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Old 10-01-2015, 11:36 AM   #1
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Solar Panel Mounting Locations?

Hi folks,
I am currently in the market for a trawler to use in the Sea of Cortez, BCS. I spent a year and a half down there on my sailboat that had solar panels on a radar arch hanging off the aft end.

Looking at different trawlers, I have yet to see a great solar mounting set up. Would I be better off mounting the panels on the FB bimini? I like the idea of adding an arch that allows the panels to be mounted aft of the FB deck, providing shade for the lower deck. Down in Baja shade is the king, and solar panels perform at their best.

I would love any suggestions or advice that you all might have to offer. Also, any photos of mounting set ups would be great as well.

Cheers, Bill
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Old 10-01-2015, 07:26 PM   #2
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The pilot house trawlers in the Eastern Caribbean all have solar panels on the pilot house roof. A couple even have additional panels on the upper deck rails.

The idea of putting the panels on an arch above the bimini makes perfect sense. In that location they will likely be fixed and not adjustable. A decent trade off as real estate is a critical item for boats.
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Old 10-01-2015, 08:30 PM   #3
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I am kind of partial to our set up, but must admit I am biased. I like things to do at least two if not three things on a boat. Dingy davits, kayak holder, and solar panel supports.

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Old 10-01-2015, 09:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bay Pelican View Post
The pilot house trawlers in the Eastern Caribbean all have solar panels on the pilot house roof.
While I'm only thinking about adding solar panels at this point, the pilothouse roof would be where they would go.

Ted
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Old 10-01-2015, 10:08 PM   #5
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I cleared my 12.5 X 8.5 Pilothouse roof for nothing but panels, and fabbed a new mast for the electronics. The tech is changing pretty fast now and I keep delaying the installation. Since I cleared the roof, the cost per watt has halved and the power has almost doubled. I'm was considering extending the roof to cover the side decks out to the boat perimeter and adding another panel length to the rear of the roof but with things the way they are, 2000 watts should be do-able with the space I have by the end of this year and who knows by next year. It's hard to pull the trigger.
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Old 10-01-2015, 10:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
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I cleared my 12.5 X 8.5 Pilothouse roof for nothing but panels, and fabbed a new mast for the electronics. The tech is changing pretty fast now and I keep delaying the installation. Since I cleared the roof, the cost per watt has halved and the power has almost doubled. I'm was considering extending the roof to cover the side decks out to the boat perimeter and adding another panel length to the rear of the roof but with things the way they are, 2000 watts should be do-able with the space I have by the end of this year and who knows by next year. It's hard to pull the trigger.
The power has doubled? I've seen very little change in the watts per sq ft, but maybe I missed something? So far, panel efficiency per sq ft is not moving very fast, if at all, it's nothing like electronics where chip density, and hence speed are doubling every 18 months or so.
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Old 10-02-2015, 02:09 AM   #7
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Try to locate them with zero shading,even a wire line supporting a mast will cause a disproportionate output reduction.
Healhustler, following that to its logical conclusion, panels will continue to become cheaper/more efficient, and you will never do it. Pull the trigger!
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Old 10-02-2015, 04:28 AM   #8
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Try to locate them with zero shading,even a wire line supporting a mast will cause a disproportionate output reduction.
Healhustler, following that to its logical conclusion, panels will continue to become cheaper/more efficient, and you will never do it. Pull the trigger!
I paid the bad old high price for my panels six years ago. Could have saved a lot of money if I had waited. Of course the ones I bought six years ago have paid for themselves in reducing generator run time so waiting for cheaper price would have been a mistake. Just wish I had more real estate to put in another panel.
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Old 10-02-2015, 06:38 AM   #9
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I also put the 4 panels, total 440 watts max, on the pilot house roof, basically paying about $1.20/watt
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Old 10-02-2015, 03:09 PM   #10
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The power has doubled? I've seen very little change in the watts per sq ft, but maybe I missed something? So far, panel efficiency per sq ft is not moving very fast, if at all, it's nothing like electronics where chip density, and hence speed are doubling every 18 months or so.
Yeah, true....the density has not improved all that much for us regular consumers, but my Hills Prime 140-160 36P panel is the same size as my 84 Watt Kyroceras. The best I've seen from the Kyroceras is 58 watt in direct overhead sunlight. The HP is not double the rating, but can swing 122 watts in the same sunlight and was less than 1/3rd the cost of the Kyrocera. A bit of improvement in efficiency perhaps. Meanwhile, I'm excited about the tech on multi-layer panels and different materials that will no doubt be pirated by Taiwan or China for mass production.
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Old 10-05-2015, 11:45 PM   #11
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Solar panel technology is improving and the latest has efficiency up from 15% for the average house installation to 40% for the gallium arsenide-based cell. Of course it may take a while to be commonly available at reasonable cost but is exiting stuff. Catalyst: Super Solar Cells - ABC TV Science

Bill your other option for mounting panels is the newer more efficient flexible panels which can go on top of a bimini,

Cheers

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Old 10-06-2015, 12:34 AM   #12
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A thought, a friend has permanently fixed panels on a proper frame, and a portable fold up "suitcase" pair of panels they deploy and connect once anchored but do not want permanently in place. It`s on a sailboat, but would work on a "trawler" too.
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:09 PM   #13
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Hi folks,

I just returned from a trip on Harmony down in Baja and had to run the generator twice a day to keep up with things. We went aboard a nice 52' sailboat that had an array of the flexible panels. What an easy and cool installation, as they weigh very little. I just finished pricing these and wow, are they expensive!

The search continues for a solution that fits both budget and space.

Cheers, Bill
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Old 05-18-2016, 08:10 PM   #14
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In Alameda CA I had Mario, at Alameda metals make me a power coated aluminum frame to hold four 335 watt panels above my bimini. I lost no useable space, made my flybridge 10-15 degrees cooler and we are producing 6.5 watts daily in Loredo,Mexico

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Old 05-18-2016, 09:34 PM   #15
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I made my first 2 panels adjustable from flat to a few degrees in one direction to perpendicular to store or when the sun gets low.


I have had full panel output right up until sunset on the favorable panel.


My next 2 will be portable and set up to favor the sun when at anchor or power free, free docks.


Using the tilt method, I guess I can use 30 percent less panels for the same power generation.
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Old 05-19-2016, 12:37 PM   #16
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Big advantage of the flex panels is they suffer less from a shadow , although normal output per SQ ft is less.

On a sailboat with a mast and rigging , no choice .

On a motorboat some modern methods of combining the panels might have a better daily output if only one or two are shaded at a time.
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Old 05-19-2016, 03:06 PM   #17
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This is one of my listings, a 72' Marlow with a Command Bridge, or an enclosed flybridge some people might call it. The solar panels were installed as the boat was being built and they are recessed into the roof so they do not show from a side profile.
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