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Where should you mount solar panels?

2009 March 1
Dear Boat Doctor,
Your article on the restoration of the Island Packet 31 (Retrofits, January) was most interesting to me, as I too have a "vintage"?IP 31.? I am interested in purchasing solar panels, and wonder whether you could further elaborate on the solar panel you installed.?

Specifically, I am interested in knowing where you purchased them, and where you mounted them on the boat.?

Capt. Ned of Windwalker
Findlay, Ohio

Dear Ned,
Solar panels are a great addition to any boat; they silently do their job day after day pumping valuable power back into your battery system.

You have a couple options for mounting on your boat. One of the most out-of-the-way places is on top of the bimini, the panels have a clear view of the sun for most of the day and they will never be in your way. If you want to be able to "steer" the panels toward the sun, an articulating stanchion mount is your best bet. Finally, if your boat has dinghy davits you may be able to span them with a panel mount.

One of my favorite places to get solar equipment is eMarine Systems in Davie, Florida. You can find them on the Web at www.emarineinc.com or by phone at (954) 581-2505. The folks at eMarine can help with any electrical or mechanical questions that you may have.