We have been testing our 150 and 160 watt solar panels for the past few years on extended cruises. While at anchor, on a sunny day, our battery banks are usually topped off by about 1 PM. We run our refrigerator/freezer 24/7. So why not use a smaller 100 or 120 watt solar panel and plug in a flexible panel on the rare occasion we need more charging power? This is what we will be testing while cruising this summer. It's a simple arrangement. We will carry a 100 watt flexible solar panel under a bunk cushion. If we need extra charging power we will simply plug it in using a T-branch connector at our pole mounted 120 watt panel and secure the flexible panel to the bimini top. That gives us 220 watts of power through our 20 amp MPPT controller. Several of our customers have reported using this configuration and are very satisfied with it. I'll report our results at the end of the season. Now, gotta go sailing and start testing.
Thomas Trimmer has been cruising with his Ericson 38 sailboat on the Great Lakes for over 20 years. He has pioneered the use of solar energy for wilderness cruising. He is continually designing and building equipment to simplify and enhance the cruising experience.