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Old 17-08-2010, 07:39   #1
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Mounting Solar Panels

I've been giving so thought to this, and I wondered if anyone had tried the 'batwing' arrangement? You hang the solar panels, one on each side of the boat, from the guardrails abreast the cockpit. You have a mount which will enable them to fold down (when docking, for example) and raised to catch the sun when on passage. It's a fair bet that on all points of sailing there will be one panel which is not in the shade.
Anyone tried this, and how did you do the attachment?

thanks
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Old 17-08-2010, 07:54   #2
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It is seen all over. I nearly went with this arrangement, because of cost. I knew I was going through the Panama Canal so threw the idea out the window. You have to raft up coming through the canal, and it wasn't a pleasant thought of some skipper taking out my large investment.

I don't know where you are, but docking with pilings could be another potential for damage. I put my 2, 37"X65", panels on top of my bimini. I used 1" railing with SEADOG rail mounts......i2f
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Old 17-08-2010, 08:08   #3
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We use this type of arrangement on 'Victoria Rose'. The picture below shows 'stage 1'. with 2 85-watt panels; we just added an additional 2 135-watt panels just foward of these.

For the 85's, we just made mounting rails with 1" tubing and fittings.... attached them to the stanchions. With the 135's, we welded the mounting rails to the stanchions, plus have a means to remove the stanchions for rebedding if necessary. The panels are mounted just outboard enough so the lifelines are useful; but inboard enough so when folded, they are protected. We use rail mounts from Defender attached to aluminum flat-bar that we attached to the panels for mounting. Telescoping poles (Taylormade; Defender # 753219)... even though a broomstick will work fine in most cases.

We find our mounting arrangement to work fine. If I were to do it over again, I'd give more thought to mounting them permanently on the arch. The best arrangements I've seen so far are the panels that create a bimini. However, side mounted panels are fairly common. It keeps the weight low, are easy to mount, and work fine.

An earlier picture of our system is here: Home

We just added the additional panels 2-weeks ago (for a total of 440 watts), as well as a new Blue Sky 3024 controller. During the afternoons, we routinely see over 20 amps coming in to the batteries- close to 150 amps a day. But it's also summer and we're in Mexico.

Steve
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Old 17-08-2010, 08:40   #4
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I considered such an arrangement, but ultimately could not insure that the panels would not foul the spinnaker sheets because of where we run the turning blocks. Went with a solar bimini instead, which cost significantly more, but I'm glad that I went this route in retrospect.
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Old 17-08-2010, 09:03   #5
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When we built the bimmini, I over sized it with 1 & 1/4 tube and built a rack over it to support the pannels......they're out of the way and never havt to worry about them,
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Old 17-08-2010, 09:06   #6
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went sailing in caribean man had the batwing arrangement and hit the side of a lock in a canal--broke it clean off....i was sailing in gulf on a performance cruiser with aq bimini frame using panels as the cover--worked great. i plan on this arrangement myelf, as my boat is beamy and the off the side would definitley lose me my panels. and i dont have stern rails on my boat..just teak...
dodger covers and bimini covers are excellent places for the panels as sun always gets to them. dont have to chase sun with the panel. atop the davits is also a place i have seen them placed, but that requires having davits....i wont.
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Old 17-08-2010, 09:07   #7
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Recently we've also up-graded from the two 65 watt pannels to two 125 watt pannels.. the rack was easly modified to handle them.............
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Old 17-08-2010, 09:32   #8
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If planning a new installation, the bimini panels are the way to go IMHO. But some boats (such as ours) have the boom extending all the way to the helm, leaving no room for panels on the bimini, or continuously shading the panels. Panel mounting can be more challenging on a small double ender... not much room for mounting on an arch.

To me, the key is first to decide how many watts are desired (and number of panels), then determine the most reasonable options that will work on your own boat. Then figure the costs and benefits of each system. And then do it right the first time. Redoing SS work can be a bit spendy.
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Old 17-08-2010, 09:52   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailabel View Post
But some boats (such as ours) have the boom extending all the way to the helm, leaving no room for panels on the bimini, or continuously shading the panels.
On my boat, this problem is solved via the traveler in most instances. On occasion, especially in early morning or late afternoon, I'll need to rig a preventer to get the boom shadow overboard.
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Old 17-08-2010, 10:10   #10
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my boat has a 20 ft boom. i also have a long mizzen boom. i will place my panels on the bimini i get--there is no better place than there for mounting the panels. if there is shading, that can be fixed by boom placement. on my boat, the alternative is placing on the coachhouse roof--not an option, as i need that space for my feets and sail handling. dodger tops are alsoo good places for panels.
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Old 17-08-2010, 11:18   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailabel View Post
We use this type of arrangement on 'Victoria Rose'. The picture below shows 'stage 1'. with 2 85-watt panels; we just added an additional 2 135-watt panels just foward of these.

I see on your site that you have dinghy davits. Is there a reason you chose this way to mount the panels vs installing them on the davits?
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Old 17-08-2010, 12:08   #12
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Quote:
I see on your site that you have dinghy davits. Is there a reason you chose this way to mount the panels vs installing them on the davits?
We considered mounting the additional panels on the davits, but opted not to because: (1) our davits fold in and with the panels, that feature would be disabled (even though we seldom fold in the davits); (2) I was concerned about the efficiency with the windvane with panels over the paddle, (3) we already have a lot of weight aft, and would rather get the panel weight more midship; and (4) the davits are more vulnerable to hitting objects than where the panels are now mounted. Our panels fold inward enough so a vertical obstacle cannot hit them. Now, something protuding from another boat or other obstacle is another issue. That said, we see a lot of cruising boats with panels mounted on the davits.

All good questions. After a couple of years of full time cruising, the side panels has worked for us. But again, it's all based on our boat design and available real estate aboard for panels.
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Old 17-08-2010, 12:15   #13
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A "batwing array" is nice if you have something rigid to mount it to. Id personally put mine on tom of a bimini top or something like that. Id be interested to see what you come up with, Im thinking of adding some more solar panels to my boat once I get a watermaker.
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Old 17-08-2010, 13:00   #14
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Batwingsssssssssss


Mine were stolen!


The burgulator even took photos to show how she did it!

First you look for a BATWING!!


Look! Here's one! Lets steal it!



First lets pluck the stretchy cord bit!






Now you un-twiddle the bitty-bits



Now I put it into my dinghy and take it back to my boat!!
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Old 03-11-2010, 15:59   #15
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mounting solar panels

I think I found a pretty good way to mount panels. I did two Kyocera 130s ( 56"x26") over the cockpit, (one on each side of the boom). They are supported by the boom gallows and the dodger. It's actually two pieces of st. st. pipe on each side that are attatched to the dodger that support the two panels (along with the boom gallows). I did beef up the frames of the panels with some "L" shaped aluminum. I then stacked another two solar panels on top so that after you attach hinges, (more on the hinges later), you can "unfold" the top ones kind of like a fishing tackle box, and have four panels exposed to the sun. You can also fold them up when you don't want all four out.

I like the Kyoceras because they have alot of output, 7.4 amps each and they aren't too big. They weigh about 27 lbs each. (They have discontinued this dimension in the Kyoceras, the new ones are about 3" longer and a 1/2" wider).

The hinges were just 1/2" x 1" aluminum. You would use 2 pieces on each end of the stacked (2) panels. I'll try to get back with a pic. I have never done this forum stuff before so I'm not sure if my email is accessible, but feel free to inquire if you are interested in seeing a pic. I fastened everything with 1/4" bolts, but I would use 3/8" on the hinges if your boat vibrates much. gota go
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