Re: Solar panels stainless steel mounted vs soft panels
Like with everything on a boat, there are pros and cons to anything you do.
I was very glad that we took the advise of Bill R and others who said, “don’t make any changes for at least a year...”
We wanted to add solar when we purchased our SM back in 2016 , but we waited over 2 years to implement the modification, and I am so glad we did,as the result was a set-up that we are completely happy with. It takes time to review what others have done, look at options, evaluate your needs, and determine what is important for you and your use of power and your use of the boat.
For us, we really did not want to add an arch for a number of reasons. Semi-flex panels offered us the best solution for our needs. Initially, we added 680 watts using (4) 170 watt SunPower panels. We had awning tracks sewn into our new bimini, and bolt rope sewn onto the edges of the panels as we are not big fans of velcro or zippers. This set-up allows the panels to be easily slid into place and installed or removed in minutes.
The initial wattage met with our daily power consumption, but it was not enough to make up for cloudy days or when our consumption rate increased for some reason. Last winter we added (2) 110 watt panels (also from SunPower) for a total of 900 watts on the bimini.
We typically see between 3 to 4 kWh per day for all the panels depending on the amount of sun and any shading from the masts. Most days it is closer to 4 kWh. The 6 panels are divided into 2 sets of 3 panels in series with the 3 on the starboard side going to a Victron 100/15 MPPT controller and the 3 on the port side going to a separate but identical controller.
I can’t say how these would compare to hard fixed panels, but for us they serve our needs and they are out of the way. Our daily consumption is approximately 120 amp hours on anchor, and the current set-up (no pun intended) has allowed us to only turn on Onan to run the 240 volt accessories.
All the best,
SM #466 - s/v Rita Kathryn
Currently Exploring City Island, NY