Solar Boat House

In the summer of 2020, I installed a small solar setup on a client’s boat-house.
The main house was up at the road, and this small building (technically a pump-house) was near the lake, quite some distance from the house. Due to degradation or a break in the wiring, power no longer made it to the boat-house.
After a high estimate of re-trenching power to this outbuilding, the client wondered if SOLAR could be done cheaper than re-running the power cabling. After some quick number-crunching, I saw that it would!

Solar tends to work well on lakes because there are no trees or other shade directly over the water. In addition, people tend to want to go to the lake on sunny summer days, when it’s perfect for solar charging!

I installed two small 100 watt panels on the roof of the boat-house. That ran to a PWM charge controller and then to a lead-acid battery. That in turn powered a Xantrex inverter. I wired the inverter up to the existing wiring, which connected out to the pier. The main load to consider was an electric boat lift. Besides that, the client wanted a light in the boathouse, and an outlet for running an air pump for inflatables.

Since this was a completely separate system from the house wiring, I also needed to pound a ground rod.

One thing that was nice was that this was such a low building that I could work on the panels on the roof using only a six-foot step-ladder! The downside was it was incredibly HOT inside the building on the sunny day that I was installing this!

I pre-built a plywood panel on which most of the main components could be installed. That included a shelf on the bottom and a layer of paint. The deep-cycle battery was placed on the floor, inside a plastic battery box.

The biggest challenges were related to the existing wiring – tracing the wires and replacing a few components.

In the end, the client had working power at the lake, without the expense of re-trenching power over a long distance.

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