S/V Crazy Love

Boat Work: Solar

Carolyn went to the spa with the girls today, so I had a full day by myself to finish the solar installation. Yesterday I attached the panels to the stern rail so the only work remaining was the electrical connections.

The underside of the solar panel after mounting

On the advice of Rob from Southbound Solar, I bought some 1/8" aluminum flat bar and bolted it to the frame of the solar panel. That gave me plenty of space to put the plastic rail mounts on the back of the panels.

As soon as I plugged in the batteries and panels to the controller, our battery monitor read 5.5 amps. Woohoo! If we're able to get 5 or more amps out of our 100 watt array for four or five hours every day, we won't have to run our engine to charge the batteries very often. I think its reasonable to expect five or six hours of charging every day because we're planning to spend much of the winter in the tropics - we'll see how that works out.

Carolyn posing with the panels
Me posing with the new panels.

I had difficulty with only two parts of the electrical installation:

  1. The junction boxes on the panels are laid in a way that makes it impossible to fit a properly installed marine connector without bending the wire and the connector in an unnatural way.
  2. I couldn't find a really good place to put the controller - this is my problem not an issue with the controller. I ended up putting it upside down on the horizontal surface in Carolyn's berth - very near the new electrical panel.

Now that we've got some solar charging, we have just a few more jobs to finish before we're ready to take off: rebuilding the toilet to fix a small leak, put the boom and sails back on, and the WindPilot. There's also a million smaller details like navigation and weather prep, cleaning, Mexican documentation, etc. We're hard at work or at least have a plan for all these things.