Solar for battery maintenance

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by b_arrington, Jan 22, 2018.

  1. b_arrington

    b_arrington Member SILVER Sponsor

    457
    Feb 21, 2007
    Setauket, NY
    270 Amberjack (2006)
    AB Ventus 9 VL RIB
    350 Mag MPI Horizon w/ BIII
    1998 Envinrude 15 HP 2-stroke
    Has anyone found a good solution for adding solar panels to maintain batteries? Looking for ideas.

    Here's the background. I'm on a mooring and have no regular access to shore power for recharging my 2 90aH dual purpose batteries. My #1 battery only lasted 2 years (pretty short I think), and am I getting pretty tired of having the batteries be flat at least 1x a season. Plus if my batteries die there's no sump pump.

    I'd like to find some way to mount a solar panel with enough power to keep the batteries topped up. I've found a controller that can charge 2 batteries separately; now I need to figure out how to mount a panel. I've accepted the panel will be sizable. I'd consider either mounting one on the front rail (and removing before going out) or mounting on the bimini / camper canvas via snaps / zipper / velcro. Any suggestions or experience with a project welcome.
     
  2. Wylie_Tunes

    Wylie_Tunes Active Member

    474
    Oct 26, 2012
    Lake Wylie NC area
    N/A
    N/A
    I dont have anything to offer regarding mounting a solar panel. Have you gone through the systems to eliminate all the non-essential loads that might be wired directly to the batteries, thus circumventing the main switch(s)?

    This will improve the efficiency of the solar setup.
     
  3. CNYBoater

    CNYBoater Member

    54
    Aug 14, 2017
    1994 200 Overnighter, Single Axle Easy Load'r Galvanized Trailer, 2009 Chevy Trailblazer
    Single 1994 Mercury Black Max V135 O/B
    I did a quick google search for “boat flexible solar charger” and saw quite a few reasonably priced units marketed for topping off boat batteries. Couple showed pictures mounted across windshield or bow. Sized seemed decent for a top off not a full charge station. but I’d say one for each battery and as the previous poster said, try to limit the load wired direct to battery.
     
  4. NorCal Boater

    NorCal Boater Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jan 24, 2008
    Covington, LA
    Cobalt CM23
    GM SB 383" Stroker" Alpha Gen I
    Aren't there also some wind generators available? I think I've seen them on blow botes.
     
  5. hottoddie

    hottoddie Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2012
    Boston/Cape Cod
    1986 Sea Ray 390 Express
    Garmin 4212 Chartplotter
    Garmin 24 HD Radar
    Garmin GSD 22 Sounder
    Garm
    454 Crusaders
    If you have deck rail you could fasten the panel to them with Zip ties. Use black ones as they are less susceptible to UV damage. Many years ago I install a 125w panel on the bow of my 32ft express wired thru a smart controller to the battery bank. For 2 years I left the refrigerator running 24/7 while on a mooring and never came close to running out of power.
     
  6. CNYBoater

    CNYBoater Member

    54
    Aug 14, 2017
    1994 200 Overnighter, Single Axle Easy Load'r Galvanized Trailer, 2009 Chevy Trailblazer
    Single 1994 Mercury Black Max V135 O/B
    I probably should have mentioned, my mother uses solar trickle chargers on her RV and in successful in maintaining the batteries for long idle periods. 3 group 27 house batteries and 1 group 27 starter battery. So if you buy the right output they do work.
     
  7. b_arrington

    b_arrington Member SILVER Sponsor

    457
    Feb 21, 2007
    Setauket, NY
    270 Amberjack (2006)
    AB Ventus 9 VL RIB
    350 Mag MPI Horizon w/ BIII
    1998 Envinrude 15 HP 2-stroke
    Yes. The only things connected are the bilge pumps and the fm radio memory.
     
  8. b_arrington

    b_arrington Member SILVER Sponsor

    457
    Feb 21, 2007
    Setauket, NY
    270 Amberjack (2006)
    AB Ventus 9 VL RIB
    350 Mag MPI Horizon w/ BIII
    1998 Envinrude 15 HP 2-stroke
    Yes. But that's really a non starter. Too noisy and I don't really think it fits. I don't need that kind of capacity either.
     
  9. Fly'n Family

    Fly'n Family Member

    528
    Sep 19, 2013
    TX / CO
    2002 Cruisers Yachts 3870
    2003 Boston Whaler Sport 130 w/40 hp Merc
    Twin 425hp Crusaders
    There's got to be something simple to use for solar power. Our gate to our driveway is powered by a small 12v battery, and it has a solar panel about 12" x 18" that provides the charge.
     
  10. KevinC

    KevinC Active Member

    815
    Feb 25, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    2004 340 Sundancer
    1988 Proline Center Console - 90hp Mariner/Mercury
    1969 Boston Whaler
    Twin 8.1 V-drives
    Some ideas...

    How about mounting a panel to a rod holders mount like the magma grill mount. Might need to fabricate something but should be a simple drop in align and lock.

