• Mobile App For Android Now Online!

    Download it here. The app is searchable in the Google Play Store under Sailboat Owners.

    Sorry iPhone/iPad users, we are still waiting on Apple. :(

    Click the X in the upper right corner to make this go away

Mounting solar panels on adustible feet

Mar 26, 2011
2,868
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
Although using studs to make an adjustable mount is hardly a new idea (engines, street lights), I admit using threads in prelaminated FRP is an idea I stole from your seacock mounting procedure. It worked out very well in this application too.

http://sail-delmarva.blogspot.com/2011/05/solar-panels.html

Sure, I could have drilled, filled and re-drilled, and worked something out with spacers. This was fast, slick, and very solid. Zero risk of core leakage. Easy to remove for wiring and troubleshooting.

I imagine there must be other applications for this sort of surface mount, where surfaces are irregular and loads not too high. Also places where through-bolting is not practical. Needless to say, good surface prep and adequate area are need to insure adequate secondary bond.
 
Oct 2, 2008
3,491
Pearson/ 530 Strafford, NH
Hi Thinwater,
Good mount idea. Why did you choose 80W panels instead of a single 200W? I'm interested in going that route.
All U Get
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,417
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
Nice work Drew! You could have also used my favorite product Weld-Mount studs and saved a little fab time.. They are way stronger than they look and I admit that I am addicted! They are very pricey BUT also well worth it.



I use them to hold electrical back planes and backing boards in place and even have my water heater held in with them.


My thinking is that you could use some urethane shock absorber or sway bar bushings under the panel and it would hide the mount foot and give some flexibility to the panel. Your point about over drilling is SPOT ON especially with any camber or curvature in a hull.



P.S. How adjustable is that Morningstar solar regulator and does it Off/On to float or is it constant float voltage & current? I am considering trying a Genasun MPPT but the output voltage settings are not user adjustable and I want more control than what many of the small controllers offer.
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,868
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
Why 2 x 80 watts? Space concerns. I wanted to leave a walkway down the center of the hardtop. This way they only occupy dead space aft of the skylights. Also shading; certainly one panel will be shaded some portion of the time, but generally not both. A single 200W panel would need a perfect location. The power loss due to shading should not be underestimated; ANY hard shadow and you're basically done. You may want to Google discussions on the subject.

Weld Mounts? Yup, same idea. I like the look of the FRP feet better in a visible area and ... they only cost the price of 4 bolts, since the rest was scraps. And it was fun. As you can also see, I needed the thickness of the FRP anyway. But I need to remember the weld-mounts for low profile spots.

The shock absorber idea is intriguing and I thought about it. In the end I decided that the hardtop itself had stiffness and shock absorption characteristics that were compatible with glass panels. If I were mounting to something very flexible (a typical dodger) I would have built a more rigid frame and considered suspention.

Morning Star specs? Better to view the link imbedded in the post than for me to get it wrong, second hand. It is a simple controller, to be sure, and I would elect an MPPT type if I had over 200W, which I do not. I have heard good things about this one from folks in my marina. What I would love to see is a charge designed from the ground-up to serve as a multi-source charge controller (solar, landline, engine), inverter, and auto-transfer switch.

Battery Charging
Expanded the battery charging options and capabilities.
Added a third battery type selection (gel, sealed, flooded)
Added a "float" stage to the battery charging algorithm
Expanded the to account for depth of discharge history
Added a remote temperature probe option
Improved the accuracy of all charging parameters
Moved the built-in temperature sensor to read ambient conditions more


Although the voltage is not adjustable per se, you can switch battery types, which probably has that effect. I have not studied this. However, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the only way way you will find "voltage adjustment" packaged.

The "feet" made for an easy install. With the feet pre-threaded at home, I sat the panel and feet on the roof, turned a few nuts, and my dry-run fit was complete in minutes.