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Old 26-03-2015, 15:41   #1
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Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

Any of you folks see anything wrong with this set up for solar panels, other than accidentally dropping the boom on them? Any of you have a boom gallows on your mizzen?
Improvements or suggestions?
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Old 26-03-2015, 16:00   #2
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vino the Dog View Post
Any of you folks see anything wrong with this set up for solar panels, other than accidentally dropping the boom on them? Any of you have a boom gallows on your mizzen?
Improvements or suggestions?
You mean, problems other than awful panel shading? Not really...
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Old 26-03-2015, 16:11   #3
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

Sorry, It doesn't look strong enough to me. Is it a mock up ? How much will it move if you really put your weight against it ? Are those cast corners held with set screws strong enough ?

Picture your boat hard on the wind, heeling, rolling back and forth. You must have more than 60lbs. of panels up there.

Probably not what you wanted to hear.

My thoughts would be:
Bring the supports down to the deck, attach to the deck and the rail.
Add some sort of bracing to eliminate side to side motion.
Weld or bend the corners.

Sorry, perhaps there is some strength there that I do not see.
JM.
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Old 27-03-2015, 00:53   #4
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

Shading is going to kill your output.
A solution is to move them as far back to stern as possible to clear the boom.
Others cantilever them off the sides, which usually most be removed when underway.
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Old 27-03-2015, 01:20   #5
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

As I have a ketch which I will be outfitting with solar panels I sure hope folks with likewise rigs would chime in on this - and adding pictures to show how they addressed this challenge.

Cantilevering is one such option. I also am looking at a way to raise the panels above the boom when moored so as to get them clear of the hated shadows.

From the pictures, it sure looks like it would be difficult for the OP to move the panels far enough aft to get them clear of the boom. Maybe he could put them in the dinghy if her were towing it.

I love the ketch rig for many reasons but the solar panel issue is vexing.
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Old 27-03-2015, 01:46   #6
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

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Originally Posted by crazyoldboatguy View Post
I love the ketch rig for many reasons but the solar panel issue is vexing.
I owned a ketch once and had the same issue. Gave it a lot of thought, but was unable to come up with a really satisfactory solution. Pictures don't show enough, but is there enough space in front of the mizzen mast? Looks like there is much less shading there, so maybe panels mounted there, like a kind of hard extension to the sprayhood? Would there be panel interference with a main sheet? Agree with comments above on strength. I'd go with something like 1.5" stainless for support. But good location first, support afterwards.
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Old 27-03-2015, 09:04   #7
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

The pictures show some serious deficiencies in strength and location. Unless your not going to sail or see any big wind. I would say the only way to go is forward of your mast and on top of your cabin sole. They also have fabric out now with solar cells that are flexible, just a thought.
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Old 27-03-2015, 09:23   #8
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

I'm planning a similar approach to yours Vino. My boat is not a ketch, but has the same challenges of space and shading. My plan is to build a bimini leading aft from my dodger using SS bimini-frame tubing (from Sailrite perhaps). I'd want some extra bows to support the mid-section, and it will be anchored to the combing/deck.

BTW, my previous boat was a small ketch. Shading and mounting space was severely limited. There is no perfect location.
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Old 27-03-2015, 10:48   #9
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

I plan to install panels exactly the same way on my cat ketch. By adding extra bracing, cross bars, and guys, I feel confident the one inch stainless will be strong enough. It is not practical to place them anywhere else without severely interfering with going forward and my main boom extends too far aft to put structure there. My hopes are that by angling the two outside panels slightly outward, and by over sizing the panels, they will be the best they can be. Some times perfection is not in the cards.
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Old 27-03-2015, 12:17   #10
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

Can you fit panels on your cockpit bimini?

I have a ketch with a wheel shelter, I have mounted 4 panels on the roof, a total 310 watts.

At anchor I swing the main boom out to the North to reduce shading and I have made up a Crash bar (just in front of the back 2 panels) so that in the event of the boom falling, it will not be able to get to the panels.

I also have a small rectangular 50 watt panel on the aft gantry, this JUST fits between the Back stay and the Hydrovane.

When I leave the boat, I turn off the array on the wheel house and let the aft panels charge both battery banks
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Old 27-03-2015, 12:28   #11
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

Quote:
Originally Posted by mserafi1 View Post
My hopes are that by angling the two outside panels slightly outward, and by over sizing the panels, they will be the best they can be.
I was thinking the same as mserafi1. Seems like angling the panels down on each side would improve the general azimuth of the panels for collection (especially when heeling), and then just having large efficient panels on each side so that one side is fully producing. Then wire them separately (perhaps to separate charge controllers) so that the sunny side produces optimally and the shady side doesn't affect the voltage. Angling the panels will also help with water run-off at anchor.

Even if mounted in the space between the bimini and the mizzen mast, you're going to get shading from the mast whenever you're not on a strictly E-W heading. I think shading is unavoidable, so work around it.

