Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

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DaveB
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Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by DaveB » Sat Jun 26, 2010 12:38 pm

I am interested in installing solar panels on top of bimini to get at least 90% of sun in all direction and came across this mount.
For me as a Trailer Sailer I need quick release pins holding the frame and panels as one unit. The cross arms supporting the Solar frame also needs quick release on one side. This Unit would only be used on a 5 day or longer trip to meet all my elect. needs includeing a 66 quart Edgestar Refig/freezer. I already can last more than 4 days without chargeing batteries at 40 % discharge or less on twin group 27 deep Cycle House Batteries in SW FL.
I think something like this is practable and out of the way with good sunlight, Comments?
This picture is a 32 ft. Sailboat.
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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by elvatoli » Sat Jun 26, 2010 1:01 pm

I'm planning on do the same, but I think that a tubular arch behind or aft the bimini will be a better place.
I saw someone in the forum that made this in Australia.
If you have an arch it will give you additional places to install more things, like an antenna or lights, and will give you the freedom to retract the bimini if you dont want to use it. I know that it is going to be more expensive but a lot better.
The whole tubular arch array I think will cost around $500 dlls., and the panels, you can get 2 110 Watts (A lot), for $400 dlls each at Amazon.

Hector
RGV, TX

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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by Sumner » Sat Jun 26, 2010 2:29 pm

I think you would have to reinforce the bimini (looks like they did). If you open the bimini and leave it in the same position I could see it working on a smaller boat than what was shown. I would worry some if the legs on the bimini were aluminum vs. SS. There again some reinforcement might be in order. Even two 40 watt panels and associated brackets is going to put 30-40 lbs up there.

Considering what you want to do I think 80 watts total is minimum considering every day isn't going to be an ideal solar day. You might be on a downhill road with 80 watts, but still for a 7 to 14 day trip you might still have batteries at the end. Panels like I got are 10 lbs for the 40's and 15 for the 60's and for the cost difference I try and move up to at least 2 60's. They.....

http://www.solarblvd.com/Solar-Panels-& ... index.html

...have the 40's at $135 and the 60's at $199 and 100's at $259 each and also have others. We have a 40, 60 and 80. Still have to mount the 60 and 80 and I'm probably moving the 40 to over the cabin.

For us the Bimini wouldn't be good as we fold it up at times and also have it on a track and slide it back and forth and also tilt it depending on conditions.

I looked at the arch before and kind of gave up on it since we have an "S" and coming on the boat from the rear up the ladder and onto the Laz would mean it would really have to be high to be practical. On an X and M I don't think you would need it near as high.

Since it was mentioned above I just went back out and looked and if the arch was behind the stern then we could come up the ladder and clear the front edge of it stepping on to the laz. I'm going to look real hard at that. If I do it the arch and the panels would all be pinned for quick removal so that I can back the boat into my shop.

Good luck and post pictures on what you end up with,

Sum

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bartmac
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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by bartmac » Sat Jun 26, 2010 3:48 pm

I bought a frame off a motor vessel,stainless,raked backwards,I think it was used for a radar installation.Anyway cut the middle out of it,to narrow it and new mounting feet to suit the Mac 26X,installed on the cockpit combing so the top of it coincides roughly with the rear of the boat.It will take the 6 smaller solar panels following the curved arch of the frame AND it also forms the basis for my mast carrier which allows me to do away with the post coming from the steering console.....opening up the cockpit further and increasing the mast storage height....perfect for a tarp to cover the cockpit when we have multiple bridges to deal with or the entire boat when in storage...but still able to work/live on it under the tarp.We have mounted the reworked bimini to fit inside this frame,so we have shade from the solar panels at the rear,under and forward is the bimini which can be left up while sailing adjustable thru an arc to exclude late afternoon sun and a dodger.I'm now looking at a arched frame to take a traveller roughly over the steering station as high as practical to allow my main sheet mounting to be moved which will allow me to have shade from the dodger to there and meet the bimini.....the sun in Australia is the biggest problem on the water....it'll fry you.......will follow with pictures,all the one's i've got are too large

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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by DaveB » Sun Jun 27, 2010 1:50 pm

