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Onboard Electrical Power


Further Improvements

First, is a picture of the wiring for the volt meter and ammeter. There were no changes from before. The ammeter can display up to 15 amps. The terminals are listed from left to right as follows:

The ammeter and volt meter indicate the power after it has gone through the charge controller. There are a couple of fuses to protect things from a current surge or a short.

I decided expand the use of the 12 volt DC plugin. I wanted to use it for things like a battery charger for those AA batteries that the hand held VHF requires. I also purchased a portable refrigerator cooler. I also purchased an inverter for use with a laptop. All of these things use power. The reefer uses 2 to 3 amps depending on its setting. The battery charger uses maybe a quarter amp at most. The laptop uses 2 to 4 amps. All of these, particularly the reefer are a big drag on the battery. The little 12 watt panel would be hard pressed to recharge a mostly depleted battery by the time I returned the next weekend. Also leaving a battery highly discharged tends to shorten its life.

As I did previously I wanted to make sure the solar panel was on a firm foundation so that I could step on it without breaking or damaging it. I also wanted to allow air to circulate beneath it. I also needed room for the wiring. I ended up purchasing two 12 volt 24 watt Sunwise Solchargers. These are built up on a substrate of FR4 so there is no glass to possibly break. I then constructed the mount using 3/8” occoume plywood. I used sleepers that are curved to conform to the curve of the cabin top. I mounted this assembly with 8 through bolts to keep it in place more securely.

I wired the panels in parallel. This allows one panel to still operate if the other one is in shadow. The shadowed panel may put out a smaller voltage but there appears to be no significant current flowing backwards through it.

Preliminary results show that it is adequately charging the battery. However, I moved the boat to a new dock. The panels are not as exposed to the sun in this new dock so some of the gain of going from 12 watts to 48 watts is lost. But in general it is still a 2 to 3 fold improvement in charging capacity. A quick test on a clear morning with the sun at about 30 degrees up in the sky and the panels fully exposed showed an output of around 2 amps.

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