23 February 2011

Solar panel in and getting ready for painting

I have mounted the 1W solar panel (£9.99 from Maplins) back on the roof. I have set it off to one side for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if it is central, where I first had it, it looks better, but it is directly under the boom when moored. Off to one side it has a clearer view of the sky so should be more effective. Secondly, when it was right in the centre I kept stepping on it if I went on the roof to stow the sail. I habitually climb up the starboard side, so putting the panel off to port gives it a chance of survival.
The 1W panel seems to be perfectly adequate for keeping my battery topped up for weekend sailing. I currently just run a GPS and a hand held VHF radio from it. I am seriously thinking of installing a NASA Target depth sounder, with a small switch panel. That will draw more current, so we will see if the panel can cope with that.

I have installed what I hope is all necessary electrical conduiting. There is a very thin conduit from the panel, over the roof to the edge of the hatch, and down inside the main bulkhead. That feeds into a slightly larger cross conduit, just below the companionway, which will allow me to run wires to either side of the cabin. The timber patch on the  bulkhead to the left of the steel mug is where I plan to install the switch panel. The conduiting (all from Maplin again) is essential. I had bare wires strung over the place before and managed to wrap them round my foot and break my first solar panel. Now there is a place/conduit for everything and everything is in its place/conduit (I hope.)

One pleasant surprise. I have half a tin of International Toplac Ivory paint and half a tin of matting agent, both  more than a year old. I had presumed one or other would be dried over and useless, but both are perfect. Not a sign of skinning at all. Mixing in the matting agent (which dulls the finish and looks really good) gives me a full tin, which should just about be enough for the superstructure this year. That saves me nearly half the price of the depth sounder... (it's economic calculations like that which lead to me not being in Forbes Rich List)


  1. I have two of those tiddly solar panels - one in each side window, and they keep me topped up all summer.. at £10 I don't suppose it really matters, but is yours really waterproof??

  2. It doesn't claim to be water proof, but at £10 I thought it was worth trying. It was on the roof of my boat for about 3 months last year and seemed to suffer no problems at all as far as I could see. So for my needs, it is waterproof enough!

  3. ..for the price of 3 pints it has to be worth a try...

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