After much procrastinating, we thought it was time the Atlantic Tower arch that came with the boat, actually met up with its intended partner, so we borrowed the van from Passage, and finally got the arch to the boat, with the intent of just seeing how Fred had imagined the whole installation to be. And so began the solar installation, which, among with moving house, became a multi-week project that can be basically broken down into three stages:
1. Arch installation
As will all jobs this one took on a life of its own particularly as we, after much jigging around, realized exactly where the arch was intended to go (in front of the backstay, not behind) at that the forward ‘feet’ and backing plates were going to end up in the aft cabin and the pilot berth, which involved cutting out the ceiling panel, bonding in a leveling piece, etc. … and, the boat now had an arch.
2. Solar Panel installation
Deciding how forward/aft these should go, and exactly how to mount them to minimize any nuts (bolt heads) protruding below was the challenge. The positioning was relatively easy, but making the underneath surface as neeat (and head friendly) as possible involved some thinking, and eventually buying a $100 drill head that would cut holes in the aluminum support bars large enough to get a socket wrench through. All worth it though, and the install went fairly well, except or one weirdly cross threaded bolt/nut that had to be corrected the next weekend (after being threatened with the angle grinder).
3. Cable running, MPPT and wiring
Julian assigned to getting the wiring installed at the panels, through the arch, and down through the deck (and including a wire for a light to be also installed under the arch), and Colin assigned to the tricky work below, figuring out how to get the wiring sorted so the panels charge the batteries (the ultimate objective).
Main Equipment List
- Altantic Tower custom aluminum arch, with panel mounting hardware (4 x support bars, feet, backing plates, etc.)
- 2 x 275 Watt Canadian Solar panels
- Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100/50 Solar Charge Controller 100V 50A with Bluetooth
- Victron BMV-712 Battery Monitor
- 2 of 30 FEET 10 AWG 10 Gauge UL Solar Panel Extension Cable Wire
Ok so lesson well learned. NEVER hook up the batteries wrong to your MPPT. Apparently it has an internal fuse that can’t be replaced. So some money later we are up and running with solar. Spent all night with the shore power off. Fridge and freezer running and did well. Big test soon on the hook for weekend with only solar
- UPDATE: January 12, 2019: Just installed a piece of Acrylic between the two panels to creat a bit more rain cover, but still allow the view through to the main and the masthead. Yet to be filled … the hole for the backstay.