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Thread: Solar charging light electronics on board

  1. #1
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    Default Solar charging light electronics on board

    Getting a snot built 23' sailboat up and running for this season, going to do some cruising with my brother down in Long Island Sound, etc. We would like a relatively simple and cost effective way to recharge some smaller items, phones, ipad, and most importantly the VHF handheld. Nothing too serious or heavy draws. Don't mind trickle charging a 12v and then taking it off of that, but wondering about other more direct options. There are about a million ways to skin this cat.

    Would anyone like to share their solutions for small boat cruising?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    Dunno how it would fit into your needs, but we bought a 50-watt solar panel a year ago to use to recharge a trolling motor on the inflatable dinghy. It keeps up with our daily usage cruising--an hour or so a day running the motor, keeping the 12 motor battery charged. That's probably more than you need for phones, etc, but these would easily be handled. It's a rigid panel, about two feet square. Price is about $80, which is less than many lesser panels. You might find the power handy, if you have he room for the panel. It sits on the back of the dinghy, which is pretty small.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    Not solar, but if you will be boiling water aboard at all, this could be part of your charging system:




    Size: 2 Quart




    • Starts working right away so you don't have to wait longer for your electronics
    • Compatible with almost anything that charges with a USB for universal use
    • Lightweight material makes it great to take on camping trips
    • Works on almost any heat source for ultimate versatility
    • Use in emergency situation for everything from phones to fans


    https://www.amazon.com/Power-Pot-Por.../dp/B00KR14508

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    I have a small solar panel that feeds a 12v motorcycle battery (sealed gel type so no acid to worry about) the battery is wired to a little electrical panel with 6 switched circuits. One for the GPS, one for the masthead light (combo anchor/sailing LED) and one for a USB-style charging port. I've been meaning to see if the hand-held VHF I have has a 12v charger option but it seems to run forever on a single charge.

    The manual for my 6hp Tohatsu OB indicates I could put an alternator on it but that only works with the engine running. I think the solar to battery system is about as simple and portable as it gets, and totally passive-I just leave the panel on the cabin top feeding the battery all day without my having to think too much about it.
    Steve

    Boats, like whiskey, are all good.
    R.D Culler

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    I have a pair of 30 watt Renogy panels wired in parallel to feed a Genasun GV-5 charge controller. This charges the flooded lead acid house battery and shuts off when the battery is full. I have not had any issues with the battery being over charged. Nor have I had to replenish the electrolyte. The reason for the two panels in parallel is to get around some of the shading problems with the rigging and mast.
    Will

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    If your devices all have USB charging capability, you can do what I did and get a small portable solar panel and accompanying battery:
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...-and-Oar/page2 see post #69.

    This has the bonus of being portable for use on other boats and when doing other outdoor activities
    Alex

    "A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. We do be afraid of the sea, and we only be drowned now and again" Aran Islands Fisherman

  7. #7
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    Dec 2003
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    CT
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    If we run into you and can raft up, we can loan you all the 12V power you need. See your PM's.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    It's nothing sexy, Phil. You may not want us rafting up to you. An Aquarius 23, basically a floating shoe box with a mast. Great livability and slow as a three-legged pig in six feet of snow. We're heading out to Block Island and then doing some triathlon. I'm not sure what I signed up for, really. All I know is I want that VHF to be charged at all times.

    PROMOTIONAL BROCHURE 1970 era PICTURE it never looks like this.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    Quote Originally Posted by callsign222 View Post
    It's nothing sexy, Phil. You may not want us rafting up to you. An Aquarius 23, basically a floating shoe box with a mast. Great livability and slow as a three-legged pig in six feet of snow.
    bet you fall in love, just a little... it's tough for sailors not to!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    A friend of mine carries one of those little auto emergency start batteries, its maybe the size of three packs of cards, has a USB charger point in it and he uses it to keep a laptop and a phone all charged up. Said it carried both for more than two weeks of fairly frequent use. The Lappy was doing all the navigating so was "on" for a lot of hours.

    John Welsford
    An expert is but a beginner with experience.

  11. #11
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    Uki, NSW, Australia
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    I have an 80 watt panel hooked up to a 100 amp hour battery. All my lights are led. It works just fine.
    My take is that if you poke someone with a sharp stick they'll get annoyed, if you smile and shake their hand they will be your friends.

