Boat Solar Panel DIY Guide – NO WELDING! | ⛵ Sailing Britaly ⛵ [Boat Work]

Boat Solar Panel DIY Guide – NO WELDING! | ⛵ Sailing Britaly ⛵ [Boat Work]

step one is to decide whereabouts on the
boat you’re gonna be able to fit your panels there are a couple of important
considerations here first of all you want the maximum efficiency from your
panels are you gonna be paying good money for them and you want to get as
much energy out of them as possible so to do that they need to be angled
towards the Sun right now the Sun is over there so what you’d want is your
panels ideally to be facing in this direction so that’s one consideration
the angle towards the Sun the second consideration is shading if you have any
shading at all on the panel even just if you have one of the cells covered with
shade then the entire panel will output a lot less energy you can lose maybe 20
percent just from one small area of the panel being covered so this is another
important consideration the third important consideration in my opinion is
the loss of working deck space you don’t want to be cluttering up the working
area to be boat with solar panels because they although you can stand on
them they are very slippery and that is not a good thing to have on your boat
when I was fitting the solar panels to this boat the first place I considered
putting them is here just behind the hatch there however as you can see right
now this is an area that receives lots of shade from the boom so that’s really
not a good place to put them this is only a 9 meter long boat so there aren’t
many options in terms of where you can fit panels what I ended up doing was
constructing a set of supports at the back of the boat and I was able to place
2 100 watt panels on top of these supports
the advantages of putting them here are a there is hardly ever any shade at this
part of the boat it’s well behind the boom and the mainsail and it’s a very
good place to not have shading I also wanted the angle of the panel’s towards
the Sun to be adjustable and placing them here at the back of the boat gives
me lots of scope to do that step two is to buy the largest panels available to
you based on your budget and the space available step three is to buy a solar
charge controller these regulate the charge to the batteries and are very
important there are two main types the one that I’m showing you here is the
more basic type they’re very cheap to buy but they get rid of excess voltage
by creating a heat so they’re much less efficient than the second type the
second type is an MPPT charge controller of maximum power point tracking these
can give you up to 40% more charge from the same panels so why are you going to
the trouble of fitting solar panels to your boat you might as well get the most
out of them and get a decent controller – step four is to fit the solar panels
every boat is different so I can’t tell you how to do it but I can show you how
I fitted these panels to this boat and you can perhaps get some ideas from
that I’ve seen examples of solar panels being fitted onto a roll bar on the back
of the boat I’ve also seen panels mounted on top of a pole so that they
can be turned towards the Sun I’ve never seen a system like this which is
basically a combination of those two ideas in the same system the panels are
attached to the stainless steel supports by what is effectively a universal joint
this allows them to be rotated 360 degrees and angled towards the Sun
at whatever position it may be in at the time they are then quickly and
easily fixed into position by the four Dyneema ropes and to Jubilee clips SO let’s say the sun is coming from that direction, and we want to increase the output from our panels.
you simply slacken the two Jubilee clips and then you can rotate the panel towards the desired position. You then reposition the Dyneema tighten the lower jubilee clip first, and then finalize the tension with the upper jubilee clip. That’s it, done! These panels have been out in over 50 knot
winds and they are very stable. I also use quick disconnect electrical connectors and a single
Jubilee clip at the top of the pole so if I do want to remove the panel’s that
only takes a couple of minutes. I’ll give you a quick overview here each panel is bolted
to a H frame made from stainless steel tubing and T pieces and then we have a
universal joint held on with the Jubilee clip that drops down we have a
perpendicular bar running across with two 30 degree T pieces and that just stiffens
the whole structure and then we have two bars running downwards the one that just
rests on an existing part of the boat which is actually a breather for the
fuel system and then the other bar runs down supported by this eye bolt it then
runs down forward to give a stronger structure and that it simply drilled and
bolted into the side of boat. I added a stainless steel cable from the
turnbuckle here which runs up across a spreader and up and that again just adds
more strength to the structure you can make your own supports like this really
easily and you’ve probably got nearly all the tools that you need already you
need a drill some decent drill bits some allen keys and the only tool that you
might not have is a pipe cutter this is a pipe cutter they’re very cheap to pick
up and they’re really simple to use this is the kind of stainless steel tubing
that I used to make the supports and as you can see it’s quite thick it’s about
1.5 millimeters thick now these pipe cutters rather than using a grinder and
annoying all your neighbors you can get one of these pipe cutters and you simply
apply a little bit of pressure and then you rotate the tubing bit more pressure
rotate pressure, rotate so hardly makes any noise you’re not
going to get on anybody’s nerves there you go done you can then de-burr
the tube that you’ve cut using this part of the tool then you’re ready for
the tee pieces you just slide them in position you get the positions for their
holes for the grub screws and then you just drill a small pilot hole for each
hole and then afterwards the grub screw goes in there you screw it into the pipe
and that gives it a really good firm grip using this technique you can get
some really strong supports step 5 is to run the cables and then make the
electrical connections on this design I left plenty of slack at the top of the
panels for rotation and then I drilled the tubular stainless and used it
as a conduit to run the cables down and then they exit the bottom here and then
come up through into the inside of the boat these are then connected to the
MPPT charge controller and on this system we also have an external display
which shows the state of charge of the batteries and it also shows the voltage
at the panel’s and the charging that’s taking place so right now the batteries
are a hundred percent full so at the moment the batteries are getting 13.6 volts and 1 amp which is a very small amount that’s because the
batteries are fully charged this upgrade makes a massive difference
to your boat it doesn’t cost that much money and it means you can be really
independent my wife and I went on our honeymoon on this boat and despite it
being only 9 meters long we spent 23 nights at anchor and we didn’t have to
connect once to shore power and we only nipped into port for one hour just to
refill our water tanks but we were completely independent and we had the
fridge running we had all our lights the anchor lights and the navigation lights
and we also use the inverter for things like charging our laptop
so we had lots of power and all from these two solar panels thanks for
watching guys if you want to see more videos then subscribe and don’t forget
love life

