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Cruisin' Threads => Tips & Techniques => Topic started by: Frank on November 29, 2016, 06:37:30 PM

Title: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: Frank on November 29, 2016, 06:37:30 PM
Hose clams to stern rail
Fully adjustable
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: ralay on November 29, 2016, 09:23:11 PM
We had our solar panels attached the same way initially, but the clamps broke really fast.  They were the type of clamps with perforations in the band and I suppose the constant wiggling and vibration work hardened the thin metal.  Woody's lashings lasted way longer than the hose clamps.  Maybe the kind with a solid, dimpled band would work better.
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: Frank on November 29, 2016, 09:58:02 PM
No doubt!!

I just loved the simplicity of his mount. Better lashings would be great!

The boat is a Catalina 25.
Owned by a young male nurse....he came over 3 yrs ago in early fall and stayed until early summer. Great kid!! Everyone liked him and "the locals" excepted him (huge here)

Went back to make more $$ and as of yet....hasn't returned.

It's been "on the hard" at the boat yard for 2 full seasons now.
Been through a hurricane ok.

A great lad....fun to be around at beach bon fires and just plain happy to be here.
Hope he returns this year!!!
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: lastgreatgeneration on December 07, 2016, 08:56:28 PM
Thanks for the ideas. I too am working on installing a 100 watt renology panel to my stern rail. I may think of elevating it. I originally planned on attaching it directly to the stern pulpit.
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: Frank on December 07, 2016, 10:39:24 PM
"Tilt to the sun" is important!

Controller is important too
MPPT is preferred

I run my engel 24/7 and never plugged in....

Have fun!
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: lastgreatgeneration on December 08, 2016, 03:41:09 AM
I have a "sunsaver 10", a renology panel, 100' of marine grade 14 gauge wire. Also I have some of those white plastic rail mounts pictured above. The sunsaver controller was highly recommended elsewhere. I could do well with a 30 watt panel, the 100 watt is total over kill for me. Go big or go home, right? Basically I need to just keep the batteries charged. I use mostly my battery operated head lamp to read by/ kerosene lamp. Very seldom I use the 12 volt lighting. I do still have the BEBI dusk till dawn light on the backstay that has been on every day since last march 15th. The BEBI seems to draw the majority of the power. Also perhaps I have a voltage leak somewhere...
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: CharlieJ on December 08, 2016, 11:51:08 AM
Morningstar is a very good company. I also use the Sunsaver. When I was bringing the boat around from the Chesapeake, my controller quit working. .I called Morningstar to see about a new one, and was asked for info from the back. Read the guy the info and was told i still had two weeks of warranty left, where did I want the replacement sent? It was drop-shipped ahead of where I was, at no charge whatsoever.

I cruised for 2 1/2 years with just a 32 watt panel. Had to plug in to recharge bats twice, due to extended bouts of full cloud. .Of course I am extremely frugal in my electric use, but I did recharge computers, and phones from the panel. All of my inside lights are LED.

I've used a Bebi Owl as an anchor light for quite a while now. Sad thing that the Fijiian government screwed Micheal and Kendra, . Ten years of work and many good products gone, not to mention the jobs the workers had.
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: lastgreatgeneration on December 12, 2016, 02:10:40 PM
Morningstar is a very good company. I also use the Sunsaver. When I was bringing the boat around from the Chesapeake, my controller quit working. .I called Morningstar to see about a new one, and was asked for info from the back. Read the guy the info and was told i still had two weeks of warranty left, where did I want the replacement sent? It was drop-shipped ahead of where I was, at no charge whatsoever.

I cruised for 2 1/2 years with just a 32 watt panel. Had to plug in to recharge bats twice, due to extended bouts of full cloud. .Of course I am extremely frugal in my electric use, but I did recharge computers, and phones from the panel. All of my inside lights are LED.

I've used a Bebi Owl as an anchor light for quite a while now. Sad thing that the Fijiian government screwed Micheal and Kendra, . Ten years of work and many good products gone, not to mention the jobs the workers had.

I wish I had bought more when they were in business. I wouldn't know where to start if I needed to replace it. Some of the masthead units are $200!
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: CharlieJ on December 12, 2016, 03:15:55 PM
Morningstar is a very good company. I also use the Sunsaver. When I was bringing the boat around from the Chesapeake, my controller quit working. .I called Morningstar to see about a new one, and was asked for info from the back. Read the guy the info and was told i still had two weeks of warranty left, where did I want the replacement sent? It was drop-shipped ahead of where I was, at no charge whatsoever.

