Hints and Tips



Sun Odyssey 42DS Solar Panels on Bimini

Solar panel installation on a Jeanneau 42 DS, but relevant all Jeanneau models.


Sometimes when staying out for an extended time our house batteries would go flat and require us to start the motor when in a beautiful quiet anchorage. One way out of this was to fit solar panels. This project was undertaken in parts as it required a lot of effort to get finished. I hope this may help someone else who would like to do a similar project.


The solar panels were chosen on Ebay from China. They were relatively cheap (both were about $600 delivered) and flexible as I wanted to sew them onto my bimini. I chose 2x100 watt units as shown the photo.

I ordered YKK10 Zips and sewed the Zips to 50mm webbing I had already sewn to the panels. The webbing provides some padding between the panel and the bimini top.


I used basting tape (double sided sticky tape) to get the zips in exactly the right position on the bimini. When satisfied they were located correctly I carefully unzipped the panels and left the other side of the zip on the bimini. I then sewed the zips onto the bimini without moving them. I used the grey colour for the bobbin thread and white for the top. That way the stitching is practically invisible from under the bimini. After cutting a hole in the bimini above the rear bimini bow pocket I burnt around the edge to stop fraying. I then sewed a protective cover over that cable entry point.


The next problem is to get the cable from the solar panels to the solar regulator. The Jeanneau 36i we previously owned had a great feature which allowed a cable to enter the pushpit rail and go into the lazarette through a hollow pushpit rail tube. Unfortunately the 42DS does not have that factory feature. I didn't want to drill holes in the deck so I removed the pushpit rail and cut off the threaded attachment bolt at the midships end of the rail. I had to modify a stainless fuel breather fitting I picked up at a local chandlery to provide a stainless threaded tube of the correct diameter and length. I welded this to the rail to allow the cable to pass through the tube to the inside of the lacerate without adding more holes to the deck. I also added a short section of tube to stop water ingress at the entry point of the cable into the pushpit rail.


This is the original bolt.

Now removed and a hole drilled.

This is the finished job.


The hole for the pushpit bolt had to be increased to takes the size of the threaded tube.

Now the rail was reinstalled with the 6 square mm cable installed, ready to be fed through the bimini tube to the solar panels.

The exposed cable is covered with protective tube and run through the bimini bow to the panels.

The picture below shows the cable exiting the modified pushpit securing point from underneath.

Now the cable was run the the final position of the solar regulator. I chose a MPPT ( Maximum power point transfer) regulator for maximum efficiency. With 200 watts of solar power a 240 watt regulator was chosen. The output of the regulator is connected to a convenient terminal point to the battery with short cables to allow accurate sensing of the battery voltage by the regulator. The negative side of the output was connected to the load side of the current sensing shunt used by the Xantrex battery monitor so the solar panel current would be "seen" by the Xantrex monitor.


The picture below shows the input from the panels, the output to the batteries and the data cable on the right for the remote display.

Next the remote readout was installed at the nav station and connected by the manufacturer supplied connecting cable. The solar remote is the silver coloured display at the top.

The panels work well and the remote gives an accurate picture of the current provided by the sunlight. Hopefully this will provide adequate recharging when away for extended periods without having to run the engine to charge the batteries.


More details can be provided if any of this is not clear.


Trevor Bird - SV Sapphire - SO42DS