Increasing Solar Efficiency

I really like this: Atom Voyages: Solar Tracker. (Oops, broken link.)

On S.V. Sapien, James and I had a small solar panel on a cup-and-ball mount and another on a swivel.  We adjusted the position of the panels throughout the day in order to get the most power from them.  With very little official wattage in panels, we made a great deal more electricity than I would have expected possible.  I’m talking a week’s worth of power before having to run the engine, and that includes watching movies on the laptop pretty much every night.

On S.V. Nomad, all three panels were fixed-mounted to dodger/bimini.  The two smaller ones are still mounted on the dodger, under the boom.  We get power from them – no doubt.  But not anywhere near their full capacity for the full day.  The third one came off with the bimini (a ridiculous installation – completely occluded the view when heeling) and it’s on the side deck with clip-type disconnects on the electrical cable.  It’s a silly amount of resistance, but we’re working on better solutions.

The mount linked to above is a better solution, for sure.  Whether or not we use this model, I think we should seriously consider putting in goal posts at the back of the boat.  With the Rutland 913 wind charger on one post and a fully adjustable solar panel on the other, we’ll be in a very flexible position for making power.

That plus these absolutely gorgeous new batteries we’re adding to the system: Mastervolt Slimline 12v AGM Batteries should give us much comfort in the power department.

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4 comments

  1. I’d still like to add a panel that could produce a lot more 12volt power, maybe along the order of a 120watt panel… I think that, along with the new batteries would really put us over the “off the grid” wall.

    1. Yeah – the new goal-post thing could hold a larger panel, for sure. So we could leave the dodger-mounted ones and add one nice big one aft. Then if we got the flexible panels on the dinghy…wow – swimming in power!

      And I bet you money that guy could do it up without problems. As a matter of fact, we could draw out the whole aft-rail and goal-post idea and get a quote from him. Or we could do like we were thinking – make the aft rails ourselves – but get him to make the swiveling base.

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