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Solar panel mounting hardware source? For makeshift “arch”


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Brainstorming solar panel mounting.  The only reasonable way I have to mount them on board, unfortunately, is between the wind gen pole and radar pole on my stern.  No budget for a custom arch (and don’t necessarily want one anyway).

Any idea who sells “bolted clamp” type rail fittings to fit around a relatively large pole?  (Like in the pic below, i.e., not the standard rail mount type hardware designed to fit on 1” s.s. tubing)  I think I’ve seen stainless hardware like this for sale before, but just can’t remember where.  I’m prepared to have stuff custom fabricated by a metal shop if need be, but am hoping for a cheaper “off-the-shelf” option if I can.  
 

(pic below is from something I noticed the other day that got me thinking, at https://store.marinebeam.com/blog/marinekinetix-wind-turbine-completes-circumnavigation-/ )

D3F5D8D6-016A-48C7-A44A-3E82C591B3D6.png

2FE5CEBA-8E51-4E86-86EA-53AB8CFD1BE1.jpeg

9F09E941-AEB1-4619-9AD7-B358E5A02FAE.jpeg

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25 minutes ago, Max Rockatansky said:

I always look to McMaster-Carr for things... but as for an arch, I’ve recently seen a clever solution in the multihull fora: a ladder and windsurfing masts. You might have a look for the thread

I recall that thread --I’ve got the vertical part of it, it’s how to attach the horizontal part to the vertical parts...but that lightweight alum ladder, painted, to support panels, etc., is a nice solution.  I think @Zonker posted it....somewhere...

Thanks - will have a look at McMaster-Carr.

Re: ladder solution, only downside of that, really, is that panels can’t be easily inclined to max solar radiation angle...which seems like it would be nice to be able to do. (And it’s not hard to set up panels this way, I don’t think.)

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Mount the panels flat. As the boat swings at anchor the angle will change. Or you will go ashore and the sun will swing across the sky and your panels will point away from the sun. etc, etc. Unless you are totally OCD and hop up every hour to change the inclination, mount them flat

With the ladder I just drilled through the aluminum rungs into the C  shaped alum extrusion under the panels that form the frame and bolted them together with #10 mach screws.  Like this:

image.png.816848b4b221a4f8ef00bd927570d2f0.pngLi

 

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26 minutes ago, Zonker said:

Mount the panels flat. As the boat swings at anchor the angle will change. Or you will go ashore and the sun will swing across the sky and your panels will point away from the sun. etc, etc. Unless you are totally OCD and hop up every hour to change the inclination, mount them flat

With the ladder I just drilled through the aluminum rungs into the C  shaped alum extrusion under the panels that form the frame and bolted them together with #10 mach screws.  Like this:

image.png.816848b4b221a4f8ef00bd927570d2f0.pngLi

 

Cool - makes sense.  Simple and elegant.

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4 hours ago, kevinjones16 said:

Garhauer has those parts. 

Awesome - many thanks.  Just what I’m looking for.  Hopefully this fits on my pole - (they have a smaller one too).  Very affordable, I’m surprised.  Imagine the cost of having some of these fabricated, enough without being grinded/plodded smooth.  Several hours of shop labour, no doubt.

AABDFB20-A6AE-41FD-8C1F-BEF5D181BF3D.jpeg

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I was able to re-purpose some clamps that were part of a clamp on fishing rod holder. They sell in large volumes so the hardware is cheap but decent stainless. 

Regarding the angle of the panels, I agree that it's pointless to try to incline them towards the sun by you shouldn't mount them perfectly flat either or they'll soil up much faster. Give them at least a 5 degree slope so rainwater will run off and help them self-clean. Oh, and make the downhill edge easily accessible so you can wipe it down. That's where most of the crud will collect.

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18 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Brainstorming solar panel mounting.  The only reasonable way I have to mount them on board, unfortunately, is between the wind gen pole and radar pole on my stern.  No budget for a custom arch (and don’t necessarily want one anyway).

