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We who are about to shop...

The nice people at Integrated Power Systems ( in British Columbia seem to be on the ball when it comes to helping me make purchasing decisions, so I am forgoing "cheapest" for "seems to have experience and knowledge I lack". Because I am making decisions that have to stand for the duration, one hopes, of a multi-year cruise (ditto), I remain, while not averse to price points, not entirely focused on them, either.

Now, all this unaccustomed fiscal splashing about is happening because I appear to have a welder who wants to weld (yes, incredible but true), and who has already been aboard and has already had a constructive idea or two about how best to bang together Alchemy's Arch of Sunny Amperage. But, he said, and I understand why, that in order to get the curves right, he needs an example of one of the solar panels ( in question (see picture above).

Well, shipping is expensive. Why not get a bunch of stuff now and assemble as we go?

After some 1-800 discussion, the fellows at IPS are recommending four of the above panels, a MPPT controller called an Outback FM-60 ( and a multi-function monitor for the battery banks (yet to be purchased) called a Bogart Pentametric (

Throw in various cables, clamps, connectors and shunts and a lot of installation and we're well on the road to energy independence.

I won't even get into the money I'm spending, but anyone who owns a boat will have gotten used to the "rapid transfusion" aspect.


the captain said...

Do you mind sharing what your anticipated amp usage will be and what 4 of these panels can generate? Looking good.

Rhys said...

No, not at all (you caught me checking my blog on a good night!).

The Pentametric and the FM-60 (for the wind gen and the solar panels, respectively) overlap a bit in function, but will allow me to closely monitor usage and input via the solar, wind, alternator and, in a pinch, Honda EU2000 portable generator.

The battery bank (as yet unfinalized) will be 4 x 8D AGMs for the house, for roughly 840 Ah, of which I wish to use up to 30%, or 250 Ah, in the absence of any charging. The fridge eats about 3 amps/h, or 72 amps per day (rounded up a 1/3...actual should be less due to loads of insulation).

The panels are rated for 135 W each, but realistically, if I get a third of this (times four panels) over 12 hours of daylight, I'll do well. This is why I will also have wind. Motor-sailing on a sunny day with the alternators (2 x 75 amps), the sun and the wind producing will "top me up" quickly.

Excess will in part go to the start battery and to the windlass battery, which will be charged via Xantrex Echo Charger. After that, it's going to be possible to disengage both solar and wind.

The other draws are either intermittent (RADAR, inverter, perhaps a small watermaker, bilge pumps, SSB radio, charging PC batteries and other devices), and/or minimal, such as LED lighting.

Basically, the goal is to avoid running the engine just to generate power for up to a week on the anchor. I suspect normal routines will dictate a quick motor out to beyond the reef or three-mile limit anyway, or simply to continue voyaging. So while I will retain stuff like hot water heater supply and pressure water pumps and electric windlass, in practice, the boat will be quite manual, with black bags to make hot shower and wash water, foot pumps to meter out fresh water usage, and so on. There will in most cases be two methods minimum to do work aboard: muscle and motor. If I can generate excess supply, I don't mind using it; I'm not spending thousands to be a nautical Luddite. But if my battery reserve drops below a certain as yet undetermined point, we light lamps and play cards if the alternative is running the engine before we are actually moving the boat.

Liz said...

Talked to Ms Mmmmmmm tonight.
Just.........thank you.
You(all) are Good People.
Mata ne