Thursday, September 1, 2016

Solar Panel Installation

Between bouts of rain the installation of the solar panels continues. We are working on top of the Bimini, so every move is carefully planned, especially regarding where tools will be placed. So far, we haven't lost anything overboard, thank goodness!

First the Captain fitted four aluminum rails, drilled and tapped holes into the bows of the Bimini, and screwed them down. Then he marked the holes for the panels, took everything down and back to the cockpit, and drilled and tapped a bunch more holes for mounting the panels to the aluminum rails.

We decided to wire our panels in two parallel systems; one for the port side and one for the starboard side. We cut off the factory plugs which didn't look "ocean-proof" to us, soldered and heat-shrinked the wires together, and carefully marked the wires "port" and "starboard".

Even though our wire run is only about 15', we used #8 wire because we didn't want anything to restrict the amps and possibly cause overheating. Finally we lifted everything back onto the Bimini and mounted it all permanently.

While the Captain was mounting the controllers and fuse holders in the lazarette, I sewed a Sunbrella sleeve to protect the wiring from the sun. Below you can see the controllers, the giant busbar the Captain made two years ago, and the battery charger we bought in Cartagena after the original one got fried by lightning. The wiring from the solar panels will be routed through the fuses, then the controllers, back through fuses again, and finally to the busbar that connects to the batteries.

Here is a price breakdown on our solar panel system. 
And here is the data placard on the panels.
We are looking forward to capturing energy from the sun and will keep you posted on the solar panels' performance.

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