We wanted to post an update from Ed Eisen who wrote an article about having gone solar that we published back in April 2019. He originally added 2x110W SunPower E-flex solar panels to his Jeanneau 43, you can read that full install article here
Ten Months Later
by Ed Eisen
"We installed our system in February 2019. As I write this final section, it is December 30, 2019 and I've had experience with the system in all sorts of weather and seasonal variations of sunlight. The system has been stellar and has charged our batteries fully on foggy days and on sunny days with only a few exceptions. During a sunny summer day we charge up well before noon.
During southern California’s 'June Gloom' we experienced days when the sun was heavily obscured until 3:00pm. Even though the days were long, by the time the sun was visible, it was low in the sky and at a poor angle to the panels. Also, the cliffs of Catalina Island were to our west creating an early sunset. Despite these challenges, our two panels almost always fully charged the batteries, even if just barely. By the end of September, with the days getting shorter and the sun much lower, I noticed that the batteries took longer to fully charge. The longer nights required the batteries to work more resulting in lower morning voltage. Still the system was working well.
However, I thought why not add two more panels and get faster charging both earlier and later in the short days? Lyall at Sun Powered Yachts told me, “I've never heard anyone complain that they have too much solar.” I designed the system for up to four panels, so we maxed it out with two more 110W panels for a total of 440 watts. The results are amazing. For example, today with a heavily clouded sky, less than ten hours of daylight and the sun angled low in the sky, the system acts more like it did last summer.
"Adding solar to our boat transformed our days on the water"
I did have to move the original wiring and replace the adapter cables with a set that went from four wires to one. Now the adapters and most of the cables fit and are hidden in the middle bimini support sleeve. The wires come directly from the sleeve to the back stay and look neat and professional.
Adding solar to our boat transformed our days on the water. Instead of the inconvenience of dealing with the generator and having to listen to (and smell) it run, we enjoy our happy hour knowing that the batteries are already charged. The solar system charges the batteries more completely than the generator. Rarely did the generator/charger combination charge the batteries 100 percent whereas the solar does that every day, silently, with no effort and no filling a gas tank.
Since installing the original two panels, we have not used the Honda generator at all. Now with four panels, the batteries are fully charged even earlier in the day, stay charged later in the day and are less affected by weather and hours of sunlight. After over a decade of dependable service, the Honda is now semi-retired in our garage at home waiting for the next infamous California power outage.
Ed & Diane