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  1. We are planning to have a gap year cruising around the canal network in a couple of years time, we have both finished our careers and will be moving to the coast after a few adventures, we have just one more child to see off to Uni. That planning stage is now to the point of adding solar panels to the roof, I have made a few selections based of months of research and asking questions and I have started documenting the plan on the blog, at the moment we have looked at size and positioning https://floydtilla.co.uk/2023/03/13/planning-for-solar-panels-part-1/ Then how to mount them https://floydtilla.co.uk/2023/03/25/planning-for-solar-panels-part-2-panel-mounting-options/ then types of panels https://floydtilla.co.uk/2023/04/02/planning-for-solar-panels-part-3-types-of-panels/ There will be more to come over the next few months while we sort out all the other parts, but I am open to idea/options as we plan this install, please let me know what you think, what tricks I have missed that should be included. Thanks David
  2. Hi all! I have a 240V/16A (shore power) coming into the boat. It goes through a Victron unit which controls the 3 leisure batteries (wired positive to positive) and 1 starter battery. I'm thinking of adding a solar panel to the boat. Normally, I would put the solar panel to the controller then to the first leisure battery. Would this confuse the Victron, or is that the done thing with Victron units? Thanks!
  3. Finally got all my solar panels (2 x 100w), controller (Tracer MPPT 30A), cables, connectors and such together in one place and installed. Looks to be working fine! I've had fun gazing at and flicking through the remote meter for the Tracer controller, but find the user booklet doesn't really explain everything well. Lost in translation ... or is it me? I know a few of you use these, so a couple of questions: 1) What does the 'battery capacity percentage' function actually show? Mine started out at about 70% when I first started the system up, but it quickly seemed to settle at 52% last night ... despite the batteries apparently being fully charged. 2) Timer 1 Mode: What are people setting this at? 'n' (disabled); '0' (Dusk to Dawn, Load will be on all night); 16 (Test mode -- not sure what this is); 17 (ON/OFF mode); or leaving it on overnight by selecting a number of hours after dusk? 3) Load Terminals -- on the Controller itself: I understand this to be a sort of 12v 'feed'. Is this just a handy way of tapping into the batteries? For example, is this a good place to run a 12v cigarette lighter socket from (with a fused positive lead)? Thanks for any insights.
  4. Hello! Yes I know there have been endless posts and topics about this, and I've gone through a lot of them. I thought I was convinced I was going to build a pair of 125W panels into a top box near the bow, but then I found these: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/111315145099?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649 Somebody talk me out of them please! Thanks!!!
  5. We have installed 500W of solar (with another 250W panel to be fitted). We have an MPPT charge controller (MorningStar TS-60) and these sunny days, it takes no time to fill our batteries, especially as our fridge is out of action. I'm wondering if there's a straightforward (inexpensive) way to divert the excess power to our immersion heater to heat the water tank? I think it's a 1kw immersion heater. We have a 1kw inverter also. I guess a more low powered immersion heater would be needed?
  6. Hello, So I have read a lot on forums about how PWM and MPPT charge controllers work and their pros and cons. There seems to be a lot of disagreement whether a MPPT controller is worth the extra money for systems in the 200-500W range. This is where my chosen panels lie. My system is: 3 x 100W panels each at Vmax = 18.75V Voc = 22.09V Imp = 5.33A feeding 3 x 110ah leisure batteries So what I am asking is has anyone got any experience/advice on each type of charge controller and is an MPPT worth the extra money? I guess I should also say that the boat is a live aboard mostly in and around London. Thanks in advance
  7. Hi, My narrow boat came with two solar panels: 1. Uni-Solar US-64 MC - http://www.energoberen.hr/index.php/en/Fotonaponski-Moduli/Uni-Solar-US-64-MC.html 2. Suntech STP065-12/Sb - http://www.arcmansolar.com/products/53.aspx?cid=7-12-11 I took apart the cabling used by the previous owner while painting the boat and I am just about to put it back together. I noticed the + and - cables on both the panels are approx 4mm2 but the previous owner had connected both cables up to 2.5mm2 cable and run it to the solar panel controller (Pro Star 30 - http://www.morningstarcorp.com/pro-star). I was just wondering if this is safe and/or able to receive the maximum amount of charge? i.e. Should I buy some new cable, if so what thickness or should I just use the 2.5mm2 cable the previous owner used? Many thanks for any information and advice you can provide!
