FAQs

General

Q. What is a Solar Stik?
A. Solar Stik was the name given to the original mast with solar panels that was specifically designed and fabricated to generate power aboard a sailboat. Solar Stik became the company’s namesake, and the “Solar Stik” originally designed for marine applications became the Marine 100 System. As the company began to expand its product and system offerings, the meaning of the word Stik evolved along with our product line. “Stik” is now used as an acronym meaning “Superior Technology Integration Knowledge” (STIK). It helps define our role as an integrator using best-of- breed components to create turnkey, portable power systems.
Q. Can Solar Stik products be used to power a house?
A. Solar Stik products are designed for the portable power market and are not designed for direct connection to a home’s AC electrical system. We manufacture products that can power select home appliances or serve as backup power generation, energy storage, and power management for residential use. For example, our Power Pak 1000 in combination with solar or wind power generation would work well for remote homes with no access to traditional power supplies, or for supporting critical appliances after a hurricane when power may be disrupted for weeks. Contact us for more details.
Q. Does Solar Stik offer any training programs or educational materials?
A. Yes, Solar Stik has one-, two-, and four-day training programs that can be tailored to address needs specific to application. Training can be held at Solar Stik’s headquarters, on location with the equipment, or outside the United States. Contact us for more details.
Q. Can Solar Stik ship products worldwide, and is an export license required to ship?
A. Yes, Solar Stik can ship products anywhere in the world. Per U.S. Customs laws, any individual item valued over $2,500 requires an application for export license. Solar Stik has products that meet that requirement. The cost of the export license application is included in the shipping fees for the product and is charged to the customer. For specific questions, contact our Logistics Team.
Q. What is Stikopedia?
A.  Stikopedia is designed to be a compilation about portable energy systems, including the philosophy and mechanics of high-efficiency circuits, as well as the individual technologies employed in them. It is also intended to be a stand-alone guide for anyone who wants to learn more about  high-efficiency, portable power system components and the Solar Stik System. Stikopedia is written with a broad style to appeal to the casual reader with an interest in portable power for a personal need, as well as the experienced electrical engineer learning a new application in his or her field. It is designed to answer questions we ourselves would ask if we approached the Solar Stik System for the first time.

Systems

Q. Can Solar Stik design a system to meet specific needs?
A. Yes, using our 5 principles of design,  every Solar Stik System is developed by our engineering and production teams by working with our customers to deliver systems with all desired capabilities. Contact us to discuss your specific system needs.
Q. Does Solar Stik sell commercial, off-the-shelf systems?
A.  All products we offer have been developed based on requirements from previous customers, and concepts developed for specific applications then become options that can be offered to a broad range of markets.
Q. What is a hybrid power system?
A.  A hybrid power system includes energy storage (batteries) and uses more than one power generation source to meet load requirements. More information about hybrid power systems can be found in Stikopedia.
Q. What power generation options can be used with a Solar Stik System?
A.  Solar Stik Systems are agnostic to power generation sources. Our systems accept inputs from solar, wind, fuel cell, vehicle, hydro, traditional fuel generator, utility, etc.

Power Generation

Q. Does Solar Stik sell solar panels separately?
A. Solar Stik does not sell individual panels, unless it is to replace a damaged panel in an existing Solar Stik System (e.g., Marine 100 System or panels for the Solar Stik 100, 200, or 400). If you are looking for individual panels, we can recommend one of our partners.
Q. Why does Solar Stik offer only two wind turbines?
A.  Solar Stik sells only American-made products, and one of our 5 principles of design is scalability. The Air Breeze and Air Silent X are made by Colorado-based Primus Wind Products and are internally regulated wind turbines. Because both of these turbines are internally regulated, they can be connected to the batteries and no additional charge controllers are required. This makes them a Plug & Play addition to any Solar Stik System that needs to be scaled up (or down) to meet application requirements.
Q. Will a damaged solar panel generate power?
A.  Whether a damaged solar panel will generate power depends on the extent of damage and whether or not the panel is wired in series or parallel with other panels. Use a voltage meter to test the output of the panel. If output voltage is present (even if the voltage is less than rated output for the panel), the damaged panel is generating power and functioning. However, to achieve maximum voltage outputs, it’s best to replace damaged panels.

