Solar Panel Mounting From Dodger to Boom Gallows.

  • May 09, 2013 12:38 PM
    Reply # 1289522 on 1288591
    Deleted user

    While shading is an important consideration and everything should be done to eliminate it.  I think orientation is just as important, and in some ways more so.   We run our boat, except the water maker, on two 35 watt panels.  That’s refrigeration, lights, stereo, TV, ham/SSB, computer and other things I can’t think of right now.  We only put up the 75 watt panels to run the water maker. This is because the panels articulate both horizontal and vertical.  

    This is a test I ran was on a mooring in the Channel Islands.  The two panels were flat and the sun was at noon but about 15 degs. South, output was 1.6/.8 amps.  I tilted the panels south slightly, about 15 degs., the amps increased to @ 4.2/.6 amps.  Just a slight change made that much difference.  Last fall we spent a week in Tamales bay north of San Francisco in mostly overcast conditions and the two 35 amp panels kept us charged even when we watched movies.

    With permanently fixed horizontal panels you’ll be lucky to get 20% of your daily potential output. As Norm stated in an earlier post he only gets full charging from 11:00-1:30 which correlates to what I have found.  We get near full charging when the sun rises and it can continue all day, a real advantage over flat installations. Also since most of our charging is done with just two small 35 watt panels, mounted up high and out of the way, I don’t have to clutter up the boat with large arrays which has to do with convenience and safety not cost of additional solar panels.  

    A boarding wave taking out the panels high up would be so rare I don’t even consider it.  In twenty five years of cruising the Pacific coast we've never had a wave hit from the stern that could have damaged our panels, although we have had some that hit from the side that might have damaged a rail mounted panel, but I doubt it.  Our 75 watt panels are rarely up while underway, the 35’s are but could be taken down if necessary but we've never needed to. in the last twenty five years we've mounted the panels every way I can think of and have found this method to double or triple our output over any other way we've tried.                               

    Keep in mind that running a generator or motor a few days on vacation for charging is lot different than full time cruising.  It gets real annoying fast.  Most cruisers learn to live with it but I've never met one whom wished they didn't have to.  No matter what the cost panels are it’s still a considerable investment in money and more importantly time, so it makes sense to try squeeze every watt out you can.  It will make your anchoring much more pleasurable. Lastly invest in an MPTT controller; they’ll increase your output 15-20%.


    Last modified: May 09, 2013 12:42 PM | Deleted user
  • May 09, 2013 6:56 PM
    Reply # 1289810 on 1288591
    Deleted user
    I'd like to see more of your panels and mounting.
    I was just on your blog looking but no luck.
    What are the dimensions of your panels?
    Any close up photos of the mounting?
  • May 10, 2013 12:58 AM
    Reply # 1289994 on 1288591
    Jim your explanation makes the most sense in my mind and you have truly sold me on not having fixed mount panels. Your adjustable panel mounts look like you can adjust them to a wide angle and are probably the best of any I have seen. However, how much do those 35 watt panels weigh? Do you think that your side mounting system would work with a heavier panel or would it have to be supported nearer the center. Also, do you have a close up picture of the mounts and where did you purchase them from? The problem is, finding a mounting system that is flexible and out of the way enough not to be shaded. I am not adverse to having a movable system but I would prefer stainless over PVC, aluminum or wire for mounting simply for the durability.  Again many thanks. Peter
  • May 11, 2013 7:50 AM
    Reply # 1290839 on 1288591
    Deleted user
    In a timely way, a great video showing real conditions while sailing (with regard to solar panel placement) was posted on the WOA site

    On the home page,  the video Jay put up.  "Gary Burton - takes us down wind on Elizabeth Ann W32"
    which shows how much the sails will shadow things: ( the dodger, rails, and a short shot at the boomkin) Take a look, this should give a good idea on how much shade one can expect.

    Last modified: May 11, 2013 10:19 AM | Deleted user
  • May 11, 2013 1:06 PM
    Reply # 1290976 on 1289810
    Carl Schaefer wrote:Tate,
    I'd like to see more of your panels and mounting.
    I was just on your blog looking but no luck.
    What are the dimensions of your panels?
    Any close up photos of the mounting?

    I will try to measure and take some photos for you tomorrow and will email them to you and post them here.  
  • May 14, 2013 5:28 PM
    Reply # 1293292 on 1288591
    Deleted user
    Peter, here some additional photos that make the mounting system a little clearer. The mount was purchased from Svendsens Marine in Alameda Calif. The lower panel is 70 watt and probably weighs 15-20#, the upper panels are 35 watts and weigh @10-15#. the 35 watt panels remain up all the time and the larger ones are only needed when running the water maker at anchor.  If we expect high winds with the larger panels up, we turn them flat against the rails. I think 70 watts is about the largest you could and I believe they're larger then recommended.

    Even with the adjust-ability we have, it sometimes, although rarely, is difficult to keep all the panels producing. It's a lot worse with fixed panels.   

    Another option is the Solar Stik which I wish had been out when I set up our system.  I met one boat with one and they make adjusting the panels almost instantaneous with a clever use of levers.



    Last modified: November 04, 2013 6:53 PM | Deleted user
  • May 14, 2013 6:54 PM
    Reply # 1293335 on 1288591
    Jim that is EXACTLY what I wanted to see and it is perfect! Your photos make it clear to me the best and easiest way to mount those panels so that they are fully adjustable in 3 dimensions. A couple of those 70 Watt adjustable panels outside of the 2 gallows poles will to my way of thinking easily provide all my power needs. And I like the idea of being able to secure them in windy weather. Thanks so much. Peter
  • May 21, 2013 5:15 AM
    Reply # 1297821 on 1288591
    Deleted user
    I recently purchased 4-Trojan T105 batteries that are wired in series.
    2-Kyocera 140 watt panels and 2-Genasun GV-10 controllers.

    The panels are 59"x26".

    As far as I can tell I have 4 mounting options for these large panels.

    -above cockpit
    -on ridgid lifeline pipe at cockpit from boom gallows frame to the first stantion.
    -on Bud's stern pulpit to boom gallows (not yet purchased).
    -and a fabricated stainless arch at stern.

    Does anyone have panels as large as these and where are you mounting them?

  • May 21, 2013 10:34 AM
    Reply # 1298125 on 1288591

    Carl what about using Jim's method with an extra support strut lower down the gallows pole?


    Last modified: May 21, 2013 10:35 AM | Anonymous member
  • May 21, 2013 3:12 PM
    Reply # 1298418 on 1288591
    Deleted user
    my panels are 5 feet long.
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software