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Mounting Solar on your Boat

Solar power is a natural fit for many boat applications, from small to large.  A trailerable boat can use a small solar module like the Solarland 5, an aluminum frame, glass top small panel, $18. Or the Powerfilm 21 watt “rollable”, which can be tied or bungee cord attached to the mainsail

Flexible solar
Flexible solar

cover, and then stowed under a bunk or cushion, or rolled up into a cylinder for storage (see website: http://www.powerfilmsolar.com/products/?r21__21_watt_rollable_solar_panel&show=product&productID=271517&productCategoryIDs=6578,6580 ). Or the lightweight , thin Aurino Bluewater 12 watt solar module that can be glued down and walked on.  Any of these will keep the battery charged, and prevent sulfation, so the next time you use the boat, the battery will be ready. Installing enough solar power to run a typical cruising sailboat is a little more challenging, but we’ve been doing this since 1998, and have a few solutions.  High and aft is best, with the least shading in that area.  Boats with davits can mount solar modules on top.  An arch is ideal, but anywhere aft of and at about the same height as the boom gets the solar modules up into “clear air”.  If you have davits, they too can be used to mount the panels high and aft.  Our Triangle Mount gets the panel(s) up to the height of the bimini (so it does not cause shading), and allows the use of a stern boarding ladder.  Also, an adjustable support arm (pictured in the foreground) can be used and the panel angle adjusted.

Hotwire's Triangle mount
Hotwire’s Triangle mount

If you will have two poles, one for radar and another for a wing generator, you could use the “Goalpost” mount.  Note the two lateral supports that triangulate the aft portion of the panel.  These could be adjustable support arms, allowing adjustment of the angle.

Goalpost
Goalpost
solar on bimini, Gemini bimini solar mounting hardware, solar hardware, solar mounting
Through Canvas Hardware

If the boom does not extend all the way over the bimini, and the bimini frame is strong, Solar panels can be mounted there, either with through canvas hardware or by placing additional one inch stainless bows above the canvas.  We have plastic backed 100 watt panels, 5 pounds and 3/16 inch thick  that are good candidates for bimini tops   Rail mount.  Put a one inch stainless tube between stanchions Deck mount.  Walk on them.  Aurinco solar panels.  Made in a number of sizes and shapes, to fit whatever space you have. Hardware.

Solar over Bimini on Frame
Solar over Bimini on Frame

 

Rail Mount Kit
Rail Mount Kit

 

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