Solar Panel Installation (Phase 1)

Solar Panel Installation on a Sailboat - SV Cadence

Energy is a funny thing. You can be all by yourself, no civilization in sight, and floating out on anchor when all of a sudden you realize you need electricity to complete some simple daily task like checking your email.

Our goal is to be completely off-grid traveling the open oceans.

But we’ll still need electricity. Energy to write this blog, to pump water from the ocean, and to check email.

That’s why we’re turning to the power of the sun.

Solar Panel Installation

This solar panel installation is only phase 1 of potentially 3 phrases. In this phase we’re adding the following components:

  • Solar charger
  • Two 50w solar panels
  • Electrical components to accept future phases

The goal is to maintain two of our energy sucking appliances: the refrigerator and the auto pilot.

Our Energy Consumption

The refrigerator runs about 6 amps at 12 volts for 5-20 minutes out of each hour. The auto pilot runs a solid 5amps for as long as we use it.

Our other major energy drains are laptops for work.

Yes, they’re battery operated, but Matt’s monster video editing laptop only lasts about 1-2 hours on battery and draws over 200 watts when charging!

Apart from that our water pumps are the other major energy consumers, but they only run for about 20 total minutes per day (sinks, showers).

Cadence’s Energy Sources

We’re fortunate that when we bought Cadence, she had a 3.5kw diesel generator onboard. This is a highly efficient energy source for producing heat (large cooking appliances), running large motors (air conditioning), and charging the battery bank.

With the recent DC-to-DC charger install, our Yanmar Diesel Engine also becomes a major energy source for quickly charging the lithium battery bank.

Finally, solar.

As of this week, we installed a 3rd 50w solar panel from Sunpower Yachts, and we now have 150w of solar. Given our two other energy sources, this is a lot!

…or at least enough for now.

Future Solar Plans

We have two more simple-to-install solar options if we need then into the future.

On top of our windshield area, there is room for 160w of solar power.

Also, we could place 170-250 watts on our dinghy davit system.

We’ll see how this first phase of the solar plan goes, and then we’ll consider upgrading if needed.

Hey, thanks for reading this blog post about our solar system installation. We’d love to hear your thoughts or answer any questions you have. Just them in the comments below!





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