Yeah. Me too. Ab well. Was someone on here set to replicate but that seems to have died aborning. Sad either way.

I do not put anchor lights at mast head. Wrong place in my estimation. Ok if hou are anchoring where ships run but I tend to be in shallower water. I want the late night dinghy crew or the early morning fisherman to see me. So I hang it about a good reach up from the back stay. Used to use the forestay til I got a face full of insects drawn to the light. Now. They just fall onto the solar panel :)

I cruised for 2 1/2 years with just a 32 watt panel. Had to plug in to recharge bats twice, due to extended bouts of full cloud. .Of course I am extremely frugal in my electric use, but I did recharge computers, and phones from the panel. All of my inside lights are LED.

I've used a Bebi Owl as an anchor light for quite a while now. Sad thing that the Fijiian government screwed Micheal and Kendra, . Ten years of work and many good products gone, not to mention the jobs the workers had.

I wish I had bought more when they were in business. I wouldn't know where to start if I needed to replace it. Some of the masthead units are $200!
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: CharlieJ on December 12, 2016, 03:30:37 PM
 Don't know how that got all screwed up. Here's what I posted

Yeah. Me too. Ah well. Was someone on here set to replicate but that seems to have died aborning. Sad either way.

I do not put anchor lights at mast head. Wrong place in my estimation. Ok if you are anchoring where ships run but I tend to be in shallower water. I want the late night dinghy crew or the early morning fisherman to see me. So I hang it about a good reach up from the back stay. Used to use the forestay til I got a face full of insects drawn to the light. Now. They just fall onto the solar panel :)


And here's a pic
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: lastgreatgeneration on December 12, 2016, 03:50:20 PM
Don't know how that got all screwed up. Here's what I posted

Yeah. Me too. Ah well. Was someone on here set to replicate but that seems to have died aborning. Sad either way.

I do not put anchor lights at mast head. Wrong place in my estimation. Ok if you are anchoring where ships run but I tend to be in shallower water. I want the late night dinghy crew or the early morning fisherman to see me. So I hang it about a good reach up from the back stay. Used to use the forestay til I got a face full of insects drawn to the light. Now. They just fall onto the solar panel :)


And here's a pic

Wow, that's a lot of moths. I just finished my solar panel mount today. I used 1/8" aluminum angle for the mounts. I put the mounts exactly in the middle, but I may decide to move them to one end so it can fold down flush with the stern rail. I still need to solder the wires to the solar quick connect and then I'll be in business. I have been running the Honda generator lately, that keeps the 200watt heater and the 120watt electric blanket running. The generator will run all that and charge the boat pretty much on idle at the Eco setting. I don't know how much more cold weather I can take before I go into a marina. I like mine mounted on the back stay, plus I get cockpit lighting.
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: CharlieJ on December 12, 2016, 04:30:53 PM
That's one nights worth, in Wax Lake outlet, in Louisiana. Actually a small bayou off the outlet called possum Bayou. Nice snug anchorage way out of current and traffic..

Anchored there once before, with the light on the forestay. Had to use a plastic dust pan to scoop bugs off all the way around the boat- side decks, bow were totally covered, just like that... Here's what just one looks like
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: lastgreatgeneration on December 12, 2016, 05:21:12 PM
That's one nights worth, in Wax Lake outlet, in Louisiana. Actually a small bayou off the outlet called possum Bayou. Nice snug anchorage way out of current and traffic..

Anchored there once before, with the light on the forestay. Had to use a plastic dust pan to scoop bugs off all the way around the boat- side decks, bow were totally covered, just like that... Here's what just one looks like

Charlie,
My girlfriend is an aquatic entomologist, she pointed out that that's a mayfly. Mayflies have aquatic larva. Most moths do not. Interesting  tidbit.
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: CharlieJ on December 12, 2016, 05:26:05 PM
LOL-- well this Mayfly was in July  ;D ;D Kinda pretty individually. NOT en mass!!

