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Solar Pannels

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  • #74234

    Good afternoon,

    My name is Yoyo and I have a N33 called W”Malujo” that I am sailing in the mediterranean, actually the boat is in Sardegna

    I would like to ask if anybody has got solar pannels installed on their boat, I want to install them but still thinking were would be th best place to fit them…

    any ideas or pictures will be highly appreciated

    Thanks in advance


    David Babsky

    We DID put some Maplin (..a now-closed electronics store..) solar panels on the wheelhouse roof of our N33, and they were an exact fit from front to back, and left to right, except that they covered the sliding perspex sunlight hatch.

    BUT, even though the panels – put on the roof about seven or eight years ago – covered the entire wheelhouse area, they didn’t produce much current, and turned out to be a waste of time and cash. Our 4 big lead-acid batteries still slowly discharged – even during the summer – if the batteries weren’t used. The massive engine-start (and ‘house’) batteries (Varta 120 amp/hour from Barden UK, who give Nauticat Association members a great discount!) just didn’t pick up the very weak current which the massive panels produced (15 watts, perhaps ..that’s just over 1 amp, really, to supposedly charge 4 huge batts). So I took off the panels a couple of years ago.

    For sailing boats with SMALL engines – and thus SMALL starter batteries – solar panels might produce enough charging current – especially in sunny Mediterranean climates; we often see solar panels on sailing boats in the harbour on Skyros island in Greece. But if you have a couple of HEAVY-DUTY starter batteries on, say, a 90hp Nauticat Lehman engine, then I don’t think that solar panels are much, or any, use. Maybe a small Rutland wind charger might be more useful.

    My own experience – just as I’d read on various battery-tech websites – was that once lead-acid batteries have become discharged more than 50%, they just don’t hold much of a charge any more, and they certainly didn’t gather enough trickle-charge from our huge solar panels to keep pace with their gradual discharge when the boat wasn’t in use. So I bought four new batts (from Barden) about four years ago, and they’ve been well worth the investment ..they lose NOTHING, even when the boat hasn’t been used for about 3 months.

    A small ‘house’ battery, and a SMALL ‘start’ battery, might possibly be successfully trickle-charged from solar panels in Mediterranean sunlight. But I found, Gregorio, that panels – even four big ones, two foot by about five foot! – were useless in the UK. Others may have had better results!

    John Crump

    I put a single 80w panel on the wheelhouse roof of my 331, SKYLER about 3 years ago but was not very impressed by the output – never more than about 2amps on my remote meter – but enough to keep the batteries fully charged despite the drain caused by the bilge pump when the boat was left for a week or two. But after a couple of years the panel failed altogether so I complained to the supplier. He supplied me with another 80w panel (at a discount) but of a later design. This one was much more efficacious – it would regularly charge at 4 amps in sunlight – more than enough to run the fridge when we were at anchor. I have now sold the boat so cannot say how well it continues to perform but I do think that the technology has much improved in the last year or two.


    Our boat is a solar panel. We have four house batteries and 700W of solar in the sunnier months in the UK that powers the fridge, a freezer, two macbooks, internet etc.

    Full summer it produces around 2kWh a day. When it’s clear and sunny even with our standard house draw we see up to 20A pushing into the system. We use a renolgy monitor that has a shunt, cheap and effective.

    I’d recommend putting them on any flat surface you can. We use the flexi renology ones. Pretty good value and well protected for weather.

    solar n42

    We’ve found them essential, no matter what the state of the battery in spring / summer / autumn if the batteries are a little low and the engine isn’t wanting to start by 10:30ish everything is fine.

    As a recommendation I’d suggest you get a MPPT controller rather than one of the cheapo options. The numbers on the charge controllers denote max voltage / max ampage of the solar system.

    For voltage you probably don’t want over 80V ish on deck. For amps, if you can try to get around at least double what you need. Solar is addictive. Once you have one you’ll want another.

    Winter it’s pretty pointless and I’d agree that a wind gen is the way forwards. We’re fitting a Rutland 1200. The other ones are heavier and produce less juice so if you can worth going for the higher spec option.


    Good morning,

    Thanks for your comments! I think with the technology that improved a lot in the last years and my sailing area (Mediterranean) I will try them, so just now started my daily comsumptions calculations to see wich pannel to mount. I am now also chossing were to put them in the pilot house or make an radar arch in the stern so I can also hang my dinghy there while sailing. But I have not seen any picture of a N33 with a radar arch in the stern, so I donĀ“t know if it is going to look nice…

    Any comments about the arch?

    thanks in advance



    No thoughts on an arch. A little out of budget for us right now. I have seen a few people build small frames off their aft rails using stainless to support individual flexi panels mounted on some backing like 6mm ply.

    Not sure if you have davits on your N33?

    Next two weeks I am going to create a lightweight but reinforced plywood shelf for on top of our davits. In theory should be able to mount 2-3 flexi panels.

    Plan is to use some stainless pipe clamps with 8mm threaded bolts sticking out of them and map those to four points in the ply and bolt the ply to the davits with the bolts.

    In theory I can create something that can be taken down/dismounted if we really wanted to without too much bother. In practice I’ll have to see how my DIY skills work out over the next week. Will post the outcome.

    If you’re happy to sacrifice the opening on your coach roof. Though I assume that’s quite nice to have in the med…



    How is is your plywood shelf going?
    We are wondering if we can use our davits to support a solar panel and windvane.

    We have bought four 435W panels and an Air breeze wind vane (all 2nd hand), only we’re struggling to figure out where to put them on our NC33. Especially the windvane.

    We will be living aboard in the french canals and we might not have access to mains power, hence the reason we bought so much. However we might have overestimated our needs a tad 😅. We may resell two of the panels, we’re not sure yet.

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