Sum,
Thanks for your opion! I live in SW. Fl. were we get the Sun. I was thinking two 30 watt panels @ 18 lbs for both with fastners. The main support as you sugested should be Stainless Tubeing with the rest Aluminum for weight.
The two arms that go across Bimini would be 7/8 inch aluminum and they connect to one point on a stainless steel cross arm on Bimini posts. This in a V type that spreads the aluminum Solar Panels two brackets at one pivit point on the Stanless steel cross beam. All the weight and sheer force would be on the cross arms and main Bimini support and those would be Stainless Steel. I never lower the Bimini (not even in Jan.) and wish for more protection from Sun.
From experance on running the EdgeStar 66 quart Ref/freezer at a setting of 38 degrees and all my other elect. needs I could sit at anchor for 2 weeks or more without ever running outboard with twin 30 watt panels.
The Edgestar uses much less energy than the 15.6 laptop we have.
Up your area the temps. drop in evening, also you don't get the sun as we do.
Adjustment for you, like you sugested are probably the power needs for you or anyone else in the higher Latitude States.
Lets kick these ideas and inprovements so we have a good handle what we want to do and for others to give input.
Dave
Sumner wrote:I think you would have to reinforce the bimini (looks like they did). If you open the bimini and leave it in the same position I could see it working on a smaller boat than what was shown. I would worry some if the legs on the bimini were aluminum vs. SS. There again some reinforcement might be in order. Even two 40 watt panels and associated brackets is going to put 30-40 lbs up there.

Considering what you want to do I think 80 watts total is minimum considering every day isn't going to be an ideal solar day. You might be on a downhill road with 80 watts, but still for a 7 to 14 day trip you might still have batteries at the end. Panels like I got are 10 lbs for the 40's and 15 for the 60's and for the cost difference I try and move up to at least 2 60's. They.....

http://www.solarblvd.com/Solar-Panels-& ... index.html

...have the 40's at $135 and the 60's at $199 and 100's at $259 each and also have others. We have a 40, 60 and 80. Still have to mount the 60 and 80 and I'm probably moving the 40 to over the cabin.

For us the Bimini wouldn't be good as we fold it up at times and also have it on a track and slide it back and forth and also tilt it depending on conditions.

I looked at the arch before and kind of gave up on it since we have an "S" and coming on the boat from the rear up the ladder and onto the Laz would mean it would really have to be high to be practical. On an X and M I don't think you would need it near as high.

Since it was mentioned above I just went back out and looked and if the arch was behind the stern then we could come up the ladder and clear the front edge of it stepping on to the laz. I'm going to look real hard at that. If I do it the arch and the panels would all be pinned for quick removal so that I can back the boat into my shop.

Good luck and post pictures on what you end up with,

Sum

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DaveB
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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by DaveB » Sun Jun 27, 2010 2:07 pm

Hector,
Thanks for your Info. The main reason for the Post was to add Solar panels without adding more outside structures and not seeing the Panels while still getting 90% of the Sun at any degree.
If I was to install Ding Davits than that would be the place to put the Solar Panels.
Most of us like to have a system under $500 for the whole unit installed. Davits for dingy are $1500 plus, support legs and arms for supporting other devices just add on.
I think anything over $500 sting us Mac. owners in the pocket book and would like to learn more of your system.
Personally I need 2-30 watt panels.
Dave
elvatoli wrote:I'm planning on do the same, but I think that a tubular arch behind or aft the bimini will be a better place.
I saw someone in the forum that made this in Australia.
If you have an arch it will give you additional places to install more things, like an antenna or lights, and will give you the freedom to retract the bimini if you dont want to use it. I know that it is going to be more expensive but a lot better.
The whole tubular arch array I think will cost around $500 dlls., and the panels, you can get 2 110 Watts (A lot), for $400 dlls each at Amazon.

Hector
RGV, TX

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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by The Mutt » Sun Jun 27, 2010 3:26 pm

I've been playing around with designs to add two 100W + panels to Imagine for some reason I keep going back to a hardtop bimini over the rear of the cockpit with davits for the 'air bag' also known as the dinghy.

We are currently installing our Engel MF35 (picked up last Thursday) into the dinette ice bin and making the bits needed for our bowsprit.

