Cabin-top solar panels

Published date: May 3, 2012
  • Boat Type: Boat Type

I mounted a pair of 12-watt Sunwize Solcharger "vandal-resistant" solar panels on top of my cabin, forward of the hatch, to keep my batteries charged up between jaunts. The panels are 11" x 13", so they still permit the hatch to open more than 18 inches (I haven't measured, but it's plenty enough to vent out galley fumes).

The Solcharger panels are made on a thick fiberglass panel, and topped with shatter-proof plastic resin instead of glass. They are strong enough to walk on. To fit them on the curved cabin top, I split a length of PVC pipe in half and glued the halves to the cabin top with 5200. I separated them by a couple of inches, to make room for the lowered mast. Then I used "cable clams" to seal the power cable cutouts where I threaded them into the cabin.

I connected the panel cables in series to a length of 12-gauge marine cable, and threaded that through the spaces between the cabin top and the headliner, then led it back to the battery compartment. As the panels are rated at 24 watts total, I added a charge controller with dual output to charge each battery separately.

The panels have stood up perfectly and they've kept my batteries at peak charge through the last winter.

Published by: Rick Westlake


Model Year: 1999
Photo Caption: Solar panels on cabin top. Note cable clams beside PVC half-tubes.

Charge controller is a knock-off of the Morningstar SunSaver Duo.

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