Well it’s been a long time coming, but we have finally installed the 420 watt solar system on Lucey Blue. Nick decided to use Sanyo HIP-210 Watt solar panels as they are hybrid solar cells created by combining amorphous silicon and crystalline silicon, which means they are highly efficient and work better in dappled shade and at higher temperatures than ordinary mono-crystalline panels. We also noted the success Linocat had with large “connect to grid” type solar panels.
The first step was to find a suitable location on Lucey Blue. We searched high and low, but ended up settling on the top of the dinghy davits. Nick started the job of modifying the davits on the boat, but it soon became apparent he would have to finish the design stage at home.
After a bit of playing around on the front deck he finally had the design sorted out and templates ready for the stainless steel fabricator.
Canberra tradesmen are really good and after a few days Nick headed back up to Sydney with the stainless steel extension rails to install the new improved dinghy davits with help from his father. The job went incredibly smoothly and before long they had the external half of the solar system in place – no drill bits were broken drilling through the stainless, no parts were dropped overboard and no one went for a swim!!!
The next step was to run the wiring and install the Outback Power Systems FLEXmax MMPT regulator. The solar panels remained covered during this stage of the installation process to ensure they were not producing any electricity. Nick and his father spent a bit of time modifying the electrical locker to maximise space and improve the natural ventilation. Again everything went smoothly and they soon had the whole solar system up and running. On the first day – light rain and overcast – the system pumped out about 13-17 Amps at around 13 volts. On a typical sunny day we have seen up to 30 Amps, but it all depends on the day, state of the battery banks and charging phase.
We are extremely happy with the solar setup and now only have to run the engines if we want to make hot water for our showers. We have also replaced the Trojan T105 675 Amp hour house battery bank. The new electrical system – solar, battery bank and alternator smart regulators - is so much better that we might start selling power to neighbouring boats ;-)...