A group of fourteen boaters from the K&A joined the national Boats Are Homes march on Saturday 8th April 2017. The demonstration was organised in protest against CRT’s unlawful enforcement policy against boaters without home moorings. Boat dwellers from all over the waterways took part. The march was organised by the National Bargee Travellers Association.
Now that Spring is poking her head out of the clouds, it’s absolutely the best time to invest in a bit of solar. And all solar installations need a controller which, if you want MPPT technology – and you may not know it but yes, you do, can be the most expensive part of the install.
There are two types of solar controller PWM, the standard, cheap offering, around £15 from Maplins in Bath, and MPPT, of which it is usually recommended to go for a Tracer, £65 from Bimble Solar. MPPT can offer a substantial increase in power harvested by matching the panels and batteries to the best voltage for maximum power (MPPT = Maximum Power Point Tracking )*. By contrast PWM simply switches off part of the time to avoid over-voltage. Going a bit techie, this means that the greater the difference between the VOC of the panel and the voltage of your battery (12V–14.8V) the more power is wasted whereas with MPPT you can string panels in series up to the maximum input voltage of the controller without losing power. The cheapest solar panels are those used for domestic arrays and are generally around 36V which either won’t work or waste most of their power with a PWM controller.
You have to be careful when looking for an MPPT controller, there are a lot of cheap solar controllers on eBay claiming to be MPPT which are, in fact PWM, but this model checks out as a genuine MPPT at around £20 to £25:
Charge voltage is fixed at 14.7V which may be a little high for some, though not high enough to properly charge or equalise traction batts, but will give them more than a tickle. Max solar input is 50V.
A couple of links for these on Ebay:
Not as good as the latest Tracers and may be not as reliable, but possibly a good budget option for a small setup.
From Bimble Solar’s website
PWM vs MPPT charge controller test
We often get asked about the actual difference you get between an MPPT and a PWM controller so we setup a side by side test using our Yingli part used panels onto 2 separate 12V batteries, 1 with a PWM controller and one with our Tracer MPPT. Panels were set-up side by side angled south.
With early March sun the MPPT was giving 3.7A into the batteries while the PWM gave 2.5A which was 32% lower than the MPPT.
In cloudy conditions the MPPT was giving 1A when the PWM was giving 0.8A (20% lower with PWM)
Both charged the batteries well, but 20%-32% more power was gained by using the MPPT.
(with thanks to Smiley Pete on CWDF for spotting it)
Following a complaint to K&A Manager Mark Evans, CRT has reduced the 48-hour visitor moorings below Seend bottom lock (lock 17) to the length recommended by the Kennet and Avon Visitor Mooring Review – Bath to Foxhangers in March 2015.
Despite a number of boaters contacting CRT about this, it took more than 7 months for the error to be corrected. The error was first reported to CRT in July 2016.
Earlier in 2016, CRT put up signs at the visitor moorings below lock 17 that extended these 48-hour visitor moorings by approximately 200 metres westward from the western end of the purpose-built length of visitor moorings right up to the culvert.
This was contrary to the Visitor Mooring Review, which recommended that this length of visitor mooring should be shortened so that it only covered the stretch with mooring rings. The remaining space should have reverted to 14 days in July 2015 for a trial period until September 2015.
This was done without any consultation with users which is contrary to CRT’s Short Term Moorings Framework for Change dated March 2015, which states on page 1 that before making any changes to visitor moorings, waterway managers should:
“Conduct quantitative monitoring of craft that use the mooring and local area over a length of time, taking into account various factors including time of day, time of year, weather and other such influencing factors
Consult with all those potentially affected by any changes, from local & visiting boaters to local retailers including marina operators and the hire boat industry
Pilot the potential changes over a period of time gathering data and feedback, allowing the proposals to be amended as required
Inform visitors and those affected of any changes in a meaningful, clear and consistent way that ensures confusion is avoided”.
There was no evidence that any of the above steps had been followed by CRT before making the change.
Although the complaint has been remedied, CRT has yet to explain either why the Short Term Moorings Framework for Change was not followed or provided proof that these steps were followed and that the evidence gathered justified the change that was made last year.