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Old 05-12-2016, 06:43   #1
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Low-profile solar panels?

I'm starting to look into solar panels for my boat, and looking for some advice. I have a large, flat hard-top bimini that seems like excellent real-estate on which to place a new solar array, but I do have some concerns. First off, the boom sweeps fairly low across the bimini, so I need fairly slim panels so that the boom does not catch. Also thinking I might need a rail along the back to ensure that the boom never gets low enough to connect with the panels. I also need to be able to occasionally stand on the bimini when hoisting the main or reefing.

Are there any low-profile panels that you can also stand/walk on without damaging them? I've looked online and it seems that most panels stand 1.5"-2" off their mounting surface, which is pretty high for my needs.

Here's a picture of my boat that shows the bimini - as you can see it's hard, flat and large - ideal for solar panels if I can resolve the issues with the boom...
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David
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Old 05-12-2016, 09:17   #2
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Re: Low-profile solar panels?

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Originally Posted by Davidhoy View Post
I'm starting to look into solar panels for my boat, and looking for some advice. I have a large, flat hard-top bimini that seems like excellent real-estate on which to place a new solar array, but I do have some concerns. First off, the boom sweeps fairly low across the bimini, so I need fairly slim panels so that the boom does not catch.

Are there any low-profile panels that you can also stand/walk on without damaging them? I've looked online and it seems that most panels stand 1.5"-2" off their mounting surface, which is pretty high for my needs.


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David
I would use flexible panels, be them Solbian or cheap Chinese knock-offs..
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Old 05-12-2016, 09:26   #3
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Re: Low-profile solar panels?

Lensun have a new panel out with a fibreglass backing panel rather than aluminium. Fitted one in the Spring and its working fine. The aluminium didn't impress me as you know what its like in a salt water environment. Anyway the panel is semi flexible and just a few mm in thickness plus it can be walked on. The potting of the cable connection is much better than the cheap panels so should be waterproof for much longer. Wasn't the cheapest flexible panel but then I want something that will last.

This is one of the UK suppliers, but there must be the equivalent in the US.

Lensun 20W 30W 50W 60W 80W 100W 12V Full Black Semi Flexible Solar Panel | eBay

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Old 05-12-2016, 09:43   #4
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Re: Low-profile solar panels?

Have you considered raising the boom a small amount? Either at both ends, or just the outboard (butt) end. Which, if you do the latter, you might have to visit a sailmaker in order to get them to do a small nip & tuck on the main.
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Old 05-12-2016, 16:43   #5
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Re: Low-profile solar panels?

We are using these , I'm not sure I'd walk on it though .
Auction 100 Watt 100W 12V 12 Volt Lightweight Solar Panel RV Boat Marine | eBay
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Old 05-12-2016, 17:04   #6
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Re: Low-profile solar panels?

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Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
Have you considered raising the boom a small amount? Either at both ends, or just the outboard (butt) end. Which, if you do the latter, you might have to visit a sailmaker in order to get them to do a small nip & tuck on the main.
Do what he said, just raised the boom an inch or two. But I think you be well advised to forget walking on solar panels. I you must walk on the roof, hinge the panels on one side. Pleaty of take-apart hinges with just a pin needing removal......which just gave me an idea. I owe ya!!
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Old 05-12-2016, 17:39   #7
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Re: Low-profile solar panels?

Yep. You can get panels just about 1/10 thick.

I like rigid frame ones where there is no weight concern. Ours need about 1 inch of space.

It is odd your boom travels less than 1 inch above the roof. Why not hoist the main 1 inch higher? You could use vanilla panels then - they seem very good value (if this is a concern at all).

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