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Old 08-11-2005, 11:11   #1
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Alternative Solar Applications

Just curious if anyone has tried applying flexible solar to the sides of your boat? I know that's an odd angle, but it seems that there's no better source of unused surface area. Plus, even though you'd only get direct sunlight (straight onto the surface) during the morning and near sunset, I wonder how much photovoltaic effect you'd get off of reflection from the water. I can't help but think about how warm the side of the boat gets between the deck and the waterline. Plus, with so many flexible and semi-flexible products out there, it seems like installation and non-breakage wouldn't be too much of an issue. Of course guess I'd have to paint the boat black to keep it from looking like a checkerboard.

Has anyone tried anything link this? Or even has anyone just tried hanging a panel over the side of the boat?


--drew
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Old 08-11-2005, 17:34   #2
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I have several photovoltaic panels

on my boat. Two are fixed and the third is semi-movable. It can be rotated about a horizontal axis, so if I am moored with the wind from the west and the sun is rising, I can take advantage of tipping the panel. When I do this, the current rises to 7 amps (total of the three panels). If I leave it flat, the current is a mere 2.5 - 3 amps. The answer is that when the panel is directly facing the sun, the output increases significantly. When the light is indirect, the output is minimal. I would be more inclined to put the panels atop the dodger, bimini, deck, boom, or any other shade free location.

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Old 09-11-2005, 08:09   #3
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Drew, aside from the sea trying to remove any panel attached to the hull, there are other reasons the essentially vertical hull surface is not optimum: increased salt accumulation (which degrades panel performance), low angle of incidence for the bulk of the day (you get value from the panels only on the sunny side of the boat, if you have one, for only a small portion of the day) and the panel gets direct sun only when there is maximum u/v filtering thru the atmosphere (low sun angle = maximum distance traveling thru the atmosphere). IMO this would be a poor choice all the way around...

Jim, your 'sign-off' slogan reminds me of the Learning Theory embraced by Disney University when they first started training their "cast" (aka: park employees):
First level: unconscious incompetence - you are ignorant and don't even know it
Second level: conscious incompetence - you are still ignorant and now you know what you don't know
Third level: conscious competence - you now know what to do but must concentrate on doing it to succeed
Fourth level: unconscious competence - you know and do what is needed without having to think about it

Most of us use these boards in our struggle to move from level 2 to 3 while admiring those few who cruise at level 4.

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Old 09-11-2005, 08:16   #4
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Thanks guys,

Those are both good points. I pretty much expected as much on the sun angle side. Although, I hadn't thought about the salt accumulation which makes perfect sense. Basically, i'm just trying to think of ways of maximizing energy production without giving up valuable deck space. Most boats aren't to plentiful on the horizontal surfaces to begin with, and giving up more of thos surfaces seems like somethingI'd want o avoid.

Another idea I had was to mount wind generators on some sort of an outrigger set up, where you could fold them in to the side of the boat while at dock, but have them extended (and hopefully generating electricity) while out and about.

The reason I was looking at possible solar applications, was because solar seems to be coming down considerably in price, whereas wind is still way up there.

advice? comments? (strange looks at the computer regarding the outrigger idea)?

cheers,

drew
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Old 09-11-2005, 08:42   #5
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Drew, could you fill me in on why you say the cost of solar is coming down? I posted a thread on the SSCA BB asking if the announcement at the Jack Rabbit Marine site made sense (they have discontinued the sales of panels because of availability issues) and have received an earfull about panel prices going up in part because mfgrs. are walking away from small panel production. This past weekend I talked with the principals of Hotwire and they said the same thing...so I'd come to a conclusion opposite of yours.

Re: wind gen 'outriggers'...well, inevitably people find that the mounting of a wind gen to avoid vibration and resonant noise problems is a challenge (beyond whatever noise the blades may make). The more joints and pieces in a mounting pole, the more this will magnify; I would recommend fixed mount designs, only.

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Old 09-11-2005, 08:54   #6
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skip the marine resources

I would skip the marine resources. When I was searching for my panels I hunted up the Solar home sites like partsonsale.com. They were 50% cheaper for the same kyrocea 120's with the latests blue technology than I found at WestMarine, Hotwire, etc.

They are the same panels, why pay the MARINE mark up.
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Old 09-11-2005, 15:16   #7
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Same thing here on the solar sources. I checked the usual marine sites and even tried the google approach for marine solar. Everything is greatly inflated on the price point.

