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Old 03-30-2021, 09:19 AM   #1
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Solar panel install

I just ordered a new 400 watt solar system to keep my batteries charged while running my refrigeration off an inverter. I plan to attach the 4 panels to a frame that will be attached to my radar arch. I would like to ask what have some of the other members of the forum done to mount their panels. Pictures would be nice if possible. I will also be connecting the charge controller to two 4D batteries. Is there any recommended way of doing this.
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Old 03-30-2021, 09:49 AM   #2
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The hardtop over your aft sun deck would be a natural for solar panels. I have 2 panels, 700 watts, on my flybridge hardtop.
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Old 03-30-2021, 11:43 AM   #3
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I should have mentioned my dinghy now resides on the sundeck roof so my panels will go on the radar arch.
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Old 03-30-2021, 02:03 PM   #4
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I am installing four 320 watt panels on my trawler. The plan is to fabricate a panel mount and attach this to stainess steel handrails on the middle deck of my Albin Trawler. (the deck above the master). I will also install larger charge controller. I have a 2000 watt inverter (with surge protection to 3500 Watts) and multibattery isolator so I can use the solar to charge my house battery and also both engine batteries from the sun. The height of the solr panels will be at just under the height of my BIMINI on the upper bridge deck. So my air draft after solar install going under bridges will be what my current air draft is. I will post progress of the build once we get it underway. Slated to happen before May 15 this year.
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Old 04-01-2021, 12:29 PM   #5
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I had a metal fabricator build a welded frame from rectangular aluminum tubing. The panels nest inside the frame. I have six panels, each ones is 1 metre by 2 metres for a tota 2kW nominal power.

Here is the frame and the panels, but still work-in-progress:
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Old 04-01-2021, 11:16 PM   #6
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I'm on the hook right now and have been extremely happy with my two new Renogy 175W flex panels. I actually bought four but have been up to 100% SOC by noon every day with just the two. I simply attached them to the existing bimini fabric with 1.5" neodymium magnets (6 per panel, bolted through the existing grommets). Have survived 30kts with no issue, and so light the bimini frame didn't even need to be upgraded.

So far very satisfied versus the major project that hard panels would have required on my boat. I don't expect the panels to last 20 years, but for $175/pop who cares? They'll be cheaper and better in 4-5 years anyway.
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Old 04-02-2021, 08:04 AM   #7
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I'm on the hook right now and have been extremely happy with my two new Renogy 175W flex panels...

...but for $175/pop who cares? They'll be cheaper and better in 4-5 years anyway.
Two questions:

1) I've heard that "flexible" means they can be attached to a contoured, hard surface, not that they can be allow to flex in the breeze like a Bimini top. Did I get this wrong? I notice the photos in the ads all show a hard surface.

2) These are over $300 at Amazon and Home Depot. Where did you find them for $175 each?
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Old 04-02-2021, 10:15 AM   #8
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Two questions:

1) I've heard that "flexible" means they can be attached to a contoured, hard surface, not that they can be allow to flex in the breeze like a Bimini top. Did I get this wrong? I notice the photos in the ads all show a hard surface.

2) These are over $300 at Amazon and Home Depot. Where did you find them for $175 each?
Sorry you're right - closer to $300/ea. I had my numbers wrong; I got mine on sale for $275 as I recall.

On my installation they're mounted in parallel to the bimini frames - there's no tubing under the panels. So they don't flex; they move up and down a bit when the fabric is flapping hard, but no bending. It was recommended by someone that I didn't install panels over or across a frame which makes sense.

Another nice feature is that I can pull them down in about five minutes and store them under our berth (where the other two are waiting as well). Not sure if I'll ever do this in practice, but certainly a good option where storms are a concern.
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Old 04-02-2021, 10:22 AM   #9
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I am installing four 320 watt panels on my trawler. The plan is to fabricate a panel mount and attach this to stainess steel handrails on the middle deck of my Albin Trawler. (the deck above the master). I will also install larger charge controller. I have a 2000 watt inverter (with surge protection to 3500 Watts) and multibattery isolator so I can use the solar to charge my house battery and also both engine batteries from the sun. The height of the solr panels will be at just under the height of my BIMINI on the upper bridge deck. So my air draft after solar install going under bridges will be what my current air draft is. I will post progress of the build once we get it underway. Slated to happen before May 15 this year.


What size Albin? I am working on a plan to add solar too. I have a Hershine 37 same mold as a Albin 36 and space for solar is a challenge. I need to keep air draft under 19’ preferably with ability to get to 15’ for Erie.
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Old 04-02-2021, 11:17 AM   #10
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I had a different layout, but here is what I did. I used the existing hand rails on the outside of my pilothouse roof to support a SS tubing frame. The centre of the frame is supported on the roof, but is only held in place by Sikaflex so no holes in the roof. Two 285 watt panels were attached to this framing. It worked out very well, and most days we were back to a full 100% charge on the house bank by about 1-2 PM. We have not experienced any movement issues with either the framing or the panels. Don't know why 2 of the photos ended up oriented on their side, but they were fine on my computer.
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Old 04-02-2021, 08:35 PM   #11
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What size Albin? I am working on a plan to add solar too. I have a Hershine 37 same mold as a Albin 36 and space for solar is a challenge. I need to keep air draft under 19’ preferably with ability to get to 15’ for Erie.
Albin 40
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Old 04-02-2021, 11:02 PM   #12
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Search for "My new solar system".
There are many places to install your solar panels. Not all of them are on the top of the bimini or roof.
Check out my panels that hang vertically and can be propped up to horizontal, high over the side decks.
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Old 04-03-2021, 10:11 AM   #13
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Albin 40
I am in the process of adding panels above my bimini with Gemini frame mounts that are readily available and a rugged frame that’s very easy to make. The entire frame resides 2” above the bimini and the panels mount on top of that using thumbscrew mounts. The only thing I had to do was poke 4 holes in the bimini and then sew a reinforcement around each hole - very easy and all materials available at Sail Rite. So for height it’s only about 4-6” above the bimini. The panels and frame can be installed or removed in 10 minutes by one person.

