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Old 28-08-2014, 15:59   #1
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Movable Bracket to Change Aspect of Solar Panels?

Hi folks,
I am installing two 250 watt solar panels most likely on the davits or pushpit etc. Each panel is about 1600mm x 900mm, and about 20kg. Does anyone have a suggestion or better yet an example of a movable system where I can hinge the panels to angle them to port, starboard, forward or aft to improve their aspect in the morning and afternoon when the sun is lower? I have a couple I of ideas but I prefer not to reinvent the wheel if someone has already been through the trouble-shooting process.

Thank you for your thoughts!
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Old 29-08-2014, 10:42   #2
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Re: Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

Not really a reply to your question but the metal man that fitted my panels suggested that angling them would

a) Make them easier to steal
b) If you forget to adjust them you lose the benefit

It could also have been he could not be Ar**d to do the extra work!

We have 5 panels and none of them move, most of them are mounted on the top of our hard dodger but we do make every effort to ensure they are not shaded by the boom or anything else.

My guess is that Shading is more of an issue than tilting as a little bit of shade equals a great decrease in amps
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Old 30-08-2014, 02:50   #3
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Thanks for the advice.

How many watts of panels do you have and how many amps do you generate per day in sunny and overcast conditions? Sorry to be nosey.

I am installing 2 x 250 watt panels with an mppt controller. Still a bit nervous as this is my first solar set up and cruising yacht.

Cheers
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Old 30-08-2014, 03:32   #4
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Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

They're pretty big panels to have adjustable. Expect around 30 amps going in when the sun is high for maybe 6 hrs/day, and closer to 10 when it's a bit overcast
Ps occasionally we have used a bridal or stern anchor to reposition the boat and panels to soak up more sun..
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Old 30-08-2014, 04:41   #5
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Re: Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

I dunno where you are. The further north you go the lower the incident angle of the sun and consequently the lower the output. With 690 watts nominal into an MPPT controller we see around 40 amps at 12 volts for maybe 4 hours on a sunny day around 50 degrees latitude. I agree that moving large panels is not practical. We have movable panels on our RV. They work great but they're a PITA to move and when we park the RV it doesn’t drift with the current and the wind. Instead of futzing around with some unworkable moving bracket buy another panel and figure out where to mount it.
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Old 30-08-2014, 08:57   #6
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Re: Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Man View Post
Thanks for the advice.

How many watts of panels do you have and how many amps do you generate per day in sunny and overcast conditions?

Cheers
I have 2 x 55 Watt semi flexible and 2 x 100 watt non flexible panels on the top of my hard dodger.

These are connected to my house bank via a Pro Star 30 amp controller. I am in the NW Caribbean. I also have an old Ampair wind generator as well which produces no more than 4 amps on a good day. I have 3 x 120 Amp/Hr 12 volt batteries in the house bank.

The last 50 watt panel is mounted in the stern gantry and connected via a different controller to both the house and engine batteries. This means when I leave the boat, I can turn the main array off and just have both banks trickle charged

I will normally see up to 10 amps coming in during the day, sometimes peaking at 16 Amps. (At the moment I am at anchor in southern Belize and it is 09:00am, I am seeing 6.3 amps coming in)

I can and have run for months at anchor in the tropics without running my engine to charge the batteries. On a sunny day we are dumping electrify by the afternoon but more than 3 cloudy windless days in a row and we are struggling

I have all LED lighting below, 2 x Calframo fans running on low speed 24/7, a fridge (Danfoss BD50 running at low speed only) which has had a new very efficient heavily insulated box built for it

Hope this helps
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Old 30-08-2014, 09:03   #7
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Re: Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

Here is mine. The go port and starboard... and can go forward or aft if you lift the bow.


The black bitties and some plastic similar to cutting board plastic with a 1 inch hole drilled then sliced in half. Note the shock cord and plastic hook


Da Hook is for holding the panel up..


Voila!
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Old 30-08-2014, 13:17   #8
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Re: Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

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Originally Posted by bobofthenorth View Post
I dunno where you are. The further north you go the lower the incident angle of the sun and consequently the lower the output. With 690 watts nominal into an MPPT controller we see around 40 amps at 12 volts for maybe 4 hours on a sunny day around 50 degrees latitude. I agree that moving large panels is not practical. We have movable panels on our RV. They work great but they're a PITA to move and when we park the RV it doesn’t drift with the current and the wind. Instead of futzing around with some unworkable moving bracket buy another panel and figure out where to mount it.

R.J.(Bob) Evans
Travels without George


I agree.

Or, perhaps 2 x 300w panels, with a 30 amp MPPT controller for each. This way you get max. power from each panel under all conditions, and probably the same power you would have gotten if you had installed an auto tracking system with 2 x 250 watt panels.
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Old 31-08-2014, 06:26   #9
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Re: Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

http://www.dxengineering.com/search/...s?autoview=SKUhttp://static.dxengineering.com/glob...2500_at_ml.jpg

Here are some brackets similar to what Mark has made that you could use as well - they are available for any diameter tubing you may have.
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Old 31-08-2014, 07:15   #10
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Re: Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

These won't tilt in both directions but perhaps one way is enough. I think you are going to need a pair for each panel

Solar panel pole mount bracket only, fits a 1 1/2" fence pipe. Holds up to 100w | eBay
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Old 31-08-2014, 08:49   #11
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Re: Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

If solar energy is supposed to make a sizable portion of your onboard capacity the definitely make your orientable.

Ours swivel fore and aft and tilt somewhat too. They are hung on our twin backstays supported by spectra string harness and stopped by plain bungy under.

If you mount yours like Mark shows in his post and then place the rail on a vertical welded T-bar, you wil have 180 by 180 degs of freedom.

http://www.islandwaterworld.com/prodimg/sv10608.jpg

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Old 31-08-2014, 09:25   #12
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Re: Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

True that..but I think 20 kg 1600 x 900 is a bit big for a setup like that. We have 4 that size but permanently fixedClick image for larger version

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Old 31-08-2014, 10:35   #13
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Re: Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

As Bob mentioned, it depends a lot on where you plan to cruise. If you are in the tropics, then it is not worth the effort as the Sun is high above all year. If you are far from the equator, then the articulation might be useful. I have seen a lot of cruising boats with the panels turned100% in the wrong direction. They get set for the afternoon sun and left that way for the morning- negating any benefit. Adding articulation adds cost and complexity and generally makes the panels less secure.
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Old 31-08-2014, 12:32   #14
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Re: Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul L View Post

(...)

If you are in the tropics, then it is not worth the effort as the Sun is high above all year.

(...)
No.

It is "above" a fixed panel only when it is high up, say one hour each way of local noon. At all other times it is at an angle noticeably degrading your power making capacity.

A tropical day is some 12 hours long, hence your fixed panels will be sub-optimally angled most of the time.

This is fine when your panels are only a secondary source of onboard energy but unacceptable if you want max energy from min solar kit.

"Worth the effort" is therefore a very broad term.

Cheers,
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Old 31-08-2014, 12:39   #15
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Re: Movable bracket to change aspect of solar panels?

My panels are fixed. They supply all electric when at anchor in the tropics - which is most of the time. Two 158watt hard panels, two 100 watt thin panels, always some shading. Like I said, I have seen dozens of panels carefully adjusted so they were in 100% the wrong position. Solar is so nice for me because it is such low maintenance and so effective. I have enough other projects, I don't want to be moving my panels multiple times a day. To each his own.
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