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SanDiegoChip 02-22-2010 06:02 PM

Mounting solar panel on top of dodger hardware?
We have a 135 watt solar panel we need to mount on top of our dodger.
A SS handle would be possibly ok but I see them only in 25” lengths and they start curving way to soon.
I did purchase a mount with a bolt on top made for the job but they would need a SS bar across the top of the dodger say 30” long (fore and aft) or some SS brackets to attach to the solar panel.
Without using the dodgers hand rails is there other options?
I have not found any kits out on the web.
The last option is to have a couple SS type handles made. They would be 2
1\2” high and 28” long. They would go straight up 2 1\2” and then a 90 deg turn to the end of the 30” then 90 deg back down. They would have studs welded in them for going through the dodger SS 1” frame.
It's the cost here I am concerned about.
Got any pictures of the install? This has been done a billion times but I cannot seem to figure it out easily:) .
Panels Length x Width x Depth (inches) 59.1 x 26.3 x 1.8
Thanks for any input.

braidmike 02-22-2010 06:15 PM

1 Attachment(s)
We used a stand-off bracket from Sailrite. It is a clamshell that goes around the existing dodger frame with a 2" post welded to it (they sell them for add-on handrail installation) and a socket for a 1" SS tube. Buy the tube in the length you need, and mount the panel to the tube using aluminum unistrut (see McMasterCarr) and 3/4" SS pipe unistrut clamps. The nice thing is that you can tilt the panel to the sun about 15 degrees. I have some pix:

There are places online that sell kits to do the same thing, but it's much more fun (and much less expensive) to reinvent the wheel!!


SanDiegoChip 02-22-2010 09:24 PM

I see the Split Side Mount 1" Stainless Steel bracket at Sailrite that I actually have. I do not see a "stand-off bracket ". I bought one of the "Split Side Mount " to see if I could make it work from a local marine store. Now you have given me the idea. I could not come up with a way of using it on my own.
It looks like what you have used and it seems to work fine. My engineering brain was not getting it. If I am wrong in the bracket let me know please.
Why couldn’t I think of that??
Thanks so much for sharing your ideas.

agrainofsand 02-22-2010 10:12 PM

I wouldn't use aluminum SS it will cause galvanic action and the aluminum well turn to powder in a few years in the salt air. use all SS.

braidmike 02-23-2010 01:16 PM

3 Attachment(s)
There probably will be some corrosion eventually. I thought about using SS Unistrut, but the solar panel frames are aluminum so it just moved the problem. Aluminum strut isn't too expensive to replace when needed, it will be the sacrificial element to this design. We use a lot of Al strut in the refineries where it is exposed not only to salt air, but who knows what else. I've been amazed at how long the stuff actually lasts.

Chip, glad to be of help. Those little black plastic boots to cover the ends of the strut are nice if yours are mounted anywhere skin could contact the edge. Here are a couple more closeups I took a few minutes ago. Two BP 85w panels putting out 96W (7.0A at 13.7V) through a Bluesky 2000E on a sunny SoCal Feb morning at 0900!

SanDiegoChip 02-23-2010 04:27 PM

This week I will try mounting the solar panel. I am going to try to mount the Solar panel directly to the SS 1 “tube with some SS U clamps and some rubber to keep the aluminum from contact with the SS.
Let you know how it goes.

Livia 02-23-2010 06:21 PM


Originally Posted by SanDiegoChip (Post 573223)
This week I will try mounting the solar panel. I am going to try to mount the Solar panel directly to the SS 1 “tube with some SS U clamps and some rubber to keep the aluminum from contact with the SS.
Let you know how it goes.

Hi Chip - If you are able to post pictures (I know that can be a PITA) that would be fantastic. I'll be working on a similar project soon and would love to see how the U-bolts work out.

SanDiegoChip 02-25-2010 10:51 AM

Ok I went to the local marine store and they said this is another good way to go.
Ok I went to the local marine store and they said this is another good way to go.
Because I do not plan on lifting them to the sun, just leaving them flat, it works best.
Mount the flat aluminum to the solar panel side to side, in my case bow to stern.
Mount the plastic clamps to the SS rail.
Mount the aluminum flat stock on the solar panel to the plastic clamps.
Of sourse there are four clam shell clamps and four ends just not all shown in picture.
Also I need to cut the tubing and aluminum to make two pieces.
No SS or aluminum touches each other.
Use the clam shell SS brackets and the SS ends for the SS 1” tubing to mount to SS tube and the top of dodger.
The order in doing the install may be different, let you know.
This weekend we will do the work.

agrainofsand 02-25-2010 10:05 PM

Very good isolation of metals. Good JOB.

SanDiegoChip 03-01-2010 01:33 PM

Short on the right fastners
The four SS brackets we got to go onto the dodger frame came with different fasteners. Two had Philips screws and two had bolts. We plan on changing all to bolts and adding SS lock washers, and not using the plastic washers that come with them.

The screws that came with the “Helm” clamps are SS and are two short to go through the aluminum. They need to be about 1\2 longer, maybe 1\4 inch. You could use the plastic washers that came off the SS clamps for under the SS screws when attaching to the aluminum. I am going to the fastener shop today after work to see if I can get longer aluminum screws if not then longer SS ones. So the bottom of the black plastic clamps are missing as you can see.

There is a dock mate who has installed his Solar panel (SP) and used the clamps this way. I will take a picture tonight. He also had to get longer screws. Hep put the SS bracket that came with the clamps on the bottom for strength as the aluminum will take care of the top for strength. You will see in the final install. Also get some egcorn nuts for covering the open threads.

Because we did not have the correct fasteners we could not finish. We were able to get the height set up and the distance to install the aluminum plate on the SP bottom. This would vary on each dodger frame. We did get all the holes drilled the mounting aluminum cut and drilled and the SS 1” cut and installed.

The use of two 1” pvc pipes bungied to the dodger frame to start out with was handy for holding the SP and sizing things up.

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