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  • 2 Post By chucklesR
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  #1  
Old 09-16-2013
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Solar Upgrade

I finally got around to adding solar panels to my Irwin 38 CC last month - and now I'm finally going to post about it.

The wife and I bounced around about towers and bimini's and davits as mounting options for a long time, and then had our decision helped by running down to 60% state of charge overnight.
Plan (a) was a pair of 315w panels mounted on a tower/arch. That got shot down by cost and the fact that we'd have looked like Skylab.
Plan (b) was panels on the bimini and a 315 on the davits.
That got shot down when I ripped out the davits (rotted base, not feasible to fix).

The option became run the diesel for 5 or more hours or run the Ryobi 2200 for 10 hours of so.
Or mount the panels on the stern rails.
Plan (c)
A pair of Kyocera 140w panels mounted on 1 inch diameter stainless tubes via a rail mount kit from eMarine; coupled in to a Blue Sky 2121 MPPT controller that allows for later networking to additional panels.
I had the stainless bits and pieces delivered by two separate on line sources.

This won't work for everyone - a Center Cockpit has a big aft deck where unless it's a ketch nothing 'moves' while sailing. It makes a nice lounge deck at anchor, or a sun pad etc.. but no crew work/trimming etc goes on.
Note I went extra (the lower tube/rail) with the tubing as we intend to use the area under the panels to store jerry cans of diesel, gas, and water anyway - this will strengthen the area.

The panels are 26 inches wide and 59 long. I hung them off center with 8 inches hanging over the deck so they both take up less deck space inboard and are naturally weighted to fold over.
Strap:

I don't have the cables tied in yet in these photos (they get seriously fastened later).

Most folks that do that put a support on the off side to hold them up.
I put a strap on them to hold them DOWN and level.
When coming into a dock I simply unshackle the strap (which is adjustable so I can angle the panel for the sun) and the panel folds over outboard and out of the way.
I have 5 inch wide toe rails and a 3 inch rub rail to fend off pilings and such, no chance of an accidental bump shattering glass.

The rest of the hook up is straight forward - find the cable runs that fit for your boat and drill, fill and pull. I went down through a locker, under the queen in the aft cabin and then followed the steering cables to the engine room where I mounted the controller. You can see by the light that it's working and in float mode.

Cable ties and such not yet in place, I'm terrible about taking pictures so you get what I got.
I got two 50 foot MC4 cables as part of the install - cut them in half (25 feet each) and that made 4 cables with 2 male, 2 female connectors.
I plugged the connector ends into the panels and ran the now cut/bare end to the controller. I spliced the positives to a length of short #4, the negatives to a short #4 (via a 3 way butt connector) - then put the #4 into a 30amp fuse block. Out of the fuse block and into the controller.
The only truly hard part (other than running the cable) was splicing the heavy cable down to connectors that fit the tiny screw on bits for the controller.

This controller is the cheap, out of sight one. I still intend to add a 315w panel to the davits once I replace the davits. That controller will be the one with the pretty panel, gauges and buttons, and installed next to my battery monitor (Victron BMV 602s).
jameswilson29 and jimgo like this.
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  #2  
Old 09-16-2013
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Re: Solar Upgrade

Chuck, it looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Why in the Hell did you mount it on the side like that? It's going to be in your way every time you pull into a marina on the port side and you know it's gonna snag a piling.

Good luck,

Gary
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Old 09-16-2013
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Re: Solar Upgrade

ChucklesR I've been trying to come up with a good, inexpensive way to mount two 145 watt panels similar to yours for a variety of reasons. I do NOT have the big wide toe rail and fat rub rail so I need my panels to rotate inward instead of outward like yours for docking. With your install could you rotate your panels inward and be nearly vertical? If so would there be enough friction on your brackets to hold them there?

I wish I had the space outside my lifelines like you do to rotate them out and down for docking.
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Old 09-16-2013
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Re: Solar Upgrade

There is not enough friction from the clamp alone to hold the panels if the weight is not relatively even. They can rotate either way.

Gary, stop looking at just the picture and read the text. They rotate vertical in seconds.
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Old 09-16-2013
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Re: Solar Upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by travlineasy View Post
Chuck, it looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Why in the Hell did you mount it on the side like that? It's going to be in your way every time you pull into a marina on the port side and you know it's gonna snag a piling.

Good luck,

Gary
Gary: "When coming into a dock I simply unshackle the strap (which is adjustable so I can angle the panel for the sun) and the panel folds over outboard and out of the way."
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Old 09-16-2013
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Re: Solar Upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRFerron View Post
Gary: "When coming into a dock I simply unshackle the strap (which is adjustable so I can angle the panel for the sun) and the panel folds over outboard and out of the way."
And if needed I can rotate them inboard by simply pressing with my palm on the inboard side. They only weigh 30 pounds it's not that hard.
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Old 09-16-2013
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Re: Solar Upgrade

Chuck, I was just picking on you because I read in the General Chat where no one had posted a reply after viewing the rig.

Cheers,

Gary
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Old 09-16-2013
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Re: Solar Upgrade

We came to nearly identical solutions Chuck. Our two panels keep out batteries happy all summer long. We're thinking about adding one more solar panel above the bimini before we go offshore to keep up with the extra pull from the refrigerator in hot climates. We'll see. We bent our lifeline tube out about four to six inches so when the panel is up, we're not bumping into it and it's supported underneath by a collapsible stainless tube that holds it out at a 45' or horizontal attitude. We bumped into a PSC37 who had his panels mounted in a similar way and said that on an offshore sail, they dipped their panel into a wave and it held up just fine.
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Re: Solar Upgrade



I mounted a 100-watt solar panel on the back rail, which allows me to back up to a piling without any possibility of hitting the panel. The total cost of the hardware was under $30, and the panel is rock solid mounted. I had to place one of those inflatable snakes on the boom, though, to keep the damned birds off the panel. They tend to poop on everything.

Gary
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Old 09-17-2013
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Re: Solar Upgrade

Gary, you need a bigger cockpit
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