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Re 24 volt solar panels. In my area a 24 volt panel is about half the price per watt of a 12 volt panel -so you would be better off with a 24 volt panel for two reasons - cost per watt and you won't be needing to change voltage through a voltage converter which uses a fair bit of power. (Really noticeable on a low power system - which yours is considered.)

Re panels in the shade of the boom (or anything else) - US solar make a panel that uses older technology and results in a large panel for the output compared to the newer ones BUT IT WORKS BETTER THAN THE NEWER ONES when partially shaded and on cloudy, low light days. (I use these at home and on the boat - 64 watt on the boat, much more at home.)
 
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