Any idea who sells “bolted clamp” type rail fittings to fit around a relatively large pole?  (Like in the pic below, i.e., not the standard rail mount type hardware designed to fit on 1” s.s. tubing)  I think I’ve seen stainless hardware like this for sale before, but just can’t remember where.  I’m prepared to have stuff custom fabricated by a metal shop if need be, but am hoping for a cheaper “off-the-shelf” option if I can.  
 

(pic below is from something I noticed the other day that got me thinking, at https://store.marinebeam.com/blog/marinekinetix-wind-turbine-completes-circumnavigation-/ )

D3F5D8D6-016A-48C7-A44A-3E82C591B3D6.png

2FE5CEBA-8E51-4E86-86EA-53AB8CFD1BE1.jpeg

9F09E941-AEB1-4619-9AD7-B358E5A02FAE.jpeg

Roger Henry?....I'm left  wondering  who Henry is...

Not sure about mounts for a pole that size but for 1'" I use plastic clamps designed to secure hydraulic pipes... tension is easily adjusted so thye can be trimmed easily...

Speaking of trimming... I can not imagine living with flat panels esp in a high latitude...

You can see how mine are orientated.... 

Sure ...on a swing mooring leave em flat...

In a N/S slip trim one for morning sun... t'other for afternoon

E/W see below...

On north or south passage trim them maybe 4 times a day... east/west just align both towards the equator ( depending on lat~dec )..

PB270096 (4).jpg

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4 hours ago, Cisco said:

Roger Henry?....I'm left  wondering  who Henry is...

Not sure about mounts for a pole that size but for 1'" I use plastic clamps designed to secure hydraulic pipes... tension is easily adjusted so thye can be trimmed easily...

Speaking of trimming... I can not imagine living with flat panels esp in a high latitude...

You can see how mine are orientated.... 

Sure ...on a swing mooring leave em flat...

In a N/S slip trim one for morning sun... t'other for afternoon

E/W see below...

On north or south passage trim them maybe 4 times a day... east/west just align both towards the equator ( depending on lat~dec )..

PB270096 (4).jpg


If I’m not mistaken, Roger Henry was his father (boat is an homage to his adventurous spirit).  Ya know yer boats, Francisco! :-)  Probably one of the few boats to ever visit Bylot Island...

Hmm, I see that you’ve replaced (or is that stock on a Westerly?) your lower lifeline with 1” tubing, which lets you easily mount panel there.  Food for thought for my planned set up.

Yeah - I can see how being able to orient panels would make a difference for output in the high latitudes.  Hell, even I’m at the edge of the Roaring Forties/Furious Fifties :-) 

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3 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:


If I’m not mistaken, Roger Henry was his father (boat is an homage to his adventurous spirit).  Ya know yer boats, Francisco! :-)  Probably one of the few boats to ever visit Bylot Island...

Hmm, I see that you’ve replaced (or is that stock on a Westerly?) your lower lifeline with 1” tubing, which lets you easily mount panel there.  Food for thought for my planned set up.

Yeah - I can see how being able to orient panels would make a difference for output in the high latitudes.  Hell, even I’m at the edge of the Roaring Forties/Furious Fifties :-) 

A friend replaced his top lifeline with tubing for his panel mounts, which I think should theoretically work better since there isn't a risk of lifeline shadow on the cells.

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55 minutes ago, Ishmael said:

A friend replaced his top lifeline with tubing for his panel mounts, which I think should theoretically work better since there isn't a risk of lifeline shadow on the cells.

Right.  Makes sense - hadn’t thought of that.

But then how do you fold them out of the way of they’re hinged/swivelling on the top lifeline/tube?  I guess you’d attach the mounting pieces on the panels in a different place - I.e., near top length/edge of panel, instead of middle, as in Cisco’s pic.  (But seems like they’d tip down mounted that way, though, unless you had a way to prop it up on the other long edge?)

