Power systems – batteries etc

You will pick up a recurring theme – that every piece of equipment I take must be super reliable and every system must have redundancy built in. 

All my electronic equipment: Plotter, VHF radio, AIS, Autohelm, lighting and most importantly the watermaker all depend on a reliable power source. With this in mind it was an easy choice to go with Victron Energy as my power solution.

The solar panels are connected to a solar controller before they are able to charge the batteries. The front and aft panels each have their own charge controllers.

  • Solar controller/charger

Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100/20  0.7kg


The controller constantly monitors the voltage and current output of the solar panels. The Maximum Power Point Tracking(MPPT) technology intelligently maximises the energy-harvest to achieve a full charge in the shortest possible time. The advantage of a MPPT controller is most noticeable when the sky is partially clouded and light intensity is constantly changing which are the conditions for much of my route. The SmartSolar charge controller will even operate with a battery voltage as low as 0 Volts, provided the cells are not damaged.

Another bonus is the built-in Bluetooth. I can pair it with my smartphone for real time data. I have also connected them to a Victron GX module. See more info on the GX below.

The solar charge controllers are then connected to the batteries via a waterproof 30amp circuit breaker.

  • Batteries:

Victron Lithium SuperPack 12,8V 100Ah 1280Wh 15kg 

The batteries are simple plug and play and I have two connected in parallel. They have an internal switch that will disconnect the battery in case of over discharge, over charge or high temperature. I have sealed the housing to improve the IP43 (waterproof) rating.

The most important features of the lithium versus lead-acid batteries are:

  • Weight saving of more than 50%
  • They can be discharged below 85% without any issues
  • The charge rate is much faster
  • They do not need to be fully charged. In fact service life even slightly improves in case of partial charge instead of a full charge. 

The batteries are then connected to a battery monitor and then a  waterproof 30amp circuit breaker before connecting to the switch board where the power is distributed to the various circuits. 

  • Battery Monitor:

Victron Smartshunt 500A/50mV

The SmartShunt is an all in one battery monitor, only without a display. My smartphone acts as the display when needed via the built-in Bluetooth which allows me to read out all monitored battery parameters, like state of charge, time to go, historical information and much more. The SmartShunt is a good alternative for a battery monitor with a display, especially for systems where battery monitoring is needed but less wiring and clutter is wanted. The Smart Shunt is also connected to the Victron GX module. 

  • The Venus GX:

This is the communication center of my installation. It allows me to talk to all Victron components in the system and ensure they are working in harmony. Monitoring of live data, and changing settings can be performed using my smartphone and my shore team will be able to monitor and adjust values remotely from any place in the world via the Victron Remote Management Portal.

How cool! 

Huge thanks to Bruce Robinson from Powersol for his advice, ongoing support, assistance and sponsorship along with the support from Andre Du Rand of Victron Energy.


Solar Panels

On Osiyeza I need lightweight and reliable systems.

Lightweight means better boat speed which means less time at sea and as there is only me on board to fix anything reliability is super important.
The first topic are the solar panels as they are the reason I can have electronic gear, and most importantly the reason I am able to make fresh water which makes a trip like this possible on such a small craft.

I chose the Solbian Super Rugged(SR) series of solar panels which are flexible lightweight panels, are completely waterproof and resistant to salt water. The Merlin technology monocrystalline cells have a cell efficiency of 21% which is very high compared to others. Being super rugged means they can handle me walking on them which is important should I ever need to do any rudder repairs.

The panels we chose are “peel and stick” with the terminals on the underside side. These panels have a high tolerance to cracking and bending which means they are able to bend to the curvature of the deck without any problems leaving a nice flush finish.
The back deck was made wider with “wings” to accommodate the two 160W panels.



The two SR72 panels on the starboard side are rated at 72 watts each and the two SR186Q panels on the aft deck are rated at 186 watts each.

The fore and aft pairs use separate charge controllers (redundancy/backup) giving a total of 516 watts. The weight of all the panels is only 7kg.


Why are there only panels on the starboard side of the cabin?

The solar system was designed by Dr Christiaan Oosthizen from Tshwane University of Technology. He studied the last 20 years of weather and solar data along my predicted route and then used some very clever mathematical algorithms to predict how much solar radiation I should get. It also indicated that overall the starboard side would receive up to 10% more than the port side.

Thanks to Solbian Italy for their assistance and price concession.