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Jun 18 2011

Testing the Solar Panels for the Sailboat

Before heading down to the marina to install the solar panels, I wanted to test them to ensure that the three in the kit were producing power.  If not it’ll be a short hop back to where we bought them

Although this kit was made in China (what isn’t?) it was well-packed.  Each panel and the controller box were separately packed in styrofoam and in their own boxes.  There was no damage, and all parts were there.  I unpacked the power controller box and cables first.  It appears to be a solid unit and seems to be of good quality.

Next I unpacked the stand.  I wasn’t really impressed with the design, but taking into account the price of this kit, I didn’t expect much.  It doesn’t screw together, but the pieces slip together.  The weight of the stand and panels help to hold it together.  I won’t be using the stand when I install it on the boat, so this part doesn’t really matter to me.

I then unpacked the panels.  They were carefully packed as the rest of the items.  They were heavier than I expected, but that is probably a good thing.  They look to be good quality.  After sitting them in the stand on my patio, I connected each up to the controller and checked the output voltage.  I wasn’t expecting a very high output because while I was hooking them up, they were in almost full shade with just a sliver of sunlight on the middle of two of the panels.  Each had voltage, and when I connected all three, the controller showed 14.2 volts.  My voltmeter is at the boat, so I could not verify the accuracy.  I plugged my phone into the USB slot on the controlled and was happy to see that it immediately started charging even with the mostly-shaded panels.

More to come when I take them to the boat and start designing the mounting.

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