Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New Boat - New Solar System - Part 1

Our new catamaran already has a fairly adequate solar charging system--about 400 watts of solar panels and 2 20-amp Morningstar charge controllers. Should be OK, right? NOT!

We've gotten spoiled with Soggy Paws I's fantastic solar system. We spent about a week debating whether to cannabilize it off the boat we have for sale and move it to the new boat. But because good new panels are available in Davao at a reasonable price, and it would be a fairly huge project for Dave to swap systems, and we didn't want to devalue what have in Soggy Paws for Sale, we have opted to start fresh on the new cat.

Checking out the New Solar Panels

After 3 trips into Davao to look over what's available, we had 4 200-watt solar panels delivered by Solazone Philippines. They are affiliated with Solazone Australia, and so have a pretty well-rounded offering of panels and support equipment. The panels they sell are SiMax panels, made in China. We took a pretty good look at the panel construction, back and front. They are SIGNFICANTLY better construction than the cheap chinese stuff that is for sale down in Chinatown, and actually come with a 10 year warranty. And we got a great deal--200 watt panels for about $200 USD each. A dollar a watt is a great price. You can't get that price in the US unless you buy a pallet load of panels.

Then we needed a new solar controller. We debated whether to buy another Outback MX60 MPPT Controller. Our existing one has been pretty much flawless in 8 years of operation, and we have had reasonably good customer support. Should be no question, right? Well, I figured we should look around a little to see if the state of the art had moved in the last 10 years. It seems to have.

New Morningstar Tristar 60 MPPT Controller On Order

With Optional Control Panel

After a good bit of research, we ended up buying a Morningstar Tristar 60 MPPT Controller instead of another Outback. It even cost a little bit more. Hopefully we won't regret switching from a proven product, for a few more bells and whistles. You can buy it on, among other places.

We took delivery of the solar panels at the end of September. The Morningstar regulator has been ordered and we'll ship by slow boat out to the Philippines. We won't be able to install the system until we first build a new hardtop for the cockpit (when we get back to the boat in January).

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