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Old 31-08-2017, 12:45   #91
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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Originally Posted by Exile View Post
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 ).
All good questions Iíd say, and I hope someone like Ken chimes in here too, Heís really more experienced with solar than me.

I think having one MPPT attached to each panel would be the most efficient system. How much more, I couldnít say. It would be a wonderful experiment to run Ö on someone elesís boat .

If you have the space to mount all the controllers and wiring, and need to squeeze the maximum efficiency out of the system, then I think multiple controllers is the way to go. (BTW, I donít think cost is a big issue with controllers). My way is definitely less efficient than theoretically possible, but it still produces plenty of power and is more than adequate for my needs.

Solar panels are certainly water tight (they better be, or they die ). This is why I didnít bother with the Sunbrella. If I could get bigger area Iíd have more sun/rain protection for sure, but my space is quite limited due to the way my main is rigged.

The panels do get quite warm, but Iíve never noticed any added heat in the cockpit due to their placement. Maybe thatís b/c there is enough space between my head and the panel? Not sure Ö I doubt if that would be a concern.

I am currently in Newfoundland, but last season cruised in the Thousand Islands, which believe it or not, gets quite hot. I didnít notice any added heat issues with the panels as mounted, but maybe others with more warm latitude experience might offer more informed thoughts.
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Old 31-08-2017, 13:41   #92
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

Thank you Mike! Very generous of you to respond in detail. Ken's new set-up looks quite appealing too, although fixed frame panels tend to be less expensive & more durable (from what I read anyway). I have a "thing" about arches & deck clutter, so your solution looks desirable. Then again, I also have a canvassed bimini that I rarely use since I have a "thing" for having unobstructed views of the sails. All a trade-off, but I could certainly see developing a liking for the independence & freedom solar panels could provide, and the weather protection from a partially enclosed cockpit. Anyway, lots to think about so thanks again.
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Old 31-08-2017, 13:58   #93
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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+1 for flexible panels right on the cloth Bimini. Has worked great for me. Simply tied them through their grommet holes with strong line to the frame. Works great and low profile. In the photo you can barely see mine, but they're there.
Sailrite has a nice video showing how to do that . Doesn't look too hard if you sew.
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Old 31-08-2017, 15:05   #94
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

Gemini clamps. Personally, I've used studs on a hard top, but these guys have some neat hardware.





https://www.geminiproducts.net/solar-mounts/
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Old 31-08-2017, 15:48   #95
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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Gemini clamps. Personally, I've used studs on a hard top, but these guys have some neat hardware.





https://www.geminiproducts.net/solar-mounts/
Overly cautious perhaps, but I'm always concerned about still being able to take the bimini down in the event of high winds. In fact, I've even taken my dodger down in the face of hurricane warnings (while tied to a dock). Ken's set-up would work on account of the zippers. I see Mike's as more akin to an extended hard dodger or pilot house, so may also be fine if well secured. I suppose panels secured to a frame but on top of canvas can always be removed at the dock if need be, but likely impractical at sea.
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Old 01-09-2017, 14:18   #96
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
All good questions Iíd say, and I hope someone like Ken chimes in here too, Heís really more experienced with solar than me.

I think having one MPPT attached to each panel would be the most efficient system. How much more, I couldnít say. It would be a wonderful experiment to run Ö on someone elesís boat .

If you have the space to mount all the controllers and wiring, and need to squeeze the maximum efficiency out of the system, then I think multiple controllers is the way to go. (BTW, I donít think cost is a big issue with controllers). My way is definitely less efficient than theoretically possible, but it still produces plenty of power and is more than adequate for my needs.

Solar panels are certainly water tight (they better be, or they die ). This is why I didnít bother with the Sunbrella. If I could get bigger area Iíd have more sun/rain protection for sure, but my space is quite limited due to the way my main is rigged.

The panels do get quite warm, but Iíve never noticed any added heat in the cockpit due to their placement. Maybe thatís b/c there is enough space between my head and the panel? Not sure Ö I doubt if that would be a concern.

I am currently in Newfoundland, but last season cruised in the Thousand Islands, which believe it or not, gets quite hot. I didnít notice any added heat issues with the panels as mounted, but maybe others with more warm latitude experience might offer more informed thoughts.
I'm certainly no expert at solar, just a humble end user of rigid panels for twelve years and flex panels for two months. But I ask lots of questions before jumping in and still make mistakes along the way. Regarding advice: With me you get the good, the bad, but hopefully... not the ugly.
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Old 01-09-2017, 16:02   #97
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

Ok, here are a few pics I promised. The boat is unharmed except for a soft boom cover and a fallen guidon.
Talking with some boaters that stayed, we missed the storm surge because we were on the south side of the hurricane rotation.
There's A LOT of new boats here. They came from Port Aransas, which didn't fair so well.
The sunken boat you see on the news is an abandoned one. He stopped paying slip rental and walked away from it. The marina is now stuck with it as they pursue ways to get it out of here.
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Old 01-09-2017, 16:32   #98
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

No pics visible from here
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Old 07-09-2017, 04:54   #99
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

One more time.
The longer I stayed, the more people I met and the stories I heard made me realize we really got lucky in our area. Two guys boats are ok but really beat up, they live in Houston. Their houses are filled with water along with their vehicles. They are now mandatory live aboards. We saw many boats that were just beat to hell, dismasted, pulpits and life lines smashed or gone.
Port A got hammered and Island Moorings lost their fingers, which then cascaded into boats all over under and on top of each other. A lack of maintenance on the attachments points was partly to blame by some as the bolts were mostly rusted through.
We are normally alone on the docks, this weekend the slips are almost full and soon will be, as there's few places left to go.
Our boat on the otherhand lost a soft cover for the boom. Heidi sewed a new one over the weekend.......we got lucky.
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Old 21-09-2017, 10:08   #100
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Re: Mounting solar panels on bimini

I used ridged panels. Two 250 watt panels mounted on its own solid frame. It was mounted well aft to avoid shadows. Works very well.
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