September 2007 Issue
The Solar Stik
Flexible (but expensive) mounting package maximizes solar panel output.
Solar panels have proven themselves a valuable ally in the never-ending battle to keep batteries charged and today’s power-hungry systems fed. A common sight aboard world cruising sailboats and weekend warriors alike, solar panels have many pros backing them up: They’re noiseless, have no moving parts, and provide free electricity for years with minimal maintenance, all without producing harmful emissions or using up valuable natural resources. Despite all the benefits, solar panels have issues other than their high purchase price. Their mounting location must not eat up limited cockpit or deck space (an issue in all but the smallest installations); they require adequate air flow to avoid heat buildup (which can seriously reduce power output); and they reach optimal output only when facing the sun, a limiting proposition for fixed-mount installations.
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