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TOPIC: 4788 Solar Panel Placement?

4788 Solar Panel Placement? 27 Feb 2017 21:10 #1

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Hello All - We are close to closing on a 4788 and are planning a solar install. Has anyone mounted solar on the arch? Or off of the back of the upper deck? What have you done and how have you done it? The panels I am looking at are 340w each at 24V....78" Wide by 37" high....they weigh 53lbs each.

Thanks In Advance
Kevin

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 28 Feb 2017 00:30 #2

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Quite a few captains have placed the solar panels on the Pilothouse Roof. I measured for 3 - 200 watt panels which would fit nicely.
What type panels are you considering? Raised rigid or flexible? My dock neighbor has the flexible panels glued down on his 47 and you cannot see them from the dock.'

cheers, Gary

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 28 Feb 2017 14:22 #3

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A dock neighbor had three panels mounted on top of the soft dodger on his 47' Catalina sailboat. It was a very very nice looking install. The dodger was white canvas. There were spacers underneath for airflow.( the panels can get hot and performance will degrade). He left for Mexico last summer and was planning to spend a bunch of time on the hook.

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 28 Feb 2017 15:24 #4

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Hello Gary - I am looking at some QCell 335w panels. 78" x 37". The top of the Pilothouse was another option I was thinking of. Were the hard panels visible from the docks? I know the soft panels would be more flexible but their output is really poor compared to the hard panels. Our previous boat, a catamaran, had a huge hard-top that made this easy. Thanks for the reply!

Kevin

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 28 Feb 2017 15:45 #5

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One consideration of the semi rigid panels that might be a consideration is heat dissipation.
The fiberglass underneath may add unwanted insulating qualities.
I did encounter a heat related issue last year with semi-rigid panels mounted directly on fiberglass.
Although the raised rigid panels are not as visually appealing, heat dissipation is not an issue.

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 02 Mar 2017 16:04 #6

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kspellman02 wrote: Hello Gary - I am looking at some QCell 335w panels. 78" x 37". The top of the Pilothouse was another option I was thinking of. Were the hard panels visible from the docks? I know the soft panels would be more flexible but their output is really poor compared to the hard panels. Our previous boat, a catamaran, had a huge hard-top that made this easy. Thanks for the reply!

Kevin


I guess the rigid panels would be more visible but really, it would be a reasonable compromise to not running a gen set!. There are certainly difference in solar panel quality out there. Some of the cheap flex panels can fail to produce if only a small portion of the panel becomes compromised whereas the better units bypass the failed cells and still work. Being able to clean the panels is also very important, they degrade rapidly with only a small amount of dust, or contaminants.
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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 03 Mar 2017 03:03 #7

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We removed our bimini and did a hard top on flybridge we have 2 solid panels...the hard top works great as they blend in and are not visable from the door or even close to the boat and are not shaded by anything.
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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 07 Jun 2017 18:55 #8

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We are contemplating thin / flexible solar panels mounted onto our 4788 bimini.

We don't have a dinghy up top, so the bimini covers the entire upper deck in front of and behind the radar arch.

I'm thinking 800W - 1200W should be possible, at least.

Has anyone here done anything similar?

Cheers,

- Chris

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 10 Jun 2017 12:33 #9

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We looked at soft panels but found that the output we wanted would require 6+ panels....a wiring mess that also requires an MPPT controller capable of dealing with a high number of panels. We went with a couple of hard panels mounted directly behind the arch....in fact, we are putting the wiring in today. I have seen some hard panels placed on top of biminis that looked pretty good.

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 10 Jun 2017 15:02 #10

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The semi-flexible panels (like Solbian) have the same power output as rigid panels, and substantially more than the more flexible thin-film panels. I am guessing that was the style that you had looked at.
I would love to see some pictures of your new panel setup. Have you posted any?
Cheers,
- Chris

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 26 Jun 2017 13:57 #11

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The Solbian and other soft panels were about 3X the cost of rigid panels so we opted out on those. A pair of 295w 36v Solarworld panels are what we used along with a Midnite Solar Classic MPPT controller. 660ah battery bank is usually fully charged by around 1pm and the float keeps them topped off so that by morning we are still at 12.4/12.5v on the bank. Pictures show how we mounted the panels, most of the weight is on the 1" thick wall tubing. Not as pretty as I would like but very functional. Love the extra shade on the upper salon!

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 26 Jun 2017 17:56 #12

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That looks great, actually.

Thanks for sharing the photos!

- Chris

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 27 Jun 2017 05:03 #13

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I was thinking of flexible panels too, but making them removable. I haven't researched this completely, so I may have to think thru more of the details...
With 4 panels, and linked together somehow at their respective mounting holes (like flex cords) they would span across the roof of the pilothouse and could be held in place with bungee cords to the edge of the roof
I was thinking there could be a "plug in" somewhere in the area of the flybridge station to where all four panels could plug in.
From there, the system feeds the batteries.
When ready to go somewhere, you unplug the panels, remove them from the roof, lay them flat on top of each other and stow them somewhere.

Am I thinking crazy thoughts, or does this seem possible?

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Pat
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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 27 Jun 2017 18:29 #14

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Pat - 4 panels will probably force you into a larger MPPT Controller so think about how that wiring and management might work. The controller I used is a Midnite Solar Classic 150 which will handle 4 panels of the same size (295W in this case). What drove me away from flex panels is the cost and output for the same space. I would have had 4 100W panels (flex) to connect with wiring running down to the controller. Thats a bit of extra wiring to run down the channels to the controller and batteries. Solbian panels have come down in price but still a fair bit more expensive than the rigid panels. Also, make sure your battery bank is sized correctly for what you are wanting to do.

