R 22

Rhodes 22


Installing Solar Panels

I was wondering if anyone on the list has installed a solar panel charge regulator? I'm looking for information on how to install it on a two battery system with two solar panels. Both panels charge both batteries.

28 Dec 2002

I have some experience, having installed 2 solar panels and 4 battery system on my motorcoach and a double gel battery system on my Rhodes 22. Both systems have been in operation for over 3 years.

Although the systems components are different their wiring and output are similar. I followed the KISS system... The batteries are separated on both vehicles ... with the motor coach the batteries are matched and paired, and with the ship they are separated by a Perko switch. The panels are self regulated, with me alternating their charging with a simple switching periodically. My energy needs aboard the "Golden Snooch" are limited primarily to radio/nav gear and night lighting. I leave one gel battery for a back up, charging it via solar aprox. one sunny day per week.

Primary/secondary battery charging systems are available from most manufacturers of RV/Marine electrical suppliers... they would fulfill the needs of your primary designated battery, then fill the next...

This system avoided the problems several of my dockmates incurred by utilizing parallel batteries, with the weaker cell problems that often occur.

Furthermore it was both easy to install, maintain and cost less. I have found most of the larger solar panels have regulators/diodes built in that prevent such things as current backflow and overcharging/cooking a battery...

Good luck... if I can be of any further use

28 Dec 2002

The problem was too much battery, not enough use and cooking the batteries. I haven't seen the wiring, but I assume that both panels charge both batteries at the same time. The problem has occurred on Bob Kellers "Yankee Clipper" and he's to shy to ask the list himself.

He purchase an ICP Battery charge controller at WM. Hopefully, this will solve his problem of cooking the battery's. I told him two battery's weren't necessary for his type of use, but would he listen to me?

28 Dec 2002

Your comments seem to be on the money.... I utilize the WM large gel batteries that appear to match well my usage/northeast coastal solar charge power ratio...using home brewed capacity/draw inline metering usually operating at 85% capacity on primary and secondary cells.

Primarily sailing Long Island Sound, Montauk, Peconic Bay... keep radio/gps often on 24/7 for weeks with periodic use of night lighting, laptop,cell phone hookup during evenings. Last summers squid and crab season really tugged hard at the batteries, however the secondary, which is smaller rarely experienced "needed" service... but was exercised periodically.

Several solar cell manufacturer techs have mentioned that their cells do not require regulators unless one is dealing with parallel of many larger solar panels feeding "smaller" storage cells. The hookup of the regulators appear very simple, coming in various configurations including charging rate analog/digital readouts etc.

97 days and counting....

Holiday Wishes from Capt. Burt & crew of the Golden Snooch....
28 Dec 2002

When I rewired my entire boat; I rig for duel batteries. However, I bought a WM 10w panel with built in regulator. It kept my battery charge all season so I never did install the 2nd battery. However, when I do install the 2nd battery; I will probably just get another 10w solar panel with built in regulator and hook it to the 2nd battery. I can make another stern rail platform for the 2nd panel; plenty of room there.

28 Dec 2002

You have to have two batteries to be safe! After all, you need lots of power for that stereo amp. With as much juice as you probably use, you need a backup battery for the VHF.

We have both panels charging both batteries and the're wired in parallel. We had a set of batteries last over 5 years with that configuration. However, the current new batteries have not fared well. I suspect they were defective when we got them. They're too heavy to yank out right now, but eventually we'll have to get them replaced.

In Colorado the solar panels seemed to work much better than here. Might be the amount of sun was greater out there. AS to the ability of solar panels to cook batteries, I had to replace batteries on Kizmet cause the previous owner did not have a charge controller for a 110 watt solar panel, but had put a push pull switch in line with it to control charging. Unfortunatly, I thought it was a kill switch for the stereo speakers, since he had another switch that was the cockpit VHF speaker kill switch. I turned them on, and months later, we lost batteries.

28 Dec 2002

I have finally overcome my shyness to discuss the solar panels on the Yankee Clipper. I think that each panel charges a battery, I don't think they both go to both batteries. The reason is that there was one battery and one panel when I bought the boat, and I brilliantly decided to add a battery and a panel. They are standard General Boats panels (the boat is a '95), so they are what, 10 or 15 watts? But, they don't have a built-in regulator which I found out the hard way by frying both batteries. So, I have a regulator (7 amp) that is made by ICP Global designed for use with solar panels. I suspect that I will need one for each battery, but am not sure? We (Rummy and I) are going to try tomorrow (Monday, 12/30). We'll see.

Bob K
29 Dec 2002

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