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Old 08-07-2018, 17:34   #1
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Orientation of solar panels to provide sail area?

I am looking at adding 6800 watts to the stern of my vessel to run a 48V DC air-conditioning system.

This will be a lot of fixed surface area which most people place flat.

I believe it might be possible to orientate these at an angle to provide effective sail area too.

The panels will cover a physical area 40 feet wide and 13 feet wide. Over the center hull I also already intending to angle panels to deflect rain to the sides.

It is angle of title of the 8 panels on each side that is my big question. I can also tilt the leading edge down or up and am also curious if that is a good idea.
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Old 08-07-2018, 17:41   #2
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Re: Orientation of solar panels to provide sail area?

There was a trial of an electric catamaran called solar sailer in sydney harbour using a similar system. Probably not worth the problems on a big tri like yours.
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Old 08-07-2018, 17:55   #3
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Re: Orientation of solar panels to provide sail area?

Pictures or sketches would help a lot. Even a deck plan.



I'm assuming you've done the math on the batteries required for overnight and panel weight.



Yes, there are people who cant panels, but if the boat swings much at anchor (trimarans with a bridle are generally very quiet) with the wind, the direction will be wrong. If you go through the math, it does not have to be wrong by much before all that was gained is lost and more.


I you want to try solar for AC, I would take a very serious look at increasing insulation, specifically on the roof. Look for small drafts and leaks, just as though you were heating in arctic conditions. There is a triple benefit for every BTU you can save. Also awnings over the windows and the cabin.



I would also look at multiple AC units; you may have enough power to run only one at times, for example, the sleeping cabins.


Personally, I would look at 115V or 230V AC. The units are generally better engineered and much cheaper, more than offsetting the power conversion. They will also work better in marinas.
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