Date: 6 June 2014.
(Standard vs. MPPT)
the grid often means making sacrifices, but I'm not into that nonsense. Not
at my age. I want and expect to have my indulgences and power plays
a part in my happiness quotient. Solar panels and the regulators
that go with them make a difference.
asked what he should do to get rid of the generator on his boat and
live life off the grid. I've been living on the hook for a while and
am almost at a suitable level of decadence. Though not quite
there yet, I am closing in. Because I do not live life tied to a
dock it is imperative that I generate power.
thing I did was buy an Air-Breeze wind generator because on the east
coast there were a lot of sea breezes starting at 10 a.m. On
the Gulf coast I'm finding my wind generator less useful than
all, I'm glad I have it. If the sun doesn't shine often the wind
does blow. And in the night those winds are charging my battery
bank. That is a good thing.
added a 75 watt solar panel and a Morningstar10 solar regulator. I
later upgraded to a
Morningstar30 regulator. The small panel
wasn't enough. This past year I added two more 100 watt panels and
I'm closing in on perfection. I like this regulator far better
because of the information provided on the screen.
Morningstar ProStar-30 solar
I bought the ProStar-30 a few years back and it is
still functioning perfectly. Though often folks stash these in
the bilge I chose to mount mine in the galley by the dinette
so I can read the figures.
That's a West Marine cigarette lighter
outlet to the right of my regulator, in case you wondered.
I have a few of those onboard Seaweed. See
What Used Boat?
article for proof positive.
The Morningstar ProStar-30
has three numbers that slowly cycle through. The first two interest
The initial shows
my Battery Voltage.
The second number that flashes is the
incoming Solar Amps. I like when that number goes
The third is Load Amps, but nothing is
hooked to that as of yet.
The bottom left corner
has a green LED that indicates when power is incoming. It is
surprising how little daylight is required for power to be
At the bottom right are
three lights, Green, Yellow, and Red.
Green is Good!
There are slight differences in the meaning of those
Green-Yellow-Red lights when charging versus after dark but
essentially this is what you need to know:
float stage (trickle charge)
|70% to 100%
||30% - 70%
For more information,
- they are the experts.
like my Morningstar30, if I didn't have real estate and was limited
to the number of panels I could fit up top, I'd have opted for an
MPPT regulator. I still wish I had one.
a bit... My latitude is 30 degrees, give or take. Think FL and GA
border. From my solar panels I get approximately 100 amp hours per
solar panel wattage, divide by 3 and call it amps -- you can get fancy, but
that's the number with a standard regulator that I'm seeing this
far from the equator. This was confirmed by an EE with a penchant
for precision. I think all Electrical Engineers have that trait.
there's a fellow up in WA state and he's got the MPPT* regulator.
He's getting the same figures as me (watts divided by 3 equals amp
hours) at his latitude.
Maximum Power Point Tracking (a type of solar regulator)
difference in a nutshell: He's getting the same amount of amp hours
into his batteries as me, although he is over 1000 miles north of
you have real estate (lots of flat space) you could do as I did and
opt for the less expensive solar regulator. On the other hand, if space is
limited, I believe you should buy the more expensive but better MPPT regulators. If money were no object, I too would have an
MPPT. They really are the best.
That said, if
your boat has a generator already I would not be so quick to shut
it down. I've been aboard a Manatee with the genny
running and couldn't hear it over the sound of the ice cubes in my
Don't be so
focused on getting it all right power-wise that you forget to live
the life. Get out here and play for a while and soon enough your
desires will determine what is next to fix/upgrade or switch to.
with what you've got at first. There's a reason your boat was
outfitted as she was. Perhaps it's not apparent today, but in six
months you'll know for certain. In the meantime add batteries, a
great charger, and live with your generator.
opinion that is.
Do you have solar panels as part of your charging
And, what type of regulator did you choose?
In the Bilges,