 

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1 hour ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Right.  Makes sense - hadn’t realized that.

But then how do you fold them out of the way of they’re hinged/swivelling on the top lifeline/tube?  I guess you’d attach the mounting pieces on the panels in a different place - I.e., near top length/edge of panel, instead of middle, as in Cisco’s pic.  (But seems like they’d tip down mounted that way, though, unless you had a way to prop it up on the other long edge?)

 

Pivot them just as the "lower rail" picture has it configured.

Adjust the pivoting clamps to where you can tip the panel in or out, depending on the needs of the moment.

Of course, if it intrudes too much into your cockpit, you may need a propped panel. Did that on my old Mac 25, included different lengths of support, and then never moved it off level. :)

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10 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:


If I’m not mistaken, Roger Henry was his father (boat is an homage to his adventurous spirit).  Ya know yer boats, Francisco! :-)  Probably one of the few boats to ever visit Bylot Island...

Hmm, I see that you’ve replaced (or is that stock on a Westerly?) your lower lifeline with 1” tubing, which lets you easily mount panel there.  Food for thought for my planned set up.

Yeah - I can see how being able to orient panels would make a difference for output in the high latitudes.  Hell, even I’m at the edge of the Roaring Forties/Furious Fifties :-) 

I thought someone was wanting to roger Henry... late evening poor taste joke lost in translation.... sorry...

Pipe is an add on.... as bought she had pipe on top rail , panel hinged on edge, and a strut. I find this is better... for me.

 

This is another idea... commercial german(?) brackets.... pivot point adjustable... set up to catch morning sun.

 

PB270086 (3).jpg

PB270087 (4).jpg

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This is why you want to be able to swivel.

 

Oppy racing , midday, 10th June... 55º S .

Best sun for power is early morning late afternoon  with panels as shown above on a boat lying N/S.

P6100153 (2).jpg

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On 12/13/2019 at 1:39 PM, Phtt said:

See article on MainSail’s Marine How To site. Fully detailed hinge and strut. 

I wasn’t able to find this - I googled “MaineSail” and found this site below, and found the section on solar, but no relevant article (to mounting, as you mention).  (I looked in other topic areas of the site too.)

https://marinehowto.com/category/solar-renewable-energy/

Any idea where that article is you’re referring to?  

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5 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

I wasn’t able to find this - I googled “MaineSail” and found this site below, and found the section on solar, but no relevant article (to mounting, as you mention).  (I looked in other topic areas of the site too.)

https://marinehowto.com/category/solar-renewable-energy/

Any idea where that article is you’re referring to?  

Not what you're looking for but closest I could find on his site: https://marinehowto.com/installing-a-solbian-semi-flexible-solar-panel/

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I think you may be referring to this thread over on SailboatOwners.com:

https://forums.sailboatowners.com/threads/new-solar-product-feedback-request.180244/#post-1308987

Note that it's intended only for small (10W - 50W) panels and he was never able to get the costs down to something reasonable, so he abandoned the project as a commercial product.

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14 minutes ago, IStream said:

I think you may be referring to this thread over on SailboatOwners.com:

https://forums.sailboatowners.com/threads/new-solar-product-feedback-request.180244/#post-1308987

Note that it's intended only for small (10W - 50W) panels and he was never able to get the costs down to something reasonable, so he abandoned the project as a commercial product.

Interesting.  

But the poster, “Phtt”, above (real name or not, I don’t know :-) ), who referenced the MainSail article on his site was, I thought, referring to a hinge/strut arrangement for panels mounted on lifelines (which is what we were chatting about above).  

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Hmmm, its no longer on MainSail site. I must be dementing, could have sworn I saw it there. 

But anyway, similar to this using simple 1" railing fittings and tubing. I need to add two so will have to figure out . 

 

Paul

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12 minutes ago, Phtt said:

Hmmm, its no longer on MainSail site. I must be dementing, could have sworn I saw it there. 

