Considering a sailing adventure to Mexico? Just look at how engrossed that guy is in the book! Grab a copy of the Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico, and you too can find yourself sitting on a Mexican dock with an oversized (but very attractive) hat.

Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

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Saturday
Oct092010

finally mounted the solar panels

Some painted cedarWe started off with two Kyocera 135 solar panels that we picked up from AltEnergystore.com. I did a lot of research, and the folks at AltEnergystore.com were easily the least expensive and most knowledgeable. They even have some folks over there that know a lot about boats and a phone call to them for a few minutes can really help shed light (no pun intended) on solar energy.

Mounting solar panels on a sailboat is always tricky but I went with what I think is a pretty straight forward set up. Out on our boomkin (the thing that sticks over the transom) we have some big teak rails, and stainless steel railing around that. 

A quick trip to Home Depot for some cedar, I cut two boards that are as as long as the panels themselves are wide. Two coats of Interlux Pre-Kote primer and two coats of Interlux Brightside: not exactly the perfect paint job but we're not doing the Sistine Chapel here. Just keeping two pieces of wood from rotting or getting termites.

AFI Fast Mount Rail Clamp

I picked up two AFI Fast Mount Rail Clamps (per panel). Gemini makes a model as well that you might want to consider. The AFI models are made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) which from what I see has a very high UV resistance.

I went about installing the rail clamps to the boards, and then the boards to the solar panel frames themselves. I used a decent amount of BoatLife Life Caulk to keep the water out of the wood, and some nylon washers to keep the stainless steel away from the aluminum (to prevent galvanic corrosion). 

Clamps mounted, ready to mount to panels#10 panhead machine screws formed the bulk of the hardware used in the fasteners. 

I still need to mount some feet to the bottom of the panels in order "wing" them up and bring the surface area more horizontal, but for now I just wanted to get them off the deck and in their new home arrangement. Also, I still need to wire them up and move the BBQ grill to its new home. Every project creates three more, etc, etc.

MountedIn this arrangement the panels should be able to rotate up about thirty or forty degrees (or even over ninety), or fold flat. The only thing I'm not terribly excited about is the sheer size of them: a KC135 solar panel is five feet tall, and putting big ass panels up on a boat breaks up the beauty of the boat a bit.

As I said above one of the next adventures is going to be wiring them. I picked up a BZ M25 solar charge controller, and I can't wait to see both panels pumping out their rated 7.6 amps (for a total of ~15 amps) during the day time. 

I had a solar panel on my last boat and they're common enough in the maritime world but there's still a neat joy that comes with watching you get free electricity from the sun to run your appliances. 

Reader Comments (4)

Nice job!!!!!!

That'll do all your electrics. Well, it will when you get to the tropics! :)


Mark

October 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Way to Go! It is nice to go green and save some money in the long run too. I am starting to think that you are more of a geek than I am.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJake English

He's the hottest geek I know!

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

Hi Eric,
I love the install-- how the panels will wing out on your transom, so far away from rigging shadows and etc. And generally be out of the way of the cockpit.

We have two of these exact solar panels and have found they put out a butt load of electricity.

One detail-- I used the same little white connectors to mount my solar smaller (65 watt) panels. After a few years the plastic turned kind of chalky and weaker, so that they wouldn't grip the rail well no matter how much we tightened them down. So the panels kept flipping down, especially in wind, and I worried about breaking the glass. Your panels are a lot bigger, so maybe this will happen sooner, if they are made out of the same plastic they were 12 years ago. Anyways, we had to add a little strut thingy, a leg, that went from the cap rail to the edge of the panel and helped hold it up. Not a big deal at all, but thought-- if you ever have an extra broom stick or something laying around that you will be throwing away, maybe just keep it :).

Matt

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

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