15. Solar panel installation on my canal narrowboat (2 x 240W Panasonic)

hello and welcome to the vlog it is an overcast day it has been raining everything's a little bit damp and squidgy I guess it's fairly typical or tunnel early winter weather not the sort of day normally when your thoughts would turn to solar panels but turn that way they must because today's the day I get my solar panels installed this is how I get my electricity at the moment nice and handy from a shoreline connection at the end of the marina pontoon a big fat wire runs over the top of the boat to the back where it plugs in and supplies my charger and the main sockets but many other boats in the marina have solar panels and like a Martian I've been turning envious eyes towards them so now I've hammered the credit card again and lashed out on a pair of these 240 watt Panasonic panels that's about 40 amps if they were both at peak power you can't just plug them straight into the battery though they go through a charge controller to regulate the current using something called MPPT to give best performance this one comes with a meter to monitor what it's up to and of course more big fat cables to take all those amps this is the space in the engine room where that'll go alongside the new inverter quite a good thing I got that inverter it freed up the space for the solar gear so what's the big deal about solar well the thing is once you are away from a marina and no longer plugged into the shore mains all the power you've got on board basically comes from your batteries and ultimately your battery bank will run down so you need to recharge it now normally as you're going along the engine recharges it to a certain degree but you may not go far enough that the engines had enough of a chance to recharge the batteries and although you can just more up and run the engine in idle that is actually very inefficient and it's not good for the engine diesel engines don't like running in idle it glazes the bores apparently whatever that means but it's bad so if you have got other ways of doing it then that is so much the better obviously you could get a generator but then you whole issues about how to store the petrol safely if you've got a petrol generator which are the cheapest and easiest type to have onboard diesel generators are fantastically expensive it seems especially if you want quiet ones and that's another issue with generators you run into the problem of annoying other boaters because you're making all that generator noise so basically if you can put solar panels on the roof you've got quiet clean free once you've paid for the installation energy that just goes on trickling into your battery bank all the while round and you don't have to do anything it's just there so where to put the panel's the back of the boat has the biggest expanse of roof space although there is the slight problem of the air vents which mean at least one panel will have to always be raised up a little there's no room at the front of the boat for solar as you get first the side hatch and then the clutter of the center line fixing another air vent the stove chimney TV and 4G aerials plus of course the gangplank and Pole the back it is then and here are all the bits laid out ready for installation including a frame bracket which will look like this on a nearby boat when all's done now it has to be said that I am somewhat of a ham-fisted numpty when it comes to DIY and the thought of attacking my boat with anything like this fills me with dread instead I've brought in a professional in the shape of Simon the chap who put my inverter in look he's got a Henry Hoover and everything he must be good the trick with solar he tells me is not measure twice cut once but measure at least 37 times cut once wise words and I'm grateful for them especially once this starts a hole in either side of each panel to take the bolt that will go through the bracket that will hold it all up even more butter clenching ly terrifying is when this happens punching a guide hole into the top of the narrow boat so that the drill can then be used to make a perfect hole to bolt the brackets into and this is what it looks like when the holes been tapped ready for that bolt or screw or whatever it is the other thing you need is sticky guns of which there seems to be a lot on narrow boats this is Sikaflex which is a marine sealant and glue to both hold the brackets and waterproof them against any dribbles getting through into the roof this plus the bolts which are tightened with an allen key should secure the brackets a little wipe around the edges once it's all squished down and squeezed out and you have a neat installation the panels can be adjusted with the knob on the end to lower raise or tilt them here it is in the highest setting with the panel to the Sun and tada here they all are once everything was finished from above you can see why I chose these panels while many high power units are one meter wide these are only 80 centimeters that means I get extra space for walking past on the roof very useful when you're taking a boat through a lock for example and need to get to the lock ladder underneath 2 wires carry around 50 volts off each panel the wires joined to each other in series so 100 volts goes down into the charge controller this is how they connect it's called an MC 4 and is supposed to be waterproof off the cables go into that white junction box which was also new and also involved drilling holes in the roof plus a load of Sikaflex to stick it down and keep the rain out inside Simon needs to screw the charge controller on to the wall just four screws nothing complicated the little meter unit goes next door screws again plus what looks like an Ethernet cable to connect the two a bit of making good with cable ties and it's all done the wires from the roof are directly above the 12-volt fuse board so they drop down into there come out the bottom across of it and then up into the charge controller a Chinese unit called a tracer bien not much Sun around but there's the 100 volts coming in on the left and a happy battery at 14.5 volts with a miserly naught point 6 amps charged in summer though that will be much higher so that's my solar now I've measured and I use about 80 amp hours a day at these panels in theory in peak Sun in the optimum conditions produce 40 amps in other words in two hours they should produce all the electricity I need every day and that means they've got enough capacity then even when the Sun isn't as strong such as in spring or autumn / along the number of hours they still should produce everything I need the only time they won't probably give me that is in winter because there's never enough Sun then but that's why you have marinas with their lovely shorelines thank you for watching hope you enjoyed the video I hope you found it useful if you're logged into YouTube and would like to give me a click on the old like button it's always very much appreciated any questions pop them down below and I'll do my best to answer thanks again bye bye

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