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Old 19-05-2016, 11:24   #1
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Flexable Solar mounted on mast

Yesterday my son burst into my room all excited about the newer flexible solar panels. His thought was to have them mounted on both sides of the mast (30 feet tall by 6 inches wide) I mulled it around and went you know that's not a bad concept. But I thought I would let the gang here come up with their opinions as if this was workable.
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Old 19-05-2016, 11:32   #2
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

There's been much attention in the past paid to the angle of incidence so that solar panels are oriented to be efficient. I'm not aware of advances in solar panels that would make this no longer important.
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Old 19-05-2016, 11:37   #3
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

I would like to see solar panels that meet the specs to be mounted on such a narrow space as a mast. I wouldn't put them on the mast but would work on the lifelines great
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Old 19-05-2016, 13:09   #4
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

The real question is how much power generation would you consider a success? Panels up the sides of the mast will generate some power, but probably not much compared to their rated capacity. On the other hand it's some power you wouldn't have otherwise.

From a power/ft^2 there probably aren't many places worse to put them, so I would try them everywhere else first.
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Old 20-05-2016, 04:06   #5
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

To generate maximum power solar panels need to be facing the sun. Mounted vertically on the mast they will have very poor output except when the sun is near the horizon. Of course then much of the sun's energy is dissipated by the atmosphere so output will still be low. If you money to burn would be a poor way to mount solar panels.
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Old 20-05-2016, 11:36   #6
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

Seems to me that the best mast location for solar panels would be a horizontal mount on the mast head. Now I'm wondering why nobody is selling something like that in kit form. Of course you would have to relocate lights, wind instrument, antennae, etc.
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Old 20-05-2016, 12:06   #7
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

I wonder when we will see solar panels built in to the sails?
Or perhaps sails that are solar panels in their own right.
I suspect not too far away given the amazing progress being made in the solar panel industry.
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Old 20-05-2016, 12:07   #8
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

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Originally Posted by Dave22q View Post
Seems to me that the best mast location for solar panels would be a horizontal mount on the mast head. Now I'm wondering why nobody is selling something like that in kit form. Of course you would have to relocate lights, wind instrument, antennae, etc.
If you make a practice of putting solar panels at the top of the mast you probably should also put some on the bottom of the keel. Weight that high up has a massive effect on stability.
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Old 20-05-2016, 13:24   #9
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

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Originally Posted by Hudson Force View Post
There's been much attention in the past paid to the angle of incidence so that solar panels are oriented to be efficient. I'm not aware of advances in solar panels that would make this no longer important.
Spent sometime yesterday talking with our local solar guy (he specializes in RV and Marine applications) He said that this would work except from 10am-2pm when the suns angle would be to steep. His main concern was that the sleek thin panels that are out there today would not produce the output desired. He was interested in presenting this to several solar manufacturers as he did see this as a concept that could be developed.
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Old 20-05-2016, 14:28   #10
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

One of the problems to be solved: The angle of the sun in relation to the panel.

While sailing just make sure you heel over appropriately with the sun to your beam and it's all good!

No problem!

Just don't go sailing at noon. The required heel would just be a little much me thinks...

Of course if you're willing to go that far, maybe some panels on the hull would work even better?

However, make sure to give kudos for outside-the-box thinking as you never know when the next great idea might crop up.
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Old 20-05-2016, 14:49   #11
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

I have actually considered a row of panels just above/below the rub rail. It wouldn't produce a huge amount of power, but the weight would be relatively low, and it's basically free space. Nothing else would ever be there anyway, so any power is better than none.

The problem of course is price, at what price point vs power generated does it become meaningful? Also does anyone know if you can buy a 6"x20' flexible solar panel?
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Old 21-05-2016, 15:27   #12
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

the location of the solar panels is important, along with the angle of inclination to the sun, the surface cleanliness is just as important. dust and salt will do more to cause a reduction in the solar efficiency than the inclination so proper cleaning the panels is important. Make sure not to scratch the surface! In the next Vendee global race, Conrad Coleman will be racing with a sail that has solar panels built in.
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Old 22-05-2016, 04:33   #13
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

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Originally Posted by Stumble View Post
I have actually considered a row of panels just above/below the rub rail. It wouldn't produce a huge amount of power, but the weight would be relatively low, and it's basically free space. Nothing else would ever be there anyway, so any power is better than none.

The problem of course is price, at what price point vs power generated does it become meaningful? Also does anyone know if you can buy a 6"x20' flexible solar panel?
These guys can do it. If they will is another question. Efficiency is low at 9% if I remember correctly.

OEM solar modules - PowerFilm Solar

There are on-line calculators for solar radiation for your latitude to work out the solar altitude, intensity and hours to get a power output. Adjust then by the losses from not mounting at the best angle and the fact that only half the boat at best sees the sun. I believe it is not going to be viable even with super cheap panels.
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Old 09-10-2016, 23:00   #14
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

Solar on the mast, just saw it mentioned somewhere else then I found this thread by coincidence.

When considering the angle of incidence of the sun, it is normally for static installations (land based), with surrounding terrain of various sorts and variations. At sea, besides being on a moving platform, one should consider that - especially high up in the mast of a sail boat - there is a lot of reflection coming from the sea. This obviously depends on waves, visibility, cloud cover and such. If you think it doesn't work, think how fast you tan at sea:



In other words:

Morning and evening, you get an optimum angle for that initial boost to get things going and a top-up in the evening before sunset. But all day, a huge mirror around you provides plenty of reflected light.

In theory.

I don't know how significant it is, especially not for those frequencies of light that are reflected.

If someone out at sea has a loose solar panel they can move about, the sun high enough in the sky, try and move it in different directions to see how the yield varies.
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:49   #15
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Re: Flexable Solar mounted on mast

How long before the design of a boat is dictated by how many solar panels and wind generators can be mounted on it? Getting rid of that pesky mast and rigging would help😄



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