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Old 05-09-2008, 17:52   #1
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Bimini for Solar Panel Support

I have been researching the possibility of using solar panels for part of our electrical supply. I find that solar panels can be very heavy, on the order of 90# for a 100 watt panel. I was hoping to mount the SPs on top of the bimini. For this to happen I will have to replace the existing light weight bimini frame with one of significant strength. How do I determine what I need to securely support this 200# load.
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Old 05-09-2008, 20:31   #2
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I hope this doesn't sound rude but if you cannot determine how to design the bimini frame for a 200# load maybe you should consider buying one. There are several manufacturers of frames the attach to the pushpit for example.

I mean there are a lot of considerations when designing something like this and you sure wouldn't want $1,500 worth of solar gear falling over the transom.
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Old 05-09-2008, 21:03   #3
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Just curious as to what brand 100 watt panel weighs 90#'s? My largest panel is an 85 watt, aluminum framed panel and must weigh about 30#'s max
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Old 05-09-2008, 21:38   #4
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Same here. My solar panels at 130 watts each weigh 26 lbs. each. With 4 of them it is just over 100lbs. My solution is to have two tubes of 316 1" stainless steel above the existing bimini. Although it is a 12ft. span with 2 panels close to the support gives it plenty of strength. By using 2 bars it also gives more rigidity then the single tube systems that I have seen.
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Old 06-09-2008, 04:46   #5
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Dan, you are right, I am not the person to be designing the SP supports. I am looking for various designs and comments on how well they work. Also, I would rather a potential mistake be brought to my attention than wast my time and energy trying to correct it.

over40 & billyehh, Reviewed my notes on SPs. You are correct. The 93# panel I was thinking about was actually 39#.

A little foolish I feel. More learned I am.
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Old 06-09-2008, 06:18   #6
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It's not that hard to do. Ours sit on 4 -1" stainless tubes with 3 -1" x 1/4" aluminum cross supporting them. Plenty strong (it actually stiffens the bimini). Will mount 2 more 130's in the next week or so. I'll be able to supply power to a small Bahamian town this winter!

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Old 06-09-2008, 06:24   #7
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PS: The only mistake I made was buying the ICP panels from WM. Two sets only lasted for one year of service shorting out internally and almost completely burning thru the bottom of the panel. A year later their charge contoller failed too. Now have Kyrocera's and a Blue Sky MPPT contoller purchased from Affordable Solar in AZ.
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Old 06-09-2008, 06:57   #8
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bim, You have a nice looking setup. Any chance you have pics. of the underside of the bimini?
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Old 06-09-2008, 07:19   #9
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No, sorry. I'll try to take a couple shots today and post them. Not much else to do as we're in Annapolis, staying below, as Hanna approaches.

FWIW, Affordable Solar has provided superior service at the best prices I've found. They have a website. Call and ask for Quint. He's been very helpful.

BTW....I disclaim any interest in aforementioned establishment or any knowledge of what I am doing.
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Old 06-09-2008, 08:34   #10
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bim: thanks for the additional info.
I hope Hanna has minimal effect.. for all..
We are headed to the boat. Forecast here is for 83F, N. winds, 9 - 11, with gust to 18. It has not worked out well for us to spend much time aboard this season. The boat is so new to us we are still finding what works / doesn't work for us. I have told my wife "I'm tired of working on the boat. I'm ready to go sailing."
Stay safe and dry,
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Old 06-09-2008, 08:49   #11
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Duke, you may be in for a bit of surprise. Sit down and take a deep breath before reading on....................You NEVER will stop working on your boat!!!

Our boat name "Far Niente" (Italian for "doing nothing") turns out to be a joke on us. When is there ever nothing to do on a boat.

But take heart, it's worth it!!
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Old 06-09-2008, 20:48   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke 48 View Post
Dan, you are right, I am not the person to be designing the SP supports. I am looking for various designs and comments on how well they work.
Sorry for my wrong assumption.
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Old 06-09-2008, 22:10   #13
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Originally Posted by bottleinamessage View Post
Duke, you may be in for a bit of surprise. Sit down and take a deep breath before reading on....................You NEVER will stop working on your boat!!!

Our boat name "Far Niente" (Italian for "doing nothing") turns out to be a joke on us. When is there ever nothing to do on a boat.

But take heart, it's worth it!!
Next time buy a Laser ,no maintenance there, just sailing
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Old 07-09-2008, 05:45   #14
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Here are a few pictures. It's a fairly long bimini/dodger combo. All the side canvas/screens and windows are off as we prepped for Hanna.





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Old 07-09-2008, 14:56   #15
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bmi: Thanks for the extra pics. And you are right, work aboard the boat will be never ending.
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