But anyway, similar to this using simple 1" railing fittings and tubing. I need to add two so will have to figure out . 

 

Paul

Thanks, Paul.  Doh! I, too, must be having a “dementing” moment (early 50s?!? :-) - those clamps in your link are exactly what I used this summer to mount an autopilot control panel on my stern rail —totally forgot about those!  (They were Sea Dog brand ones - they look exactly like what that company in your link uses for their panel mounts.) Very useful clamps indeed - totally forgot I used them!  Thanks for the “reminder”.

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1 hour ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

I machined mine from blocks of HDPE.

Yes I am an idiot with too much time on my hands.....

FKT

Custom making something is the best way to go, for sure -- everything seems to have a custom element to it to a greater or lesser degree.  (I have machining ability only via a retired friend with a nice shop and skills...but I can’t bug him too much for help as it’s been all too frequent...)

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1 hour ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

I machined mine from blocks of HDPE.

Yes I am an idiot with too much time on my hands.....

FKT

IMG_1911.jpg

IMG_1909.jpg

IMG_1910.jpg

Same stuff I used for mine, but I used standard rail fittings for everything else. One thing I did is to make the rail fittings through-bolted instead of held only with set-screws.

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1 hour ago, Ishmael said:

Same stuff I used for mine, but I used standard rail fittings for everything else. One thing I did is to make the rail fittings through-bolted instead of held only with set-screws.

Yeah mine are all through-bolted. I don't trust screws.

My railings are all 316 20NB Sched 10 pipe not tube. Actual OD around 26.8mm so standard tube fittings won't work. Industrial pipe fittings weren't what I wanted here.

Recently I decided I needed to 'solve' this problem. Fortunately I'm an idiot with a machine shop & far too much time on my hands...... bore out the tube clamps to fit the pipe, what could be simpler.

FKT

IMG_2074.jpg

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So here is my first cut at a cheapo version that I think I will use for my two 50W panels. One on each side of aft top rail leading to two controllers. I can make it from scrap Al I have lying around plus the SS U-bolts (which will need to be cut short). I need to figure out a way to reef it or easily remove it for stormy conditions.

Paul307033852_SolarPanelRailMount_1.thumb.png.a5a8743fe3587e9f707e2f005be1208e.png

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To keep those panels at a given setting against the force of the bungie as well as to keep them from rattling when underway, you're going to need to keep those U bolts fairly tight. That, in turn, will scratch your railing. I'd put something compliant between the U bolt and the rail. In the spirit of cheap, I'd suggest a few wraps of self-amalgamating tape. 

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12 hours ago, Phtt said:

So here is my first cut at a cheapo version that I think I will use for my two 50W panels. One on each side of aft top rail leading to two controllers. I can make it from scrap Al I have lying around plus the SS U-bolts (which will need to be cut short). I need to figure out a way to reef it or easily remove it for stormy conditions.

Paul307033852_SolarPanelRailMount_1.thumb.png.a5a8743fe3587e9f707e2f005be1208e.png

These would be cheaper than stainless u-bolts..

http://www.enzed.com.au/Products/Accessories/TubeAccessories.aspx  (Change out zinc plated bolts for s/s )

And no stuffing around with bungie and string......

 

You don't need 1/4" flat bar either... half  that with the edges rolled .. you may be able to see that in my pics^^^^^^

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2 hours ago, Cisco said:

These would be cheaper than stainless u-bolts..

http://www.enzed.com.au/Products/Accessories/TubeAccessories.aspx  (Change out zinc plated bolts for s/s )

And no stuffing around with bungie and string......

Second the use of those clamps. I used them to mount my dinghy davits. They work fine. You can get them with stainless plates & bolts too but the plate with the captive nuts, it looked like the nuts weren't stainless. I swapped those out for a custom bracket so wasn't a problem.

Dunno about cheaper though - I think I paid around $20 each for the 1" NB pipe ones I used. Definitely nicer to use IMO.

FKT

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