  8. Hi all, I'm just about to purchase two of these solar panels and was wondering whether anyone had any experience with mounting something similar on their roof and was able to recommend where best to get screw-down / secure mounts? I had a search through old posts and, while many discuss various options for securing solar panels or discuss building their own frames, no-one seems to have mentioned actually purchasing frames from a given site and how they found the experience of installing it (unless I missed a post somewhere). Thanks as ever for any thoughts or experience. Ryan
  9. Hi peeps! I'm hatching a plan to expand our current Squirrel-fed radiator system to also heat the calorifer. I have about zero plumbing knowledge... so the ideas below are all based on assumptions. I hope that by showing you the idea at this stage, I might not make hideous mistakes! I intend to use the newer 'push fit' pipes and fittings, as they're easier, not that much more expensive than copper, and the links to the calorifier already use them. I'd also like to have a solar collector as an option. As far as I can tell, the calorifier only has one coil (unless the other one is hidden beneath its insulation.) The drawing shows the boat as if it were just one continuous wall. I.e., port, stern, and starboard. This is because the calorifier is on the port side, and the burner/radiators are on the starboard side. I have to find a way to get the feed and return either around the back of the engine bay, or along the bulkhead dividing the bay and the living space, but beneath the doorway. The circles with crosses are taps - or three-way selectors, which I'm assuming exist. The bulkhead appears twice (port and starboard) The existing system has a bolan pump, but can also be used as a thermosyphoning system. I've sent the hot feed around the back of the boat, thinking that this might continue to operate (even though the cold return from the calorifier must travel uphill by about 100mm to rejoin the radiator system. An issue with this solution is that the pipe may loose too much heat to the hull / uninsulated engine bay. Another is: how do you mount pipes onto steel hulls! If thermosyphoning, or just running from one pump isn't an option, it might be more sensible to run the hot and cold feeds from the radiator system to the calorifier along the same route that the cold feed takes in this design- along the bulkhead (3d sketch might make more sense....) I suppose that's my main question at the moment. Is is a feasible idea? and, if so, should I run the pipes around the back of the boat (pictured), in a more gentle slope, or just go for the steep attack, use less pipe, but need a pump? The hot feed could be teed from the pipework just below the header tank instead. But would the single bolan (?) pump by the Squirrel be able to move the water that far? Assumptions. The original hot/cold pipes from the engine only have one shut off valve. It's my understanding that the pressure of the water in a circuit will prevent water from a different circuit from entering it when the tap is closed: water always follows the path of least resistance. For the solar circuit, there is a pump out there that will run on 12v, not consume insane amounts of power (though, on sunny days, our panel produces at least 8A), and be able to push the cold feed water to the roof. I require a separate header tank for the solar circuit, as it's higher than the current one. The solar circuit needs to be treated as a separate system, as if connected, pressure will release water from the lower header tank. Any help or suggestions on how this could be made better, or if it will even work, most appreciated!
  10. Hey guys, I've got an issue with my solar system. At the moment, I can leave my solar panel charging for 2 days, even with sun, and it won't go over about 70%. Even that will only last 2 hours watching tv or running 1 laptop. I'm now not sure if I got a controller that's too cheap (eBay job), if I don't have enough batteries, (2 x 110amp leisure batteries with 2 more on standby), or whether the panel isn't powerful enough (Highly doubtful) Maybe I might have not set up the controller properly such as setting the cut off voltage etc but I'm not sure what the settings should be. A (poorly drawn) diagram of my setup: If anyone has any advice on what I can try, I would be eternally grateful.
