Wow what another busy boatshow that has taken us more than a few days to recover from! The boatshow in San Diego at the SunRoad Marina was a lot of fun and in between chatting with people it's always nice to wander the booths & docks to see what's new and check out the beautiful boats.
First look at the SunPower 170W E-Flex panel
We were happy to be showcasing the only 170W panel in the USA! The demo panel was flown in ahead of the shipment of 170W panels that will soon be arriving by sea from the SunPower factory in France. Those that stopped by our booth got to see and feel the panel and be surprised at how lightweight & flexible it is. Weighing in at 6.3lbs this panel packs a punch, rated at 29.4Volts and producing 5.84Amps, which means more power in less space thanks to the latest Gen III 25% efficient solar cells.
The new SunPower 170W is proving popular with the growing number of boaters that are running higher voltage Lithium-Ion battery banks aboard. With a 48V battery bank you could put 2x170W panels in series and be charging at a rated 58.8V. When paired with a Victron Energy SmartSolar 100/30 MPPT charge controller you could be putting in around 7A per hour at 48V.
For most boaters with a 12V battery bank the 170W panel is also awesome as it operates at a higher voltage the MPPT charge controller will take those extra volts (above the voltage needed to charge a 12V battery which could be as much as 14V) and turn them into useable amps.
More power than you expect
eg. 1x170W panel paired with a Victron Energy SmartSolar 75/15 will take the 29.4V from the panel and give say 14V to the 12V battery. That means there's an extra 15.4V that the charge controller can turn into amps (in this case 6.36Amps) So your 170W panel is really charging your battery at 14V with 12.14Amps/hr!
"Well, where's the rest of it?"
With an E-Flex panel in their hands a lot of people said "Well, where's the rest of it?" Although solar has been around for a number of years and everyone is familiar with seeing it on houses and commercial buildings it is really only in the last couple of years that prices have come down, efficiency has gone up and the technology allows for these lightweight, flexible panels to be made.
"Where are these made?"
Another popular question at the boatshow was where are these panels from? No, they are not from China! The solar cells are made in a SunPower factory in the Philippines and then sent to a SunPower factory in France where the panels are assembled.
SunPower is truly a global company with it's headquarters in California. They have been leading the solar industry from their beginning in 1985.
"Can you put these on my boat today? I leave for Ensenada in the morning?"
The owner of a Fountaine Pajot 41' catamaran stopped by our booth to chat with us about the existing solar panels that were on his boat that he had recently purchased. They had been on there for about 4-5 years and were not performing so well. His boat was docked right there at the show and he was headed to Mexico but if we could put on some new SunPower panels quickly he would jump at the boatshow special price.
With the help of Brian at Upgrade Marine, an installer in San Diego, we were able to remove the old (and clearly UV damaged) three Solbian 100W panels and replace them with four brand new SunPower 110W panels. This was 46% more solar power than he had before and because of the high efficiency it took up less deck space! We were able to use the existing wiring and MPPT charge controller so the job was done in around 3 hours. The owner was very happy with his new 440W SunPower system and was on their way the next morning to Ensenada!
Thank you from Katie & Lyall
Thank you to everyone that we got to chat with at our booth, or who attended one of Katie's free solar seminars. We love to chat solar and sailing and want to help you start enjoying the benefits of going solar aboard your yacht. Start sailing with the sun today!