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Discuss Solar panels on a canal boat in the Renewable Energy area at UKPlumbersForums.co.uk.

  1. rpm

    rpm Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Hi guys,

    Sister is here for the holidays and looking at solar panels for her canal boat, anyone done it? recommendations etc, fixed or tilted? any input gratefully received thanks.
  2. zzzjim

    zzzjim Well-Known Member

    Sounds like may need "Sparky" advice on what to buy , potentially Hi DC volts and easy access ? Unless stay with low voltage Battery support gear !
  3. ShaunCorbs

    ShaunCorbs Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    how many you thinking and what for as you can get diy kits
  4. rpm

    rpm Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Not an option for sister who once tried to pour engine oil down the dipstick tube because the oil level was low!
  5. joni os

    joni os Plumber

    Better than a man, who couldn't start his lawn mower and thinking it low on oil poured oil down the carburettor.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. stevetheplumber

    stevetheplumber Plumber GSR

    THEY ARE VERY SIMPLE TO FIT most boats seem to use the flexible ones thet just glue down with sikafix or stixal, two wires to contoller and two wires from controller to batteries only thing to remember is it must connect to the batteries before the panel
    you get better power output from mppt controllers but they are more expensive and with panels being so cheap now if you have the roofspace its more cost efective to fit more panels
    ive fitted three two rigids on my own van and a flexible on my sons vw poptop
    • Like Like x 2
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
  7. stevetheplumber

    stevetheplumber Plumber GSR

    just reread the question there are some very expensive ones that track the sun other than those i would settle for flat as the boat will move and negate any advantage of pointing them at the sun unless were taking pernemantly moored boat here
  8. rpm

    rpm Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    She has been told by other boat owners that the ones that tilt up / down are worth the extra money, can`t see it myself as would of thought panels on a flat roof would suffice. The boat does move around from time to time roughly every couple of weeks.
  9. Riley

    Riley Plumber GSR

    The ones on your van Steve do you have a link and what do you power with them??
  10. stevetheplumber

    stevetheplumber Plumber GSR

    sorry should have said on my motor home rather than van
    On a van theres many ways to wire them either to keep your van battery topped up or you could have a seperate battery wired just for internal lights or to charge stuff tell me what you think you want to do and i can probably explain what you need
    generally you wouldnt need to top up the van battery unless it sits for long periods
  11. Riley

    Riley Plumber GSR

    I'm always interested in ways of powering stuff in the van so any thoughts appreciated
  12. stevetheplumber

    stevetheplumber Plumber GSR

    its easy enough best option would be an extra leisure battery which would be wired to a split charge relay to allow it to charge via the engine when running but isolates it when you stop this means youll never run the starter battery down a small invertor would give you 240v to power chargers etc
    you could then add solar panels and a regulator to this set up to charge the extra battery whilst your parked up
    you can power the interior lights of this either via a switch or if you use a relay triggered by the exising feed you can have them automatic via the door switches
    my experience comes from my motorhoming most things can be powered but nothing that produces heat as the load would be to much but running led lights and drill chargers is ok
    there is a trade of in so much as the more you want to use the bigger the equipment needs to be and you shouldnt take batteries down below 50%
    as most batteries are 4ah max with a 100ah battery you could charge 25 times thats without no input in practice it would be less as the invertors are not 100%efficent
    generally we try to run everything direct from 12v laptops you can get 12v chargers for and pads and phones are only 5v so you use either adapters or change lighter sockets to dual usb sockets
    the tranit ive recently got rid of had an extra battery just for the lights in the back charged from split charge so you couldnt run out the main battery
  13. stevetheplumber

    stevetheplumber Plumber GSR

    our motor home has 180 wats of solar and 225 amps of battery we have yet to run out of power since we put it in and weve done 5 days in winter it powers all out lighting pump for water charges phones and laptops/pads and pumps all our water
    heat,refridgeration and water heating is done by gas
  14. stevetheplumber

    stevetheplumber Plumber GSR

    i think once weve bought something we all feel its better than the others unless theres back to back testing for comparison how do the know?
    angled is obviously better for a fixed location or they wouldnt angle the fields at solar farms but on a boat or a van you would have to be shifting them everytime you stopped and during your travels there would be losses and gains as the vehicle turned in relation to the sun
    angling them to get max power whilst moored would fully charge the batteries at a time when you wasnt using them panels are so cheap now well under a pound a watt and given the roof space available on most canal boats i would think an extra panel will produce more per pound spent
    the other thing is its ok getting the energy, its storing it that does get expensive i know fulltime motorhomers with a thousand pounds worth of batteries in large american rvs and they can run toasters microwaves hairdyrers via huge 600 pounds inverters
    like most things its a case of balancing cost against performance and your needs
  15. Worcester

    Worcester Plumber

    Sorry guys been away over Christmas. Over on the electricians forum SolarFred is your guy, this is his specialist area - he lives and breaths it :)

    He can help with all aspects, design, supply. install or just one bit of it :)

    Call Freddy (aka Steve) at Hollybrook Power Supplies 01843 834570 Canal boat / Narrowboat Solar Kits -
    • Like Like x 1
  16. rpm

    rpm Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Thanks Worcester, knew somebody would come through with help for her.
  17. Sparkgap

    Sparkgap Active Member

    Or somebody I know who mistook filler caps on a small railway loco and poured 10 gallons of diesel into the gearbox! Cleaned it up nice tho'.
  18. rpm

    rpm Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Man that`s one big gearbox!!! lol