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 27 Jun 2017 18:29 #15

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Thanks Chris - We are pretty happy with the outcome. ;-)

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 18 Jul 2017 21:23 #16

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We just published a post about our planned 4788 upgrades - including a section on our thoughts on solar.

We are looking forward to putting as much of our bimini area as is practical to use generating power:



Does anyone have any good experiences with canvas / bimini shops in Florida that they can recommend?

Cheers,

- Chris

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 18 Jul 2017 22:08 #17

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kspellman02 wrote: The Solbian and other soft panels were about 3X the cost of rigid panels so we opted out on those. A pair of 295w 36v Solarworld panels are what we used along with a Midnite Solar Classic MPPT controller. 660ah battery bank is usually fully charged by around 1pm and the float keeps them topped off so that by morning we are still at 12.4/12.5v on the bank. Pictures show how we mounted the panels, most of the weight is on the 1" thick wall tubing. Not as pretty as I would like but very functional. Love the extra shade on the upper salon!


Curious if you looked into adding a "dump load" given that your system sits idle? I believe the Midnite Solar controllers can direct load once the batteries are fully charged. Might be interesting to add a DC Water Heating element to your water heater as the dump load. Cuts down on any power required to make hot water that way.
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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 19 Jul 2017 00:40 #18

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Hard Panels vs flexible just a sharing from my own experience, remember all solar panels are designed to be on roofs, exposed to Sun, Wind, Rain, Snow, hail, etc. Put them on boat in my view was a no brainier and when it comes time to replace or upgrade everything is readily available as the hard panel are all standardized on the connections and mounting systems. And the $$ you save means larger panels or more panels. You cannot have to much solar as there is really a sweet spot of only 4-6 hours in day were you get the max out of the panels the rest of the time you see lower results. (we have solar on boat, house and business have learned a lot on the value of more panels).

As far of charge controls check out bluesky our has work flawless for 5 years now. And they make model that allows for managing a wind generator as well if you want to add that in future.
www.blueskyenergyinc.com/products/detail...lar_boost_3024il_duo
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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 03 Aug 2017 13:16 #19

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Hi Terry, just seeing this. We are thinking of using the "dump-load" feature for a 12v water heating element. Will post here if we decide to move ahead with it.

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 03 Aug 2017 15:25 #20

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I have used battery charging solar panels for years. Last time I gave advice on them on this site I got into a bang up with a someone who thought he knew what he was talking about but clearly had no practical experience or true knowledge of PV devices.

Flexible verses rigid, we found that the flexibles did not seem to have the same output and seldom met their specifications but that could have been the manufactures we used. Just a warning to get information from someone who actually used them.

Panel voltage is important so for charging 12V systems, the idea panel voltage output is around 15 to 21 volts. Ohms law does not directly apply to photo voltaic devices like solar panels hence the need for MPPT controllers but even these only help, so get the panels with the highest current output rather than a high voltage output....and that is all I am saying about that. The ratings of solar panels are in direct sun at 90 degrees so practically you never achieve maximum power output.
On my 3288 I have two rigid 100 watt. 21 volt panels and in Ontario Canada in June the maximum current I produce is just over 12 amps. In July that drops to around 10 - 11 amps under the best conditions. On average the output is around 8-9 amps.

I hope this is helpful

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 05 Aug 2017 00:25 #21

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I have a 3870 and mounted a 260w panel above my arch on a custom bracket. With a PWM controller I was getting around 100 watts on a good day in July, not 260W. Finally got around to looking into missing watts and found out that the controller was not an MPPT type so I was losing about 120-140w. Just did'nt know the rules then.
I have ordered the right controller. (MPPT)
You could run 3 100's in parallel with a PWM controller and get about 18a at 13 v.

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 09 Aug 2017 13:11 #22

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What voltage are your panels? Please post the improvement you get when you change to a MPPT controller. I would be interested in the actually gain compared to what I have experienced.

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Larry

4788 Solar Panel Placement? 10 Aug 2017 16:05 #23

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lolar3288 wrote: What voltage are your panels? Please post the improvement you get when you change to a MPPT controller. I would be interested in the actually gain compared to what I have experienced.


ELECTRICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Max Power (Pmax) 260 W
Tolerance of (Pmax) [ 0 ~ 3% ]
Type of Cell Poly-Crystalline
Cell Configuration 60 in series
Open Circuit Voltage (Voc) 37.6 V
Maximum Power Voltage (Vpm) 30.3 V
Short Circuit Current (Isc) 8.94 A
Maximum Power Current (Ipm) 8.58 A

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 10 Aug 2017 16:52 #24

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Damorsoft wrote: I have a 3870 and mounted a 260w panel above my arch on a custom bracket. With a PWM controller I was getting around 100 watts on a good day in July, not 260W. Finally got around to looking into missing watts and found out that the controller was not an MPPT type so I was losing about 120-140w. Just did'nt know the rules then.
I have ordered the right controller. (MPPT)
You could run 3 100's in parallel with a PWM controller and get about 18a at 13 v.


Can you post a photo of the custom bracket?

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4788 Solar Panel Placement? 12 Aug 2017 16:55 #25

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Norton Rider wrote:

Damorsoft wrote: I have a 3870 and mounted a 260w panel above my arch on a custom bracket. With a PWM controller I was getting around 100 watts on a good day in July, not 260W. Finally got around to looking into missing watts and found out that the controller was not an MPPT type so I was losing about 120-140w. Just did'nt know the rules then.
I have ordered the right controller. (MPPT)
You could run 3 100's in parallel with a PWM controller and get about 18a at 13 v.


I could get a better picture in the next few days if this is not OK.


Can you post a photo of the custom bracket?

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