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S&S Swan Maintenance - Solar Panel on Swan 411
21 September 2015 - 10:54
Join Date: 07 October 2014
Posts: 70

Solar Panel on Swan 411
Hello, i will do a Solar Panel holder.
may be somebody can tell me his own thinking.

here is a drawing with positioning of the holder.
does it looks in good proportion for you?
the arch is 2,1 m high, means if i stand under i have still 20 cm in between my head and solar panel. the bimini comes in between. so on the end i have at least 10 cm of head room.
the Bimini goes under the solar panel and is also my rain catcher.

i construct it with 35mm aloy pipes 2,5 mm material.
what do you think?
can it look nice?
i mean it will lose the clear deck, but for living the energie an with the strong sun, i need shade.

kind regards, Stefan

21 September 2015 - 22:38
Join Date: 01 July 2010
Posts: 48

Hi Stefan,

this issue has been discussed earlier here. Just click:

In this thread, you will find the solar setup on 47/013 Vera, which works perfectly since 2004. 4 x 90W Sunpower (=360W) modules right on top of a large bimini, which gives just the right amount of shade for convenience.

It looks good, its light and strong, delivers up to 16A at 12V midday, and it is very easy to remove. But removing was never necessary even in 55kn of wind. This setup should also work on the beautiful 411...

Kind regards, Michael (47/013 VERA)

22 September 2015 - 13:16
Join Date: 07 October 2014
Posts: 70

hi michael,
thanks for your anwswer.
yes i saw this allready - nice, you will not see it from the cockpit.
thats also my plan.
I´m allready on the weldings.
how much space do you have inbetween your head and bimini?
and does it moving, i mean it has an extra load from about 40kg.

i will have them in one row, so i have a view to the sail if i don´t use the bimini.

looking forward to finish the project and ship it to grenada with all the other stuff for mounting.

kind regards, stefan

24 September 2015 - 10:36
Join Date: 01 July 2010
Posts: 48

Hi Stefan,

we have about 2m standing high under the bimini measured from the cockpit floor. Visibility into the mainsail and masttop is restricted, but we usually sail the boat from the bridge deck with the remote control of the autopilot anyway...

The frame of the bimini is not made for the extra load, indeed. In order to address this, we spliced a combination of ‘Dyneema shrouds‘ that tie the main bimini frame backwards to the pushpit (in fact pushing the main frame that carries the panels upwards) and sideways to padeyes on the coaming line, addressing most of the side loads. If the boat heels over, the panels will also ‘lean‘ against the backstay. This way, the backstay takes over the worst side forces and also part of the weight. This setup never gave us trouble in any way. Our idea was to make the panels easily removable in case of a serious blow, but when it came (between Tonga and NZ), it was just not necessary to take them down. The bimini flexed a bit and the sunbrella cloth flapped a bit, but nothing happened in 24h of sustained 50+ knots...

I have no pictures unfortunately, but it really is a matter of thinking ‘light and intelligent‘. This needs time and must be done differently on every boat.

Good luck for your project, kind regards, Michael 47/013 VERA

24 September 2015 - 12:50
Join Date: 01 July 2010
Posts: 48

...just found a photo of the Dyneema ties, that reinforce the bimini in a blow. And another photo that shows one of our new (two of them, Rutland 504) wind generators. The mounting position and system follows the same principle as the one of the solar panels: Light and strong, and easily removable within minutes should this become desirable (racing, concurs de elegance) or necessary (strong gale on the grib). This setup produces enough energy (at least in the med and in the tropics) to be 100% energy sufficient. This season, we came in with full water tanks and full batteries after 8 weeks out cruising and barely 60L Diesel missing from the fuel tanks.

Kind regards, Michael

Dyneema reinforcements to the bimini

One of two Rutland 504 generators

06 October 2015 - 11:16
Join Date: 07 October 2014
Posts: 70

Oh yes, it is good to be self suficient.

OK, the holder is done ;-)

now will grind and polish this construction.
here a picture of the building.

greets, stefan

06 October 2015 - 12:28
Join Date: 30 January 2007
Posts: 446

Hi Stefan,
nice job but if I were you I would make a small modification in order to have a gate in some astern part of the pushpit. I know that it can make the structure less strong but there are ways to avoid this issue and, on the other hand, it is quite convenient.
I wonder if someone in this forum has got strong reasons against it.
Daniel, 411/004

07 October 2015 - 19:13
Join Date: 07 October 2014
Posts: 70

Hello Daniele,
thanks for your komment.
Yes, i thought also about to make a gate.
But i mostly klimb to my boad aside.
And now the Solar Panel would be a little bit in the way.
I didn´t tryed now, but looks like.
If not, i can allway weld a gate.
will take some aloy spare pipes with me.
also in case it is moving to much.

do you may be the diameter of the fuelpipe of the tank / winding?
or you can measure?

greets, stefan

08 October 2015 - 14:11
Join Date: 05 August 2010
Posts: 142

Hi Stefan,
I agree with Daniel and would strongly advise to include the entry. In the Med, and in parts of the Caribbean, you will be berthed stern-to-dock if not at anchor. In that case, using the side of the boat is not really an option. Lifting provisions and boat material over the pushpit is also not the best of options, in particular as you will have to stand with one foot inside, the other on the boarding plank or gangway.
Last not least, you will repeatedly bump your head into the solar panel structure if you are standing right below the edge. Not bumping into it while walking through the pushpit gate, without climbing, will be challenge enough ... believe me. I cannot count the times I hit our bimini while wearing a baseball cap.
Best, Martin

09 October 2015 - 09:23
Join Date: 30 January 2007
Posts: 446

Hi Stefan,
I am sorry but my boat is very far from where I live now so I cannot be of much help.
The only particular I remember for sure is that the copper pipes are 8 mm diameter.
Did you realize that you have an electric fuel level sensor? This is not a standard feature of the 411; in my boat the pipe that sticks up has got a screw cap for inserting a stainless steel ruler provided by Nautor. Also provided there is a table for relating the reading on the ruler to the actual content of the tank. The old way but always very reliable!
Daniel, 411/004

10 October 2015 - 20:05
Join Date: 07 October 2014
Posts: 70

Hello DAniel,
yes, i saw the GAuge system, also on the second tank.
do you have two too?
i think it is a 1/2" connection.
i will find thie also on grenada.
in worth case, i will use one tank, or build a reduction.

today we polished the solarpanel holder.
looks great, nearly a mirror, and was only the first polish.
another polish with fine paste apers.

greetz, stefan

10 October 2015 - 20:08
Join Date: 07 October 2014
Posts: 70

11 January 2016 - 22:52
Join Date: 07 October 2014
Posts: 70

Hello to all and a Happy new Year.

We are back at our home and i will give a upgrade for the solarpanelholder.
My measurements and reconstructions of shape worked nearly well.
We are happy about that.
Now we have a feeling of a bigger cocpit.
here some pictures, i find it is not to ugly ;-)

the verry nice thing is, i can carry the hole one with one hand.
and it is still verry stiff.

regards, stefan

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