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Old 03-09-2015, 04:39 PM   #21
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Nice looking Job Dave, thanks for sharing. We are considering the same but we cruise to some high wind areas, any concerns with this on your setup?
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Old 03-09-2015, 05:43 PM   #22
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Nice looking Job Dave, thanks for sharing. We are considering the same but we cruise to some high wind areas, any concerns with this on your setup?
I dont see the wind getting under it. The Velcro is some pretty tuff stuff. It takes a lot to pull it back open when it has been attached. The panels have velcro on the bottom side that is attached to the canvas top. Then there is velcro on the top of the panel that the velcro lapel folds over and onto the panel. Not sure what my new hurricane prep will be. In the past I have pulled all canvas. Other than the size and the pain it is to pull the velcro apart the panels will just be disconnected at the connectors and slid off the top. The total array is 52" X 78" so storage could be an issue if you don't take the panels apart. Sorry for the rambling on.
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Old 03-09-2015, 07:06 PM   #23
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Me as well...I have an aluminum framed "soft" hardtop over my aft deck that would be the perfect place for flexible panels....
Looks great, but I was taught, for rigid panels, airspace of an inch is necessary for cooling effect. I suggest checking if that applies to flexible panels. Hopefully it doesn`t, or canvas underneath allows adequate cooling.
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Old 03-09-2015, 07:32 PM   #24
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Looks great, but I was taught, for rigid panels, airspace of an inch is necessary for cooling effect. I suggest checking if that applies to flexible panels. Hopefully it doesn`t, or canvas underneath allows adequate cooling.
My engineering gut tells me that the heat transfer across the canvas will be plenty. I will hit it with the thermometer gun when summer get here. Hopefully I will remember to report back.
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Old 03-10-2015, 09:54 PM   #25
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Surprised

I was at the boat today doing an in place cleaning of the Genset HX and was surprised at how much the solar panels put out in miserable conditions. It was raining and very overcast. The panels were still putting out 75-100 watts ( about 5 amps) from 1100 to 1400 today. I would have thought it would have been almost nothing.
I was playing with the remote monitor learning the new indications. It has some pretty cool indications; Battery temp, MPPT controller temp, solar panel output voltage (they were 27.5 today) , battery service days (tracks how old the batteries are) amp-hrs today, total amp-hrs (resetable), amps and volts. Between this monitor and the Victron battery monitor I have a great picture of the entire system.
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Old 03-10-2015, 10:16 PM   #26
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I like it! Sounds like a great package, which takes up virtually zero usable space.
I was considering something similar as my bimini canvas needs replacing. I went to a local solar "expert" who advised me that the semi-flexible panels were terribly inefficient and had a short life due to heat buildup. He strongly advised me against any semi-flexible panel. Your real data suggests otherwise.

I also noted that this "expert" did not stock flexible panels. Perhaps this is the reason for his recommendations.
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Old 03-10-2015, 10:22 PM   #27
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Great info, Dave, thanks. To save weight and mounting hardware, I'm considering some high-buck, glue-down panels that are really efficient. What stops me is that if these panels don't require space beneath for cooling, it stands to reason that the heat generated from the dark color would simply be absorbed by the hardtop, and eventually to the interior to a great extent, depending on the hardtop's insulation. Of course, with the exception of summer months, this would be much more of an issue in FL than in MD.
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Old 03-11-2015, 06:55 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AusCan View Post
I like it! Sounds like a great package, which takes up virtually zero usable space.
I was considering something similar as my bimini canvas needs replacing. I went to a local solar "expert" who advised me that the semi-flexible panels were terribly inefficient and had a short life due to heat buildup. He strongly advised me against any semi-flexible panel. Your real data suggests otherwise.

I also noted that this "expert" did not stock flexible panels. Perhaps this is the reason for his recommendations.
Aus, if you are replacing the bimini canvas from scratch, you might want to consider the flexible panels that can be zipped into the replacement top. I saw a demo at the last Sanctuary Cove Boat Show, and it looked very neat and strong, and completely avoided attachment and chafing issues.

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Old 03-11-2015, 09:49 AM   #29
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Very nicely done! It's hard to tell in the pictures, but are the velcro flaps back from the edges of the panels all the way around? In some areas it looks like they may be shading the edges.
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Old 03-11-2015, 10:30 AM   #30
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Your right, it looks like there is a small about of shading in some areas. I think it will stay that way. I want to keep full contact on the velcro. Thanks for the question, I hadn't looked that hard at it. The corners of the panels were left open to allow drainage.
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Old 03-11-2015, 01:59 PM   #31
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I nominate this one for project thread of the year! Great job, Dave! It looks like you planned very well for this upgrade and executed it beautifully. For under $2000, you have greatly enhanced your boat's electrical capability and flexibility. This is something I have been thinking about for quite some time and would definitely incorporate into my boat in a similar fashion if I ever take to longer trips counted in weeks rather than days.

I suspect the marine semi-flexible panels that come with Velcro are intended for installation directly onto the FB canvas. Was there any guidance from the mfr about heat buildup or mounting requirements? Being semi-flexible, they probably required some sort of support from below and the bimini fabric seems like a natural support structure.

