We're on a total Solar Power Trip! And this is our Sun.


hardtop dodgers
and biminis

Go Solar with TARTAROOGA!

The UN in it’s 2000 World Energy Assessment determined the potential of solar power. Earth’s surface gets more energy in one hour than the total consumed in one year! The large magnitude of solar power available makes it a highly appealing source of electricity. The IEA said that “affordable inexhaustible and clean solar technologies will have huge longer-term benefits”. It further cites “countries energy security through solar’s import independence. Further, sustainability and reduction in pollution. Also, lowering the cost of mitigating global warming, and reduction in fuel prices.

Solar Panel installation

Solar Panels, hard or soft?

There are essentially two distinct construction processes, resulting in either “hard” or “soft” panels. Both have advantages- and disadvantages.

The hard panels are a little more efficient. It must be mentioned that they are constructed with glass panes. Those can potentially shatter and spread shards on deck and cabin top. They also have hard edges, sharp corners,etc. You could sustain injuries. They are flat and will not conform to the top of your dodger.

The soft panels are a few percent less efficient. Their surface is made of Acrylic and literally shatterproof. Thus there is substantially less risk of injury. They are flexible and will conform to the shape of your hard top.

Installing Solar Panels

Hard Solar Panels pose more of a challenge when it comes to installing them. To best taking advantage of their energy collection potential they should be mounted on adjustable supports. This for adjustment for best angle relative to the sun. If installed athwartship, like the one above, adjustment is not possible.

When it comes to the flexible kind we are prevented from turning them into the sun. They’ll be mounted to optimally conform to the curvature of the hardtop. This might be one of the main reasons why so many chose the rigid ones.

We have selected the “soft” ones for our boat. We are pleased to report that ours have lasted for 19 years without much degradation. They have the added advantage that one can stand on them.

hardtop dodger with solar panels

Wind, The "Other Solar"

Wind is the second free source of renewable energy. It is dependent on the sun for creating cyclones and anticyclones. Warming the air above continents, and evaporating water from the oceans causes pressure gradients. These areas of highs and lows will attempt to normalize. This results in airflow, we call "wind". Thus the "other solar".

Examples of how we can harness wind energy are the sails on our boat. But it will also convert to electrical energy through turbines etc. Tartarooga is in the process of developing new technology to that end.

Some Examples of Solar and Wind

Tartarooga long top on Spencer 42

A Solar Panel mounted athwartship on a large “wheelhouse” dodger installed on a Spencer 42. Please mark the windows in the top. They are allowing full view of the sailplan when under way.

Freely suspended hardtop with soft solar panels on Hunter 33.5

A suspended long top with soft panels. They are almost invisible and aesthetically more pleasing when viewed from the dock.

Dodger with Solar and Wind on Irwing 37

A combination of top-installed Solar Panels, along with a horizontal-axis wind generator. While the combo is quite efficient we disliked the loud humming of the windmill. This was even more of a problem, as the hull  acts increases the noise. It acts like the resonance body of a string instrument.

Tartarooga is presently in the process of developing a vibration-free  vertical-axis turbine.

The advantages of the vertical generator are:

  • Less moving parts
  • No space to swing into the wind required
  • Reduced vibration
  • No dampening required
  • Smaller area required
  • Less interference with the sailplan
  • Independent from wind direction
Disadvantages of the vertical-axis machine:
  • Approx. 30% less efficiency