I actually just went straight to some of the industrial / home sites. Also, some of the RV applications are reasonable.

When you look at what's actually involved in making a solar system work, there just isn't that much too it. You're basically taking a panel (any panel) drawing current fromit and then either cleaning it and using it or using it to charge your batteries, and then drawing current off of them.

Do a google for flexible solar adhesive. It brings up a few different manufacturers who have all kinds of options. Some of them even listy prices in a $/kw format and tell you how much surface area of the various products you'd need to meet your desired energy needs.

Another thing regarding different pricing, I actually have adapted those little lawn and garden solar lights for my use. They are cheap ($10-20 for a light with battery and mini panel), simple, and some of them are really bright. Because they're designed to charge fully in the shade or on a cloudy day, you always have light at night. Without modification, they each will run for about 6-8 hours a night and just turn off when they run out of power. Or, if you break out the soldering iron, you can install a simple switch between the battery and the light and then you can turn it on and off as you wish (works better for interior use when you don't want light). An added benefirt here is that there is no wiring needed if you use them outside, and very little if used inside.

One of these days I really do plan to outfit a boat that is almost entirely energy selfsufficient (minus deisel for propulsion and propane for my stove of course).

Let's keep this discussion up...

--drew
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Old 09-11-2005, 17:44   #8
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120 watt solar

I have two 120 watt solar panels by Kyocera. One was purchased 4 years ago and one last winter. The price difference was $650 vs. $470 more recently. I would say that is a siginificant decrease in price. Jack, I would agree that the smaller panels are getting harder to find. The home market that seems to be driving the solar field is going for larger panels, 167 w, 24v panels. I was looking for some panels to mount on the lifelines and the choices are minimal.

Jim

p.s. Jack, many years ago when I graduated from college, I told my advisor that I did not have the necessary skills to go out and teach others. He said "Knowing what you don't know is knowledge. Now your true education begins."
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Old 10-11-2005, 11:49   #9
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Drew, I can appreciate that careful sourcing will insure a lower price for a given product, but I'm asking a different question: what leads you to believe the price of solar in general is decreasing?

Jim, could the drop in price you paid be due to using a different retailer the 2nd time 'round?

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Old 10-11-2005, 14:35   #10
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I'm really just basing my assumption on the fact that I had checked these prices a couple of years ago and they were much much higher. You said earlier someone told you there was a manufacturing issue that should be driving the prices up on all solar stuff? Hmm, I'd like to know more about that.

i used to be in the computer manufacturing business, and we often had issues like that. The oldstyle computer memory (ram) all depended on a material for their core chips that was only mined in one place in Japan. One time there was an issue with the mines there and memory went up a ridiculous amount for a few years.

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Old 14-11-2005, 22:58   #11
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Re: Alternative Solar Applications

A slight bit of a thread highjack, but has anyone considered or even tried laying/epoxying/rubber cementing flexible solar panels directly onto the deck?

I think the flexible panels are resistant to walking/wear on the surface (with a protective layer) as long as no sharp objects pokes through one.

Quote:
drew.ward once whispered in the wind:
Just curious if anyone has tried applying flexible solar to the sides of your boat? I know that's an odd angle, but it seems that there's no better source of unused surface area. Plus, even though you'd only get direct sunlight (straight onto the surface) during the morning and near sunset, I wonder how much photovoltaic effect you'd get off of reflection from the water. I can't help but think about how warm the side of the boat gets between the deck and the waterline. Plus, with so many flexible and semi-flexible products out there, it seems like installation and non-breakage wouldn't be too much of an issue. Of course guess I'd have to paint the boat black to keep it from looking like a checkerboard.

Has anyone tried anything link this? Or even has anyone just tried hanging a panel over the side of the boat?


--drew
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Old 14-11-2005, 23:08   #12
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Putting black panels on a deck would be a major mistake. Heat would make it impossible to walk on in bare feet. Plus, if you have a failure of a panel, then think of the difficulty in pulling it up and replacingwith a new one. And I bet you wouldn't be able to source the same model and thus same diamensions. And then you have the wiring issues. And to top it all off, I wonder how slippery they would be when wet and the deck is heaving. Nup, IMO it's not a thing to put on a deck.
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