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Prioritizing solar when on shore power

When we find ourselves in a marina the tendency is to connect to shore power and forget about it (even with solar on the bimini). The shore power will take 'priority' over any solar coming in and keep your batteries topped up & happy and also power everything aboard at the same time.

This is not too much of an issue if power is included in your slip fee however that changes when power is charged (daily fee or metered). Why pay for power when you could be using the solar power you already have and save some $$$.

Recently in the Bahamas power was charged and so the incentive was there to use solar:

West End - $0.70 / ft / night

Freeport - $0.50 / kWh

Abacos - $0.85 / kWh

Eleuthra - $0.75 / kWh

We have been in marinas where we would just not connect to shore power at all (if a daily charge) or flick the power on and off at the pedestal as and when needed (if metered). More often than not this was us relying on the solar in the day and early evening, but then turning the shore power on for overnight to run some large 110V fans through the night.

It's not the best solution and easy to forget if shore power was on or off. Maybe one day we will invent a widget that solves everything, connects to your shore power plug and prioritizes solar..! But in the meantime Victron has a solution with their recently released new feature called 'solar (and wind) priority'.

Victron's new feature: solar (and wind) priority

This is a highly requested feature that Victron released towards the end of 2023 and can be used only if you have a Victron inverter/charger (Multiplus or Quattro). Essentially when plugged into shore power any solar (or wind) power will take priority, so you are making the most of the clean renewable power aboard first and helping reduce your bill at the marina - win, win! All DC loads and battery charging will be from solar, but AC loads will still be from shore power - this can be adjusted in the Ignore AC settings.

To initiate solar and wind priority go to the Victron Connect app on your phone/tablet, select your inverter/charger from the device list, go to settings (cog icon) then advanced and select 'prioritize other energy sources'

If installed you will see 'sustain mode' on your Cerbo GX and notice a small icon on the battery of a windmill and sun. As you can see in the image below solar is providing 181Watts and shore power only 4Watts.

The two videos above from Victron explain this feature well but here are some of our key takeaways:

  • Must have solar (or wind) power aboard

  • Works with all battery types

  • Can leave your shore power plug connected

  • Requires a Victron Multiplus (or Quattro) inverter/charger with firmware update (v. 506)

  • 'Charge batteries now' feature (requires Cerbo GX)

  • 'Sustain mode' - powers DC loads & charges battery from solar but AC loads are from shore power

  • 'Ignore AC' option - can be selected so that solar/wind/battery power all DC & AC loads

  • Something we wanted to go into a little more detail about was explaining this sustain mode. It will connect to shore power and complete a full charge (to 100%) after 7 days (default) but not go back into sustain mode ie. not go back to solar priority. The amount of days can be adjusted in the VictronConnect app by going to settings charger and then 'repeated absorption interval'

Other useful resources:

Victron Energy:

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