Cruisers Forum
 


Reply
  This discussion is proudly sponsored by:
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about their products on Cruisers Forums. Advertise Here
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 04-05-2022, 12:57   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 83
Fouling of solar panels

I've been planning to install 600W of solar panels over the aft end of the cockpit and moving the radar to a mast bracket in order to avoid it shading the panels. However, it recently dawned on me that a warm, flat 'helipad' type area clear of obstructions (1.7m x 2m) could well be a magnet for the local bird population.

Being someone who gets teasy when a gull lands on deck and starts clomping around - or when I find cr@p everywhere on deck after being away for a few days, I'm now having second thoughts.

Is the problem not as bad as I'm thinking? Does it depend on location? I'm in Cornwall, UK. Would I be better advised to go for a wind generator - given that we're so far north (50 deg) and having the panels horizontal wouldn't be very efficient anyway? But then I don't like noise either...

If I do end up with solar and accepting that birds will walk all over it and occasionally use it as a place to smash open shells - maybe flexible panels would not stand up to the abuse?

It's clearly going to have to be some sort of compromise.

What do you reckon? I'd be grateful for details of your experience with nuisance and fouling of solar panels.

Thanks.
Uncle G is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 13:01   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Rochester, NY
Boat: Chris Craft 381 Catalina
Posts: 4,747
Re: Fouling of solar panels

My panels sit on the forward cabintop (powerboat) and are only slightly angled. I do occasionally have to wipe some bird poop off them, but it hasn't been a major issue. The slight angle on my panels is enough that they self clean pretty well from dust and any bird poop I've yet to remove when we get a decent rain.

Even at 43 north I've seen full rated output from my nearly flat panels at times. Mine are angled slightly forward and the 2 large panels are angled slightly outward to the sides due to the angle and camber of the deck they're mounted on. Output is slightly better if the boat is facing south as a result, but it's certainly been adequate without worrying about boat orientation. You just end up needing a bit more panel than you would in a more ideal environment (to produce the same total power during the day).
rslifkin is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 13:05   #3
Registered User
 
ThereAndBack's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2018
Boat: Voyage 430
Posts: 376
Re: Fouling of solar panels

It can be a problem. I have flat mounted panels and if they're crapped all over they'll reduce output a lot. Just one poop or two doesn't knock them down too much. I wash them with a brush and water when they get dirty.
ThereAndBack is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 13:42   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Langley, WA
Boat: Nordic 44
Posts: 2,264
Re: Fouling of solar panels

As rslifkin said, mine are also pitched somewhat. For water drainage not bird droppings. My boat is on a mooring and the birds love to sit on the panels and eat their catch there. It is a problem.

I have been looking at a bird repeller that is a thin SS spring wire on a swivel, has small flags on the ends and turns in the wind. The thin wire won't cause much shading as it turns. The only issue is that the size is wrong so I am planning to make one myself. One of these days.
stormalong is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 13:51   #5
Marine Service Provider
 
Emmalina's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Thailand
Boat: Herreshoff Caribbean 50
Posts: 1,012
Re: Fouling of solar panels

I use reflective bird scaring tape works pretty well but needs changing every couple of months !
__________________
Steve .. It was the last one that did this !
Emmalina is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 14:07   #6
Moderator
 
Pete7's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Solent, England
Boat: Moody 31
Posts: 17,132
Images: 19
Re: Fouling of solar panels

First thing to do is stop the tourists feeding the bloody things

we have a single 300w panel and whilst it does suffer occasionally from bird poo or that red Sahara sand we had a month ago, the hose pipe and a window cleaning widget "reaches the parts other......"

Linky to cleaner widget

We do have the solar panel tilted perhaps 10 degrees so rain water runs off which helps.

Wouldn't even consider wind before solar even 50' North. Our 300w will generate 1.2Kw in good conditions each day without a problem from March to October.

Us in Totnes, chilling out but sadly didn't quite make Cornwall last year.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0681.JPG
Views:	288
Size:	241.0 KB
ID:	257116  
Pete7 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 15:48   #7
Registered User
 
AndyEss's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Sea of Cortez/northern Utah/ Wisconsin/ La Paz, BCS
Boat: Hans Christian 38 Mk II
Posts: 945
Images: 2
Re: Fouling of solar panels

Try to design your mountings so you can clean the panels relatively easily. I haven’t had much luck with flexible panels at all, and intend never to buy anymore. Angling the panels even slightly will help rain wash off dust - as long as your boat is someplace where it actually rains. My boat came with a wind generator and it occasionally is useful, but I don’t think I would spend goodly amounts of money on one (and its substantial mount) before I maximized mounting solar panels on available real estate.
AndyEss is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 16:25   #8
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Wellington, NZ
Boat: Feltz Scorpion II
Posts: 30
Re: Fouling of solar panels

I had some bird problems a while ago.... decided to string some fishing line over the panels. Went for a coffee to celebrate the job, and came back to see a bird perched on the panel. So I do not recommend that solution.
Next option was a plastic owl - quite expensive, and missing one eye. I mounted it on a pole next to the panel. No birds since then! So that seems to be a working solution.
Capella is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 16:30   #9
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: San Diego
Boat: Shannon 50 Ketch
Posts: 519
Re: Fouling of solar panels

