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Author Topic:   Solar Battery Charger
eportfolio posted 09-20-2007 09:13 AM ET (US)   Profile for eportfolio   Send Email to eportfolio  
I know this question has been on the forum before; I've read many of them. What solar chargers are you using for your boat? I've noticed several of them on the market are NOT weatherproof. I'm talking about the ones sold through West Marine, Boater's World and Bass Pro Shop.

Am I kidding you ask? NO! They are meant to be attached "to the inside of the windshield." But my Montauk's windwhield won't protect it from the elements.

Why are BOATING stores selling solar panels for CARS?

Anyhow, I'm still looking for a solar trickle charger to be kept ON my boat IN the weather.

Can anyone recommend one?

Henry posted 09-20-2007 11:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for Henry  Send Email to Henry     
Yes I would like to know also.
Frank O posted 09-20-2007 07:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Last year I bought a Sunsei SE-400 through West Marine:

It appeared to me to be fairly well ruggedized for marine use. For example the cords had a sealing interface (O-rings or something similar -- I'm not quite remembering as I don't have them in front of me) where they plugged in to the panel. The manufacturer has a lot of pictures with this kind of panel mounted on the outside of, say, an RV.

I thought it did a decent job of keeping my batteries topped up. However, eventually I arrived at the boat one day to find a long crack running down the length of the glass on one edge of the panel. It looked to me as though a bird might have run into the panel, or someone hit it with something. (Stranger things have happened -- sometimes I arrive at my boat to find console switches set differently from how I'm certain I left them the previous week.) This put it out of commission.

I probably won't get another one until I redo the boat's power system sometime over the next year. I'd like to get a somewhat larger panel that I can be sure can recharge a semi-drained battery -- it looks as though this size is primarily rated just to keep a topped-up battery from self-discharging. I'd also like to set up a system that charges the boat's two batteries on separate circuits.

where2 posted 09-20-2007 11:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
We're using the ICP 15W panel from west marine. Our 25' Whaler Frontier at work has this attached to any one of the four batteries at any given time. At last check, 3 of the batteries were running 2V (yes two), and the fourth was running 13.4v. Yes, we're running a charge controller on the solar.

I'm somewhat disappointed at the results on the boat.

I haven't looked on the roof of the two work trucks that I mounted the 5w solar panels on top of since I mounted them... The way the guys beat up everything else on the trucks, they're probably cracked, despite being mounted on the roof of the pickup cap. (again, west marine don't precisely recall which mfg made those, but I can check at work, and check on their condition).

Peter posted 09-25-2007 11:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
I am using two 6W Sunsei SE-400's on my 27 Whaler WD, one for each battery. They seem to do a good job of preventing the batteries from self draining over the week. I can tell that they are working by the 14+ V reading on the Navman 3100 built-in voltmeter when I first switch it on for the weekend.

I haven't had any problems with the integrity of them in the elements but you do have to be careful because they have glass panels. I actually dropped the very first one I had and shattered the glass.

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