Solar regulator connections.

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mywinsome
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Solar regulator connections.

Post by mywinsome » Jun 10th, '18, 14:47

The electrics of our new to us little Farr is a mares nest of wire. Much of it cut off and hanging out of the switch board. The switch board is buried behind the companion way steps.

Previous owner removed the solar controller from the solar panel and mounted it next the switch board. A long input lead runs from the stern where the solar panel was mounted and connects to the solar controller. Output leads run to the battery. There is no return lead from the battery to the switch board. Rather the auxilary out put from the controller is run to the switch board. Is this a safe approach? I had understood the out put was for light power loads only. No fuses any where.

The switch board controls the led cabin lights and nav lights only. There is a 12 volt socket running directly off the battery. A Lowerance fish finder isvalso direct from battery. The vhf radio is not connected to anything and is probably dead.

I inted to set the boat up with the existing 50 watt panel plus a 20 panel I have left over from an earlier boat. I want all the electrical fittings to run thru the switch.

I would appreciate advice or comment.

I have searched thru past posts but they dont seem to address my issues.

Regards,

Peter

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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by Frank Peters » Jun 10th, '18, 18:55

Hi Peter,
I would not put any smaller solar panel than 120W and with MPPT already on it.
I have foldable 160W and never look back.
It is easy to store and ample power for everything.
I my even buy dishwasher to help Wanton with cleanup after cooking “TUFF ChICKEN”. Also they are 100W flexible light weight panels on the market.
And laterals solar panels are up to 40% efficiency, not in production yet. It is Australian invention.
Good luck, regards Frank
Last edited by Frank Peters on Jun 11th, '18, 10:27, edited 1 time in total.

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zebedee
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by zebedee » Jun 10th, '18, 19:41

Have you actually measured the output of your 160W panels Frank?
Somebody I know recently bought a 160W flexible panel on ebay to replace his 80W rigid panel.
Curiously the new panel is exactly the same dimensions and the same number of cells as the 80W panel it replaces.
"But it's very efficient!"
So we measured them both.
The measured Voc and Isc values for the two panels are near as damn identical, about 21V and 3.7Amps.
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mywinsome
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by mywinsome » Jun 10th, '18, 20:12

Now guys, how about my questions?

Cant work out how to load a pic. Of the back of the the switch board.

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Johny
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by Johny » Jun 10th, '18, 20:28

OK I'll have a go at answers. Moving the solar controller closer to the battery is smart. That way it is regulating the battery voltage a bit better. Running non-critical stuff off the load side of the controller is also a good idea as the controller can be programmed to "drop" the load at some predetermined low battery voltage. But - you want your nav lights and VHF going down to the last erg.
Don't just parallel the 20w and 50w panels as the 50w can put out enough current to destroy the 20w when the 20w is shaded. Use diodes in series with each panel.
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impulse
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by impulse » Jun 10th, '18, 20:38

Still no 100% clear what you have but my understanding is as follows.
Solar controller does not have to be immediately next to the panels. They are fixed to stand alone panels for convenience.
Generally panels should be close to controllers should be close to batteries etc but within the confines of our little boats these distances are irrelevant.
Solar controllers have 3 pairs if terminals. Solar in, batteries out, load out. There is no need for a return from the batteries.
Fuses are optional but recommended, especially with the larger draw items, but apart from the fishfinder it doesn't sound as if you have anything that is going to suck lots of current. Fuses are generally a sensible safeguard.
Generally I would only run large items directly from the batteries, that is winches or the like that exceed the solar controllers capabilities.
Careful connecting solar panels of different outputs to the same controller. You may find you do yourself a disservice and loose some of the output of the 50W panel.
Electrickery, she's a funny beast.
Cheers Robin.

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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by INMA » Jun 10th, '18, 21:25

Peter, my guess is its the right time to rewire the yacht replacing any wiring that will give you doubts in the future.

A plan has to be a good start to save time once your doing the wiring. A sketch of what you plan will help with the work. When complete, redraw the sketch.

