimini will bring us up to nearly 1500w of Solar energy. If we assume a 70% efficiency that means over a 1000w of true power, or 1000 / 12 is approx 40A of charge power going into the new batteries.
We managed to salvage the NOA aluminium brackets used on the original panels and managed to sell the old panels to a fellow boatie alongside in Cooleys Landing.
Heres a little vid of the install.
In the meantime, we have picked up a family of 14 mixed colour ducklings which now follow Helen around as though she is their second mum. Fitting panels surrounded by swarms of peeping ducklings was interesting but the arrival of a large bright green iguana (vegetarian, but how were the ducklings to know?) gave us some relief.
Next job the batteries…..