We've had four 125 watt panels on a fixed mount over the cockpit
since 1999. Four years in Western Mexico
( North 27 to 17 degrees ) at anchor
almost the entire time. Never once needed to generate any electricity other that what the panels provided. We were electrical
usage hogs: watermaker
, lots of HAM radio
usage, big computer, cold refrigerator
, movies on the TV every night.
We could make 17 gph water
, run the reefer, and still trickle charge the batteries with our fixed mount panels in mid-winter at 24 N.
My brother had full adjustable panels on his Tartan 42 in Mexico
- after six months he quit adjusting them. He did notice a significant drop in power generated but still produced way more than he ever needed.
Same result for another friend who has been to Western Mexico three times on his Norseman 447 and on to Florida
one time. He built fully adjustable panels in 2000 and quit adjusting them in 2002. He is still cruising and never bothers adjusting them.
Adjustments help a lot but 500 watts of nominal panel power is plenty for a fix mount in the tropics for most any application.
And, realistically - when cruising we were seldom on the boat during the time we would be adjusting the panels - mid-morning or mid-afternoon. We were usually out for a run, hike, snorkeling, fishing
, visiting friends so who would do the adjustments?
NO shadows is far more important than adjustments on a practical day to day usage.
Just my opinion based on 14 years of usage.