We started our journey with a 360Wp solar panel mounted on the back of the arch and a wind generator D 400. During the four months from Le Havre to Gran Canaria we gained experience with it. When the sun was shining vertically on the panel and there was no shading by sails or equipment we had more than enough power. Otherwise we had to get support from the engine or plug to the shore power in the marina. So we had to think about an additional energy source for the continuation of our journey. Additional fixed solar panels would take up too much space. A hydro generator would be good during sailing, but not at anchorage. A gasoline generator would also be a solution, but rather expensive and cumbersome to retrofit. In Las Palmas a decision should be made, before the Atlantic crossing.
Mobile flexible solar panels
In Las Palmas we were inspired by the small sporty boats of the minitransat. On each boat you could see small thin solar panels fastened with thin ropes. At first glance it looked like a tinkering, but at second glance you could see that the panels were exactly aligned with the sun.
Mobile flexible solar modules have now displaced the fuel cells, Simon Koster told us. He had already finished two times on the podium in this race. These installations are solid enough for an Atlantic crossing. So we decided to buy two flexible 100Wp solar modules and connected them with a long cable to the charge controller. We attached short bungees with plastic hooks in each corner to be able to place the panels anywhere on the boat.
Our experience with mobile flexible solar panels
During the Atlantic crossing we moved the mobile panels about three times a day. We were able to produce enough energy, even the watermaker was running some hours a day.
We kept testing new locations for the panels. We must admit that moving the panels generates also some effort, but we do have enough time :-). In strong winds we attach them at the railing where they are well protected. If we want to keep the effort low or if we go ashore, the panels are put on to the Bimini, where they are practically horizontal.
Mobile flexible solar panels are a simple and low-cost power source coming with a daily little effort. With the two mobile 100Wp panels we can produce more power throughout the day than with the fixed 360Wp panel. We become aware of how much energy is in direct sunlight. Only the duration of the sunlight we can not influence. 🙂