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Old 05-08-2013, 10:29   #1
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Using Sun Panels as a Bimini?

Hi everyone,

This may be a stupid question but everybody is complaining about not enough room for sun panel on sailboats but everybody is having a bimini or awning for shade!!!! Would it be possible to use the sun panels over the cockpit and have a huge surface to put sun panels on??? it could even be design to double as a rain catcher too.... beside the fact that its would be hard to put away when shade is not needed, I don't see a down side.... Any toughs on that???

Comments appreciated...
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:14   #2
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Re: Using sun panels as a bimini????

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Originally Posted by Kinkajou View Post
Hi everyone,

This may be a stupid question but everybody is complaining about not enough room for sun panel on sailboats but everybody is having a bimini or awning for shade!!!! Would it be possible to use the sun panels over the cockpit and have a huge surface to put sun panels on??? it could even be design to double as a rain catcher too.... beside the fact that its would be hard to put away when shade is not needed, I don't see a down side.... Any toughs on that???

Comments appreciated...
Been there, done that, took a picture:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: 92 IN THE SHADE

Have had a solar bimini for several years and it works well. Went through several design mods until the latest:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: SOLAR BIMINI PART SEVEN: PANELS INSTALLED
Which is working very well. Stood up the the 95 MPH winds of superstorm Sandy so it's a keeper. I'm still working on the water collection part but, as a solar bimini it has worked great. Shade and energy is a win win.
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:40   #3
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Re: Using sun panels as a bimini????

Yes, I've seen it done on several boats. Our boat had about 200 watts over the dodger -- you can see the photo here. Windtraveler had flexible panels sewn into the bimini -- see photos of their installation here.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:00   #4
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Re: Using sun panels as a bimini????

Many do that. But its hard to see the sails.
I have my Bimini back wehn sailing so I am in the fresh air... and can see the white floppy things.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:37   #5
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Re: Using sun panels as a bimini????

Sebastien,
This approach (whether the solar panels and frame work, are the actual "bimini top" itself, or they form an integral part of the bimini top, or simply attached to an existing bimini), has been done by many sailors/cruisers for years....(first one I saw was in late 90's...)
And, as solar panel prices have dropped significantly in the past few years, this approach is being seen more and more...

I started the design of my set-up (520 watts, over the bimini top) in 2005....and finally finished the project in late 2006...
And, over the last 7 years or so, they've been thru ~ 12,000 offshore miles, including 2 Atlantic crossings, multiple full Gales, and 3 days offshore thru Tropical Strom Olga (Dec 2007), plus multiple severe T-Storms with winds ~ 55kts....with no issues....




They are mounted out in the clear, with plenty of good airflow under them (a petty important point, as they get warm/hot in the midday sun, and NEED good airflow to maintain decent output)....and they are completely unshaded, (except for extreme early morning if sailing east, and extreme late afternoon/early evening if sailing west, when there is some shading from the mainsail, depending on exact course / time of year)....

Have a look at an article and photos about my solar array installation...
Solar Panels



Fair winds...

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Old 05-08-2013, 14:09   #6
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Re: Using sun panels as a bimini????

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Many do that. But its hard to see the sails.
I have my Bimini back wehn sailing so I am in the fresh air... and can see the white floppy things.
Mark:

I put a large piece of Lexan in the center between my two 12 volt panels so I can see the sail especially when I am raising or dropping it as the halyard comes back to the cockpit. Hope to make it part of a water collection system too.
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Old 05-08-2013, 14:12   #7
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Re: Using sun panels as a bimini????

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Mark:

I put a large piece of Lexan in the center between my two 12 volt panels so I can see the sail especially when I am raising or dropping it as the comes back to the cockpit. Hope to make it part of a water collection system too.

Good idea.

I am waiting to get davits and will put the panels up there, behind the bimini... or 'abaft' in tru sailor speak.
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