Add solar panels to the list
The list, referred to in this post’s title, is not a shopping list, although solar panels are on that one too. I was really talking about the list of things we really know very little about, but need to!
If, while cruising on Katana, we plan on avoiding marinas with shore power, we are going to need to have a method to keep our batteries “topped up.” It seems that the cheapest and easiest way to do this is to maximize the amount of solar panels that we can carry. What is often recommended is to take an “energy survey” of your boat, to determine your energy requirements. To me, it seems like we will primarily be limited by the space we have to hold these panels, so what we end up with is what we end up with. If we don’t have the ability to keep our batteries charged with the panels that we have, we will then need to look towards additional methods.
I found a number of places in the US which sell solar panels at somewhat reduced prices. Northern Arizona Wind & Sun is one of them. In looking around on their website and on others, and reading about what some other cruisers have had to say, and taking various measurements on our boat, I think we are now leaning towards getting (at least) 2 – Kyocera KD-135 panels.
First issue… how/where to mount them. Constructing a framework over our dinghy davits seems like the best way. A couple of things I have read about panels is that we need to avoid any shading on the panels if we can help it. I have also read that having the ability to tilt them towards the sun, changing that angle from time to time, will increase their output. So, the question I had is, if we were going to prioritize those two requirements, which one is most important? I “think” the shading issue is, which is what I will be working to solve first.
Second issue… how are they actually tied into the system? This question could probably be answered easily by Katana’s previous owner. We already have a 150W Solar Panel array (3 x 50 watts), located on cockpit hardtop, so there must be a method already in place for this kind of thing. I just need to figure out what it is.
Thirdly there is the issue of charge controllers / regulators. A charge controller, or solar controller, regulates the voltage and current coming from your solar panels to your batteries. Do we have such a thing? Do we need one? I really have no idea. 🙁
Oh well… I just sent our Arborist friend a message to see if we are still on for tree climbing tomorrow. If we do go I sure hope I don’t end up hanging upside down like this again!
Zip Lining in the Riviera Maya.