Ask PYS: Solar

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How To Care For My Solar Panels, on May 31, 2018 asked:

My solar panels have been on my boat a few years now. I do clean them with fresh water occasionally to remove bird and other droppings. They are starting to fade a bit, could you wax them? Or would you recommend some other treatment. - Jaap

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What is the best controller for my two 160W solar panels?, on Mar 01, 2018 asked:

I watched your video on YouTube. I have just installed two 160W 12V solar panels, should I buy 2 PCM controllers or just one? Do you have a recommendation? House batteries are six 79AHr, AGM and I have an inverter with a smart charger. - Gary

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Can I Add A Solar Panel To My Existing Array?, on Oct 03, 2017 asked:

Can I add a solar panel to my existing solar array? I have a 100W solar panel and a GV-10 solar controller installed on my boat. Can I add another panel without running a second set of wires? -Heidi

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Upgrading from Flooded to AGM Batteries – What Setting Do I Change Including My Solar Controller?, on Jul 04, 2017 asked:

Last year I installed a Gioco 130W solar panel with a Genasun GV-10 Pb controller to charge my older flooded lead acid batteries along with a Victron BMV-700 Series battery monitor. I have just purchased brand new AGM batteries and I am wondering what steps I have to take before replacing the old batteries? - Heidi

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Plug & Play Portable Solar Panel, on Aug 29, 2016 asked:

Can you recommend a simple 'plug & play' portable solar panel that I can plug into the boat's cigarette lighter to charge the batteries? - Alan

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Is there a solar trickle charger I could use for my Grady White on a mooring buoy?, on Aug 02, 2016 asked:

I have always enjoyed your presentations on the Sunshine Coast for the Sail and Power Squadron. I have a newly purchased, second-hand 2010 Grady White Adventure 208, hardtop with a 225 4 stroke and a 9.9 kicker (operated from the console). I have (2) 12v batteries, one on each side along the transom. I have the usual VHF, GPS/Chart plotter and a radar. I intend to get one or two Scotty downriggers (probably start with one). My boat is on a buoy for the summer and on the hard in winter. I have not been out much recently due to inclement weather but reading your recent article in Pacific Yachting, I am wondering whether I should buy a solar trickle charger. What would you suggest? And would I have to hardwire it? - Trevor

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Why Use Larger Gauge Wire than Recommend for Solar Installation - Jim, on Dec 30, 2015 asked:

I see your recent recommendation in Tech Talk articles to use 10/2 wire to connect a solar panel at approximately 10’ length. Why would I use heavier wire than that which comes from the factory? It would seem to me that the lesser wire provided (along with factory connectors) would be a limiting factor, as well as, the maximum amperage generated by the solar panel. So why is a larger wire suggested for transmission?

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Solar to Keep Batteries Topped Off – Scott, on Sep 16, 2015 asked:

I was reading your article in the June Pacific Yachting magazine regarding solar panels with interest. I looked at the flexible solar panels a few years ago and they did not seem like a feasible alternative at that time. It sounds like some recent improvements may warrant a re-look. We have a canvas only enclosure and trailer our boat from Canada to Lake Powell. I have four house batteries and two engine batteries (one for each engine). No gen set. When at anchor it seems our refrigerator is our highest draw which causes me to pull out my portable Honda 2000 to top off my batteries. I have a Pathmaker battery combiner for when we are underway but try to make sure my batteries are not down too far to avoid overheating my alternators. Is there a solution available now where I could put one of these flexible panels in that will keep my batteries topped off? Is the size feasible for my top? What is required from a wiring perspective?

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Solar FAQ, Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline – Tom, on Sep 01, 2015 asked:

I have enjoyed your Pacific Yachting Tech Talk articles as they are not condescending or preachy. I have also been reading about the Gioco panels you distribute. My interest is twofold. I would like the benefit of solar charging while cruising and secondly, I would like to be more independent of shore power in our Marina where I have recently experienced "issues" from being connected to its AC shore power. We have owned our current boat for a year and replaced our zincs this April when they were 8 months old and half gone. I recently dove under the boat while out at anchor and was shocked to find the prop and shaft zincs were 95% gone after 90 days! We have a Beneteau 36 center cockpit with a full bimini that I think would make a great location for one or two of the flexible monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels and an MPPT regulator. I do not quite understand the distinction between the two types. If one panel was used now, can a similar sized second panel be added in parallel at a later date? If so, is an MPPT regulator available for the demands of two such panels? The distance from Bimini to batteries is about 10 feet; what gauge wire would be required?

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How Much Power Can Solar On My Bimini Provide – David, on Jul 21, 2015 asked:

I am looking at adding solar to my boat. I would like to put flexible panels on top of my Bimini. I have a width of 2082mm between my back stays and a front to back length of 1524 mm. My biggest power user this time of year is the fridge which draws 67 watts when running other than the occasional use of the water pump and some LED lights in the evening. We do not use much power. I do have an Espar hydronic heating system but I do not have the power draw for that currently. What kind of power can I get packed into that space on top of my Bimini?

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