  11. Hello folks - I'm 'noodling out 'what I need for a change from living as a ccer on my own to a ccer with a boat that will have up to 4 people (1 baby) and one 10 year old part time. - I'm getting my 45ft boat extended to 58ft. My 3 way fridge has come to the end of its life A washing machine would be good I'm not familiar with the maths I need to do to work out what my system can cope with and accordingly what else I need What I have 3 80 watt solar panels 3 105ah leisure batteries A small alternator (I cant remember its output, its for a 3 pot sole diesel, I just remember someone who saw the boat commenting that it didn't have a great output) A small inverter (too small) I have LED lights, a pump for the radiator, gas cooker, obvs water pump for shower, occasionally watch a film on an LED TV, and a laptop. My MPPT controller can have 1 more solar panel at 80watts I think I can make room for 1 more leisure battery. A generator and compressor fridge is too expensive. So what Id like to be possible - is a conventional in house sized fridge & washing machine, new energy efficient. A new Inverter (2kw big enough?) - If required a 4th leisure battery and solar panel. Is there an idiots guide to working this stuff out, so I can really sus what I need/what's possible? Thanks Martin
  12. I'm planning on mounting a couple of solar panels on roof boxes, and while im familiar with the common 45 degree tilting mounts, i've been thinking about the possibility of mounting panels using widely available tv wall mounts. Does anyone have any experience with these? the main (possible) benefits I can see are that 1. These mounts are cheaply and widely available 2. They enable panning and tiltling 3. panels can be easily raised and tilted, and then lowered back down for cruising. 4. Many mounts include cable routing. the main issues i can see are 1. These are designed to be used horizontally not vertically, and so might not hold a panel up without some kind of prop to prevent it collapsing 2. During high winds additional attachment may be required 3. Additional bracketing on the back of the panel may be required to fit the two together 4. Indoor wall mounts probably aren't very weather proof. just wanted to see what people think before i consider giving it a go. these are what i'm talking about: http://www.amazon.co.uk/VonHaus-Designer-Habitat-Cantilever-Bracket/dp/B00DQT8XBA/ref=pd_sim_sbs_ce_6?ie=UTF8&refRID=0JC8063ZNQ04HPD23TKS there are loads of different designs available.
  13. Hi people. I've got a boat with a Mastervolt Combi unit fitted. (12/2500-10). OK, very nice (in a technologically frightening way) with two other boxes in the digtal line i.e. a mastershunt 500 and a thingy called a digital DC 10x 10A. All I can say about them is the green LED's flash occasionally and it all looks very "butch". It scares the heck out of me does all that technology. Load wise, the only thing running 24/7 is my fridge which pulls 6.3 amps occasionally when the fan is turning. The rest of the boat is now all low power LED. What I want to do is to equip for constant cruising and thus am thinking I've got a nice big roof, and there is enough space for 4 x 100w 12v solar panels running through a MPPT controller. Not a problem except can you combine (parallel) the two? That's the free solar power and the all singing grey box with the Master Volt label? So far emails to MasterVolt are going unanswered thus this question. Which either means they don't want me to or I've been spammed into the WPB. And across to you.
  14. Hello Bonus is in and it gives me just enough to install some solar on the roof. Based on my usage needs I can do with pretty much all I can get . Although I'm all low power & LED I do have a few luxuries that it would be good to power with solar when/where possible and off grid (Currently on hook up but don't see that as necessarily lasting forever) I've started coming up with a plan to help me identify what I don't know. My first pass is below and I have already identified a few questions that I need to answer. I've spent a little time reading up on the forums and have experience of building a small set up a long time ago (To power a caravan) but definitely need to get myself educated on the subject. What are your thoughts on game plan below? Are you able to point me in the right direction with any of the questions I have identified thus far? 1. Design top boxes - Come up with a design for ‘sloped’ wooden top boxes with solar panels embedded in the top (to match lines of existing DB style dog box) 2. Map out roof and all fixed location extrusions - Including ‘to be’ pump out location (Another DIY task) 3. Identify optimum solar panels and box design that matches both electrical and aesthetic requirements (See a bit of back and forth comparing panel characteristics/sizes and lumps on the roof before settling on something) - Q: Any ideas on how to mount centre lines to roof with sufficient strength on port and starboard side? I have spray foam insulation and design that makes removal of internal roofing a PITA so anything that gets around both would be great! - Q: Does anybody have a top box with solar panels that also had a mushroom vent underneath? Does the temperature under the panels cause any issues with circulation? (Assuming not?) - Q: Any recommendations on good places to read up on different panel types and how to select right ones for needs and how to match to MPPT controller and installation design (Thinking max voltage considerations vs temperature etc.) 4. Identify optimum wiring of the panels to MPPT - I’m going to be using MPPT. Don’t yet know whether I will be wiring panels in series/parallel etc. or single vs multiple controller - TBD Q: Does having panels pointing in different directions (Like the doors on a dog box) create additional wiring considerations? 5. Identify optimum wiring of the MPPT to batteries - I’ve got a Victron Multiplus 12/3000/120. - In scenario where plugged in to mains I’d like solar to take priority and charger only to kick in if batteries discharging because solar not providing sufficient charge. - Q: Is that possible? - Q: If not, what’s the forums view on second best option (Looking for automatic rather than relying on me to check voltage, switch on/off chargers etc 6. Buy the stuff and build Apologies, looking back that is a lot of questions. Hopefully others have got or will have similar questions so this isn't all about me!
