solar panel mounting options on PS34 - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 50 Old 01-26-2019 Thread Starter
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solar panel mounting options on PS34

I've started to do some research on solar power for my boat. I have a bimini, so I think I could mount a couple of rigid solar panels on top, or sew on flexible panels, but I imagine they would be shaded somewhat by the boom (unless it was all the way to one side). An arch over the transom is certainly an option, but likely a very expensive one - and puts a lot of weight back there. Anyone out there have experience with stanchion-mounted solar panels?
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post #2 of 50 Old 01-26-2019
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Re: solar panel mounting options on PS34

My dock neighbor mounted some semi flexible panels on his bimini , he held them in place with some super strong rare earth magnets . He clear coated them first . I hope they don't rust that would be nasty .
We have a single 100W semi flexible panel , I have it clipped on the side of the life line . I made a frame out of Oak ,screwed on the panel and attached two clips . I then made a stanchion that attaches to the frame and then to the T track on the cap rail . The way I have it set up now we couldn't sail with it , but with a little modification we could . To be really efficient I could make the same set up on the other side .

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Re: solar panel mounting options on PS34

Rigid or semi flex panels can eliminate the need for bimini canvas
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post #4 of 50 Old 01-28-2019
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Re: solar panel mounting options on PS34

I'm actually very curious about this as well.

My plan was to mount two 50 watt flexible panels on the bimini, two on the dodger, and one or two panels on the deck just forward of the dodger. That's 300 watts or about 25 amps. I've read that when you are passagemaking you can expect about 50% efficiency due to the motion of the boat... so that's 12 amps. I'm also going to install a hyrdogenerator... at 5-6 knots that's 5 amps.

So reasonably I can expect 17 amps during the day and 5 amps at night.

Do you have an energy budget for your boat?

Right now I see about 8 amps between the electronics & auto-helm but I want to add refrigeration.... another 5 amps. So 13amps x 24 hours = 312 amp/hours.

My power generation is 12 amps * 10 hours + 5 amps * 24 hours = 240 amp/hours.

Not enough!

Bob Dugan
1988 PSC34 Emerald
Jubilee Yacht Club Beverly, MA // Bustins Island, ME
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Re: solar panel mounting options on PS34

My limited experience is that you wont get 12 amps from 300watts worth of panels.
I can get about 11 amps total , read at the panels, from 2x 200w flex panels......on a good day. Thats fixed panels, not angled
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Re: solar panel mounting options on PS34

See people going offshore with full enclosures and dinghies on davits. Guess itís OK but it sure makes me nervous. Concern is if if comes down in weather it could be a horror show.
We elected to have a hard Bimini made. Itís thick glass with a divynicell core. You can walk on it. Itís mounted on 4Ē SS tubes and Iím still nervous about it. The solar is rigid and mounted on top. Each has its own regulator and caged heat sink.
I had a PSC34 before this one. Used it coastal. Used flexible panels that sat on favorable side of the house. They were removed and went below if weather threatened. Have also seen them on hinges attached to stantions but removable. Assume they are removed in significant weather. A boarding sea has tremendous force. It can rip the stantions right out of deck. Even weather clothes are made to fail before they will bend or destroy the stantions.
I was always comfortable in my PSC. I think them a good strong boat for near and offshore work. They were designed before solar became commonplace on boats. If I kept my psc I wouldíve put flex panels on my sunshade at anchor and used a hydrogenerator on passage. Itís a beautiful boat without davits and you may want a vane in the future which is very difficult to do with davits.
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post #7 of 50 Old 01-28-2019
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Re: solar panel mounting options on PS34

Thanks for your observations outbound and RegisteredUser.

My thought about the flexible panels, dodger, bimini is that all of that stuff should be removable if there's a serious weather situation.

I would like use my PSC34 for some long ocean passages, and I don't think I can carry enough fuel to meet my energy needs. I saw this happen over the summer on longer passages to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Sable Island when I had day after day of amazing offshore sailing with no real need to run the engine except to recharge the batteries. I really didn't like turning on the engine!

My hope is that between a flexible solar system (50 watt panels that are wired individually to the controller to manage shading), and a hydrogenerator... I'd have enough power generated so I would not have to run the engine.

I'm wondering if I have too much power consumption on my boat... 13 amps is a lot! I have a windvane so I don't need to use the auto-helm on long passages. Maybe I don't need to use the chartplotter during the day if I'm using AIS and a remote GPS display and a compass course? Maybe I don't need refrigeration either... that would probably get my power consumption down to about 5 amps. But at night I would definitely use the chartplotter with radar... so back up around 8 amps at night.

Love to hear more thoughts about this.

Bob

Bob Dugan
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Jubilee Yacht Club Beverly, MA // Bustins Island, ME

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Re: solar panel mounting options on PS34

You may be able to run your radar in standy sleep mode, waking up every X often.
A 12v charged tablet can take the place of plotter when you arent concerned with depth.
Freezer can easily be used to chill drinks etc. Freeze a leftover and defrost rather that fridge it.
It takes me 1.5-2 hrs of engine run time to bring batts back up to comfortable
level when i get zero solar charging for a day. I can go 2 days w/o if needed. Figure 1 gal of diesel...
My adler cold machine fridge gave up months ago and i havent lost any sleep. Will prob repair it but leave it off. Anything you can charge via 12v usb or cig outlet rather than using inverter...is a big saver.
Plan some shake down time ro learn what your needs will be.
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post #9 of 50 Old 01-30-2019
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Re: solar panel mounting options on PS34

We have a single 85W rigid panel that stays mounted flat forward of the dodger over the companionway garage where it is out of the way and protected while underway. Swan [ http://web.pdx.edu/~stipakb/VoyageOfTheSwan.pdf ] originally had a panel similarly mounted. In that spot it is shaded by the boom unless the boom is moved out of the way, but it keeps my batteries topped up while the boat is idle in the marina without shore power being connected and without some excess zinc loss I had in the past. The panel is held in place with wing nuts, and I can easily move it to a mount I made that spans either of the side gates in the lifelines. We sometimes move it there when we are at anchor for several days or are sailing in calm conditions.

I installed it primarily to have an emergency alternative to our engine alternator. Our refrigeration system is engine driven (with an alternative 125V condensing unit that we use when power is available), and requires about an hour of engine run time each day. That alone keeps the batteries up.

Bill Murdoch
1988 PSC 34
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Re: solar panel mounting options on PS34

Our boat lives on a mooring and I keep the batteries topped up with a 60 W panel on top of the radar pole, where it doesn't really get shaded by anything. Probably not enough to satisfy your cruising needs, though.


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