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Old 29-08-2017, 15:46   #76
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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The Solbians have actually surpassed my expectations, now going into my sixth day without running the engine or generator on a 53ft boat with all sorts of electrical needs.

The only changes I plan on making when I return to Italy in October, will be to have the canvas maker at Solbian move the four middle panels closer to the centerline of the bimini and add some velcro strips to the sides of the panels. I'll also ask them about adding the stiffener plates under the panels, adding long matching canvas panels along the 10 inch strips which run on each side which will be pockets velcroed down to encase the wires. These modifications will in effect double the insulation factor of the bimini against summer heat and provide a new outer surface to extend the life of the bimini.

I've also heard other people I know complain about poor performance of solar panels attached to their biminis or cabin tops, but one friend (who complains) went with two cheaper panels, one controller and never does anything to midigate the shading issue. Now says he's glad he didn't waste more money on it. Come to think of it.... I'm the only boat I've ever seen with the boom pushed off to the side... so complain, complain, but nobody does anything to help themselves. The boat pictured below is a good example of what NOT to do... look at all the crap blocking the sun from hitting the two solar panels attached to the bimini. If he's only using one controller, daily production is going to be very little if any.

Without a doubt, if I didn't move the boom I'd be looking at 50-60% less solar production.


We always push the boom out. Beware of hitting your head on it when you step on deck. We tie a bright red sail-tie to it that hangs down so you see it before you step up onto the deck.
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Old 29-08-2017, 21:21   #77
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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We always push the boom out. Beware of hitting your head on it when you step on deck. We tie a bright red sail-tie to it that hangs down so you see it before you step up onto the deck.
Cutter rig, so the boom is well above our heads when on deck. If a sloop, then that would be an issue.
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Old 30-08-2017, 05:06   #78
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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I mounted 5 Solara solar panels to my bimini frame. I think it turned out pretty good.

I used Gemini Hinge connectors.
That's the best I've seen, well done.
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Old 30-08-2017, 05:40   #79
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

Late to this thread, and not able to review it all (poor net connection). But I built a bimini using rigid panels -- skipped the sunbrella. I'll post a pic when I can, but I think it looks pretty good.

I also have two semi-flex panels in my system from Aurinco. They were very expensive at the time. They are at least five years old now, and still going strong.

My 400 watts solar keeps my 320 ah bank going fine almost all the time. Although my needs are modest compared to most. The fridge is the biggest draw.
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Old 30-08-2017, 18:08   #80
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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Looks like a prison cell, how do you get out of that thing?
Thats someones pride and joy and a lot of sweat likely went into making that. Maybe keep comments like that to yourself next time.
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Old 30-08-2017, 20:36   #81
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

Gawd I love this forum.....do this, no do that, never do that, I've always done that, I would never do that. if you do that you suck, no you suck.

and you spelled "douche" wrong but it looks like the moderators deleted it. If you're going to insult someone, at least try to spell the insult correctly.....Richard
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Old 30-08-2017, 22:15   #82
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

How was the boat when you arrived? No damage I hope.
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Old 31-08-2017, 04:46   #83
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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Late to this thread, and not able to review it all (poor net connection). But I built a bimini using rigid panels -- skipped the sunbrella. I'll post a pic when I can, but I think it looks pretty good.

I also have two semi-flex panels in my system from Aurinco. They were very expensive at the time. They are at least five years old now, and still going strong.

My 400 watts solar keeps my 320 ah bank going fine almost all the time. Although my needs are modest compared to most. The fridge is the biggest draw.




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Old 31-08-2017, 06:10   #84
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

^^ Mike, what a lovely boat. I really like the way you have hidden those panels over the cockpit. They blend in well. Thanks for the pics.
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Old 31-08-2017, 06:43   #85
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

Guys be careful with sewing Velcro to the bimini. I did that to secure two 100 watt semi flex Grape panels with the 2" industrial Velcro. Looked great, but after a couple months notice that the Sunbrella was buckling up. Took some measurements and found the Velcro shrunk 3/4" on the 21" side and more than an 1-1/2" on the long side. It seems nylon Velcro will shrink when outside. I've replaced most of the name brand Velcro with a polyester hook and loop. Appears to have better dimensionally stability, but isn't as fade resistance as nylon. Has anyone else run across this? I've seen the zipper used, not sure my sewing machine is up to the task.

Also have change to semi panels with the ETFE layer, seems to be a huge improvement, both performance and maintenance. They should age better, than the smooth flex panels.
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Old 31-08-2017, 06:50   #86
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

Give Sailrite a call
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Old 31-08-2017, 10:42   #87
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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Nice insallation Mike. Looks like it belongs there, nothing extra added and totally functional in two ways. Well done.
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Old 31-08-2017, 10:52   #88
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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Wow, a classic! Could stare at that boat all day. And very appealing configuration of your solar, along with your wind gen. You get solar energy production plus a hard-topped partial cockpit enclosure. Very nice.

Either I missed the wires or you did a good job of running them. Is it one large panel or two smaller ones on top of the bimini frame? Watertight in wet weather? Heat from the panels an issue? I also like how you mounted the Aurincos on what looks like adjustable frames. Probably helps with the inevitable shading. Are they truly "walk-ons" as advertised? Btw, I thought I heard Aurinco was no longer in business but could be wrong.