A new switch panel with enough switches and circuit breakers to meet your future needs. It will need to fit where ever the interior accommodations.

My suggestion is to use tinned wire and good quality crimp connectors.

Label all the wires wherever possible.
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mywinsome
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by mywinsome » Jun 10th, '18, 21:42

Thanks for the replies.

I will stay with one solar panel.

I think the heaviest draw I will have is the 35 lt Waco fridge. From previous experience it draws 2.5 to 4 amps starting and then quickly drops to 2.5 amps. On off about 30 minute intervals.

I need to cut out a lot or redundant wiring. Including the electric water pump that only works when the cabin lights are turned on.

I would post a photo but cant shrink it to fit the site.

Thanks Inmma. Im trying to work out how much to cut out and what can stay. Like any old boat the more you dig the more you find.

This site has some very knowledgeable people. Hence the questions.

I appreciate the feedback.

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barnaclephill
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by barnaclephill » Jun 10th, '18, 22:18

Somewhere on my computer is a PDF copy of "Fix it and Sail" with a chapter on electrics and wiring diagrams.

OK. From the start:
The 50 Watt panel is good, then it connects to the regulator/controller and then to the battery. So the battery is not overcharged.
Heavy and miscellaneous loads, such as the fridge, the fishfinder, a 12V cigarette socket, etc are direct from the battery. That's OK. Ideally they all need a switch and a fuse between them and the battery. Perhaps you could migrate their circuits through/via the switchboard, a little later down the track.

The electric water pump on the lights circuit has been done for convenience. In theory you need water when you cook at night. But also the individual lights will have their own switch. On my boat, for wiring convenience, I have the AM/FM/CD player on the cabin light circuit, because it is located near the lamp over the "dining room table".

The VHF radio might yet live. Like a car stereo, they can last for ages. You might like to wire it up to the switchboard (with a fuse in each of the switchboard circuits), and see if you save $150. You might.
mywinsome wrote:....and connects to the solar controller. Output leads run to the battery. There is no return lead from the battery to the switch board. Rather the auxilary out put from the controller is run to the switch board.
From what I understand, it is like my boat: A wire (let's say a red, positive wire, e.g.) comes out of the battery to the switchboard. My switchboard has 6 little circuits, each with a switch and a fuse that melts, thus I carry spare glass tubular fuses. Some switchboards have circuit breakers for convenience. So the red wire comes out of the battery and then is distributed via 6 switches/fuses/circuits to their appliances. The return wires , the black ones, come either directly back to the battery, or come together in the switchboard area, and then go back to the battery.

So it is like; the battery terminals are translated to the switchboard. The switchboard has a +ve terminal, and a -ve terminal(s), and before the 6 terminals, are 6 fuses and 6 switches. So the +ve and -ve for each appliance or circuit connects to the switchboard, which acts like an extension of the battery terminals.

The solar panel, +ve and -ve wires, go into the solar controller/regulator, and then those +ve and -ve wires go to the battery. As an input circuit: solar, controller, battery.
The output circuits are extended/translated/transferred to the switchboard, and the +ve and -ve wires for each of the circuits begin at the switchboard.

I hope this helps. And as Greg said, if you're rewiring it, put in a few extra dollars and use tinned, marine wire. Tin coating for corrosion resistance, and multiple strands for flexibility and vibration at sea. 4 and 6 amp wire will do most of your circuits. Maybe, probably, keep the fridge direct to the battery as it is sensitive to voltage drop over thin wires.
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barnaclephill
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by barnaclephill » Jun 10th, '18, 22:34

I found it.
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Tinggu
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by Tinggu » Jun 10th, '18, 23:05

We just bought on of these:
Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 9.58.11 pm.png
It's $110 dollars cheaper and same specs than the folding panel it replaces and weighs buggerall.
While this does not answer your question it does give a hint that for not a very big outlay you could achieve all your needed amps and watts without having to stitch together old tech. A few dull days and you might wish you had a bit more than 70watts.
Hope that helps.
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zebedee
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by zebedee » Jun 11th, '18, 00:48

mywinsome wrote:I think the heaviest draw I will have is the 35 lt Waco fridge. From previous experience it draws 2.5 to 4 amps starting and then quickly drops to 2.5 amps. On off about 30 minute intervals.
I've got a Waeco 18 litre fridge which in hot weather seems to draw the equivalent of about 1 Amp continuously (eg: ~24 Amp Hours per 24 hours).

