Solar Panels

Brian writes:

Our first attempt at solar we bought two Kyocera 140w panels and planed to mount them over the dodger. One we got them we eventually realized there was no way we would be able to mount them without it looking terrible. We sold them to a friend with a bigger boat and started over.

 

About this time I read a Bianka post that convinced me to try the semi-flexible panels. They are 3 lbs each instead of 30 Lbs, and are not glass (our original panels shattered in shipping). I also decided, largely based on reports from Luckness, to mount them on the rail. The lighter, less fragile panels seemed better suited to this location.

 

The top-of-the-line panels seem to be the Solbians, but their low end panels are almost $7 per watt. So I went with the Renogy panels at $2 per watt. The panels arrived pre-damaged, which is not a good sign. You can see in the first picture there is a plastic box on the panel to encase the wires. The white sealant you see is how it came from the factory. Two pieces of the box had fallen off in shipping and the wires were pulling out of the panel. I rebuilt the boxes with marine goop and added support two the wires.

Junction box as it came from the factory


I reinforced wires with cable supports and rebuilt junction box

 

Next I added aluminum angle iron as a frame to the panels, then attached this frame to Magna rail mounts. I ran the wires to the controller and everything is working fine. In full sun I average about 10 amps out of the two panels using a MPPT controller. Currently I have them wired in parallel, but will try them in series soon.

Frame built from aluminum angle from Home Depot


Frame attached to Magna rail mounts

 

Given the cost of the Solbians and the weight and fragility of the hard panels, I would buy the Renogy panels again. They certainly have some serious manufacturing quality issues I hope they work out, but they beat the alternatives at this time in my opinion.

Gathering Rays

 

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3 thoughts on “Solar Panels

  1. they look good. Solar is somewhere on the long list of projects. Another couple from Sundowner Sails Again, http://sundownersailsagain.com/, went with same or similar panels as those lightweights you got. Now seriously considering them too. Hope they work out for you for a long time. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes, it works beautifully. Brian designed the solar install and did a great job :-). We can adjust for the panels to angle full horizontal to full vertical (and all in between). At first we had the wrong rail size on the starboard side, we had accidently bought the next size up. But once that was replaced with the proper rail mount size it worked great.
      The pump out boat was along side us yesterday and his rails were interfering with our panel. It was a matter of simply loosening the flange nut (thingy) and poof! Out of the way and our solar panels are safe, all of three seconds.
      Hope this helps you.
      Cheers

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