It. Never. Ends. Just accept it, or eat the bastards. That's all birds are good for IMO.
jordanbigel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 17:23   #10
Registered User
 
rosatte's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Sidney BC
Boat: Union cutter 33
Posts: 234
Re: Fouling of solar panels

Use a rubber snake I put one on my arch keeps all birds off panels ,,
rosatte is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 18:24   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: LI, NY,USA
Boat: 2010 Jeanneau SO 44i
Posts: 558
Re: Fouling of solar panels

I have constructed a bungee grid system like a cargo net attached to the life lines. We have a large population of Osprey, about 10 individuals the Alfa is as big as a female bald eagle we have them also, they keep the seagulls off the boats and on the beaches nothing goes under the dodger and Bimini. I string the same line above the Bimini, it keeps them from fouling up the boat, but takes 10 min to set up and breakdown.
Kd9truck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 19:00   #12
MJH
Registered User
 
MJH's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Gig Harbor, WA
Boat: Tayana Vancouver 42ac
Posts: 1,118
Re: Fouling of solar panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle G View Post
I've been planning to install 600W of solar panels over the aft end of the cockpit and moving the radar to a mast bracket in order to avoid it shading the panels. However, it recently dawned on me that a warm, flat 'helipad' type area clear of obstructions (1.7m x 2m) could well be a magnet for the local bird population.

Being someone who gets teasy when a gull lands on deck and starts clomping around - or when I find cr@p everywhere on deck after being away for a few days, I'm now having second thoughts.

Is the problem not as bad as I'm thinking? Does it depend on location? I'm in Cornwall, UK. Would I be better advised to go for a wind generator - given that we're so far north (50 deg) and having the panels horizontal wouldn't be very efficient anyway? But then I don't like noise either...

If I do end up with solar and accepting that birds will walk all over it and occasionally use it as a place to smash open shells - maybe flexible panels would not stand up to the abuse?

It's clearly going to have to be some sort of compromise.

What do you reckon? I'd be grateful for details of your experience with nuisance and fouling of solar panels. Thanks.
I understand your concern. I moor my boat to a mooring buoy 24/7/365 on an island in Puget Sound, WA (N47.20) and depend on solar to keep my boat batteries charged, particularly during the winter as there is obviously no dock power available.

In 2015 I installed 4x140W (560W total) Kyocera monocrystalline panels in fixed positions, two over the dodger and two on a stern arch. The seagulls definitely prefer the solar panels on the stern arch to the ones on the dodger which are on more of a slope. We receive a fair amount of rain and that helps somewhat. The stern panels are essentially flat but drain to the rear off the boat.

Much depends on bird activity where your boat is kept. Last year I had my boat at a neighbor's dock on the east of the island for a month and didn't see one bird attracted to the panels. The gulls appear to prefer the north side of the island where my mooring buoy is but I wouldn't think of changing locations and putting it out of my sight, a compromise. There is one other much smaller boat a few hundred yards west of mine and I never see any seagulls on it.

I have tried the proverbial owl and reflective tape without good results. I haven't been able to come up with anything for the arch panels that might work without shading the panels. I do string a line from the mast to the backstay with old CDs hanging from it and that seems to keep them off the mainsail cover as long as the line doesn't break.

While sailing there isn't any problem. Never had a bird consider landing on them sailing local or during my roundtrip to Hawaii. So, once cleaned, keep sailing.

In terms of charging they work great. Never had to run my diesel to charge the batteries to/from Hawaii. With four panels one, two, or more are always charging regardless of heading or heel.

I will follow your post to see if anyone has a winning idea.

Good Luck.

~ ~ _/) ~ ~ MJH
MJH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 19:25   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 232
Re: Fouling of solar panels

I keep covers on mine when in the slip. Keeps things off it and keeps the glass clear.
MikeHoncho is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2022, 23:30   #14
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2021
Location: Sydney
Boat: Switch 51
Posts: 26
Re: Fouling of solar panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by jordanbigel View Post
It. Never. Ends. Just accept it, or eat the bastards. That's all birds are good for IMO.
Any decent recipes?
AndyOz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-05-2022, 00:17   #15
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 83
Re: Fouling of solar panels

Food for thought. Thanks.

The photo below shows why I have doubts. The panels on the roof have only been there three years or so, and they slope, but they are completely cacked in guano for a good portion of the array. Admittedly it is on a fish-market roof...
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Newlyn.jpg
Views:	224
Size:	316.4 KB
ID:	257130  
Uncle G is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
panels, solar, solar panels

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
2 large solar panels vs 3 smaller panels sailingunity Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 9 20-05-2019 15:38
Solar land solar panels advice Jamoco Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 1 04-01-2017 18:34
Solar panel Installation and wire sizing from the solar panels to the mppt charger boatrips Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 17 08-02-2015 19:25
Solar panels - life expectancy Talbot Construction, Maintenance & Refit 3 16-11-2005 17:52

Advertise Here


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:48.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.