It’s Thursday morning and I am happy to report that the solar installation is done, I think.
I say “I think” as I won’t really know if the charging system is functioning properly until I have an opportunity to see the input into the batteries in the middle of the day when the batteries are down significantly. That way I can see if I am getting the proper output from the panels. The rub is that I now have two voltage controllers on the system, one for the four 80 watt panels that the boat came with and another separate MPPT controller for the new 290 watt unit. This combines to a whopping 600 watts, a lot for a boat installation. However, with two controllers feeding into the same battery bank, there’s a risk that one will cut out the other if they aren’t programmed exactly the same way. As I didn’t install the first one, I don’t know what the settings are, actually. I had to put on two controllers as you can’t mix different types and sizes of solar panels and now I have four 80 watt panels and a 290.
In my last post I put a photo of the panel so you could see just how big it is. Here it is again. Yes, I am not a particularly tall guy but that’s a BIG panel.When I was planning the installation months ago and trying to decide how to approach adding more watts to the system, I was concerned about how a really big panel might look. I didn’t want to make the boat look weird with a huge huge extension off of the back. However, in spite of the fact that I did install a HUGE panel on the back, hanging out over the water, it doesn’t really look all that big. I guess that’s because Pandora is even more “HUGER”. Here’s a profile of the new panel all done. Now, wasn’t that easy?Actually, installed the panel looks pretty puny. I guess, compared to Pandora, most anything looks small. Well, at least when she is at a dock. At sea, everything looks tiny. Actually, it took two days to put the panel in place and another day or so to run the interior wires. I backed the boat into the slip. So glad I have a bow thruster. Did I mention that I LOVE my bow thruster? Though so. Then I set up two step ladders and a friend helped me hoist the new panel into place. That went fairly well. No loss of life or panel. The panel is bolted to stainless tabs that were welded into the frame when it was constructed in FL. As there is a bit of camber to the arch, I had to fabricate some brackets to smooth out the front of the panel to take up the extra space between the frame and panes on the forward part of the panel. All and all, there are six attachment points holding the panel to the davits.
I think that this is a pretty nifty install. And, it only cost about one boat dollar. Imagine what it would have cost if I had to hire someone to do the work. Three days of labor on top of the panel and controller. Glad that I am a handy guy. Handy and exhausted though as drilling something like 20 holes in stainless isn’t for sissies. or sissies with a dull drill bit. All it takes is a brand new $12 drill bit, plenty of cutting oil and elbow grease. Yes, plenty of elbow grease. Can you say “Brenda can I have an Advil”?This panel is not going anywhere. Well, it should stay up as long as the boat doesn’t turn turtle. And, if that happens, messed up panels will be the least of my problems.
So, now I am nearly complete on the three major projects on the agenda this summer. SSB installed… Check. Solar all done (I think)… Check. Next… The watermaker swap. But that’s a story for another day.
Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Remember the scratches on the bow that I was moaning about last week? Well, as they say, it could have been much worse. This boat was swamped during the storm when a large log washed into the river and rode up on his mooring. It seems that as the log was pushed up toward his boat and over the mooring, it pushed down his bow and the stern rose up. The rain filled up his bow and ultimately swamped and sunk his boat. Here’s his boat being towed into the lift basin with air bags holding her up. Not much to look at. However, as it rose from the deep…And Brian, the lift operator, did a masterful job of righting her. Oops, lots of water and oil drifting about. The USCG was on hand to be sure that there wasn’t an”environmental catastrophe”. You never know…The owner was none to happy. Bummer that it didn’t happen in the fall instead of at the beginning of the boating season.
Compared to this guy’s experience, I’d say that I got off lucky with a few scratches on the bow.
And yes, it’s time to go sailing and Saturday I head out with my friend Craig for a week up toward Martha’s Vineyard. That should be fun and it is good to know that I am down two and one more project to go till Pandora’s about ready to head south.
Well, that’s about enough for now. Off to see my mother. Aren’t I a good son?