Glenn

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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by bartmac » Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:13 pm

Wind loading of any structure when on the road is a real concern......100 km per hour and being bounced on our wonderfull roads is something to think about

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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by DaveB » Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:27 pm

The Bimini and Solar Panels are Put up at Launch, who said anything about Trailer Sailing with Bimini Up?
Dave
bartmac wrote:Wind loading of any structure when on the road is a real concern......100 km per hour and being bounced on our wonderfull roads is something to think about

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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by Sumner » Sun Jun 27, 2010 8:35 pm

DaveB wrote:Sum,
Thanks for your opinion! I live in SW. Fl. were we get the Sun. I was thinking two 30 watt panels @ 18 lbs for both with fastners. ...... also you don't get the sun as we do....
Dave, please, please reconsider the 2 30 watt panels. 2 40's would only be $50 more total and about 4 more pounds total and I think the 30's would really be cutting it close.

On the sun right now we have about 1 hour more than you do a day and actually from mid-March to mid-Sept we get more every day than you do and our Canadian friends get even more. Of course the sun isn't as high overhead, so it is probably about a wash.

I measured yesterday and today and I'm about convinced to mount two of ours (the 60 and 80 watt) side to side aft of the swim ladder and just...

Image

...below the roller for the mast when it is down. I had Ruth come aboard today holding a cushion where they would be and she can come up the ladder normally. Also they would be high enough that we could use the....

Image

..engine hoist any time on or off the water. I'm glad you posted about this as it got me thinking again of other options vs. what I was going to do, thanks 8) .

I had ordered a PWM charge controller for the new panels, but sent that back and had them send us a MPPT controller. I figured it was like adding more solar. I'm also going with a large gauge wire from the panels to the controller and on to the batteries so as to not loose any of the power we do capture.

Good luck with the panels and you will love them and no matter what size you get you will wish you had more sooner or later :) .

Sum

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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by bartmac » Sun Jun 27, 2010 10:24 pm

The Bimini and Solar Panels are Put up at Launch, who said anything about Trailer Sailing with Bimini Up?
I was actually refering to a permanent frame which carries the solar panels,a mast cradle,and the bimini is also attached which is travelled in a folded position

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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by DaveB » Mon Jun 28, 2010 4:59 pm

Sum,
If I can fit 2-40 watt panels on top of bimini without any additional supports of what I layed out I will do so.
We get sun up at 7am and sets 8:30 pm this time of year and I figuare only 6 of those hrs for max. 45 watts input on the twin 30 watt panels any extra power is just extra, in winter there is less sunlight but also less demand on frig. This alone will power my frig. and few accesories. I also will be running engine that is rated 10 amps but I figuare 6 amps @2500 rpms to also help charge while underway.
I know that in 4 days I was completly charged after to destination 3 hrs and back 3 hrs due to no wind and batteries were 12.8 volts for house and charged with the Honda 50 only (rated 10amps max.).
If I was to anchor for long periods the twin 40 watt panels would do it easy but than again I might add some juice eating electronic in the future.
Better to be safe than sorry and the expression (More Power to Ya)! :) :)
Dave

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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by DaveB » Mon Jun 28, 2010 5:04 pm

Thats another possiable solution, I would think the cost would be very high and weight aloft would be to much. Do you have a plan that you are thinking about?
Dave
bartmac wrote:
The Bimini and Solar Panels are Put up at Launch, who said anything about Trailer Sailing with Bimini Up?
I was actually refering to a permanent frame which carries the solar panels,a mast cradle,and the bimini is also attached which is travelled in a folded position

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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by bartmac » Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:24 pm

The frame is a done deal....already fitted as per my entry earlier in this thread.I'll post some photos soon and although the solar panels are not yet fitted the weight issue is not of great concern.The actual frame is light enough for one person to pick it up easily but is contructed with bracing to easily stand the duty I will put it to,the mounting feet are nearly 2 foot long and as wide as the cockpit combing,I think it used to mount a radar installation.....mind you to have something custom made would be very expensive,the fact I picked it up on Ebay made it affordable

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Re: Solar Panel installed on top of Bimini

Post by DaveB » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:31 pm

Thats great, two or more minds are better than One!
Why this Mac. Forum is so great!
Please Post pictures when you can.
Dave
bartmac wrote:The frame is a done deal....already fitted as per my entry earlier in this thread.I'll post some photos soon and although the solar panels are not yet fitted the weight issue is not of great concern.The actual frame is light enough for one person to pick it up easily but is contructed with bracing to easily stand the duty I will put it to,the mounting feet are nearly 2 foot long and as wide as the cockpit combing,I think it used to mount a radar installation.....mind you to have something custom made would be very expensive,the fact I picked it up on Ebay made it affordable

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