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Old 10-08-2019, 09:23 AM   #1
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Mounting solar panels on canvas dodger

Greetings all,


I am not certain if this is the most suitable forum for posting this question, but I suspect someone will let me know if it is blatantly incorrect.
I would like to get some advice about mounting flexible solar panels to a canvas dodger.

Specifically, I would like to know about how forum members have secured solar panels to their dodgers, and if anyone has recommendations about assorted options for mounting.

I am planning to use two, 160 watt flexible panels on my Euro trawler, and would like to mount them so that they can be removed for cleaning and service if necessary.
Also, what panels and wattage did you use, and are you happy with your system and charging capacity.


Thanks in advance for your comments.
Joe
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:56 AM   #2
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Seabum I was just working on my installation last night. I have secured the first of 3 120 watt panels to my canvas rear deck awning. I didn't want to sew in velcro flaps or install grommets. I saw a kit that was nothing more than m10 stainless bolts (3/4") 1.5 inch rubber flat washers, 1" stainless washers, nut, and nylock nuts. I marked my panels on the canvas and took a hot soldering iron to melt holes through the sunbrella at each panel grommet point. I then assembled each bolt as a mounting post in the following order: underside of canvas - bolt, 1" washer, 1.5" rubber washer; insert through canvas from underneath. On the upper side, place the 1.5" rubber washer on the bolt, then the stainless washer, then the nut, and tighten firmly. Next put the panel on the the post extending through the grommet, add 1" flat washer, and nylock stainless nut. Tighten. The rubber washers sandwich the canvas and it is extremely secure.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:02 AM   #3
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Greetings,
Mr. s. Can't really help specifically but I watched this U-Tube video yesterday and was very impressed with the fold able panel. Well, everything except the price. $$$$$$.


Panel: https://www.canadianpreparedness.com...-fm16-14400-2/


Video:


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Old 10-08-2019, 10:20 AM   #4
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First, I wouldn't put anything other than lightweight flexible panels on top of a Sunbrella dodger/bimini. Amazon lists several but beware, my buddy bought 165 watt panels and they turned out to be only 100 watt. I suspect that 100 watts is the biggest you can get in flexible panels and the seller simply lied. Amazon has since taken that brand off of their website.

Then many years ago, I just sewed through the grommet holes into the Sunbrella bimini top to attach the panels. Worked great and if you ever need to take them off, just snip the thread.

I wrote several articles on solar panels that you can find in this forum's library section. One or more of them discusses sizing considerations.

BTW, since I wrote those articles, Victron has come out with a line of inexpensive MPPT controllers that compete well with PWM ones.

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Old 10-08-2019, 10:34 AM   #5
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Greetings,

I installed flex panels on my Bimini. Check out " Semi-flexible solar panels" thread. I posted my pics there of the attachment. There's numerous experiences on the thread that may help. Good Luck!
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:01 AM   #6
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Here are the panels I bought - ETFE covered for extra durability:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Here is the MPPT controller - it has very good reviews:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:13 AM   #7
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The aspect of having to leave the Bimini up all the time prevented me from further exploring that method of attachment. My shelter roof is too low to permit the Bimini staying up and I like to fold the Bimini back when running in good weather as the Bimini creates a wind tunnel at the FB helm when it is up.

I posted my installation pictures on TF a few months ago. I hang a pair of 160w panels from the upper rails. They can be lifted up to horizontal and fastened in place. The lifting takes about 20 seconds for each. They are completely out of the way as they are over the side decks, at the height of the rails up top.

My fridge and freezer and battery charging were well satisfied on our vacation this year.

My hydro bill for Sept (fridge on for a week, including at night) was $2.70 while away from the boat.
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:53 AM   #8
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For folks who have mounted solar panels on top of their Sunbrella have you noticed any additional wear from the panel moving back and forth in the wind?
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Old 10-08-2019, 12:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWSeadog View Post
For folks who have mounted solar panels on top of their Sunbrella have you noticed any additional wear from the panel moving back and forth in the wind?

No.


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Old 10-08-2019, 12:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaBreeze View Post
Seabum I was just working on my installation last night. I have secured the first of 3 120 watt panels to my canvas rear deck awning. I didn't want to sew in velcro flaps or install grommets. I saw a kit that was nothing more than m10 stainless bolts (3/4") 1.5 inch rubber flat washers, 1" stainless washers, nut, and nylock nuts. I marked my panels on the canvas and took a hot soldering iron to melt holes through the sunbrella at each panel grommet point. I then assembled each bolt as a mounting post in the following order: underside of canvas - bolt, 1" washer, 1.5" rubber washer; insert through canvas from underneath. On the upper side, place the 1.5" rubber washer on the bolt, then the stainless washer, then the nut, and tighten firmly. Next put the panel on the the post extending through the grommet, add 1" flat washer, and nylock stainless nut. Tighten. The rubber washers sandwich the canvas and it is extremely secure.

this is the installation kit I was talking about. I recommend adding a second rubber washer and a third stainless fender washer. Works great!
https://www.amazon.com/Custom-Marine...KCPNM2Y93S7BVY
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:29 PM   #11
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https://www.sailrite.com/How-to-Inst...ls-on-a-Bimini
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Old 10-08-2019, 07:10 PM   #12
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No problem to put few on the frame of the Bimini, sail boats do it a lot


I was going to do it but decided for other reasons to fabricate a hard top but that's another story.


Just DO NOT use the flex panels they are not going to work with the sq footage you have
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:43 AM   #13
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Last year I needed to replace the canvas of my Bimini top and was quoted €900 for the work.

Instead I bought 3 330W rigid panels for €200 each and mounted them directly onto to the Bimini top frame, which I reinforced. Each panel is 1m by 2m by 35mm thick.

Now I seldom need to use the genny.

(The photos are not great but they are what I found.)
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:19 AM   #14
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looks great
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