I wonder if optimizers are a thing yet for marine applications. I have them on my home solar PV array. They are electronic modules on each panel that let it produce independently of the other panels, yet still be on the same string. Kinda link micro-inverters, but without inverting to AC, since you probably want the DC output.
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Old 27-03-2015, 12:37   #12
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

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Originally Posted by libramax View Post
I wonder if optimizers are a thing yet for marine applications. I have them on my home solar PV array. They are electronic modules on each panel that let it produce independently of the other panels, yet still be on the same string. Kinda link micro-inverters, but without inverting to AC, since you probably want the DC output.
I'm working on building a microMPPT setup, which is what a sailboat needs to optimize for the shading issues. For most panels, you'll get severly reduced output with the kind of shade. In any case, even with a microMPPT per small panel, you want to avoid shading.
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Old 27-03-2015, 12:38   #13
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

Thank you all for your comments. This can be a great help to others too.
In response:
First, my personal experience, I ran a solar electric business for 12 years. These panels are Solarex 53s I bought new in 1995. They have powered 3 houses and a 1948 Ford "Housecar", now being installed on a cruising boat. I am aware of basic problems like shading and support. Still, it is always good to hear the personal experience of others.

Strength; Yes, it is still a mock-up. Extensive reinforcement is planned, but exactly where and how will be determined as the configuration takes shape. I did not want to add another layer of SS tubing to what is already in cockpit railing and Bimini frame, so chopped up the Bimini frame to integrate into one multi-purpose structure. It is set on old B-mount points until finalized, and I used the curvature of the B-frame bows to allow the front support to be attached to the welded cockpit rail, then the bows themselves, mounted on the panel rack, so the Bimini can be modified to fit below the panel array. These photos give an idea, but it is way early to show how it will end up... you get the point.

Shading and position; There is no optimal answer on any sail boat. While it does reduce output, it will not "kill" it, and management, such as shifting boom to side when possible helps a lot. That is an ongoing thing that changes due to a lot of factors. To quote one of my favorite philosophers, it is "A Question of Balance".

On my boat, it would be both more shade mounting the forward of the mast, and interfere with mainsail handling. mounting them further aft would interfere with working from the poop deck, which is necessary for both mizzen sail handling and best use of the dinghy davits. In this position, I have unobstructed stand up access to both forward and aft portions of the mizzen boom, and can easily reach across the panels from either end. It also provides maximum shading right over the helm.

Cantilevered off a fixed rail is another good option (set up a Hardin 45 ketch that way for a customer once, then crewed with him to Mexico), but also has disadvantages. In close quarters, like a busy marina, rafting, or such, they often can not be folded out, and when on an extreme heel, can dip into the water. That is what I will do later on if I increase the array.
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Old 27-03-2015, 14:15   #14
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

From 6 amps to 1-2 amps, I'd call that 'killed'

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Old 27-03-2015, 14:26   #15
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Re: Mounting solar panels on a Ketch

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vino the Dog View Post
Thank you all for your comments. This can be a great help to others too.
In response:
First, my personal experience, I ran a solar electric business for 12 years. These panels are Solarex 53s I bought new in 1995. They have powered 3 houses and a 1948 Ford "Housecar", now being installed on a cruising boat. I am aware of basic problems like shading and support. Still, it is always good to hear the personal experience of others.

Strength; Yes, it is still a mock-up. Extensive reinforcement is planned, but exactly where and how will be determined as the configuration takes shape. I did not want to add another layer of SS tubing to what is already in cockpit railing and Bimini frame, so chopped up the Bimini frame to integrate into one multi-purpose structure. It is set on old B-mount points until finalized, and I used the curvature of the B-frame bows to allow the front support to be attached to the welded cockpit rail, then the bows themselves, mounted on the panel rack, so the Bimini can be modified to fit below the panel array. These photos give an idea, but it is way early to show how it will end up... you get the point.

Shading and position; There is no optimal answer on any sail boat. While it does reduce output, it will not "kill" it, and management, such as shifting boom to side when possible helps a lot. That is an ongoing thing that changes due to a lot of factors. To quote one of my favorite philosophers, it is "A Question of Balance".

On my boat, it would be both more shade mounting the forward of the mast, and interfere with mainsail handling. mounting them further aft would interfere with working from the poop deck, which is necessary for both mizzen sail handling and best use of the dinghy davits. In this position, I have unobstructed stand up access to both forward and aft portions of the mizzen boom, and can easily reach across the panels from either end. It also provides maximum shading right over the helm.

Cantilevered off a fixed rail is another good option (set up a Hardin 45 ketch that way for a customer once, then crewed with him to Mexico), but also has disadvantages. In close quarters, like a busy marina, rafting, or such, they often can not be folded out, and when on an extreme heel, can dip into the water. That is what I will do later on if I increase the array.
I'm not sure I understood the question now?
Did you have a question?

If it was mine I think I'd find the panels are simply too much in the way to handle the mizzen, but that's a practical issue. Rectified by going with wind generator off the mizzen instead and a trolling generator or prop gunny for underway.
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