Energy Storage

Q. Are there specific storage and maintenance procedures for batteries not in use?
A.  Yes, regardless of battery chemistry—lithium-ion or lead-acid—NEVER store a battery in a discharged state. Maintenance charging parameters differ between battery chemistries and are explained in the Battery School Module of Stikopedia.
Q. What’s the difference between lead-acid and lithium-ion battery chemistries?
A.  There are several differences between the two chemistries, but the biggest difference is energy density. Lithium-ion batteries have a greater energy density than lead-acid. This makes lithium-ion batteries a good choice for expeditionary applications. Lead-acid batteries are heavier and are better for applications that are more stationary. There is also a difference in cycle life. A lithium-ion battery has approximately 2.5 times more cycle life than a lead-acid battery. Lithium-ion and lead-acid battery chemistries are detailed in the Battery School Module of Stikopedia.

Power Management

Q. What is a PRO-Verter?
A.  The Portable Remote Operation Inverter/Charger (PRO-Verter) provides a single point of power management, control, and distribution to a portable, battery-based, electrical circuit. The “open-architecture” design of the PRO-Verter allows the operator to network multiple power generation technologies into a single operational system that supports a specific application with clean, uninterrupted power.
Q. Can solar panels be connected directly to batteries?
A.  Connecting solar panels directly to batteries is NOT recommended unless the solar panels have a built-in solar charge controller. A solar charge control should always be used between a solar panel and a battery to ensure that a safe charging voltage is applied to the battery. In order for charging of a battery to occur, a charging voltage must be greater than that of the battery voltage. Charging voltage must also be limited to prevent a battery from overcharging or overheating. More information about charging batteries with solar panels can be founding in the Solar School Module of Stikopedia.
Q. Can a Solar Stik System be monitored remotely?
A.  Yes, by using a Remote Monitoring Kit, a Solar Stik System’s state of health, inputs, outputs, and the battery’s state of charge can be monitored remotely.

Energy Storage with Power Management

Q. Does Solar Stik have a “one-case” portable power solution?
A.  Yes, Solar Stik has several products that include batteries and power management in the same ruggedized Pelican case. The Scout Pak includes energy storage, power management, and power generation in the same case.
Q. Can additional energy storage be added to a Solar Stik Energy Storage with Power Management product?
A.  Yes, Solar Stik Systems can be scaled up or down to meet additional energy storage requirements. Using a Plug & Play connection, additional energy storage capacity can be increased by adding an additional Energy Storage Module (ESM) .

Marine

Q. Are there any tax rebates or government incentives to purchase a Solar Stik?
A.  Yes, there is a 30-percent tax credit available for the Marine 100 System, as well as other qualifiying Solar Stik products, for units purchased and put into service by December 31, 2016. Read more about this tax credit in our News Section.
Q. Who can install a Marine 100 System on a sailboat?

A.  Solar Stik recommends installation be performed by a licensed marina or boatyard. However, it is within the realm of ability of many sailors to install this unit correctly. A careful and detailed installation of this unit is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Marine 100 Installation and Instruction Manuals are available upon request. Review of the manual will provide an understanding of what steps are necessary for installation and may help in finding a qualified installer to review the installation process with directly from the manual before any work is performed.

