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Houseboat Solar Panels

I have solar panels charging my

  • house battery bank

    Votes: 7 70.0%
  • inverter battery bank

    Votes: 7 70.0%
  • engine starting batteries

    Votes: 4 40.0%

  • Total voters
    10
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BartsPlace

Moderator
Staff member
Hi all -

Like many, we're using solar power to recharge battery banks on the houseboat. In talking with other houseboaters, I'm finding different strategies/uses for solar than I had previously contemplated. I'm wondering how you're all using solar? What are the most common approaches? What are the more creative approaches?

In looking at other houseboat installs, it seems many people concentrate on solar for the house battery bank. I think our solar panel system is connected to the inverter battery bank. Some have done split systems feeding both. Some have a combined house/inverter bank. And I've also seen smaller panels dedicated to just the starting batteries (to keep them topped off).

What are your thoughts? How are you currently set up? Would you change something if given the opportunity? Finally, if you were to buy a boat without solar, what would be your first priority for solar charging?

Thanks!

- Bart
 

cfulton

Well-Known Member
Talk to Bill West at Laketime. They manage several boats with solar panels and are installing more. I'm on Tuscan Vista and those panels were installed by one of the owners (who was in the solar business) about 5 years ago. They work WONDERFULLY but I don't know the details of the installation.
Chuck Fulton
 

woodhead

Active Member
Bart, your scenario is exactly what we as an associatiation just faced. In late July of 2016 we purchased a 97 Somerset, a 16x75. That first year we went through a lot of generator fuel. We were not very happy with our battery situation. So the beginning of last year we installed 9-320 watt panels with 3 outback 150amp charge controllers That feed 8 Trojan golf cart batteries. Followed buy an old 2500 watt trace inverter. They keep our house/inverter battery’s topped off nicely. That runs most of our led lights and a 97 refrigerator and a 7 cf freezer and an ice maker 24-7. We don’t keep the boat in a slip and most of our members are minimalists. As a group we don’t like to run the generator much. That being said our end plan for this system is to add 18 more panels, new lithium technology batteries and a new heat pump/water exchanger type air handler unit. We want to run it all over night all on our solar panels/battery setup. Unfortunately battery tech is not quite there yet (price wise). I give it 2-4 years and it should be doable. For me that means within a reasonable price. I could do all this right now if I didn’t care about spending $50,000 on my solar system. It has been really fun to take our boat semi-off the grid. This is an exciting time for battery tech and manufacturing. It’s very hard to be patient.
 

Bill Sampson

Escalante-Class Member
Battery storage is starting to be a big item in the solar business that I work in. I agree with the opinion that battery storage has a long way to go. We went to a show specifically for battery storage and the long time Trojan batteries were still the battery of choice, although there is competition now. In the next 2 years I think the changes will be plentiful. Tesla is really pushing the technology barrier.
 

SeaLegs

Well-Known Member
Battery storage is starting to be a big item in the solar business that I work in. I agree with the opinion that battery storage has a long way to go. We went to a show specifically for battery storage and the long time Trojan batteries were still the battery of choice, although there is competition now. In the next 2 years I think the changes will be plentiful. Tesla is really pushing the technology barrier.

We are looking to replace our 4 Duracell 6v golf cart batteries for storage, any recommendations would be appreciated.
 

woodhead

Active Member
Our biggest problem with the power wall is the size we have no where to hang it. I would rather have it stored under the deck.
 

Flipper

Well-Known Member
We have a solar system on our boat that is almost self sufficient. 16 - 250 watt panels, 8 batteries - twin 3500 watt outback invertors. It runs our entire boat. Has a 12 volt transformer that handles what small amount of 12 volt needs - toilets and a few lights. Charges the motor batteries. Runs the swamp cooler, fridge 24-7. Television, ceiling fans, hot water, and lights all we need. With full sun we rarely run the generator. Our boat is totally electric, the only thing that runs on propane is the grill. It will run the Air conditioner, but that is about all it will run if the A C is on. Swamp cooler works great most of the time. When it rains and the humidity is up it is not nearly as effective. I shut the water heater off except for midday when the batteries are charged up. When we cook on the electric stove at night we run the generator for 30 minutes or so because of the high electrical demand the stove needs. If we cook during the day the system handles the electrical demand just fine. The invertors are rated at 7 KW for continuous use. The panels will produce 3.6 to 3.8 KW with full sun. Was not cheap or easy to install, but is nice to have. Helps a lot on fuel cost and worries about Carbon Monoxide issues. Don't know if I'll live long enough to recoup the cost.
 

Bill Sampson

Escalante-Class Member
Battery storage is starting to be a big item in the solar business that I work in. I agree with the opinion that battery storage has a long way to go. We went to a show specifically for battery storage and the long time Trojan batteries were still the battery of choice, although there is competition now. In the next 2 years I think the changes will be plentiful. Tesla is really pushing the technology barrier.
I just returned from the SPI Solar Show at the Anaheim Convention Center this week. There were a lot of battery storage suppliers there, but the dominant type is still the wet cell battery. I saw one lithium vendor there, but they had a small booth. I was disappointed that this technology is taking so long to come around. In my line of work I hear a lot about battery storage interest, but having a developer talk about it and then purchase it is a total different situation.
 
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