37 thoughts on “Boat Solar Panel DIY Guide – NO WELDING! | ⛵ Sailing Britaly ⛵ [Boat Work]

  1. I love your dedication to spending as little as possible and doing as much as you can yourself. Its refreshing for those of us who don't have bottomless pockets to see the ingenuity of your "how to" videos. And your enthusiasm is contagious!

  2. Great job on the solar panels. My wife and I never got around to putting solar panels on our small camper, but now I have some ideas of a DIY project if we do not sell it. Of course, if I sell the camper then maybe I will get a small sailboat.

  3. Hi Chris
    Great videos, I found your channel a few months back and thoroughly enjoy your vid's .
    What batteries are you using for energy storage.
    Did you have to get extra ones or do you use the battery that came with the boat ?
    All the best
    Keep up the good work …

  4. Very nice setup and design. We will make sure to take a second look at this when we decide to add ours. Thanks for the info!

  5. Some very good stuff there but a smaller but bigger tube would suit me, broach in bad weather and that arch can come off gratefull for the mppt tip the albin vega 27 is one of the most travelled blue water boat ever. A fully encapsulated keel would be my first call for journeying

  6. Could you print out your design for starters. People then could add what they needed for their boat. Charge $5 or if they are patreon Fee????

  7. Wonderful DIY vid. Definitely a pipe cutter over grinder – better, cleaner cut, and no power needed (think off shore repairs). Only prob: What the heck is a giggly clip?!?!

  8. …and the cost of solar panels continues to fall. I thought the method of attaching the tubes to the coaming looked a bit sketchy, hope you come up something betting engineered for your new boat.😉

  9. Some years ago we sailed on a 30ft boat for 16 month to the caribean and back. I mounted 3 solarpanels with together 200w on a gantry. In this time we were mainly on the hook. We run a 40l Waeco fridgebox, and all the other stuff thats needed on a boat bluewater cruising, including a ssb radio.. In this 16 months a run the engine for electric power only three times.

  10. I actually already bought all the piping solar panel and t-pieces. Good to see that it can work, as I had exactly the same idea. I just want to incorporate the idea of a bimini onto this.

  11. Check out those bolts then dad how about the towed generator or a windmill , a lpg honda eu10i might be handy too great stuff wheres that swing!!

  12. How many watts are your solar panels…what was your daily consumption for those 23 days? Thanks…very helpful info….favorable winds!

  13. What are jiggly(sp) clips?
    Is there a way to tighten/loosen without having to use a tool, like with a quick-release axle on a bicycle?

  14. Hi,

    Great tip. Our panels (similar) are mounted to our Bimini structure in the same location. Works great. You remind me though to check the controller type we have.

  15. Solar panels are awesome! We use genasun charge controllers on ours, each panel has its own controller so we don't have to worry about partial shading knocking out the whole array.
    Having panels will cut your electrical woes and give you so much freedom!

  16. Sweet. Nicely done. Love the adjustable angle ideas. Seems like they would not be strong against wind, but I'll take your word for it. Thank you.

  17. Solar panels: 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇬🇧
    MPPT Charge Controller: 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇬🇧
    Pipe cutter: 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇬🇧

    (Links support our Channel)

    SUBSCRIBE for more helpful videos like this:

    Fair winds!
    Chris, Rossella & Emma 🙂

  18. Hi, great video. After watching your video I ordered stainless steel tubing but I just bought normal and not 316, would these last about 12 months in uk weather until I get some 316 or shall I just throw the tubing away and buy the 316? Thanks

  19. Great Vid! I was wondering what size battery you are using? also what you are running off that? Do you have an inverter and what size? I am planning my own set up on my hunter horizon 30. Thank you for posting.

  20. I have looked at alot of diy arches this is the one I will design off. One tip is instead of wrapping the pipe cutter go 360 back and forth if your tool is not exact you thread the pipe not cut it. Thank you for a great well thought out idea. Rowyco!

  21. Hi Chris. Are you using this system to charge in parallel with the alternator? Just wondering if there is any type of isolation between the two charging sources and if so what? I'm looking at a votronic charge controller and I think I can just connect in parallel reading the datasheet. Feel I should fit some kind of diode to prevent alternator current going to the solar charge controller. Just interested to know. Cheers.

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