  15. Hi all, We currently have 3 x 125ah leisure batteries powering the fridge, lighting (mostly LED) and water/waste pumps. The bank is charged by a single solar panel through an EPSolar MPPT charge controller. This was fine during the summer but with winter fast approaching we are finding that come the morning there isn't enough juice to power the pumps for a shower. We are mostly marina based so would like to add in a mains charger to top up the batteries once night falls. Electricity is metered so would only want to charge from shore power when necessary. Currently we achieve this by attaching a car battery charger using crocodile clips - it works but isn't a viable long term solution. The charger only has trickle or fast charge and is manually selected. I was also a little wary that I might be sending current to the solar panel instead of away from it, but it hasn't blown up yet So, my questions are: Is there such a device available that I can connect both the solar and a 240V charger to and it automatically selects which input to charge the batteries with, prioritising the solar? Maybe even with automatic health programming to allow the batteries to discharge periodically to keep them healthy? Failing that, if I just get a decent 240V charger that automatically switches charge mode, will there be any problems permanently connecting that directly to the batteries in addition to the solar, and just turn it on when required? Or should I connect them via, say, a rocker switch to manually change from solar charging or 240V charging? What fuses would be required? Can someone recommend a decent multistage 240V charger? I'm sure I'll think of something else as soon as I've posted this, but it will do for starters :-) Thanks in advance.
  16. Haven't seen this posted here, and I hope the topic is acceptable. It appears that the government is looking to increase tax on solar panels. For more information and to sign a petition, go to the Greenpeace site: https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/no-new-solar-taxes-v3?source=fb&subsource=20161214egfb02&utm_source=gpeace&utm_medium=fb&utm_campaign=20161214egfb02&tysource=8E691
  17. Hi all, So my solar cable got cut due to the way the cable was running through the bracket, I have gone to buy some solar connectors from maplins, can anyone confirm these are the right ones. The lady in the shop was surprisingly unhelpful... This is what I got : http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/maplin-cn40-a020-high-power-solar-connector-n55ln Is it as simple as just fitting this connector? or should I replace the whole cable Thanks for your help Martin
  18. Hey, does anyone know where to buy these? I've found one website but at £75 I'm hoping to find somewhere cheaper.
  19. We have decided to get solar panels fitted as we plan to do more cruising now John isn't working. At the same time we'd like a Smartgauge (or similar) and it's also time for new batteries as ours are dying. We would rather get someone in to advise on options/capacity etc for solar and other electrical stuff, and do the fitting, than do it ourselves. Does the forum have recommendations for suitable suppliers who serve Birmingham? Looking for value for money and easy to work with rather than the dirt cheapest. Many thanks!
  20. Hi all, I have 2 x Trojan T105 6v batteries producing 12v with a capacity of 225 amps. I also have a solar panel that is now actually becoming useful now the sun has come out to shine! What settings should I set it at? Bearing in mind the table listed by Trojan below: Daily Charge: 14.8 Float: 13.2 Equalize: 15.5 The settings on the solar controller are: Load On (Voltage): Presuming this is the "Daily Charge" setting? Load Off (Voltage): Presuming this is the "Float"? PV Off (Voltage): No idea what this is PV: Showing the current amps the solar panel is producing Thanks in advance!
