ASK THE EXPERTS
Seeking to go solar; whose loo is it?; priming a filter; checking a Lister; frequent stalls; battery drops; a clicking start; to prime or not to prime?; gland relief; draining radiators
QWhat type of solar panel on my boat will get the best results, given the British weather? Can you advise on a supplier?
ATONY REPLIES... There is a wide variety in use: I suggest you Google ‘12v solar panels’ and then check the size, type of mounting and specification. The smaller panels with the higher outputs will be the most efficient types, but if you have space for more (or larger) less efficient panels, you could get the same output at less cost.
Flexible stick-on panels seem a good idea but when I looked into them, users’ comments showed some suffering from delamination soon after the manufacturing defect guarantee (which is much shorter the 20-year guarantee that they will still have 80 percent of their output) expired.
I must stress that I do not recommend vendors, but many speak well of Bimble and Sunshine Solar.
You also need to consider the type of solar controller to use. With a single panel of up to about 100 Watts a PWM controller will do; an MPPT controller won’t give a significant extra output for the extra cost. If you fit an MPPT controller and panels wired in series (which means thinner cables for the same total wattage) you will need to decide in advance how many panels you will fit, otherwise you could exceed the controller’s input voltage.
Avoid unknown eBay bargain MPPT controllers: some are very suspect in what they actually do. Stick with well-known brands such as Morning Star, Stecca and so on.
If you are a liveaboard, be cautious of supplying all your electrical needs by solar in winter: you might not fit enough panels on the roof.
How much room do you have on your roof for solar panels?