The 35 litre fridge will not necessarily use twice the power of an 18 litre fridge. In fact it probably has the same compressor and motor, and significantly less than twice the external surface area. When running it probably draws much the same as my fridge, and it simply runs a greater proportion of the time because it has more surface area letting heat in.
Your own observation suggests about 2.5 Amps and running 50% of the time, so something of the order of 1.25 to 1.5 AmpHours per hour of operation; 30 to 36 AmpHours per day seems plausible.

In summer, when the fridge works hardest, most places in Australia get the equivalent of at least 6 hours per day of direct vertical sunshine per day in summer, meaning that you can reasonably expect to get about 6 hours of full capacity output from your horizontal solar panel, a bit more if you manage to point it at the sun in the early morning and late afternoon.

So:
A 50 Watt panel with a PWM regulator will provide about 2.5 Amps x 6 hours = 15 AmpHours per day.
A 50 Watt panel with an MPPT regulator will provide about 4 Amps x 6 hours = 24 AmpHours per day.

50 Watts probably isn't enough to run it indefinitely, but if it returns to the battery 50% to 70% of the power used each day, it will dramatically extend your battery time to flat.

In cooler weather there tends to be proportionally less sunshine, in warmer weather more, so this sort of estimate is reasonably valid for most of September to March (equinox to equinox).

My feeling is that about an 80 Watt panel with an MPPT regulator or 130 Watts with a PWM regulator is needed to run a modest fridge indefinitely in the warmer months. I've got 130 Watts on an MPPT which keeps up OK with my small fridge, about 8 AmpHours per night for my CPAP and another 10 AmpHours or so of other loads (laptop, phone, lighting, GPS, tiller pilot...)
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by mywinsome » Jun 11th, '18, 09:39

Thanks for all the replies. Lots to consider. I particularly like the idea of the light weight solar panels.

I am thinking I will cut out most of the wiring and start again.

Regards.
Peter.

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Bligh
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by Bligh » Jun 11th, '18, 09:41

The connecting order is critical, when connecting the panel is last, disconnecting panel is first, the other two are not as critical but the panel can damage the controller if it has no load or battery according to the specs I have seen on the controllers I use.
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by duncanhayward » Jun 11th, '18, 10:11

Peter,

there are some items you may wish to run direct from the battery, fused but not switched. Blue Sea make one and there are others out there. If you are leaving the boat for a period of time on the trailer it is easy enough to just pull the blade fuse
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mywinsome
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by mywinsome » Jun 11th, '18, 13:39

Thanks Duncan.

Boat will live in driveway at home. Easy to maintain and keep battery up to charge.

I have looked thru your old posts when you had Blue Print. I can't see where you mounted your battery/s?

Advice appreciated.

Regards.
Peter

mywinsome
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by mywinsome » Jun 11th, '18, 13:46

barnaclephill wrote:I found it.
Thanks for the diagram.

Just a question. What does the barrier strip do aside from being an extra connection in the + outlet wires?

Regards.
Peter.

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MargGannet
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by MargGannet » Jun 11th, '18, 14:43

Thanks for that link Duncan... I have been looking for something like that. My current house battery has bolts not posts and can be awkward to add direct take off - that looks perfect.
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duncanhayward
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by duncanhayward » Jun 11th, '18, 17:47

mywinsome wrote:Thanks Duncan.

Boat will live in driveway at home. Easy to maintain and keep battery up to charge.

I have looked thru your old posts when you had Blue Print. I can't see where you mounted your battery/s?

Advice appreciated.

