Solar Panels on my boat

lachbuslachbus Registered Users Posts: 16
Hello guys,

First of all, thanks again to everybody who gave me advice in the last weeks how to connect my system. Here's the result of my labor and your help:

I'm living on my Alberg 35, and need electricity primarily for the fridge, the laptop, and the lights (in order of consumption).
I use two Kyocera 135GX-LP panels with a nominal peak power of 135W each. They are connected to a Blue Sky Solar Boost MPPT controller, which feeds into my batteries.
The mounting frame is 1 inch stainless steel tubing (7/64 wall thickness). After mounting them for the first time I realized that the original set screws were too unsafe and decided to drill through most of the connections and use longer set screws that enter into the tubes. The whole construction was too wobbly for comfort, and so I also added some extra bracing in the top forward corners. Drilling stainless is a pain, the total labor to mount the stuff was at least 20 hours!
The panels are attached with brackets that screw to their aluminum frame and encircle the tubes.

The total bill:
2 Panels at $440 each + delivery : $ 950
MMPT Controller : $ 250
SS Tubes, Bases, Elbows + delivery : $ 500
Various SS Screws, Brackets, etc : $ 50

Total: $ 1750

Result: So far, I'm very pleased. The panels produce energy even early in the morning. This morning, at 7:30, the output was 3.3 Amps. At 8:30, it was 6.1 Amps. Since they are mounted horizontally, they will never be perfectly perpendicular to the sun, but they should reach about 20 Amps during lunch hours. The MPPT controller is really working well, usually increasing the amperes (when the panels output more voltage than needed), but also producing FEWER amperes while boosting the voltage to make use even of very low light conditions). Very much recommended!

Ask questions if you like!

Comments

  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,962 ✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Panels on my boat

    You should concider having a plan to take down the panels in storm conditions, from the pictures I would guess 40-45mph would rip the support-tubing apart and lose your valuable investment
  • lachbuslachbus Registered Users Posts: 16
    Re: Solar Panels on my boat

    Sure, Guppy. I'm not planning to have those up in a bad storm. The brackets can be unscrewed and the panels taken down in maybe 20 minutes I guess.
    I'm not sure what connectors to use yet to make a pluggable connection, anybody has suggestions (and not those crazy expensive MC connectors you cannot buy anywhere!
    Because the panels are flat, they don't offer much resistance to the wind, and while on its mooring the boat will point into the wind, so I think it will take a nasty storm to take them out.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,511 admin
    Re: Solar Panels on my boat

    The problem with the mounting (in my humble opinion) is that Solar Panels have very little structural support and require a true/rigid framework to mount on...

    Just a simple wind gust under the panels could cause them to fracture from the torque of the lack of structure. The aluminum frames are not designed to supply physical structure by itself to withstand wind or snow loads. Unfortunately, you would need a relatively stout metal frame to mount the panels to. Which makes everything heavier, bulkier, and more difficult to stow.

    For MC connectors, or other DC alternatives, NAWS does sell MC style cables/jumpers (just buy a male/female and cut in half. splice the ends into your harness).

    -Bill

    PS: At the very least, weld up an aluminum frame. Bolt the panels to the frame, and bolt the mounts to the aluminum frame.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • lachbuslachbus Registered Users Posts: 16
    Re: Solar Panels on my boat

    Thanks guys for your concern. I'll see what I can put together. No more stainless though, it's just too hard to work with!
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,244 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Panels on my boat

    Anderson Connectors: http://store.solar-electric.com/anhicupoco.html

    Nice, self cleaning easy to install, easy to plug and unplug, perfect for your application,

    T
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,996 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar Panels on my boat

    Some frames are stouter than others, I have some I'd trust with your mounting and others i wouldn't, reguardless, use Dielectric grease (or even vasaline!) to protect your connections in the salt air!
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
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