Inexpensive Mac 26x 200Watt Solar Installation

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Joined: Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:20 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X

Inexpensive Mac 26x 200Watt Solar Installation

Post by gmcgough » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:09 am

I thought I would share the installation of a 200W solar system on my 1997 MacGregor 26x Sailboat. I installed a stereo, a 12v EdgeStar refrigerator and also upgraded all the light bulbs to LED.

I was trying to keep costs low and I just did not have the money for building an arch to hold the solar panels above the rear of the cockpit.

I found some pretty small and efficient solar panels on Ebay. It came as a pack of 2 panels (100watts each) for a total of $180 delivered.
Maximum Power: 100W
Maximum System Voltage: 600V DC (UL)
Optimum Operating Voltage (Vmp): 17.9V
Open-Circuit Voltage (Voc): 21.6V
Optimum Operating Current (Imp): 6.24A
Short-Circuit Current (Isc): 6.72A
Dimensions: 42.2 x 19.6 x 1.38 inches
Weight: 16.5 lbs

The small size of the solar panels is what I needed for this installation.

The other parts I used were as follows:
1. RICH SOLAR 20A 12V/24V DC MPPT Solar Charge Controller for Battery Regulator from EBay - $90
2. Solar Wire - I think it was 14 gauge from Ebay - $40
3. MC4 Wire Connectors from Ebay - $6
4. 4 weather proof hinges (the kind used for small doors) from Homedepot
5. 8 pipe clamps from homedepot.
6. Some 3/4" pvc pipe and T connectors from Home Depot
7. Some stainless steel handrails (I acquired from a car junkyard out of a small shuttle bus)
add in a few other screws, bolts and fuses and that is the entire list.

And here is what the installation looks like. (see photos link below)
When I am traveling I use bungee cords to keep the solar panels in place. When I am sailing or in storage I keep the solar panels raised with a small section of PVC pipe. I did install the solar panels in parallel because I just figured I would have some issues with shade given that the panels were installed relatively low on the boat. So far everything is working out great. My system utilizes two 105AH batteries and everything is being kept charged. (granted we have quite a bit of sunshine here in Colorado). The hardest part of the installation was running the solar wires down the transom area of the boat. There was a little bit of foam to get past but a fish cable (for running wires in walls) helped quite a bit. (and a bit of cursing was involved as well)

The only physical changes to the Mac 26x boat are as follows.
1. 2 small holes next to the rear stanchions of the port and starboard side to run the solar wires to the interior of the boat.
2. 4 screw holes (2 port and 2 starboard) for holding the PVC T connector on the sides of the boat.

Everything else about the installation can simply be removed with no trace of it having ever been installed.

The link below has the various photos showing the installation. It should give you enough information to figure out the basic concepts of the installation.

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Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Mid-Missouri

Re: Inexpensive Mac 26x 200Watt Solar Installation

Post by nedmiller » Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:54 am

Nice job!
As you use the new mod, let us know how it works out..what you would change, if there is anything, and if you have to fold while docking,etc.

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Location: LeavenworthWA 2002 26x, Suzuki DF60A

Re: Inexpensive Mac 26x 200Watt Solar Installation

Post by Chinook » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:36 pm

Nice job. It looks like you'll really be able to maximize solar exposure on the panels. Installation on the center line of the boat creates shaded areas, from mast and boom. Only concern I would have, at least in the way I use my boat, would be in the ease of stepping on and off the boat when at a dock. We generally disconnect the lifeline cable on the dock side, and your rigid tubing precludes doing that, from the looks of things.

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