Q. What is included with a Marine 100 System?
A.  The Marine 100 System includes two 50 W panels and one BlueSky Solar Boost 3000e MPPT charge controller. There are optional accessories, including a wind turbine, light-duty lifting davit, or antenna mount that can be added to the system.
Q. Can the Marine 100 System be painted?
A.  The aluminum structure of the Marine 100 System can be painted or powder-coated, but any painting should be done immediately after purchase, before the unit is put into service. We recommend having the paint applied professionally, as it will ensure proper procedure in preparing the aluminum. It is important NOT to paint the face of the solar panels. An example of a powder-coated Marine 100 System can be seen in the Marine Photo Gallery.
Q. What battery chemistries and service voltages can the Marine 100 System support?
A.  Marine 100 Systems can be used with lead-acid or lithium-ion energy storage options. The Marine 100 System can support vessels wired for 12 or 24 VDC service.
Q. Is a separate wind turbine charge controller required for the Air Breeze or Air Silent X wind turbines?
A.  No, the Air Breeze and Air Silent X are internally regulated wind turbines and can be wired directly to the vessel’s batteries.
Q. Can larger solar panels be used on the Marine 100 System?
A.  The arms designed for the Marine 100 System are constructed for the specific panel to which they are attached. They are also designed to handle the loads imposed on the entire assembly by the supplied panels. Installing larger, heavier panels in replacement of the stock panels will compromise the structural integrity of the system, and will void warranty of the Marine 100 System.
Q. What is the required maintenance for the Marine 100 System?
A.  In addition to regularly wiping the panel surfaces, it is recommended to periodically apply a silicone or petroleum based corrosion-inhibitive lubricant on the Marine 100 System (not solar panel surfaces). Application should be made primarily at joints, hinges, and base socket as these are the areas that have the most potential for corrosion or abrasion. Occasionally check to make sure the center screw on each mechanical handle is snug. Electrical connections should be checked on a regular basis to prevent corrosion and ensure good contact. All electrical connections should be regularly treated with a anti-corrosion treatment. Contact the Marine Team for an additional maintenance or troubleshooting questions.
Q. Why were two types of aluminum used for the Marine 100 mount and mast?
A.  Aluminum is available in many grades, and should be chosen according to the application. The aluminum grades of  T6061 and T5052 in the construction of the Marine 100 System. High grade T6061 is used for rigid structures and T5052 is used for structures that may require custom shaping. The support arms on the Marine Transom Mount are T5052 so that a custom installation can be performed and the arms modified in a bending machine. The socket and mast assemblies are constructed of T6061, and therefore are rigid, and not bendable. There is no conflict when these metals are in contact with one another and both are very strong.
Q. What grade of stainless steel is used in the Marine 100 System?
A.  The stainless steel used in the construction of the Marine 100 System are marine grade 304L and 316.
Q. Will the Marine 100 System rust or corrode?
A.  The Marine 100 System will not rust, but it can corrode. Depending on the environment, one may see a slight discoloration in the metals. This is indicative of corrosion on the surface of the metal. Aluminum will oxidize (especially in a marine environment); this is how it “protects” itself. It will often first appear as a very faint, chalky, white powder… and ultimately the aluminum will assume a darker appearance as it becomes “seasoned”. The stainless components are “stain-less” and not “stain-proof”. There might be an area of faint surface rust on the stainless steel components, but this is normal. The physical signs of concern are pitting, galling, and cracking. Great care was taken to insulate all of the stainless and aluminum parts from one another, but where screws and bolts are used, direct contact inevitably occurs. TEF-GEL™ was used at these contact points to prevent galvanic corrosion. Regular inspection is recommended.
Q. Can a scratch on the brushed aluminum surface of the Marine 100 System be repaired?
A.  Most light scratches in the surface of the brushed aluminum can be repaired with an abrasive or scrubbing pad. Simply rub the pad lightly over the damage until it disappears. Remember to rub the scratch in the direction of the existing brushed finish.
Q. Can the Marine 100 System’s height be modified?
A.  Yes, the height can be modified.

A Mast Height Adapter Kit can be purchased and welded to the base of the Marine 100 Mast if more than six inches of additional height is required. If less than six inches is required, PVC pipe or fittings that fit inside the mast socket can be purchased from any plumbing supply store. Remove the mast from the socket, slide in the PVC pipe or fittings, and reinstall the mast.

The Marine 100 mast-top mount was designed to hold an accessory item, but if it isn’t needed, it may be cut off and this will shorten the mast by five inches. The Marine 100 Mast may also be shortened from the bottom, but it is recommended that the removal of the mast base NOT exceed three inches. This modification should only be done by a qualified metalworker.

Visit the Marine Gallery to see examples of height modification.

Q. What is MPPT?
A solar charge controller with Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) is essentially a “smart” charge controller that can provide a 10- to 25-percent increase in the power solar panels deliver to the battery bank when compared to less efficient charge controllers. An MPPT solar charge controller calculates the voltage at which the solar module is able to produce the maximum power and automatically adjusts the charging amperage in accordance with the battery’s state of charge. This allows the solar panels to operate at their rated power output and provide maximum charge current into the battery. Read more about MPPT technology in the Solar School Module of Stikopedia.