  21. well I have mounted my panels and the suns out ( of sorts ) and leccy is flowing through the MPPT controller to the batteries . I am getting between 3 and 7 Amps in the current weather which seems ok ( I have 330 watts of panels ) . I am on shoreline so the solar is really just topping up the batteries in float mode with the main 12v drain being shoreline Fridge and Freezer , Toilet , extractor fan in mornings and the odd LCD light . What I am being a bit thick about is what does 3-7 amps mean how many amp hours does this equate to in battery top up terms ie if I get a sold 5 amps average for 5 hours is that 25 Amp hours into a battery bank of 4 x 135 Ah batteries is that a little or alot and how much money will that save me in shoreline power if I paying 10.5 p a unit or am I over analysing things and being a thicky I guess the panels will be more use when cruising this weekend but how much power am I getting and will it run the fridge and freezer or just help a bit ? I am guessing in high summer I will get about double this any how sorry for the ramble
  22. Hi there, I've got one of these (see pic below), but want to change it for something that can take more solar panels and is a bit more modern. We use it with a 60A alternator, and 1x 100w solar panel (although I think this regulator can only take up to 60w solar. We don't have a wind turbine. It only seems to produce a max of 14.1v when the engine's on (even after hours of cruising) and recently has been hitting 15.1v through the solar panel - which seems a bit high?! I'd like to replace it with a charger suitable for the alternator, and maybe solar as well. Do I need to get a separate charger for the alternator, then an MPPT charger for the solar panel (I also want to add either one or two 175w solar panel to make 275w or 375w in total). We have 3x 110ah leisure batteries and a starter battery, and a Sterling 1600W pure sine wave inverter that is yet to be hooked up.. Any advice, brands, models to watch out for etc, most welcome! Cheers, Alistair
  23. Hello, Is it better to have multiple smaller solar panels, or a few larger panels? I'm looking at around 500watt and have the option of two 250watt semi-flexible panels or multiple 100watt semi-flexible panels. Cheers, Robbo
  24. Hi everyone, I have just moved onto a canal boat and am looking to update my electrics and install some solar panels. I am a newbie so really appreciate any advice you can give. I have been attempting to do an electrical audit (using a template I found online) Firstly I wonder if someone could have a look over it and see if I have made any glaringly obvious mistakes?? I have done my best but I must admit I do find the electrics a little confusing !! I am continually cruising and my boat is 57x10 I am looking at installing: - 3x 260w or 305w solar panels (with the plan to add a fourth in the future) - 2x 40A MPPT controllers - Victron Multiplus Inverter/ Charger - A monitor of some kind recommendations apreciated! I will also have a Honda EU20i generator to top things up. The questions which I am struggling to find answers to online are... What is a good size battery bank to match this system? I have been told it's important not to go too big as it means lots of time spent trying to charge them up. Not to mention the expense. Is it a good idea to get a multiplus inverter and charger or a separate inverter and charger? I am thinking about purchasing a washer dryer which will need 2.1kw to run (not shown on audit) would it be acceptable / advisable to run this of my setup while the generator is running? So the batteries / inverter would only need to supply the extra bit of energy as the Honda is only rated at 1600w continuous. Is there any other major bit to the system I am missing. My understanding is Batteries / Inverter / Charger / MPPT Controllers / Solar Panels / System monitor. Do I need fuses or any other bits? Thanks in advace for your time. Look forward to hearing your opinions. (Please be gentle I am new and still figuring it all out) Martin just figured out how to attached the file hope that works ok : http://www.martin-price.org/downloads/boat.pdf
  25. i as wondering if anybody could help me with the following problem: When i've been if charging the batteries using the engine e.g. after cruising or in neutral the solar charger more often than not will not start charging again even if the batteries have been partly run down again unless after a normal night cycle (e.g. in the morning) or i reset the controller. i can understand after a long cruise it may not start charging immediately, but it doesn't if the battery monitor reads 12.3v. i have a tracer 30A MPPT controller, 390W panels and 675aH Gel Batteries. Anybody any ideas?. Thanks
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