I like the FB bimini location as one which has nearly full exposure (I just have a radar Mast and a couple antennas) as opposed to a cockpit cover location. On my boat, the FB rail canvas plus the radar mast would provide considerable shading of the panels and reduce their effectiveness. I've learned from from others that it doesn't take much shade to cut the panel output considerably.

Thanks for the detailed thread, Dave! Very nice work!
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Old 03-11-2015, 03:29 PM   #32
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I suspect the marine semi-flexible panels that come with Velcro are intended for installation directly onto the FB canvas. Was there any guidance from the mfr about heat buildup or mounting requirements? Being semi-flexible, they probably required some sort of support from below and the bimini fabric seems like a natural support structure.
Thanks for the detailed thread, Dave! Very nice work!
Thanks for the kind words. I really can't answer your questions because "as usual" I did some research and then searched for the cheapest product I could find. My panels are $299 each vs $900 each from one of the name brand suppliers. The supplier doesn't really have any support for the product that I can tell. They were purchase on eBay from Discountpv.com. I just checked the web site and they may be going out of business. The panels did not have velcro, the canvas guy sewed it on.

Here is a quote from another site that look like they sell the same ones I have. "These panels are not designed to be walked on. if mounting on a flexible canvas type surface, such as a Bimini top, tent or canopy, caution should be used to be sure no hard braces are located behind the panel and that the canvas type surface be extremely tight and rigid. Strong flexing over years may cause failure and care should be taken when selecting a installation location. Please call should you have any questions or concerns about the installation site you are considering. These panels are very flexible and therefore not recommended for portable use unless they are attached to a backing to minimize excessive bending and flexing."
https://www.emarineinc.com/100W-Semi...le-Solar-Panel
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Old 03-12-2015, 04:28 PM   #33
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Old 03-12-2015, 06:33 PM   #34
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I bought my rigid panels and controllers on Ebay, after 4 years no probs. I thought panels were panels, but recently there was discussion here regarding house roof installations, about panels rated tier 1, 2, and 3 (higher no.= lesser quality).
Seeing the install rules for flexibles, for now think I`d stay conservative with rigid if adding panel. Maybe Dave can report performance a few years down the track.
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Old 03-12-2015, 08:03 PM   #35
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I have been helping a friend with a 600 watt solar install on a 55' Tayana sailboat that he intends to sail around the world. We did a lot of research on the different solid panels. There are different levels of quality. The one thing that stood out for me was the Salt Mist corrosion testing that the better panel were certified for. If you look up the standards for the testing they really put the panels through a lot.

TÜV Rheinland’s Salt Mist Corrosion Test
IEC61701:2011 Edition 2, Severity Level 6 is highest testing level in the industry.
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Old 04-01-2015, 05:34 PM   #36
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Big thumbs up for Morningstar tech support

We have had the panels up and running for almost four weeks now. I have seen 350 watts output so far. For the last two weeks I have noticed that the TS MPPT 45 charge controller, absorption stage voltage was 15.1 vdc. I have been concerned because the manual says the absorption set point is 14.6vdc. I finally sent an email to Morningstar tech support with my question. To my surprise they called me the next day to resolve my question. It turns out that 15.1 vdc is correct for batteries that are a 45F. The temperature compensation raises voltage as the temps drop. The tech even knew what temp my batts were based on the charge 15.1 vdc. It was a big relief for me because all I could see was cooked batteries in my future. The fine print in the manual indicated 14.6 vdc absorption voltage is at 77F/25C. It was great to get that kind of service
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Old 05-15-2015, 11:02 PM   #37
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Sagging solar panels

So I have been pleased so far with the solar panel performance. The battery charger hasn't been on for over a month and the batteries are always topped off. I climbed up to ensure there was no bird crap on the panels and discovered that the panels were no longer in a nice slow even arc. The canvas and the solar panels had relaxed and had the shape of a stretched out 'M'. I got a sick feeling in my stomach thinking that they wouldn't last long with those conditions. I obtained (3) 24"X48"X 1/4" sheets of plexi glass, rounded and smoothed all the edges and slid them under each of the solar panels. The panels went back to the previous smooth arc and the canvas went the same due to the Velcro on the panel bottoms. I will keep an eye on it and provide an update on future changes if the occur.
I didn't get pictures, so here is one of the initial arc and a drawing of what happened.
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Old 05-16-2015, 11:05 AM   #38
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The Plexi reinforcement is a great solution. You are doing a project that I plan to do at a later date.
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Old 05-16-2015, 11:19 AM   #39
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Resourceful thinking, Dave. A lot of us are watching and hoping to copy your successful install. I had my doubts about semi-flexible panels, but you're the 2nd user I know now, both of which seem to be working well. Time, sun, weather and temperature will tell.
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Old 05-16-2015, 02:06 PM   #40
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Thanks, I had to get the info out on the panels sagging. I didn't want others to go down the same road. I am pretty sure the panels would have failed in time because of the cyclic stress from the wind moving the canvas with that sag in there, not to mention the tighter arc it had.
Its all a bit of and experiment for me. If the panels fail I am out $900, not that bad really in the trawler world.
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