Ken
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Old 04-04-2021, 09:10 AM   #14
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On my installation they're mounted in parallel to the bimini frames - there's no tubing under the panels.
I'm really starting to lean toward this install option (flexible panels magnet-mounted to the Bimini fabric.) Which brings me to another question...

Is there any reason or need to put something between the panel and the Bimini fabric?

One issue would be heat dissipation. But I'm not sure what would help that, maybe some sort of mesh. Another would be stability. Maybe a stiff material which was less flexible than the panel.

Any reason to worry about either of these issues?
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Old 04-04-2021, 10:00 AM   #15
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Solar panel install

Quote:
Originally Posted by kchace View Post
I am in the process of adding panels above my bimini with Gemini frame mounts that are readily available and a rugged frame that’s very easy to make. The entire frame resides 2” above the bimini and the panels mount on top of that using thumbscrew mounts. The only thing I had to do was poke 4 holes in the bimini and then sew a reinforcement around each hole - very easy and all materials available at Sail Rite. So for height it’s only about 4-6” above the bimini. The panels and frame can be installed or removed in 10 minutes by one person.



Ken


Really like this set up. Solves so many problems. Are the white plastic pieces that hold the panel to the frame starboard or a stock piece? Source? What size/make are the panels?

BTW I am so going to copy your example. Let’s you use the longer lasting cheaper rigid panels, cools underneath, and is removable for bridges. Nice work!
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Old 04-04-2021, 10:04 AM   #16
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CaptTom

I installed 3 of the Renogy 175W flexible panels on top of my bimini a year ago. I did not put anything under them, just straight on the canvas. After soaking in the sun the temperature difference between the panel and the dark blue canvas was less then 5 degrees F and on the back side of the canvas I could tell a difference between where the panels were and no panels. One disclaimer though, I'm in the PNW so it is a rare day for the temperature to get above 80 over the water.

One other thought, when they say "flexible" that is a relative term. They are not flexible like a heavy blanket but more along the lines of a piece of paneling. I didn't find a need to install any reinforcement.

I would not worry about any of those issues. My biggest issue was fishing the cables from the bimini down to the engine room where my batteries are located.
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Old 04-04-2021, 10:25 AM   #17
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I have 4 295W panels, 2 mounted on each of my hardtops. I wanted to make the installation easy and also minimize holes in the curved hardtops. I just used 5200 to hold the two edges (1 from each panel) mounted on each hardtop's center line. The outside edges have strips of plastic wood about an inch and a half wide under them. Again, 5200 to hold the plastic wood and panels to the the hardtop surface.

The panel's raised edges allow air circulation. So far no problems. I installed the panel wiring inside the hardtop's support pipes to get them out of sight and also for protection.

Those panels really do a great job keeping my battery bank charged while on either anchor or a mooring. We have no problems with the electrical demands from two TV's, lights, plus an apartment size self defrost refrigerator.
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Old 04-04-2021, 10:33 AM   #18
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Really like this set up. Solves so many problems. Are the white plastic pieces that hold the panel to the frame starboard or a stock piece? Source? What size/make are the panels?

BTW I am so going to copy your example. Let’s you use the longer lasting cheaper rigid panels, cools underneath, and is removable for bridges. Nice work!
The white plastic pieces are a "rail mount" that are a standard piece available at most chandleries. I think they are made by "Sea Dog" if I remember correctly. I used them in my pilothouse roof system as well. They work quite well, and if used to mount the panels on a "deck rail", allow for the panels to be moved (re-oriented) for adjustments (like following the sun path). In my, and Kchase's application, they are not used for adjustments, just for holding the panels onto the frame.
Edit: https://www.amazon.ca/Sea-Dog-327199.../dp/B00TUNSR9Y
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Old 04-04-2021, 10:37 AM   #19
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I installed one solar panel on my pulpit just to see how it worked. I was so impressed I added a second panel and would like to eventually qdesign a frame or hard top to move and add panels.
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Old 04-05-2021, 11:54 AM   #20
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I had a few people PM me on the details of the magnet attachment method, so here are a couple of pics I snapped on the passage back from Catalina yesterday. We got hit with a pretty strong Point Loma wind funnel after we turned North into the SD Bay, probably gusting 15+ on the nose at 8.5kts, so maybe 20kts apparent & the Bimini section with the solar attached doesn't really move any differently than the sections without. The rest of the passage was so calm I never bothered to pull down the bird repellers!

These are the magnets I used: you can see from the pics that they elevate the corners of the flex panels enough that there's no chafing on the bimini fabric. I'll keep an eye out to see if any develops, but nothing so far.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I couldn't be happier. And so cheap & easy that it's easy to experiment with location, add/subtract panels, etc.
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