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Saturday, January 07, 2012
SOLAR BIMINI PART SEVEN: PANELS INSTALLED
In thinking about the design for Bianka's solar bimini I had a eureka moment when it came to mounting the rear bimini solar panels. That was to use 1/4 inch aluminum bars to support the panels and clamps around the tubular frames to secure them to the frame tubing.
It was a simple and elegant solution and one that I also eventually incorporated to the existing 12 volt solar panels already installed on the dodger. These were attached to angle brackets as show below:
But, the aluminum strap method I came up with to install the 48 volt Kanaka Solar panels for the solar bimini is much better way to secure the panels as well as being easier to install from my experience.
The above photo shows the two mounting techniques I used. The aluminium bar and strap method on the left for the Kanka 48 volt panels on the solar bimini and the former jaw hinge and angle bracket method on the right.
The above photo shows the clamps I used to secure the rear aluminum bars to the one inch rear frame. The lengths are different because I did not have enough clamps and ran out to Home Depot to get an additional clamp. They will later be trimmed with a Dremel Tool.
The above shows a hole I just drilled to mount the Kanaka solar panels frame to the aluminum bar. Note the clamp to hold the aluminium bar and panel frame together. Also note the block of wood to intercept the drill bit as it breaks through. You really do not want to take a chance that you will drill through the solar panel. It will ruin your day and the solar panel.
The above photo shows the panels mounted to the bimini frame. The curve of the frames also allows for water to drain out to the side of the cockpit.
The photo above is from below in the cockpit showing the two of four aluminium bars holding up the panels to the frame.
Above is another view looking aft.
I like the aluminum bar design so much that I also modified the forward 12 volt solar panels to use this attachment method too. Attaching the solar bimini to the forward dodger using the bars has also added more rigidity to each frame. So far the combination has survived two brushes with category one hurricanes as well as protection from sun and rain for those in the cockpit in normal conditions. I will be adding some additional features to the bimini in the future. But, for now the solar bimini project has been completed and is a complete success as far as I am concerned.