Regards.
Peter
Hi Peter,

Blue Print didn't have the moulded ice box and battery box. When I got it the battery was in the cockpit locker with the fuel. I wasn't happy with this so moved it directly underneath the forward end of the cockpit, just under the stairs. I epoxied a piece of marine ply to the floor and fitted saddles to this which I then strapped a battery box to. You can just see it in this photo

I can't seem to display the photo however this link should take you there
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/101 ... Rfw_FutI3x

Found it - zeb
Image

The rest of the public album is here and has some images that may help. Good luck.
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/101 ... 7221876806
Last edited by zebedee on Jun 11th, '18, 20:59, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Wrestle google to the ground and force it to display image here on TSP...
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mywinsome
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by mywinsome » Jun 11th, '18, 18:09

Thanks for that Duncan.

I had not previously noticed the battery box location. My Farr is the same. Completely open in that area. I have a piece of scrap marine ply in the shed that should do nicely.

I have been looking at the photo of you switch board box. It looks like an off the shelf plastic box? If you purchased it do you recall the details?

Appreciate the feedback.

Regards.
Peter.

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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by barnaclephill » Jun 11th, '18, 19:40

mywinsome wrote: What does the barrier strip do aside from being an extra connection in the + outlet wires?
Wrong answer:
The barrier strip (the one on the left side of the pic) is called a 'bus', like in a computer. It just makes connecting things easier, by physically having screw terminals to which a ring or spade crimp connecting thing is screwed to. One wire with current goes in, (in this case negative) and many different circuits can come off it, or connect to/from it. Is just makes connections easier to do, easier to see and follow, and neatens them all. The alternative is to solder all your wires together, such as soldering 6 wires together, and months later you decide you need another circuit to join them. Ahhh.

Buses come in several sizes, perhaps from 4 to 20 terminals, and are used in the -ve as well as the +ve offtake of circuits
------------------------------------
Correct answer:
The barrier strip (on the RHS of the picture) looks like a bar of chocolate, with the raised plastic surrounds around the screws. One wire goes into it from the switch and fuse. To make connecting a circuit easy, you just poke a wire in from the right hand side of the barrier strip and screw down the screw. It is like a tunnel of brass, to which one screw holds down the input wire, and one screw holds down the output wire(s). You can also see that on the LHS of the strip are loops where a wire has come out of the input, to make a new output, e.g. the switch that does the forward bicolours also does the stern white light..
33308_screw_connector_strip_1.jpg
33308_screw_connector_strip_1.jpg (15.4 KiB) Viewed 911 times
You can cut these down if they are too long. I suppose the main purpose is to make connecting to a new circuit very easy, no crimped terminals are needed, just a small or narrow screwdriver to tighten the bare wire.
Last edited by barnaclephill on Jun 11th, '18, 19:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by duncanhayward » Jun 11th, '18, 19:44

Hi Peter,

I brought most of the electrical stuff from my local Jaycar store. Staffed by people far more knowledgeable about electricky than myself! I think that this was the box https://www.jaycar.com.au/sealed-polyca ... 5/p/HB6218 although it may have been the next size up. I through bolted the box to the bulkhead. The box had a rubber seal and was very water resistant.

Image

I ended up totally rewiring the boat, and installed conduit under the port side shelf (over the bunk) from the rear to the front of the boat. From memory I adhered it using liquid nails. The conduit made it easy to change and add stuff over the years that we had the boat. Something like https://www.bunnings.com.au/deta-16-x-1 ... g_p4330857. In hindsight I perhaps should have gone for conduit one size larger - nav light circuit, speaker cable, etc.

Image
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mywinsome
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Re: Solar regulator connections.

Post by mywinsome » Jun 11th, '18, 20:04

Thanks Duncan
.
Just been to Jaycar this pm. I will be back again soon.

Just realised the wire from the solar panel is small. And needs to be replaced.

The two ladies on duty at Jaycar struggled but eventually found the analogue volt and amp metres I wanted.

Regards.
Peter.

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