Kinda like June bugs- sometimes we call them "February bugs" around here
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: CharlieJ on December 12, 2016, 06:13:58 PM
Oh- and tell your girlfriend thanks. I like knowing the correct names for things
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: Cyric30 on December 13, 2016, 05:01:35 PM
Down in the Delta here we get Mayfly blooms that are so big and dense they show up on radar as rain showers, so i understand where your coming from CJ
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: CharlieJ on December 13, 2016, 06:12:21 PM
:) This anchorage is definitely in the Delta. About a days run west and somewhat south, of Morgan City!
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: lastgreatgeneration on December 14, 2016, 01:50:42 PM
I would rather be down there with the mayflies than deal with the cold up here! I'm going to try to go on a vacation somewhere warm hopefully in January or February. It has been very windy and cold in the anchorage.
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: Junkrig on December 17, 2016, 11:28:56 PM
With only a 40w panel, I made a mount similar to the DIY Atom Voyager Solar Tracker, info & plans available on their site http://www.atomvoyages.com/cys/222-the-solar-tracker.html
Fairly easy to make, & I've been happy with it, & impressed with how sturdy it is in strong winds.
cheers
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: w00dy on December 29, 2016, 12:11:26 PM
Looks nice, JR. Our first solar installation got kicked down to us from a fellow boater at our marina. I climbed his mast and did a little maintenance in exchange for an older 75 watt panel and charge controller. I thought about fabricating a similar, single-pole tracker mount based on Baldwin's design, but decided the panel was a bit too large to mount on a single pole without beefier scantlings.

(http://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20160502/6f191508d2690ec3b1faf37e5a0fa143.jpg)

I ended up finding an old flounder boat light rail at the local scrap yard and picked up the aluminum tubing for < $10. I fabricated a crude hinge mechanism using the scrap aluminum and used aluminum rivets to fasten it all together. Para-cord lashings with hardwood spacers in between the tubing connected the new solar panel mount to our mainsheet hoop.

(http://i.imgur.com/IW4qCGc.jpg)

When we decided we wanted more power generation, several years had passed. The original mount held up well, despite being held together with nothing more than a rivets and lashings. I put a lot of thought  into deciding whether or not to implement a wind generator that I had picked up cheaply. Because we don't have a typical square transom, our stern real-estate is limited and coming up with an arragnement that would work took some effort. I was able to use a free cad program, Sketchup, to help integrate measurements that I took to try several different layouts.

(http://i.imgur.com/dwM47lu.jpg)

One neat feature of Sketchup is the ability to simulate sunshine angles throughout the day and seasons to model shadowing. This was key in my identification that despite the large gains in generation that a wind generator would provide, it would constantly detract from our solar panel's output due to shading.
This reason, among others including added complexity and safety concerns, swung us over to simply purchasing another panel.

Amazingly, the cost and efficiency of solar has improved so much that I was able to find a panel of matching size that was rated at 100w, bringing our total to 175w, which is about right for our current usage and capacity. Using some tubing connectors, some u-bolts, and a long piece of stainless tubing that I bent into a U shape, I re purposed the original mount to serve as a rack for the new solar array.

(http://i.imgur.com/FAPorKR.jpg)

After sailing with this configuration for a year, I'm pleased with the results. Though the array only articulates along the horizontal axis, it still allows us to adjust the angle enough to capture the low winter sun and improves efficiency greatly. I plan to add more bracing tubes in the future to help make the structure more rigid, but I may wait until we add panel #3 ;)

(http://i.imgur.com/QWnD9ZO.jpg)

Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: Norman on December 29, 2016, 06:03:52 PM
That is an interesting evolution, complete with the pictures to show exactly what it looked like at each stage of the project.

On my visit aboard in Annapolis, the arrangement certainly made an excellent impression, both neat and sturdy  in appearance.  You and Ralay have certainly succeeded in making the best of the size sand shape of your vessel.

Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: Cyric30 on December 29, 2016, 06:33:20 PM
Hello Woody
can i ask, or is there a place i can look to see, what all do you run off this 175W and how long can you go on a charge with it.?
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: w00dy on December 31, 2016, 08:39:55 AM
Here's another picture I meant to include, to show the structure of the frame tying the two panels together. It was made from the re configured pieces of the original mount. Waste not!

(http://imgur.com/ZVVD295.jpg)

Cyric, as you probably know, the 175W max output of the panels is only a third of the energy equation. The other two parts are storage capacity and usage. We have a house bank of ~200 Ah and a separate starting battery of 100 Ah. Our usage is somewhat conservative and we do our best to keep discharge above 50%.

