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Solar panels and haute couture ?

Noon Solar1I think I might be getting obsessed by solar power…people are emailing me links to all sorts of products – just because I raved about the PowerMonkey…

Now here is a a set of fashionable bags from NoonSolar with built in solar panels for charging gadgets on the move – who said sailing fashion was all about waterproofs and Goretex 😉

Product details:

  • Two-sided design allows solar panel to face the sun or your body Noon Solar2
  • 9” drop from shoulder
  • 2 interior zipper pockets — 1 for battery and electronics
  • 1 exterior zipper pocket
  • Leather zipper pulls
  • Magnetic snap closure
  • 16 x 13 x 4”, 9.5 x 8.75”, solar panel
  • Entire exterior and interior constructed from Bavarian sourced, chrome-free, naturally tanned and dyed, full-grain cowhide leather and naturally dyed hemp cotton blend.


Portable solar panels from Brunton

Solar roll1I have only just discovered Brunton solar panels which although they appear to be directed at the camping market are water proof and robust enough to use on a sailing cruiser.

These are the salient features claimed by the manufacturers:

  • Amorphous solar cells for effective low-light performance
  • Reverse flow protection
  • Tefzel® fluoropolymer construction for extreme durability
  • Waterproof
  • UV transparent
  • Link multiple like-units together for even more output Solar roll2
  • Rolls and stores in convenient storage tube
  • Includes vehicle outlet cable & multi-linking cable
  • One-year warranty

They also offer a useful chart pdfof typical panels and the charging time you might expect from portable and fixed solar panels….

Looks like a another competitor to the PowerMonkey I reviewed (and bought) earlier !


Sunware Medium Power Semi Flexible Solar Panels

Sunware solar panels claim to have the highest power output to surface ratio of semi-flexible panels currently on the market – 27, 30 and 40 watts per panel. They are specifically designed for marine applications

Sunware Solar Panel27 Watt Panel
Peak Output – 27watts
Max Current – 1.96amps @ 13.8volts
Open circuit volts – 20.9volts
Qty of cells – 36
Dimensions – 585x465mm
Weight – 3.2kg

Have you seen better ?


Mobile phones on board

When it comes to marine electronics there are not many things that European cruising folk can say we have a better experience of than our North American cousins – but in the area of mobile telephony we certainly lead the world. In terms of reliable coverage, range of devices and functionality of devices. Its only natural that we should carry our mobiles when cruising in coastal waters and occasionally resort to calling the marina using GSM instead of VHF when the marina staff choose to ignore the radio…

Globalstar coverage

The picture above shows the current Globalstar satellite phone coverage, but in my view it won’t be long before the personal mobile phone will actually work all over the globe even mid-ocean – so watch out Iridium and Globalstar and all those distributors that depend on the current limitations of GSM!

But in the meantime this company, Boatersphone based in West Yorkshire, have a lot of useful info on how you can boost signals and improve reception while on the water. Including how to use a fixed telephones and fax machines connected via the mobile phone network.


Reading electrical diagrams

If you are my age then you will probably agree that remembering even your school boy electronics theory can be quite a challenge.

I would recommend that you click on the link in the right hand nav bar called TB Training. This is a link for the training courses that Tony Brooks provides – Tony is obviously “old school” and knows his stuff. If the symbols below have you scratching your head….then click here for a handy reference guide.

For example, here is Tony’s description for symbols of diodes – we all know that electricity only flows in the direction of the arrowhead – or does it?….


Ordinary diode – in the alternator & in split charging diodes.

LED – Light Emitting Diode – used as warning indicators on electronic equipment.

Zener Diode – ignore this, they are inside alternators measuring voltage and protecting the electronics from damage when the battery is disconnect whilst the engine is running. At a pre-determined voltage allows electricity to flow “backwards” through the arrowhead.

Tony also specialises in wonderfully simple diagrams that have really helped me to understand the overly complex ones you get with most boat electronics these days,,,as always the rule is KISS (keep it simple stupid)

To download my free Excel spreadsheet showing how to assess your power usage while at marina, anchor, or sailing please click here