CHEAP PANEL BLUES

SAIL - - Boat Works Ask Sail -

Q: I pur­chased a so­lar panel from an au­to­mo­tive store to give my house bat­ter­ies a trickle charge over the win­ter. It is rated as wa­ter­proof, but I found that just one seag­ull drop­ping took the panel out­put of 0.75 amp down to almost zero un­til I cleaned it off. Are all so­lar pan­els this sen­si­tive to a sin­gle poopa­roo? — J. Staats, San Diego, CA GOR­DON WEST REPLIES In­ex­pen­sive au­to­mo­tive/RV pan­els may be in­ter­nally wired up in se­ries, where a sin­gle drop of any­thing can bring them down to min­i­mal charg­ing cur­rent. Get a panel from a marine store! With its par­al­lel type in­ter­con­nec­tions, a sin­gle bird drop won’t much af­fect its out­put. That said, it is still a good idea to al­ways keep so­lar pan­els clean, think on a daily ba­sis when out at sea, in par­tic­u­lar.

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