Solar Panel Mounting From Dodger to Boom Gallows.

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  • May 08, 2013 11:50 AM
    Message # 1288591
    Deleted user
    A few months ago I saw a W32 that had 2 panels ridgidly mounted from the dodger to the boom gallows.
    I am shopping for panels but I don't yet have a dodger.
    Can I get 60" panels to fit in between a future dodger and the boom gallows?
    Also, any reasons why I shouldn't be mounting them at this location?
    I need shade and live in the tropics.

  • May 08, 2013 3:07 PM
    Reply # 1288739 on 1288591
    Seems like the boom would always be shading at least one panel in that location.  
  • May 08, 2013 3:30 PM
    Reply # 1288765 on 1288591
    Deleted user
    In my experience while sailing one of the panels will be shaded (dodger all the way back to the rudder)

    But at anchor you can move the boom so = not so bad for that.

    Also the angle on the sun could cut your output by 70% +/-  I only get 100% from 11:00 Am to 1:30 PM  then it starts falling off  (fixed panels)

    Hope this helps you.

  • May 08, 2013 5:54 PM
    Reply # 1288862 on 1288591
    Deleted user
    Perhaps I should consider purchasing Bud's stainless pushpit (for my wood boomkin) and hard piping it to the boom gallows frame for mounting my panels.
    Does anyone know if there is 60 inches available?

  • May 08, 2013 7:01 PM
    Reply # 1288893 on 1288591
    Anonymous member (Administrator)


    in the members area - Westsail FAQ - I've saved comments on solar panels with images but nothing on whether the 60" will fit.. sorry.  I really like my SS boomkin/stern pulpit/ladder combination from Bud... here is an album of images that might prove helpful. from many members featuring cockpit and stern comfigurations.


    Last modified: May 08, 2013 7:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • May 08, 2013 7:54 PM
    Reply # 1288921 on 1288591
    Deleted user
    In the "Comments on solar panels" the first comment with pictures is ours so I won't repeat it here.   I'm a firm believer that one of the worst places for solar panels is on the dodger. One panel is usually at the wrong angle and one or both get covered by the boom.  Then there is the matter of an awning which you'll probably want in the tropics and it winds up covering most panels.  I'm not saying they don't work there, they do.  But the reduction in output is hard to believe unless you have actually ran tests as we have.    

    One of the best installations is a large amount of panels, @800 watts, mounted flat on an arch. We have friends with a set up like this and they have far more power than they need. Unfortunately the 32 doesn't have the room, so you need to be a little creative.  A small change in angle of the sun greatly affects panel output.  Nigel Calder wrote an article and states he only gets 3-1/2 hrs of production per day.  With our fully articulating panels we can get 8+ hrs if needed, fully articulating panels can triple your output.   We run the boat with a total of 210 watts.

  • May 08, 2013 8:07 PM
    Reply # 1288934 on 1288591
    Deleted user
    Thanks very much Guys.
    Last modified: May 08, 2013 8:11 PM | Deleted user
  • May 09, 2013 7:12 AM
    Reply # 1289241 on 1288591
    Deleted user
    I too have to make a decision about placement of solar panels and I am still not convinced that the dodger placement is out of the question. Understand that I am still in the learning stage and my reply is only to find out more information. What is different now from past decisions about shading is that solar panels are now cheap, cheap, cheap and when you factor in the cost of installation I think that the whole dodger versus arch decision is a wash. You can buy SunPower 327 watt panels that are 61" x 41" inch and weigh 41 lbs that even if you do lose some power through shading, you still get quite a lot. Plus biminis are easy and cheap compared to a davit installation and there is the safety factor of having a following wave wipe out your davit panels. And what about Tarwathie's idea of having the shaded panel removable to a lifeline? Also the panels will be a lot closer to the batteries on a bimini compared to davits so there will be less wiring and so be a lot safer and, and, and and....
  • May 09, 2013 9:11 AM
    Reply # 1289339 on 1288591
    if you're going to put a panel on the dodger or in place of the bimini you might be better off installing multiple smaller panels and wiring them in parallel instead of series.  If you chose a large solar panel as you noted, you want to make very sure that it has internal diodes that will allow it to produce power when partially shaded. 

    These internal diode panels run their diodes in strings to the cells.  What that means is that the orientation of the panel is important.  If you mostly have shadows passing fore-aft or mostly have shadows passing side to side, there WILL be a superior orientation for the panel.  In the case of a dodger/bimini install you would expect the boom to shade the panel often so the superior for-aft orientation would be prefered.  

    On our boat (SUNDOWNER), we have rigid life lines from the back most stanchion near the scupper to the boom gallows.  On either side the panels are then mounted to this rigid life line and can fold up or down depending on situations.  I will be adding more rigid lifelines from the gallows frame back out on the boomkin (similar to the boomkin pulpit) for the purposes of mounting an extra set of panels.  This is a very simple setup and allows you to run the wire through the clams in the back where you probably already have wires passing for the stern light (etc).  I expect that we will have a total of 4 panels in parallel and I'm shooting for a goal of about 400 watts before we leave.  While the lifeline mount isn't as nice as an arch, they are partially articulating (meaning they can tilt on their side) and they are easy to flip down in situations where you want to get them out of the way.  But most of all, they stay out of the way of the working of the boat.  

  • May 09, 2013 10:27 AM
    Reply # 1289387 on 1288591
    Deleted user
    A couple of extra notes from me:

    I have 2 fixed 80watt panels on top of the dodger (both work at anchor and one may work  while sailing) and they will keep the boat powered (nav lights, light for cooking, & radar once a hour for 2 min through the night) but less the water maker, radio and ref.  so only about 20 amp hours / day = 15% of what could be

    I also have two 80 watt panels that I attached to my 1" hand rails just forward of the boom gallows, currently they are set up one on each side. They can be tilted with regard to the axis of the hand rail. ( while sailing, all 4 panels make about 40 to 50amp hr of charge a day)  or about 75watts for 8 hours = 25% or less of what could be.   I found while sailing 3 of the 4 fixed panels were shaded = UGH!. But at anchor the 4 panels are more than enough to run every thing  (fixed and not tilting just pull the boom over to one side )

    A BIG IMPROVEMENT TO THIS will be to make them movable. ( so these handrail mounted panels can be plugged together in parallel and placed on one side or the other while sailing = 50% of what could be)

    At the dock I would make about 95 to 120 amp hours /day with all 4 panels = 50% to 70% of rated output for 8 hours. ( note: the number is less when the batteries start to be topped off as the charge control limits the flow above 14.5v) If I tilted them I could move that number up to 160  to 180 amp hours+ / day. as the 8hr turns into 10hr  and they will pump out 5+ amp each in direct sun as long as the batteries will take it, noting I would still only get 95 to 120 amp hours, as my charge control would stop the extra overcharge.

    So a suggestion, to those who are thinking about using solar. (make them movable or at least have a couple of spots you can move a panel from one side to another as the panels don't work in the shade "by shade I mean a shadow from some of the rigging and the 4 out of 5 days that are cloudy".) and Big panels are not the answer as there is s bigger chance of shade with the bigger panel.

    My last thought: Solar is not right for all locations!, there are many more clouds on the open ocean than there is on land, but for Mexico and other sunny spots (Honolulu down wind side of the island) they are great and can supply all the power you need.

    Hope this helps you out.
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