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Old 27-09-2016, 08:21   #1
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Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

Not sure where to put this post, it is not really electrical, but relates to solar, so mods, move it if appropriate...

I built a solar frame out of aluminium for 2 solar panels. It is about 80 x 65".

I should coat this, but not sure what is best. It has been suggested that anodizing is going to cost lots as this won't fit in most tanks, and will have to be dipped 2x. Powder coating might be less expensive? Not sure how accurate this is.

Will be easy to take frame off in a month when boat is out for the winter, so wanting to make this decision shortly.

Wondering if anyone who has built frames has experience with this.
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Old 27-09-2016, 08:29   #2
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

Can't imagine why you would want to. Aluminum will do fine.

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After 5 years, no polishing or cleaning, ever (wipe off the glass a few times each year)
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Old 27-09-2016, 08:36   #3
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

Powder coated will cost less but in my experience anodize lasts better in the ocean environment. A lot will depend on the local vendors for each. If your willing to wait for a batch at the anodize shop it may be better. If you do powdercoat make sure they prep it well. Most failures seem to be from contamination before coating. I'm not an expert on this but I would ask whats included in any price you get.
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Old 27-09-2016, 08:42   #4
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

@thinwater. Thanks. I have seen some very small discolorations just after 2 months. Haven't looked closely enough if it is just salt that is dried, or some pitting? Saltwater being corrosive, but not sure how bad. The guy who welded the frame recommended some coating.

But your frame doesn't look to be falling apart after 5 years, so that is very encouraging.
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Old 27-09-2016, 08:42   #5
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

My question is did you use anodized aluminum angle most is already done at time of manufacture. Be ides even if not it would be lots cheaper to replace the frame in 20 to 30 years as supposed to powder coat or having it anodized .
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Old 27-09-2016, 09:09   #6
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

Not all aluminum alloys are created the same when it comes to corrosion resistence so what alloy your guy used matters. If he recommended coating I would do it.

I can't say enough bad things about powder coating. Anodizing is great but you need to find someone with tanks big enough. Suggest you check out this product instead -

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Old 27-09-2016, 09:38   #7
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

jbinbi,

Some aluminum types are better in a marine environment than others.
Most boat aluminum is AL 6061. Aluminum Mast, Aluminum anchors.
Look at your trampoline Net Nobs to see how the lower grade aluminums will decay.

Most solar panel frames are anodized already

My vote would be for anodize as it will last the life of the boat.
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Old 27-09-2016, 10:13   #8
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbinbi View Post
Not sure where to put this post, it is not really electrical, but relates to solar, so mods, move it if appropriate...

I built a solar frame out of aluminium for 2 solar panels. It is about 80 x 65".

I should coat this, but not sure what is best. It has been suggested that anodizing is going to cost lots as this won't fit in most tanks, and will have to be dipped 2x. Powder coating might be less expensive? Not sure how accurate this is.

Will be easy to take frame off in a month when boat is out for the winter, so wanting to make this decision shortly.

Wondering if anyone who has built frames has experience with this.
I've anodized small parts... ...and you've been DIY so far... Unless your area does not like you playing with battery acid, of course.

In a nutshell - You'd need:
-PPE (safety first)
-an adjustable DC Power Supply (find an electronic loving friend, buy him a beer. He may even want to help)
-some battery acid (Auto Parts Store)
-distilled water
-Rite Dye (for color only. Use nothing for Clear Anodize)
-something long and shallow to submerge your part into the dilute battery acid (plastic rain gutter?)
-Nitric Acid (harder to get, but semi optional. Mostly for making it bright and shiny)
-then (the problem as far as I see it) something to boil the part in for about 30 min. Think, Long and Shallow.

Example URL with instructions. There are many methods, including some that do not use the Battery Acid. I've had no problems, but I always used dyes. Got all my stuff (except the battery acid) from Anodize World.

-sterling
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Old 27-09-2016, 10:30   #9
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

I used this:

Everbilt 2 in. x 96 in. Aluminum Angle with 1/16 in. Thick-802607 - The Home Depot

I found a few links that suggested most of Everbilt consumer stuff is 6063. Makes sense, since this is a common extrusion alloy.

More than anything, it is going to depend on what you have it coupled with and whether it can hold water. I have zero important pitting because the design does not hold sea water (good drainage, far off the deck).

In your case it is going to get more spray. Still, I'm pretty sure the panels will fail long before the frame. Same for the frame on the panel, which you cannot coat. And what if, in the process of coating, you create a differential between the frame and the panel frame? For example, in Cotemar's example, the buttons were clearly a different alloy AND the lacing held salt and moisture (tramps get a lot of spray). We're comparing apples with hand grenades; both aluminum, but very different cases.

In my case, I designed a very strong and simple frame that can withstand a lot of abuse (I've dropped the boom on it a few times, hard--that is why I used a tall, thick angle) and would take 15 minutes to reproduce. You've got more complexity.

Simpler to leave it be.
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Old 27-09-2016, 11:28   #10
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

There is one place that could possibly do it. Contact informations -Charleston-Spar Powder coat alone without some extreme prep work Alumaprep and Alodine will likely fail. I sent my mast boom and spreaders to these guys for a strip, reanodize and powder coat. Bulletproof. They have the largest tanks in the US and are great folks to work with. Standard colors are black, gray and white. Other colors are optional but available. The whole shebang cost about $1000.00.
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Old 27-09-2016, 14:04   #11
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

If you want it to look like crap in a year or two, powder coat it. Moisture gets in under the powder coat and causes corrosion. The corrosion metastasizes and the powder coating comes off in large chips or even in sheets after awhile. Powder coating is one of those things you do to get something sold, out the door and the check cashed right quick.

Hard coat anodizing will last virtually forever except if you get galvanic corrosion around fasteners. A little care in assembly will take care of that. If you got the aluminum from your local Lowes it's doubtful that it is a marine alloy and will corrode. Won't 'rust away' but will get a very rough unsightly surface patina. If that will bother you, have it anodized. Did it with a couple of cast hatches and worked a treat. Also a great base for paint and probably even powder coat.
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Old 27-09-2016, 14:24   #12
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

I suppose that this will sound kina old fashioned, but you could just paint the frame. With good undercoats and prep followed by some 2 pot polyurethane paint, it will look good and last quite a few years... and you can DiY!

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Old 27-09-2016, 15:16   #13
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

I left mine bare, so far so good although I Believe mine is 2024, not the best for corrosion


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Old 27-09-2016, 15:40   #14
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
I suppose that this will sound kina old fashioned, but you could just paint the frame. With good undercoats and prep followed by some 2 pot polyurethane paint, it will look good and last quite a few years... and you can DiY!

Jim
Following Jim's line of advice, I did experiment and powdercoated my spreaders but did 2-part poly on mast after careful prep of stripping, Alumiprep, Alodine and primecote. After just one year I am ready to strip the powdercoat as it is showing it is in no way as durable as the poly DIY. I'm glad I did not spend the $ to powdercoat the boom at the time also.
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Old 28-09-2016, 08:06   #15
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Re: Powder coat or anodize my solar frame

I would consider a good quality epoxy paint & a good primer underneath. It's easy to touch up & will last almost as long as a powder coat & way cheeper.. to the fellow who thinks it's not needed? Don't know where you are but in the FL sun & salt bare aluminum pits up in no time here,some extruded aluminum is already anodized and that may be what they use to Mount Your solar panels and that stuff holds up better but once you weld it where it's welded there is no anodized stuff anymore so you need to do something with that but that's why they bolt or screw that stuff together and try to stay away from welding it.
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