|Compadre at the public dock in Long Beach|
I chose a 50 watt kit from GoPower. The kit includes a flexible panel, controller, wiring and fasteners.
A panel this size won't meet all of our power needs but I'm interested only in augmenting our battery power, not replacing it and this is an economical starting point that I can expand by adding another 50 watt panel if necessary.
|Cost of the GoPower 50 watt kit was just under $400|
The installation was straightforward. The first step was to determine the best place to locate the panel. I chose the area aft of the radar arch because it's pretty much out of harm's way there, and it would be easy to route the wiring from there to the battery. Once that decision was made I did the wiring, running the wires down the starboard cabin-side to the engine compartment, across the boat and up to the the DC panel above the galley where the controller would be located. Then came the fun part.
I wanted to fabricate a box that would accommodate the controller along with a USB charging port and a 12 volt outlet as well. We always seem to need more charging ports for phones, Pads, etc.
I edge-glued strips of 1" x 3/16" teak to make an 8"x 16" panel. The reason for this is because the controller and some of the other components could not accommodate a thicker panel. I then glued together a teak box and assembled the panel to it. The edge-glued surface made for an interesting grain pattern.
|Laminated panel front.|
|Rear of the panel reinforced with 1/4" plywood|
|Box is assembled and ready for varnish. |
The depth of the box accommodates the various components.
|First coat of varnish applied. The box would receive a total of seven |
coats of Epifanes high gloss.
|Solar panel is 45" long and fits nicely aft of the radar arch.|
|Wire race on the underside of the cabin top. |
The wires feed through the top at the upper left end of the race.
|Wires enter the cabin side here.|
The rocker switch on the right energizes the USB and 12v ports.
The toggle switch on the left connects the solar panel to the charge controller.
For a clean installation, I epoxied a pair of #10-24 threaded rods into the rear of the box and bolted it to the bulkhead from the inside. I removed the DC panel to gain access to this area. One interesting glitch in the installation is that the bulkhead where I wanted to mount the box is not flat. It's warped about 3/8" from corner to corner. Other than that, it was a fairly easy project to complete. We're headed over to the island soon and will find out if the 50 watt panel adds enough power for our needs.