Solar Energy System

Duane Siegfri

I'm considering adding solar panels and an MPPT Controller to the boat.  I'm wondering why everyone seems to gravitate toward the 100 to 140 watt panels (these have 36 cells).  Manufacturers also make larger (by wattage and size) 260 to 325 watt panels (having 60 and 80 cells respectively).  The Kyocera 140 watt panels sell for $2.12 per watt and the 325 watt panel sells for $1.31 per watt (about 62% of the 140 watt panel, prices from  For the same wattage I think you'll need the same controller (especially if you wire the panels in series).  If you wire the 140 watt panels in parallel the total voltage would be less so you would save marginally on the controller.

The reason I'm asking is I'm planning on mounting them on poles at the stern quarters with rotating mounts so they can be positioned.  The only real downside that I know of with the 325 watt panels would be their size and weight.  60 pounds is a lot to dismount if heavy weather was expected (I wouldn't think this be too much of an issue).  I'm still researching whether it makes sense to pole mount these 65" by 52" panels.  Kyocera also makes a 260 watt panel (60 cells) that's only 41 pounds and 65"x39".  That would seem easier on me and the pole!

Any thoughts or experiences with pole mounts and these larger panels is appreciated.

Wanderer, SM#477

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