We have just completed (Nov 2016) a 1.0Kw solar install on our sailing catamaran in the sunny Caribbean. Setup consists of the following:
- Midnight Solar Classic 150 (w/ WBJr)
- 4x Kyocera 260W (custom mount off bimini and davits)
- 4x Lifeline 210AH 12V
- 3000W 120V Inverter
We recently added 4 solar panels to our Leopard 46 sailing yacht in St Maarten. We were reliant entirely on generator power when off dock for charging. The setup provides 1.04kw of calculated power and 72.2A output in full sun. Our physical design fits perfectly with the width of the bimini and provides tremendous new shade for the cockpit. We have not run the generator in over a month now with daily inverter use and fridge/freezer on 24/7.
We ran 2x 8/2AWG wire and each pair (port/stb) is in series/parallel to boost voltage while maintaining an ability to manage each pair individually (if/when needed). This also helps with partial shading problems which do occur while sailing/anchored. We sloped the panels to the stern. This means water runs off the back of the panel and not into the cockpit, and not pooling on the panel itself. The Wire is calculated to ~1.5% loss over our run, so a bit bigger than needed but hopefully future-proofed for possible upgrades. The controller would do all 4 panels in a single series run however the total voltage differential was far too inefficient for 12V batteries. All panels in parallel was considered -- wire cost for the additional two 47' runs, more bulky runs, and larger stainless tubes made our decision for us. Our controller sits in the salon locker beside the air conditioning units and inverter, and this minimizes the run to main bus bars.
In terms of functional use -- we saw sustained 70A yesterday in full rack mid-day sun in SXM (we required the toaster to be running to fully load the panels for the testing). Typically we see 200Ah+ a day easily which is 1/2 the calculated value. We hit float about noon so the panels are under-utilized the remaining hours. We've seen max voltage from the setup of 72V at panel and 69-70.5V on controller which is good given the 76.6V (2x 38.8V) rating with the oversized wire helping decrease drop I'm sure.
If anyone wants more specifics, just comment and I'll try to answer.