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Old 18-03-2009, 12:59   #1
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Mounting Solar Panels on Bimini

I want to mount 3 Kyocera 130s on top of a bimini. What approaches have people used for mounting panels on top of biminis? What hardware, brackets, extra rails etc? The bimini is not constructed yet, so any recommendations on design would be most welcome! Thanks for any guidance.
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Old 18-03-2009, 13:25   #2
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I had mine on the last boat installed that way. You can do it with steel tubing. You need a rigid frame. You may need several sets of tubes that run up and all the way over adding cross pieces that can be shaped. It gets a little tricky making the Bimini canvas but you can do that too if you make standoffs. You'll need to use some of the folding 316 connectors (expensive) to minimize cuts in the tube as a well as all good 316 fittings drilled, tapped, and screwed though not just set screws. That means you'll need a lot of fittings. They do make fittings so the panels can be mounted direct to the tubes.

Not sure which way to do three panels since it seems like it would be about square. I would work out all the details on this, then build the steel then the canvas. Getting a good fitting canvas job is not easy and not something you should get done by someone not very experienced.

Ours rode out Isabelle with the canvas removed just fine. That's the trouble with a shoddy job. Some 60 knot plus winds come along and in the simple process of stripping them off the boat the mess they make as they rip out won't be fun.

I'm considering switching ours to that way on the current boat. Remember boom clearance too! You really don't want to be unable to fully lower the topping lift.
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Old 18-03-2009, 22:12   #3
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Originally Posted by Pblais View Post
They do make fittings so the panels can be mounted direct to the tubes.
What do these look like? Who makes them?

The tube grid you are describing, how exactly does it look? You have regular bows going athwartships and then tubes "tee'd" off over top running fore and aft or what exactly?

Thanks,

Steve
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Old 19-03-2009, 01:11   #4
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i did mine a few years after the bimini was put on and agree with Pblais - i have a pic of it and would share but no idea how to copy and paste it on to here - any help with that and i will share it - i did all the work myself (with a little help from a great friend and super engineer) and it has worked great - been in winds exceeding 40 k but took them off for ts hanna this summer as it roared overhead in rhode island

any idea how to copy and paste a pic here

chuck patty and svsoulmates
ki4sry
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Old 19-03-2009, 04:30   #5
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i have a pic of it and would share but no idea how to copy and paste it on to here - any help with that and i will share it
Your membership includes a photo gallery that is in your control and accessible by all members to view. If you go there after logging in you can upload pictures there. I don't have any pictures from the last boat without the canvas over it.

I think you'll want to fabricate or acquire something like a stanchion base that can be through bolted to be the boat for the base of the Bimini. You need the whole frame to be rigid but you don't need to be able to stand on it. You could make a template from PVC pipe using square corners and when fabricating the steel tubing you could bend the radius. This isn't something you just come up with or copy since all the dimensions are by necessity custom. It means you need to consider that you are not building a shark cage either since they tend to look very ugly.

If you have a fabricator build something that can use 1.5 inch tubing then you could come up with a design to integrate a radar, wind gen, and solar panel mounting system. This isn't cheap done in SS steel. If you could chat with someone in the business you might get a better idea of some of the off the shelf components you can just buy.

I would start by getting some detailed pictures of the cockpit and make some drawings to work from as well. Measure up all the clearances required for moving about and swinging the boom. Any current Bimini may help set some basic dimensions as far as width and height. You'll need to get rid of it later. You can't reuse any of it. You might even try using some thick copper wire to make a small table top scale model. That method may seem time consuming but making a few pretend scale examples might lead you to something that looks good and works. You really can't afford to start sawing up steel tubing without a clear plan.

Many if not most Bimini frames can be folded away and / or removed. This is not like that design. If you already have stern railing you may be able to use the folding 316 tube connectors to attach your Bimini frame to. It may also be better to replace stanchions with longer support members. If the lower structures are triangles then a section can be adjusted by starting out longer and cutting it to adjust the height and desired distances. 1 inch tubing can be quite strong. You might also consult a canvas shop for help in the design if you want to add a canvas Bimini underneath.

This is something that you really have to plan out and the small details require a lot of planning.
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Old 19-03-2009, 06:31   #6
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put 3 pics in my album - hope they are there if not will try again

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Old 20-03-2009, 10:33   #7
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Thanks!

The pictures were great. I understand the process of fabricating the bimini. I'm most interested in how the panel mounts to the bimini itself.

Chuck, it looks like yours has separate mounting rails over top. Are the rails just drilled through with fasteners directly tapped into the panels? Or are there some kind of brackets that hold the panels to the rails

Thanks,

Steve
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Old 23-03-2009, 07:40   #8
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glad the pictures came through - the panels themselves have a flat bar on their bottom and i used 1" ss tubing over the top of the panel and then used rail clamps that i got at wm to attach the panel bar to the tubing - that way i can take them off if need to - and i did take off the panels when in rhode island last summer and ts hanna went over head - got a bit worried about the winds and it did not take long to take them off or remount

hope this helps
chuck patty and svsoulmates
ki4sry
on a mooring key biscayne - outbound 10 days - eastbound
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