When we bought Leela she was "cruise ready", with both wind and solar. Unfortunately both systems were a) ready for the museum and b) trashed by neglect as the last actual cruising owner was several years earlier. Anyway we started again with the desire to go solar only. I hate the noise wind generators make (all of them) and I did not want yet another machine to maintain.
The first thing we did was reduce consumption. The inverter was ejected and we became a totally 12V DC boat. This was less painful than anticipated and will be described in another post. All the lights except the running lights were replaced by LED's, the refrigerator was re-insulated and the old cold plate system replaced, again, more later on this. Energy hungry instruments like the CRT radar display (another museum piece) were replaced.
We then installed 4x100w Renogy solar panels, two on the Bimini and two on the Davits. These were controlled by a Morningstar MPPT controller feeding 450ah of Lifeline AGM batteries.
So far the result has been very gratifying. On a typical Caribbean day we can be running the refrigerator, making water, charging all our iToys and still charging the batteries. Our new shore power lead has never been used and we have never run the engine for power (although we have an oversized alternator with Balmar controller just in case). I don't recollect the batteries ever falling below 75% capacity. We shall see how things go if we head for less sunny climes but that is way off.
We are very happy with the Renogy panels. They were remarkably cheap and surprisingly well built. The Morningstar controller has done what it says on the box - no complaints.