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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is the winter where I will finally be going solar on my boat. So I ordered a solar panel and am about to order a controller. In-between, I thought I quickly make a list of the fittings I need to put together a simple frame to mount the panel on (just four pieces of tubing arranged in a rectangle to go under the panel), and to attach that to the existing bimini frame. So I made a drawing and counted up all the rail clamps, top caps etc that I need.

I couldn't believe the grand total: Nearly three-hundred dollars!!! This is a lot more than what the 100W panel plus controller will set me back. And it does not include the tubing (which I already have) and the hardware needed to attach the panel to the rails (which I still have to figure out).

There are no expensive parts in there, just a lot of pieces (16 one-inch top-caps are already close to 120-, at $7.32 per, I need 5 opening rail mounts which cost twelve dollar something per, so over 60.-, and so on). All but one are prices from marinepartdepot.com and include shipping. I have bought from them before and found their parts decent and their prices OK (and NO, I have absolutely no other connection to them, other than as a customer). I looked at some other vendors and it was worse.

I don't have equipment for welding, and whatever skills I used to have in that department has been long lost.

So I guess I will have to bite the bullet and just buy it. Bummer!
 

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Search for marine part depot. Get on their email list for regular discounts of 15% or so off already low prices and free ground shipping. All 316 stainless. I've ordered many parts over several years with good results at FAR lower prices.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Search for marine part depot. Get on their email list for regular discounts of 15% or so off already low prices and free ground shipping. All 316 stainless. I've ordered many parts over several years with good results at FAR lower prices.
Ehm, that's exactly where I priced the parts. And yes, shipping is free, as I also said.

I am on their mailing list but I found that the additional discounts are typically very specific, like only anchors this month.
 

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I understand the frustration of paying for stainless steel stuff. When I bought my two Kyocera 135 panels, by the time I had bought a controller, wiring, and the stainless steel tube mounting hardware, installing and mounting them added up to just about the same as the panels cost me in the first place.

But, they have been one of the best things I added to my boat.
 

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Oooops, speedreading thru your post I missed that you already are at the best source available. Try West marine! 3 times more.
I have sent emails to marinepartdepot asking for a discount on a certain part and they sent me a discount code good for 10 to 15%. You might try sendi g an email with the list of all the stuff you want to order. I'd bet you can negotiate a 15% discount.
stainless is just not cheap, period. Especially polished 316.
B O A T.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Oooops, speedreading thru your post I missed that you already are at the best source available. Try West marine! 3 times more.
I have sent emails to marinepartdepot asking for a discount on a certain part and they sent me a discount code good for 10 to 15%. You might try sendi g an email with the list of all the stuff you want to order. I'd bet you can negotiate a 15% discount.
stainless is just not cheap, period. Especially polished 316.
B O A T.
Yes, good idea. I had thought along the same lines since last night. They offer free shipping without a minimum order, which is great. But that means that if I order my dozen-and-a-half parts in one order, they will save a bundle on S/H. I hope they will share some of that with me.

I will let you know how that goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I understand the frustration of paying for stainless steel stuff. When I bought my two Kyocera 135 panels, by the time I had bought a controller, wiring, and the stainless steel tube mounting hardware, installing and mounting them added up to just about the same as the panels cost me in the first place.

But, they have been one of the best things I added to my boat.
That is good to know.

But the panel PLUS the controller (a decent Morningstar dual controller with PWM technology) will cost me less than just the stupid fittings! And not even counting the tubing.

Maybe I should stop whining and be happy that the panels are now so affordable...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Before i buy fittings I go down to the local yard and ask to rummage their scrap pile, or put an ad on craigslist looking for an old camper top frame from a SeaRay or the like- all the parts and fittings and tubing you will ever need for next to nothing.
That is a great idea!

Except that at this point, I have resigned to cough up the money rather than spending the time and effort of finding someone selling the hardware, meeting them, cutting up the parts etc. And then I will likely still have to buy at least some additional stuff.

It is simply a question of how much value I attach to my own time. But I agree, this could be a very good and economical way to do this.
 

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This is the winter where I will finally be going solar on my boat. So I ordered a solar panel and am about to order a controller. In-between, I thought I quickly make a list of the fittings I need to put together a simple frame to mount the panel on (just four pieces of tubing arranged in a rectangle to go under the panel), and to attach that to the existing bimini frame. So I made a drawing and counted up all the rail clamps, top caps etc that I need.

I couldn't believe the grand total: Nearly three-hundred dollars!!! This is a lot more than what the 100W panel plus controller will set me back. And it does not include the tubing (which I already have) and the hardware needed to attach the panel to the rails (which I still have to figure out).

There are no expensive parts in there, just a lot of pieces (16 one-inch top-caps are already close to 120-, at $7.32 per, I need 5 opening rail mounts which cost twelve dollar something per, so over 60.-, and so on). All but one are prices from marinepartdepot.com and include shipping. I have bought from them before and found their parts decent and their prices OK (and NO, I have absolutely no other connection to them, other than as a customer). I looked at some other vendors and it was worse.

I don't have equipment for welding, and whatever skills I used to have in that department has been long lost.

So I guess I will have to bite the bullet and just buy it. Bummer!
The parts to make it fit often easily exceed the price of the panel, especially with smaller arrays.

I had one job on a 9' wide poorly constructed 1" thin-walled bimini that required over $450.00 just in parts to stiffen it enough just to accept the panels..... Some parts such as adjustable eye ends are ridiculous, but a necessary evil in some installations...

I learned the hard way that some of the Chinese stuff is not what it should be in terms of corrosion resistance.....



It adds up fast, and this was just during the set up process for the stiffening of the existing frame...
 
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