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Old 20-06-2024, 06:35   #1
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Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

I'm starting a project to install 2 100W solar panels on my bimini. I still haven't decided between hard or semi-flex panels so I'm working up a budget for each option. One thing I've been struggling with is the mounts. On the hard panels, I've see a lot of people using the split side mounts from Gemini but where I'm at, they're a bit pricey to the point the frame will cost more than the panels. How are people physically mounting the panels to the frame?

On semi-flex. Same thing, I was evaluating using zippers but the cost to get the zippers installed locally was just as much as the panels. I really didn't want to put holes in my canvas but I'm considering now a fastner to the grommets. What are people using?

I know nothing is cheap but the boating season here is only 4 months a year so I'm trying to be realistic about the cost vs use and keeping it manageable.
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Old 20-06-2024, 06:50   #2
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

We are blessed to live in an era when solar panels are so cheap that the panels themselves are a tiny fraction of the cost of any solar installation. This is true whether contemplating marine solar, land mobile, or fixed installations.

The Gemini mounts are well thought out and high quality, and worth the price.
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Old 20-06-2024, 08:51   #3
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

I used the method described by Sailrite in their video with very good success. 2x50W on the forward part of the bimini and 1x170W on top of the dodger.

I have two more 170W panels mounted on a DIY aluminum frame on the aft bimini, can't find the youtube video ATM. Seems to hold up well but not as secure as the above.

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Old 20-06-2024, 09:13   #4
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

I used these widgets to connect the solar panel to two long stainless steel tubes.

https://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/hydra...E&gclsrc=aw.ds

I painted the steel piece with the thread with multiple coats of rattle can high heat paint that I had in the shed and that has worked well. Having the top steel piece chromed however, failed miserably and they are now rusting. I will replace with stainless steel this winter.

That aside there was enough of the nylon /plastic green pieces to mount two panels from a single order. I am not expecting you to order from the UK, but a search on pipe brackets or hydraulic brackets should bring up an in country supplier.

The other brackets are these from a small engineering firm that actually make stuff.

https://www.britishpipeclamps.co.uk/...ainless-steel/
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Old 20-06-2024, 09:27   #5
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

I just built the bimini out of solar panels. Saved the cost of canvas, etc. and no leaks because of fasteners or wires run through the fabric. Also, you can get a pretty big area. I got 500 watts up there. Also, with a lip around the edge, a wee bit of a slope back, and with drains, collects rain water. Works great!
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Old 20-06-2024, 09:43   #6
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

One other thought, if you are going down the semi flexible route, their reputation for a long life is poor and my personal experience too. The only one that did last was Solara which the Atlantic rowing crowd use. They just cost a fortune. However, I would certainly recommend going high end rather than cheap because you don't want to have to replace them after a couple of seasons.

Think but haven't used them Sunpower should be on your list.

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Old 20-06-2024, 10:15   #7
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

I also did not wish to alter or modify my Bimini when installing a 150w flexible solar panel. Instead, I used pararcord through the grommets and tied off to the frame. That was four years ago. Since then it has weathered 50+kt winds and hasn’t had any problems, including performance. There is no noticeable chafe on the fabric. My intent was to tie it initially and then decide if I needed a more permanent mounting solution. I’m satisfied with the result and plan to add a second flexible panel using the same method.
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Old 20-06-2024, 10:20   #8
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

Grab rails of various lengths and styles are available.
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Old 20-06-2024, 10:26   #9
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

i vote for mounting solar panels on SS frame above bimini. so strong and i think you can get kits to do it.
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Old 20-06-2024, 11:51   #10
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

I used flexible panels zippered to the top of bimini.

They are not as efficient as hard panels and apparently may not last all that long, but they are lightweight and inexpensive.

It is not unusual to come under storm warnings in my area and I wanted the ability to quickly remove the panels and fold up the bimini. My needs are fairly modest compared to some (refrigeration, limited inverter use), and I've been happy so far.
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Old 20-06-2024, 12:32   #11
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

I put a 170 on my bimini, canvas guy who made the bimini put grommets on that go through the holes on the panels with a flap that has the mating piece for the grommet.

I have 2 50s on the dodger, for this he put velcro with a flap that goes over velcro. On the panels are velcro top and bottom. Industrial velcro is super strong in holding this in.

The only issue is if I change brands of panels, nothing lines up. I have Renogy flex.
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Old 20-06-2024, 12:37   #12
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

Google “stage lighting clamps”. You can find what you need relatively cheaply
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Old 20-06-2024, 13:39   #13
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scorpius View Post
I just built the bimini out of solar panels. Saved the cost of canvas, etc. and no leaks because of fasteners or wires run through the fabric. Also, you can get a pretty big area. I got 500 watts up there. Also, with a lip around the edge, a wee bit of a slope back, and with drains, collects rain water. Works great!
Do you have a picture of it? I am planning on doing the same in aluminum.
I would love to see how yours worked out.
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Old 20-06-2024, 15:23   #14
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

I used clam shell tees to attach to the existing Bimini tube coupled to slide through tees for a cross member tubes.
The tees are joined using a stub.
I drilled and through bolted the fittings instead of using the one side set screws.
The panels were attached to the cross tube using u-bolts.
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Old 20-06-2024, 16:40   #15
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Re: Mounts for Solar install on Bimini

To attach our rigid panels to the existing Bimini frame I used these.

https://stauff.com.au/en/products/1130020992

Seven years on and they are still fine. A couple of dollars each.
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