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Bimini Mounted Solar - what to get?

I am under agreement for a 1999 C36, MKII.  It has a typical bimini and dodger arrangement, with an opening flap over the helm.  Once I get the boat home she will live on a mooring.  I am concerned about keeping the bank of 3 batteries charged and would like to install solar panels.  Seems to be a lot of options.  Can anyone suggest the best setup for this?  Curious to know what folks have arranged for attaching the panels to the bimini, size of panels and brand/size of charger panel.  Thanks!


1999, C36, MKII (under agreement)
Wing, Tall, In-Mast Furl

ROAM's picture
Last seen: 2 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 5/24/17
Posts: 29

I'm interested in the latest, greatest .. sew on optional


C36 MkII 2001
SF Bay
Last seen: 2 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: 6/20/08
Posts: 154
I use two 95 watt semi flexible Gioco panels attached to the bikini with industrial grade Velcro. They are located in front of the split backstage. Each has its own controller which was recommended to deal with possible shading from a backseat. If your boat will be on a mooring, and not using your fridge full time, these would be adequate. When we are at anchor, we can last about 5 days with the fridge on, if not longer, depending on the sun, etc. I wrote more about this in the Technical section. Search under Refrigerator Replacement or Gioco.

David S. Power
Two If By Sea #1687
Burnt Store Marina
Punta Gorda, FL

Chachere's picture
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Joined: 10/27/10
Posts: 540

Mike -
  We added 273 watts of solar power in the form of 3 Solbian flexible panels: 1 145W panel that lies across the front half of the bimini, and 2 64A panels that are on the rear half of the bimini (needed to do it this way because of the backstay which goes through the bimini; your MK 2 with a split backstay may not have this issue).  They are held on with zippers that were sewn on to the panel edges and the bimini (I was advised that velcro wouldn't be strong enough).   Alas, I had to sacrifice the opening flap window on the bimini in the process, but it was worth it. See pciture attached.
  The 145 W panel is wired to  a Genasun GV-10 controller, and the pair of 64W panels (128W total) are wired in series to their own GTV-10 controller; the outputs of the 2 controllers are then wired in parallel to the house bank (which is 220AH).  (They are located under the navagation table, as in the photo below, right next to the charger). This was recommended to me by the folks we purchased the panels from (Ocean Planet Energy, https://www.bruceschwab.com who were very helpful with consulting), as the panels had different outputs.
  We cruise in New York and New England in the summer, and have found that the panels produce more than enough to keep us sufficiently charged, even with the refrigerator running full time.  Indeed, it supplies enough power to also recharge our Torqeedo electric outboard (for the dingy).
  Mainesail (former C36 owner) has a good write-up on how to install on a bimini....https://marinehowto.com/installing-a-solbian-semi-flexible-solar-panel/




Matthew Chachère
s/v ¡Que Chévere! #466
1985 C36 MKI tall rig fin keel M25
Homeported in eastern Long Island, NY

Last seen: 4 days 9 hours ago
Joined: 10/22/18
Posts: 25

The pic is great.  Seems like you got the right amount of wattage for sitting on a mooring or making long passages.  Great advice too about not trying to span across any of the support poles.  Thanks again.


Last seen: 1 day 14 hours ago
Joined: 8/11/17
Posts: 28

On my 36 MKII I have 2 x 100w flexible on the front of the bimini. Wired in series with a victron energy controller.

My panels are cheap Ebay versions that use sunpower cells - only 1 summer season of use, still look and perform new. These were mostly a proof of concept idea where I purchased one, and then added one more, for even more fun ;-) 

I have a commercial sewing machine and sewed the Velcro 'hook' to the panels and then the 'loop' on the bimini - 1" velcro brand. Holds fine in 30 knots - any more I usually have them off "because I can" - they would probably be fine in more. Lots of options for attaching.

Going to try to keep the fridge on this summer. I homebrew beer, and want to keep a 1.75gal keg cold. 

Rockman's picture
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 7/12/10
Posts: 234

I installed 2 x 200W flexible panels on the back of my bimini, connected using the stainless steel snap locks. They are connected to a Victron controller and really pump the power into the 450Amp/Hr batteries.
They work really well. Over the Christmas cruising break, we did not connect to any marina power, relying on solar. Overnight, the batteries drop down to 80-85%. But are fully charged by 10am!

We also have a 400w wind generator - but don't use that very often - the solar pumps out heaps!


Cat375 - Rock The Boat - Hull 54
Lake Macquarie - NSW - Australia

Last seen: 4 days 9 hours ago
Joined: 10/22/18
Posts: 25

Rockman, thanks for the reply.  If you have any pictures, that would be great!  Curious to see the snap locks and how they're affixed.  This boat I'm buying has two 4D house batteries that each have 195 Amp/Hrs (so does that mean they have 390 Amp/Hrs if wired in series?).  

What about the start battery?  Is solar usually used to keep the house bank topped off?  Start battery?  I'm new to this size boat, so this stuff is a little foggy for me.  Thanks for the comments.


bakerha's picture
Last seen: 2 hours 45 min ago
Joined: 7/23/10
Posts: 246


If your 2 12v 4D batteries are in Series you have a 24 volt system with 195 AH capacity
If they are in Parrallel you have a 12v system with 390 AH ( This is the normal configuration for our boats)

I'm just keeping my starting battery charged with the Alternator or Shore power.  I sure something (like an ACR) could be used to allow your start battery to top off too.



Harold Baker
S/V Lucky Duck
Sandusky Ohio, Great Lakes
1989 C-36 mkI TR/WK M25XP

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