Usage depends much on circumstance and we will adjust our strategy to conserve if needed. Very generally, our house bank powers our lights, charges our electronic devices (phones and laptops), and supports a few instruments. Generally, when underway, we will use our Furuno chartplotter/radar/depth unit, which accounts for the bulk of our energy usage. We also usually have our VHF with AIS reciever on when moving. Occasionally, we will use a small tillerpilot to steer, but as it gets overpowered in modest weather, it is usually only on when conditions are calm and we are motoring and generating power with the alternator.

We also have an electric windlass, but it is only supposed to be used in conjunction with the engine in forward, so as to only take the weight of the chain, not the entire mass of the boat itself. We don't always adhere to this guideline, but our windlass motor hasn't burned up yet. It does put quite a load on the batteries though, somewhere in between 50-100 amps, so we usually have the motor running when in use.

If conditions are somewhat sunny and we aren't guzzling power non-stop, our battery levels will usually recharge completely every few days. If we are underway 24/7 for a while, the chartplotter will eventually deplete the batteries beyond the level of what the panels can replace. We usually end up running the engine every so often anyway, when entering a harbor, or on a calm day, so our 35amp alternator will pick up the slack and bring the house bank back up.

Adding another large battery and another panel might enable us to run a small refrigeration unit, more electronics like an SSB, or allow longer periods between engine charges, but generally we are pretty satisfied with this setup for our current cruising needs, and if we stay somewhat conservative with our usage, we have more than enough.

Oh, btw, we have an entirely DC setup, with no AC circuits or inverts, so this helps a bit in conserving power when charging electronics.

Hope that answers your question, Cyric.

=====================

Thanks for the compliments, Norm. Doing our best!
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: Cyric30 on December 31, 2016, 09:14:14 AM
Haya Woody
Thank you for the information
It does help alot, it gives me a decent idea of what each system ive asked about can run, if i may ask what kind/size charge controller are you using for this?
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: lastgreatgeneration on December 31, 2016, 10:13:25 AM
When you mentioned that the lashings worked better than the hose clamps, what does it look like? What size line, how much, and any partictular knots?

Thanks, I might consider that method. My panel is ok where it's at but it needs to be folded down to be standing at the helm.
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: ralay on December 31, 2016, 05:52:46 PM
Cyric: It's this one:
http://www.flexcharge.com/NC25A-Product-Info.html
It came with the first solar panel in Woody's work-trade. (Go Woody!)  We considered upgrading to an MPPT controller, but it just didn't make sense.  Solar panels are getting so cheap, we could meet our needs more cheaply by buying more panel area.  Of course, folks with boats too small to mount large panels might be more inclined to spend money on efficiency.  Our set up is about what was available for cheap/free/worktrade and I think it's serving us pretty well even if it's not what I would have designed from scratch.     
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: ralay on December 31, 2016, 06:07:00 PM
This is the only photo I've got that happens to show the hose clamps and paracord lashings on solar panel mount 1.0.
http://imgur.com/bbMA74Z
Woody, have you got a better shot of your lashings?
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: w00dy on January 01, 2017, 10:10:40 AM
The lashings were joining two pieces of tubing of slightly unequal sizes, so I made several ironwood spacers using different hole saws that let them mate together neatly  with an inch of room in between.

The lashings were pretty standard, using 10 feet or so of sheathed parachute cord. I used a fid to help draw each wrap up tightly, then at the end used a series of hitches to lock it all in.

Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: lastgreatgeneration on January 02, 2017, 12:13:10 PM
Very nice. I imagined something quite differently. I have hindereds of feet of paracord on my boat all milspec, I'll have to experiment. Maybe I can find an old Bimini switch ss tubing that I can use.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: ralay on January 02, 2017, 06:02:32 PM
Woody, didn't you get all that paracord for helping Dave take apart an old parachute?  And ipe from handhold left overs which were already CJs leftovers?  You are truly king of the scrap heap.   ;D
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: w00dy on January 02, 2017, 06:49:40 PM
Yeah it was an old open deck board thatbecame handrails. If we ever have another boat I'd like to name it "Scrappy"
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: ralay on January 02, 2017, 09:01:22 PM
Deal.   ;)
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: CharlieJ on January 02, 2017, 09:20:35 PM
ROFL
But you two have come a LONG way since this

Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: CharlieJ on January 02, 2017, 09:22:44 PM
or this
Title: Re: Simple solar panel mount
Post by: ralay on January 02, 2017, 09:38:42 PM
Oh man, CJ.  NEVER AGAIN.