Sunday, 19 February 2012

Installing Solar Equipment.

I have recently purchased three twelve volt eighty watt solar panels as part of our boat upgrade. Now I have to first of all figure out how to mount them and the controller on the boat.

Wiring Diagram

Solar Regulator

So I was thinking of making some sort of hinged bracket arrangement - which would allow me to angle them towards the sun for improved performance. (The solar panels would need to be laid flat when we were on the move.) I have seen a number of different options that people have come up with but I want one where the panels are as close to the boat roof as possible when in the collapsed position.

Triangular Mount
I started off with a simple design of a triangular adjustable base, made out of  aluminium sheet. With an angle on the bottom. A slot cut in the side would allow the panels to pivot to the left or right. This would require a certain amount of messing around with spanners whenever we were moored up just to angle the solar panels towards the sun. But in this case it would work both ways. However the highpoint of the mountings would restrict headroom room as it can't easily be lowered.

UPVC Window Runners
Later, I realised that it would be a much easier job if I used a couple of UPVC window runners instead. It would be as easy as opening and closing a window. A quick look on eBay and I was able to purchase a pair of window runners for £3.50.

The drawback to this method is that the panels will only open in one direction. So care would need to be taken when mooring up to ensure the sun was on the "right" side of the boat. However, I also need a system that will be quickly detachable for any time when we are away from the boat. As a theft or anti-vandal security precaution.

Clamping Magnet
I could do this by using some suitable lengths of  3" X 2" X 1/4" inch aluminium angle stock to mount the UPVC window runners to the solar panels and then mount the panels to the boat roof.

Then I had another idea, why not use some Neodymium Clamping Magnets to hold the panels in place. With a pull of around 12kg (26lbs) for each magnet, it would allow for mounting the panels and for being able to make fine adjustments to the panels for the correct orientation at any location. This would also make it easy to store the panels off the roof if leaving the boat unattended for any period of time.

The magnet has a metric thread and the hook screws out of the magnet. I could then use a metric threaded bolt in its place. To fasten the magnet to the base plate and to allow adjustment to the frame height to take in the roof curvature.

This is still a work in process.

I'm open to ideas and suggestions.


1 comment:

  1. Mike
    Welcome to CIBC.
    I have added you to my blogroll on


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