NEW SOLAR SYSTEM
Now..... there are things that come naturally, and things that don't! As a carpenter I do class myself as being a hands on person, and not much phases me, but electricity, well for a start you can't see the damn stuff, and second, there are so many variants, watts, amps, ohms, volts and so on, getting your head round it is challenging to say the least.
When we purchased Kejstral we kind of knew at some point we would have to look at creating alternative energy. She was only boasting 3 x 75amp Exide Ultra batteries, to which one was dedicated to starting the engine, and the other 2 to the domestic supply.
Just 2 nights aboard confirmed the need for an upgrade, after having to run the engine at both ends of the day to top up.
SO, WHERE DO YOU START....
Social Media seemed like a popular choice of many, so I posted on a few of the groups I follow, and immediatly the responce was encouraging. There is a lot of experience out there and it was good to tap into it and ponder the advice.
Without exception, everyone suggested we calculate our power usage including the instruments, autopilot, fridge, radio etc etc etc.
There are many free calculators online, just choose the one that suits yourself.
We worked out that on average we would consume approx 250 - 280 watts. Of course there will be anomolies, such as using the inverter for her indoors hair straightners & hair dryer :)
With these figures in mind we calculated we would need a panel capacity of minimum 280watts, so we rounded it up to 300watts and ordered 3 x 100 Polycrystalline panels from our local chandlers in Didim.
Along with the panels we ordered 20m of 6mm cable (Black & Red) a 20amp solar control box and all the plugs, connectors we would need.
Back aboard Kejstral and it was time to ponder over where we should mount the 3 panels. Being on a budget does sometimes take the ease out of making decisions, and having a stainless steel frame fabricated was definately out of the question. We opted for the cheaper option, that being aluminium, and sourced 3 x 6m lengths from a local supplier at a cost of only 90 turkish Lira or $31.00.
Once we had all the stainless fixing we needed from a local Chandler, we headed back to begin fitting.
The Bimini on Kejstral has seen better days so we chose to fix the frame directly on to the top, knowing that we will replace the Sunbrella in the not too distant future. This went well and we soon had all three panels firmly fixed and ready for wiring.
After connecting all three panels in parallel, we ran the positive and negative wires down the Bimini frame and drilled 2 x 6mm holes into the GRP on the starboard rear quater. These then ran through the aft cabin under the bunk, and into the battery compartment.
They were then wired into the 20amp solar control box, and onto the batteries.