I know, I know . . . lots of questions. But that is one of the nicer looking set-ups I've seen.
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Old 31-08-2017, 11:38   #89
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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Nice insallation Mike. Looks like it belongs there, nothing extra added and totally functional in two ways. Well done.
Thanks Ken. I really appreciate you saying so. I did worry that I was going to create something ugly ó since I designed it myself Ö and I rarely know exactly what Iím doing .

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Wow, a classic! Could stare at that boat all day. And very appealing configuration of your solar, along with your wind gen. You get solar energy production plus a hard-topped partial cockpit enclosure. Very nice.
Thanks also Exile. Very kind of you to say. She is a lovely boat. Not the easiest boat to have all the time, but we love her.

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Either I missed the wires or you did a good job of running them. Is it one large panel or two smaller ones on top of the bimini frame? Watertight in wet weather? Heat from the panels an issue? I also like how you mounted the Aurincos on what looks like adjustable frames. Probably helps with the inevitable shading. Are they truly "walk-ons" as advertised? Btw, I thought I heard Aurinco was no longer in business but could be wrong.

I know, I know . . . lots of questions. But that is one of the nicer looking set-ups I've seen.
I donít mind all the questions. Much more fun that talking composting heads .

The arrangement includes two 150 watt panels for the bimini and two 50 watt panels forward of the dodger. Theyíre all wired in parallel to a single junction box which is brought to a single MPPT (Victron 100/30). I ran the wiring under the panels and along the dodger frame inside its own conduit (reinforced hose actually).

The bimini is not water tight. In fact thereís a gap between the two panels. I slightly angled the panels so they tilt forward. My thought it so add a gasket between the two and use the panels as a rain catcher ó but I havenít got there yet. I also plan to install snaps around the panel frames so I can attach rain/sun blocks around the cockpit, but again, thatís a project for another day.

The smaller Aurincos are on hinges so they can be angled to the sun, which I often do in the early and late hours. But to be honest, if itís even a moderately sunny day, my MPPT is into float by about noon. Iíve stopped worrying about power.

The Aurincos are apparently walk-on, but Iíve mounted them in a location which rarely sees feet. They are pretty tough, but I wouldnít put them in a high-traffic area myself.

My Aurincos are about five years old now and I havenít bought any from them since. I just went to the website and they do have an ďout of businessĒ notice on the American side, but the Canadian seems to work Ö not sure if they just didnít bother to fill in the Canuck side or not. Too bad, but I can see how theyíd have a hard time competing against all the cheaper stuff now available. Those two 50 watt panels were like four times the cost of my two 150 watt hard-frame panels. But they do seem to be excellently made.
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Old 31-08-2017, 12:22   #90
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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Thanks Ken. I really appreciate you saying so. I did worry that I was going to create something ugly ó since I designed it myself Ö and I rarely know exactly what Iím doing .



Thanks also Exile. Very kind of you to say. She is a lovely boat. Not the easiest boat to have all the time, but we love her.



I donít mind all the questions. Much more fun that talking composting heads .

The arrangement includes two 150 watt panels for the bimini and two 50 watt panels forward of the dodger. Theyíre all wired in parallel to a single junction box which is brought to a single MPPT (Victron 100/30). I ran the wiring under the panels and along the dodger frame inside its own conduit (reinforced hose actually).

The bimini is not water tight. In fact thereís a gap between the two panels. I slightly angled the panels so they tilt forward. My thought it so add a gasket between the two and use the panels as a rain catcher ó but I havenít got there yet. I also plan to install snaps around the panel frames so I can attach rain/sun blocks around the cockpit, but again, thatís a project for another day.

The smaller Aurincos are on hinges so they can be angled to the sun, which I often do in the early and late hours. But to be honest, if itís even a moderately sunny day, my MPPT is into float by about noon. Iíve stopped worrying about power.

The Aurincos are apparently walk-on, but Iíve mounted them in a location which rarely sees feet. They are pretty tough, but I wouldnít put them in a high-traffic area myself.

My Aurincos are about five years old now and I havenít bought any from them since. I just went to the website and they do have an ďout of businessĒ notice on the American side, but the Canadian seems to work Ö not sure if they just didnít bother to fill in the Canuck side or not. Too bad, but I can see how theyíd have a hard time competing against all the cheaper stuff now available. Those two 50 watt panels were like four times the cost of my two 150 watt hard-frame panels. But they do seem to be excellently made.
Thanks for all the info Mike. Very helpful. Good thing you don't have conventional electric heads or you'd clearly never reach float by noon.

I've been threatening a long time but have not yet executed on installing solar on my boat, so please excuse any dumb questions, the first being your use of only one (MPPT) controller. I thought the more efficient set-up was to use one controller/panel, especially when shading is an issue? Or does your junction box, along with wiring in parallel, make up for any significant power loss? Would be nice if it did given the added expense of add'l controllers. But then it sounds like you already have all the efficiency you need.

The second question is whether you think a single panel on top of the bimini would be reasonably watertight, or as least as watertight as canvas? And of course I know panels get hot, but wasn't sure if that heat radiates below the panels to the point of discomfort in maybe warmer environments (than you hardy Canadians like to hang in that is ).
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