Thursday, February 7, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

Here comes the sunHere comes the sun, and I sayIt's all right
Here comes the sunHere comes the sun It's all right
 It's all right
Rocco, our neighbor on a 40' 1970 Morgan calls this our Helo Pad!

I maxed out the  Bracing to make sure it was as storm proof as possible.

Definitely changes the profile

A bit of shade and protection for the aft deck and the dingy.

If this thing blows off it will take the whole Stern Pulpit with it!.
Zen Master Duane fires up the controller for the first time after  a Masterful installation job!

The Badboy Outback Flex 60 MPPT Charge controller.
 It's all right
 It's all right

Here Comes the Sun!

Every morning I wake up now I think of this Beatles tune. The Sun always wakes me and I know that my batteries are already being charged by all that beautiful sunlight. I did not realize I would feel so great about being off the diesel and into the Sun. I love looking at the digital monitor on the Outback Flex 60 MPPT Charge Controller. It has all sorts of Data available at the push of a button. Mostly it says “do not worry about your power needs, I am taking care of all that!” I had all sorts of titles thought up for this post but the song won out.
I had planned on installing the charge controller myself as several sailors had counseled me and said, “It’s Easy, you can do it” So I read as much as I could including the owners manual three times. The problem is that the owners manuals are written for Land based installation, not a vessel surrounded by water. When inquiring on proper wire, connector, fuse, and breaker size I am not enough electrician to have faith in my ability to safely and properly make those decision. I awoke in a bit of a sweat one night when I was close to starting the installation. I knew then that I had to get the assistance of a pro since I would never know for sure if I had made all the correct decisions. This could lead to a lot of sleepless nights and second guessing.

Zen and the Art of Charge Controller Installation

I rode my bike over to SALT (Sea and Land Technologies), just about three blocks from the Marina. I asked for a work order for a tech to come to the boat and assist in the installation. Just Two days later they called and said he would come that day and the installation would be complete in just a couple of hours. It's All Right! I immediately started moving things out of the way and got the 10 gauge wire that we bought with the panels feed through so that when the tech arrived he could immediately start the installation . The Admiral made plans to do stuff around Marathon for the day. Duane Shelton from SALT called me and asked a few basic questions. He said he had everything needed for the install and to come get him at the Dingy Dock. I had him, his tools and the wiring materials on board right away. Duane was a absolute pro. He reminded me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Every time he mad a cut, connection or measurement (without a measuring tape) his work was as perfect and deliberate as I could judged.I was so relieved to have this man install this critical piece and answer all my questions about every part. He educated me on all the missing pieces still dangling in my head, and most of all he confirmed that all my previous decisions on this project were right on. Huge piece of mind!

No more running the engine 2+hours per day to charge the batteries. The panels and the controller have the batteries completely charged before noon each day. This is a miracle to me. Rocco asked me what we were going to do with all the extra power, I told him we planned on making Popsicles!

Here is a summary of the Materials and cost:
Two REC 245 watt, 37 volt panels with 50' of 10 gauge wire and connectors: $605
Outback Flex 60 Controller and two MC4 2 branch parallel connectors $570
Outback Remote Temperature Sensor: $37
Aluminum mounting frame and all supporting brackets and fastening hardware $531.06
SALT Technician parts and Labor to install charge controller $365.94
My Labor: 44 hours Free
Total: $2109.26

The Immediate savings from the panels is reducing running the engine by at least 60 hours per month, reducing fuel use by 20+ gallons a month approx $1100 a year.  In a years time this saves maintenance on the engine by reducing the number of oil, belt and impeller changes by three times, about $350 of maintenance materials. So in Less than 2 years this system will pay for itself then we are just banking. Even at the dock the electrical use will be less. Bob who is here on his 41' Tarten told me that he would get a $40-45 dollar electrical bill each month at the dock (In Texas) and after he installed his panels that amount dropped to about $5.00. Yes I know this could not include air conditioning cost but I got the message. It reduces the number of times I go to get fuel using Jerry cans, it is way better for the environment, NO NOISE, and best of all less of my money goes to the MAN! Want to thank Carry Stotland for debating the + and - of series VS Parallele installation. Learned a lot from you!
I encourage all to do what they can to utilize non-fossil fuel sources of power, Wind and solar for sure. It will pay for itself and maybe even get our Dear Planet Earth back to a healthy state.....Still Dreaming!

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