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Old 20-08-2008, 18:52   #1
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Unhappy Solar Stik etc

Ok it doesn't take a lot to get the idea that if you angle your solar panels to face the sun you get more out of them. But at $3k+ my question is for those who have them or others like them is; how many of you really take the time to change the angle etc to make use of them?
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Old 20-08-2008, 19:15   #2
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It is $4000 for the marine transom mount package...a lot of $$ to spend for 70 amp hours on a bright, sunny and cloudless day. Tide, wakes, currents all work against that dry land "adjusted" maximum. It is a really well constructed system...but most cruisers I know don't spend their days on the boat...they get off and shop, do laundry, go snorkeling etc..
You can get the 2 BP solar panels on line for $680 bucks and the blue sky mppt controller is $259 bucks. So...for $1000 bucks you can buy everything but the stik.
I'd rather spend the other $3K on more panels that don't require adjusting and a wind generator that works when the sun goes behind the clouds and have lots left over for other stuff. And ... the claims of 100% more power than other systems are overblown.
First... much of the gain is due to the MPPT controller which is available to ANYONE. Second...the remaining gain is dependent on being there to adjust it not only to the angle of the sun...but to the boat swinging at anchor. The Practical Sailor test last year did not show a 100% gain.
A fine product and works well from all reports...but...consider what is required to get the most out of it and how much it costs relative to a more conventional approach.
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Old 20-08-2008, 20:12   #3
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My take on this is that is is nice stuff, but WAY over priced.

Chris
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Old 22-08-2008, 17:49   #4
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Cam is right... almost.

There is a lengthy discussion on the system over in another forum. Many of the answers that you are looking for can be found HERE.

I highly recommend a visit to that discussion.

Addressing the price issue... Yes it is expensive, but as anyone who has purchased one (over 70 boat owners) will tell you, it solves many more problems than just "aiming the panels".

It is the only system of its kind and it is designed to support more than just the panels. Many have added wind generators, radar, satellite receivers, and even lifting davits onto the system. When you factor in the "mounting" apparatus for a traditional solar panel array, wind generator, radar, or any other additional equipment that can/should be mounted on the Stik, you will find that the cost is quite reasonable for what you get.

We never recommend purchasing it only for the ability to pitch the panels. You CAN do that much cheaper. The Solar Stik™ is marketed as a multi-tasking solution for the cruiser.

Quoting Cam in a previous forum:

"...I would be most surprised if you got than 40 A/H into your batteries on average sunny days...even making several adjustments daily while at anchor. Obviously on cloudy days you won't get much at all with these or other solar panels. I would also say that the 40 amps I quote above is 50% more than I would expect out of fixed panel solars of the same wattage rating and the same charge controller. There is no doubt that adjusting the panels can get you more amp hours.

So...the real question for you assuming you get the stik is "will it provide enough power for my needs". Only you can answer that but I would suggest that a wind power solution may be useful to supplement whatever solar system you end up with since you can't rely on endless sunny days and wind power will work 24x7 when you have a breeze. IMHO...unless you are able to install a massive solar array AND couple it to a massive battery bank, you can't rely on solar alone for your electrical needs."

...and quoting Practical Sailor:

Based on our experience with the Solar Stik, the manufacturer’s claim of 70 to 80 amp hours per day in optimal conditions is reasonable, but "optimal" is the operative word. Add a wind generator, and you have a good shot at meeting a 100Ah daily requirement.


It is an investment, and the return is well justified.

...And in the interest of full disclosure, I am a technician for the Solar Stik Company, as well as a cruiser myself.
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Old 23-08-2008, 20:17   #5
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Let's be sure were talking about the same thing here...I said 40 amps on an AVERAGE day..not 40 amps max.. With clouds, rain etc. an average day is not NEARLY the optimal day.
I would further note that the Practical sailor test was done on dry land and had NONE of the issues of current and tide and wind and wakes affecting the positioning of the panels. Even so...the TONE of the quote as "optimal" was..."we did not measure this but you might" as is evidenced by the graphs in the article.
I do encourage others to vsit the entire linked thread as HelloSailor acrually did some real testing of the panels and since he is a member in both forums...his results might better inform others.

I thought we were talking about the $3000 difference between the solar stik system and the cost of fixed panels and the same controller. My radar went on my mast and my wind generator complete pole mounting system installed and wired was about $1500 and I was able to use a big blade windvane that worked in 10 knots of wind.
Still...if you want an all-in-one solution and can pay for it...the solar stik is the only one that I am aware of...and nothing bad has ever been said abut their quality...only the performance claims and price as a SOLAR solution.
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Old 24-08-2008, 05:01   #6
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What I was really asking is: how many who have one acturally change the panel angles? My question was never was met to become a good/bad discussion on the Solar Stik. But its appears to have turned into an ad for it.
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Old 24-08-2008, 08:13   #7
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Good Morning, Don.

I agree with you about keeping this from becoming an advertisement, but in the past when discussions delve into the "price" issue, it usually causes the forum to deteriorate into a chaotic mess of "I can do the same for alot less $$", or "you got ripped off".

We have purposefully stayed out of forum discussions to avoid being accused of turning them into advertisements, and in fact, we have even started our own discussion forum on the Stik website to keep it "in-house" (although I don't think it is active just yet, probably by the Annapolis boat show. I'll try to get an answer from the web-dude).

Let me try to give you a brief description of "a day in the life" of pitching the panels.

