Monday, July 10, 2023

Solar Panel Wiring & Mounts

Managing the Solar Panel Wiring

Currently, the Solar Panels on Eximius have their power wires secured with zip ties down the Bimini Support Stainless Steel tubing. The same type of zip ties are used to secure the wires that run up the Pedestal Support tubes to the electronics at the helm: Chartplotter, Depth Display unit, Auto Pilot control and display as well as the general data display and finally the VHF Remote Microphone.

Those Zip Ties have to be replaced at least once a year due to them breaking down as a result of UV damage.  

While aboard a friends boat this past weekend, I noticed that his wiring is secured using much larger zip ties. The Brand is TR Ultra Heavy Duty Multi-purpose cable ties -- UV resistant,  Black

They are 11.8" long and .49" wide, 0.067in thick.

The pic shows the typical thin zip tie that I get from Harbor Freight and the TR Zip tie. Literally a Huge difference.

The Pack of 50 is sold on Amazon $20, here's the link there are other sizes ( various lengths. ) 

When I install the new solar panels in the next week or two ( awaiting delivery ) I plan on running the wires down the Radar Support Post instead of the Bimini frame.

I see several benefits to using these larger width zip ties.
      1. UV Resistant - We live in South Florida - Enough said
      2. Larger Width - The extra width expands the area of wire reducing point loading.
      3. Appearance - they look so much better than their thin counterparts.

Moving nearer to installing the new Solar Panels !!

I have decided on the rail mounts. Recently, I assisted in the install of 1200 Watts of solar panels on a Trawler, we used Aluminium Rails and mounts to secure the Panels to the roof of the boat. That worked out really well so I'm going to use the same products.

Ok, onto the Solar Panel Mounts.

The existing panels are mounted on top of the Bimini supported by a hodge podge of rails made of Wood or Aluminum square tube or Aluminum U channel. It does not look neat and tidy and the wooden rail is suffering, I'm removing all 3 rails and replacing them with Aluminum Rails

The pieces of rail are only 30" long but can be connected together easily with a solid bar that fits in the square slot.

I have a total of 10 pieces plus 2 half lengths left over from my buddies Solar Project.

So there is 300 inches of rail and the rails are about 60" long or between 2 pieces and 2 + 1/2 piece, so I have plenty of rails and also plenty of the various fittings to attach the rails to the Bimini and the solar panels to the rails.

I purchased additional connector pieces as the kit only had 2 of them, the additional ones are solid but have the same function.

Ideally, the panels would all touch the adjacent panel, but the Back Stay cables prevent the two aft panels doing that, however, I hope that the forward edge of the two aft panels will be able to touch and connect to the front most panel.

Starting this week ( July 11th 2023 )

See you on the water.

Update to include links to the Solar Panel Rail Kits that I used.
The rails are 30" long and can be joined. The aft rail is about 68" long so that is made from two full length pieces and a short one in the center. The other two rails are 60" so just two pieces joined together.

I put rubber plugs ( Black Sink Stoppers from ACE Hardware ) between the rails and the Bimini Tubing to support the rails ( they also act as a water barrier over the holes drilled through the Bimini canvas and the tubing.)

Here's the link to the rail Kits  I had needed two kits for my install.

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