On our last trip we only had one way to charge the batteries and that was using the 120 amp alternator on the main engine. We ran the boat engine for about 1 1/2 hours a day and our engine isn’t very quiet so wasn’t always pleasant to listen to. So to try to take care of this problem for the next trip, we are adding two 140 W solar panels.
We will mount these panels on top of our hard Bimini (made by Phil) and hope that they will be in the sun most of the time. We are also going to install a Blue Sky Regulator to run our solar panels which has the ability to keep the maximum possible current coming out of the solar panels. We don’t expect this system to completely run the boat all of the time. We expect that we will every once in a while run the engine for 1-3 hours (we think) to top up the batteries. To mount the solar panels on top of the Bimini we first must put stiffeners on the Bimini, so I took some 5/8″ thick wood and epoxied it to the top of the Bimini in the specific spots needed to mount the solar panels. (in photos the wood clamped to the Bimini)
We also had some grounding problems which made our use of electricity much greater than it had to be out of the batteries. Phil took care of that with re-wiring the ground system. We hope with these changes and adding an insulating pad ( more in a future post) that we’ll be able to have enough electricity for out needs (but can you EVER have enough electricity on a boat???)
Written by Phil and edited by Lorraine