As a full time live-aboard myself, my daily routine is as follows:

6:30AM - Panel Pitch #1 - coffee and anchor check, and 15 seconds to rotate the mast so that the panels face toward the East.

8:00AM - POSSIBLE Panel Pitch - depart the boat for work/play (we anticipate tide change and set the panels for the most time in the eastward position... again 15 seconds)

MIDDAY - Panel Pitch #2 or 3 - Wife or myself arrives home for lunch. Adjust the panels at about 11AM to the "midday" position. 1-2 minutes to rotate panels on their arms and rotate the mast. (No other changes for tide/etc. are necessary until the panels are angled over again for late afternoon/evening position)

4:30PM - Panel Pitch #3 or 4 - Wife or myself arrives home, and the panels are pitched Westward. 1-2 minutes adjustment time

TIDE(?) - POSSIBLE Panel Pitch #4 or 5 - Allow for one more pitch if the tide changes (again, if we are leaving the boat for the evening, we set the panels for the most time in the Westward position. Allowing 15 seconds to rotate the mast.

At first, it takes some effort/thought to get into the "groove" of panel adjustment, but once you have done it a few times, it becomes a routine that takes about 4-5 minutes of time investment per day. The direct aiming of the panels is actually quite forgiving, as their is a 15 degree window on either side of direct sunlight where the panels will operate at 100% of rated output. This means that there is 30% of total sun movement before any power output degradation takes place. With a daily total panel swing of 90 degrees (manual adjustments totaling 90 degrees of movement), you will have 120 degrees of direct sunlight. Factor in the hours of daylight (longer summer days, shorter winter days) and you'll see just how much of an impact it can really have.

Hope that helps!
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Old 24-08-2008, 08:46   #8
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Originally Posted by h2ocruizers View Post
Good Morning, Don.

I agree with you about keeping this from becoming an advertisement, but in the past when discussions delve into the "price" issue, it usually causes the forum to deteriorate into a chaotic mess of "I can do the same for alot less $$", or "you got ripped off".

We have purposefully stayed out of forum discussions to avoid being accused of turning them into advertisements, and in fact, we have even started our own discussion forum on the Stik website to keep it "in-house" (although I don't think it is active just yet, probably by the Annapolis boat show. I'll try to get an answer from the web-dude).

Let me try to give you a brief description of "a day in the life" of pitching the panels.

As a full time live-aboard myself, my daily routine is as follows:

6:30AM - Panel Pitch #1 - coffee and anchor check, and 15 seconds to rotate the mast so that the panels face toward the East.

8:00AM - POSSIBLE Panel Pitch - depart the boat for work/play (we anticipate tide change and set the panels for the most time in the eastward position... again 15 seconds)

MIDDAY - Panel Pitch #2 or 3 - Wife or myself arrives home for lunch. Adjust the panels at about 11AM to the "midday" position. 1-2 minutes to rotate panels on their arms and rotate the mast. (No other changes for tide/etc. are necessary until the panels are angled over again for late afternoon/evening position)

4:30PM - Panel Pitch #3 or 4 - Wife or myself arrives home, and the panels are pitched Westward. 1-2 minutes adjustment time

TIDE(?) - POSSIBLE Panel Pitch #4 or 5 - Allow for one more pitch if the tide changes (again, if we are leaving the boat for the evening, we set the panels for the most time in the Westward position. Allowing 15 seconds to rotate the mast.

At first, it takes some effort/thought to get into the "groove" of panel adjustment, but once you have done it a few times, it becomes a routine that takes about 4-5 minutes of time investment per day. The direct aiming of the panels is actually quite forgiving, as their is a 15 degree window on either side of direct sunlight where the panels will operate at 100% of rated output. This means that there is 30% of total sun movement before any power output degradation takes place. With a daily total panel swing of 90 degrees (manual adjustments totaling 90 degrees of movement), you will have 120 degrees of direct sunlight. Factor in the hours of daylight (longer summer days, shorter winter days) and you'll see just how much of an impact it can really have.

Hope that helps!
As soon as you guys figure out a way to adapt a telescope tracking type system then you will be golden.
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Old 24-08-2008, 09:33   #9
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Having a way to tilt the panels is certainly an improvement, and we tend to adjust them about 4 times a day when we are on the boat. In tidal areas, or when we are away, we just adjust them horizontal.

BTW, I paid less than $300 for my adjustable mounts--designed them myself and had them fabricated in aluminum by a shop in Beafort, NC. Fifteen years later, they are still in good shape.
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Old 24-08-2008, 09:34   #10
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As soon as you guys figure out a way to adapt a telescope tracking type system then you will be golden.
LOL... maybe someday!!
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Old 24-08-2008, 20:10   #11
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As soon as you guys figure out a way to adapt a telescope tracking type system then you will be golden.
There are a myriad of simple homebrew photoelectric eye devices that will drive a small motor to rotate the panels. The big problem, I think, is in rotating the mounting pole to compensate for swinging around the anchor. By the time it is all in place and with a decent array it would get somewhat large. I'll just leave mine flat on the roof.

Mike
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Old 24-08-2008, 20:27   #12
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I'm confused....what does the height of the tide have anything to do with the azimuth and altitude of the sun in the sky and therefore which way you aim a solar panel?
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Old 24-08-2008, 20:32   #13
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What kind of boat do you own, David?
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Old 24-08-2008, 20:34   #14
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What kind of boat do you own, David?
Your question does not answer my question. Its a Sparkman & Stephens that I run for a living, BTW
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Old 24-08-2008, 20:39   #15
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It might, actually...

What kind of boat?
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