Adding a solar panel / new batteries

The batteries on Freya were too worn out to properly hold a charge – I was unable to start the engine after she was put back in the water, there was no juice left to turn the starter after only a couple weeks on the hard. The previous owner used a small trickle charger connected to shore power to maintain enough of a charge to get going but obviously, this was not an ideal solution. I’m also somewhat allergic to electrical shore connections on a boat: they can greatly increase the risk of stray current corrosion and force you to dock somewhere to recharge. Therefore, I decided to install a small solar panel to solve the problem (I was also influenced by my time with Sagitta in this regard, she had 60W of solar power and we never took the shore power cord out of the locker). I also replaced the batteries and secured them according to ABYC standards (E 10.7 for the curious) since the previous installation was not particularly pretty (or safe for that matter).

To keep costs low, I relied on off-the-shelf components available online. “Marinized” versions of many products are often required but in this case, I figured a simple waterproof panel would do, coupled with a home-grade controller installed inside the cabin where it would stay dry. All the wiring was done using marine-grade components. For reference, the solar panel is a HQRP 20 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel 20W and the controller a HQRP 10A Solar Panel Two Battery Charge Controller / Regulator. The total cost for both was barely $100.

Halfway through the installation I ran into the problem of how to mount the panel on the pushpit. It turns out you can easily re-purpose grill mounts from Magma to get a quick, clean installation – I only had to drill and tap a few additional holes into the panel’s aluminum frame.