Sunday, October 20, 2013

Shindig gets a sunny upgrade - Soliban CP125 panels

One of the big projects I have been working on in LaPaz is getting the new solar panels installed.   I chose a semi flexible 125 watt panel from Soliban(CP-125).  They only weigh 5 lbs each and 3 of them can fit on our existing bimini cover.

I had the bimini modified by Hector, our local canvas guru, to accept the three panels.  You can sew material to the panel as long as you don't interfere with the actual solar cells.  There is about an inch all the way around for attaching zippers or velcro.  I asked Hector to attach them with a velcro pocket around the perimeter with zippered transition pieces in between.

Three panels mounted on the bimini.  Boom to the port side.

The solar controller is a bit of overkill, but as I say, " if it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing".  I chose a Morningstar TriStar 45 MPPT controller with the remote meter.  This unit has plenty of headroom if I decided to add more solar and it also supports 24V battery systems.  As a bonus it also has a data port that allows me to set custom charge profile and monitor the system with a computer.

Before I drove down to LaPaz I had an opportunity to test the panels and discovered that the 125 watt panels are more like 80 to 85 watts.  About 2/3rd of the spec'd rating.

In testing the complete three panel system in the slip I have seen a maximum of 250 watts. Solar panels are naturally impacted by shading and my testing shows how significant this is.  The boom shadow across all three panels reduces output by 75% to 80%..  We'll have to be diligent about moving the boom out of the way.

In the three days that I've been collecting power data, the system has produced ~50Amp/hours a day.  That will take care of 40% to 50% of our power needs.

Boom on centerline shadowing the panels

250 Watts quickly drops to 50 with the boom shadowing the panels

Remote meter for Morningstar charge controller.

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