    I have also seen flexible panels sewn into canvas covers. Maybe you could put one on the sunshade cover.

    -Kevin
     
  11. b_arrington

    b_arrington Member SILVER Sponsor

    457
    Feb 21, 2007
    Setauket, NY
    270 Amberjack (2006)
    AB Ventus 9 VL RIB
    350 Mag MPI Horizon w/ BIII
    1998 Envinrude 15 HP 2-stroke
    I'm leaning toward mounting a flexible panel to the canvas top as a semi permanent solution. That way it's out of the way. I'd have to figure out how to route the wires down and get the panel mounted. Was hoping I could leverage the work of a fellow Sea Ray owner.
     
  12. KevinC

    KevinC Active Member

    815
    Feb 25, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    2004 340 Sundancer
    1988 Proline Center Console - 90hp Mariner/Mercury
    1969 Boston Whaler
    Twin 8.1 V-drives
    I would think you could sew the flex panel into a pouch on top of the sunshade (that way it is removable if needed) and route the wires down the arch. I would have to do more research but that seems like it would be clean, unobtrusive and semi-permanent. I also do not know the size of the panels that would be required.

    -Kevin
     
  13. Lazy Daze

    Lazy Daze Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 21, 2009
    PA
    Various
    Various
    There's some good ideas above about mounting options. Keep in mind you only need a "maintainer" type charger - it does not need to be big or bulky by any means. Expanding on mounting it to bow rails... a quick connect-type mount -- wiring long enough to reach back to the cockpit and down through an access hole (or extend leads off the batteries up into a storage compartment or transom locker) -- then just quickly disconnect the panel and the wiring when you get to the boat. You just lay the wiring along the inside of the bow rail, then to the rear cleat. Use a piece or two of velcro if you want.

    However, there's something else going on with your system, or the batteries are not appropriate for the vessel (too small or inferior). Take a look at this link and compare to what you have - just to double check that what you have is appropriate: http://www.eastpennmanufacturing.com/wp-content/uploads/Marine-Master-Spec-Sheet-0194.pdf

    But, the way you're using your boat is essentially the way many trailer boaters use theirs and their batteries typically last about 5 years.

    Or, maybe it's how you're using the batteries when the boat is being used. If you take short runs, then the engine is off for a long time with the fridge and other things running, then a short run back to the mooring... that could certainly explain the short battery life as they are never really being charged up 100%.

    You might also consider switching to a starting battery for the engine, then a larger Deep Cycle battery for the house. Dual Purpose batteries can't be great at everything, right? They're sort of a compromise.
     
  14. CliffA

    CliffA Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Dec 29, 2009
    Lake Norman, NC
    2001 Sea Ray 340DA
    Name: 'Happy Place'
    4.5kW West. Generator
    Purchased Nov. 2014
    Fresh Water Use
    Twin Merc. 6.2L (MPI)
    Raw Water Cooled
    V-Drive Transmissions
    instead of locating a charger/tender inside of the ER that may be an explosion hazard if not ignition protected could you locate the charger/tender in the cockpit and back feed a charge to the batteries through a 12VDC power outlet?

    cliff
     
  15. b_arrington

    b_arrington Member SILVER Sponsor

    457
    Feb 21, 2007
    Setauket, NY
    270 Amberjack (2006)
    AB Ventus 9 VL RIB
    350 Mag MPI Horizon w/ BIII
    1998 Envinrude 15 HP 2-stroke
    Personally I would only install an ignition protected charge controller in the engine space.

    For the outlet idea, I'm not sure how that would best be accomplished. And ideas? For sure I want to use a charge controller.

    On my boat the 12v outlets have 2 switches; one for the main batteries and one for the outlet. I would need to leave both on when away from the boat and I'd rather have them off. Also I'm interested in a charge controller that can charge both group 27 batteries independently (which I did find).
     
  16. mobocracy

    mobocracy Member

    230
    Jun 29, 2014
    United States
    310 Sundancer
    350 Mag & Bravo III
    Check out http://www.powerfilmsolar.com/.

    They make a flexible panel that could be semi-permanently mounted on a bimini or tied between rails.

    If I was on a mooring, though, I'd want to consider something with more rigid mounting to withstand the weather. The ideal place is of course on a hard top or arch if there's room. I've seen some clever mounts that piggy back off of bimini. The other advantage to a more permanent mounting is more permanent wiring possibilities.

    I'm honestly surprised how little solar there is in power boating. Under 200 watts could add hours of battery extension for day boaters with fridges, lights, stereo, etc.
     
  17. MickT

    MickT Member

    58
    Aug 5, 2016
    australia - newcastle
    2006 sundancer 300
    twin mercruiser 5.0 mpi w/bravo III
    We have an 80 watt solar panel on our 2006 300da, it’s mounted to a frame between the arch and the first Bimini hoop.

    That and 400AH worth of flooded golf cart batteries will run both fridges for 3 days, or one fridge indefinitely (unless it gets too cloudy for more than a few days...

    I am planning on adding more solar so we can run all the electrics for extended periods away from the dock
     

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