    John Welsford

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    Hey, my uncle had an Aquarius. Trailered it all over the place and loved it.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    I have two gel filled U-1 size batteries (Small tractor/big motorcycle) hidden under the floorboards sideways, and a flexible solar panel that lashes on the cabin or deck, whatever. It keeps a charge maintained with a phone, Ipad, and GPS type "fish finder", as well as some LED lighting in the evening for reading, writing etc. Has never let me down, 10 days in a row sailing I can return home with a full charge. (I also keep a small trickle charger and cord on board in the event I am at a dock with shore power)

    This one
    https://www.amazon.com/PowerFilm-R-7...3943467&sr=1-6

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    I have a cheap jump-starter and a 13W solar panel to charge it. Enough to charge phone, GPS and VHF and running lights at night.
    I've removed the cables, and added an extra cigarett socket so I can plug in two things at the same time. Volt meter and cabin light included for free
    Quote Originally Posted by Yeadon View Post
    Probably the greatest thread in the history of the WoodenBoat Forum.
    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan Gibbs View Post
    Probably the greatest post in the history of the WoodenBoat Forum.
    -~: Roughshod Riding Rabble Rousing Rebel :~-
    Peer of The Most Ancient and Noble Order of the Lauging Polar Bear

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    Lots of good electronic charging info here, bicycle tourist stuff. https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?doc_id=9258
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    After 30 years of solar panels /barely charged batteries/flickering lights, I ended my problems with LED lights.
    That lasted about a season.
    Now ,the computers, pads, tablets ,pods and phones kill the batteries.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    There are lots of reasonable, portable, folding solar chargers intended to charge phones, etc. available. Problem I would see is that these mean sunlight when you want to charge. A smallish (50-watt) or so solar panel that keeps a smallish battery (say 35 ah) charged up means you have the power when you want to use it. This would be reasonably compact for that sized boat. The battery could also power running lights if you need them, or a few onboard electric devices, like a cooling fan for hot nights. Might note the 35 ah agm batteries sold for electric wheelchairs are pretty good, compact, an pretty reasonable. Not like lugging a full-size battery around.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    I put together a system for our (retro 1970's) caravan - 30W panel, charge controller with two integrated USB sockets, and the smallest cheapest car battery I could find. The battery is in one of those plastic battery boxes, with the controller attached to the lid, and a quick disconnect to the panel, with several metres of cable, so it is all pretty portable.
    Being land based, we just move the panel around during the day to point at the sun - this makes a huge difference, compared with having it flat on the roof. In fact, the whole thing is overkill for LED lights, phones and a laptop (we have a small 300W inverter too).
    On a sunny day, with shuffling the panel around every couple of hours, we could run the three way fridge on 12V for a couple of hours each morning, instead of gas, and have the battery back to float charging by the end of the day. The fridge pulls around seven amps. Then we'd be running a bunch of LED strip lights for several hours each night, plus the phoes etc.
    One thing to be aware of with an iPad, is that it pulls some serious current for a USB device. It took ages to charge as the built-in USB ports had quite limited output, and with the iPad connected the other USB port was useless.

    Pete
    Don't underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers!

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    In our experience cruising, we did look at a portable setup at one point. The issue is that what makes solar charging effective is averaging the operation on a 24-hour basis. If the collector is set up permanently, the movement of the boat tends to average out the exposure to the sun, and the movement of the sun through the day also means it is working in a cycle, starting at sunrise, moving through about a five-hour period when the output is high. A permanent location on a boat thus means the panel can be fairly compact, and still charge a battery daily. Also, anything that bulky not secured is a problem while sailing.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    On past boats for similar needs, I've just charged up a standard deep cycle battery -- 80 amp hours or so -- at home and found that it's enough for up to a week. On my current boat, I also need power to run an autohelm so I've added a 60W solar panel, which is more than enough to keep the battery topped up daily, even when I don't get full sun.
    -Dave

  21. #21
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    Oct 2013
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    Default Re: Solar charging light electronics on board

    Spent a weekend on the Chesapeake with WildCat, my Sea Pearl 21. 2-3 reefs mizzen and 4-5 on main most of the time in really gusty wind....yee haw! Anyway, I use this combo:

    Solar charger:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    USB Battery (2)
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I start with the batteries charged. during the day I keep the batteries zipped inside the charger pouch with the charger open on the deck of my Sea Pearl, usually on the forward deck, but behind the main, with a tether. the rig isn't waterproof, but I haven't had any issues with it, but if it's nuts out I put it away. The two batteies will charge my phone 4-6 times. I can charge them both easily on all but the cloudiest days. My only issue is my hand held VHF. It only charges on 110 or 12V. I do have a case for it that holds 4AA. I may add a usb AA charger, or buy a USB VHF.

    Good luck,
    Steve
    Take Care,
    Steve W

    Honeoye Falls, New York
    Building a B & B Core Sound 20 Mark III "Jazz Hands"
    Spindrift 11N Suzy J Build Pictures
    A little video of the Suzy J and my youngest son

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