System Schematic

Basic Parts List

Installation Notes

This installation was completed in October of 2023.  The owners of this houseboat contacted me regarding upgrading their existing solar system on their houseboat.  They were having issues keeping their existing Lead Acid batteries charged with their usage and wanted a more robust power system.  They had two 220 watt and two 150 watt solar panels going to a single Xantrex solar controller and it was not sufficient to keep the existing batteries charged.  The AC power to the boat was supplied by a Xantrex inverter charger, which was sufficient to handle their existing power requirements.  The owners of the boat were having to run their onboard generator quite a bit to keep the house batteries charged with the inverter charger because the solar was just not meeting their needs.

We had some discussions about what they were trying to run on the boat and then I came up with a proposal to meet their needs.  They accepted the proposal and we set an installation date.  The installation was pretty straight forward.  It involved replacing the eight existing six volt lead acid batteries with four Battle Born 100 amp hour lithium batteries.  As part of the battery replacement, I also added a Victron IP65 rated SmartShunt to monitor the battery bank. 

On the solar side, I removed the two smaller solar panels and added four more 220 watt Newpowa solar panels to go with the two existing Newpowa 220 watt panels.  Originally, the boat only had the two smaller solar panels.  The two additional Newpowa 220 watt panels were added later.  I wired the panels in a 6S1P configuration and used existing 10 AWG wire to connect them to a new Victron 150/85 MPPT solar controller.  As I was connecting the additional Newpowa solar panels to the existing ones, I found when the two Newpowa 220 watt panels were added to the existing two smaller panels, the Newpowa panels were wired backwards.  This caused the in line fusing in the solar panel wiring to blow.  Basically, this meant there was no solar production from any of the existing solar panels which explained a lot of the charging problems the owners described to me.  I corrected the panel wiring and removed the in line fusing because I added circuit breakers to protect the solar input and output. 

Their were two small hiccups that came up in the installation process (in addition to the existing panel miswiring).  The first was that one of the new solar panels was damaged during shipping from the manufacturer.  This necessitated getting a replacement panel shipped and a return to the boat to add this panel into the new solar array.  The second hiccup had to do with establishing a VE Smart Network so the Victron SmartSolar controller and Victron SmartShunt could share data.  Due to the OEM placement of the batteries and the solar controller, they were too far apart to successfully communicate over the VE Smart Bluetooth network with the built in Bluetooth radios in the shunt and solar controller.  This required adding VE Direct Bluetooth dongles to both devices to allow them to successfully communicate with one another wirelessly.