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 Post subject: Flexible solar panels
PostPosted: May 3rd, '18, 22:59 
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Hi All,
Lately, more solar panels hit the market and are in two categories.
One is solid panels and other is flexible one.
In the past years they did not have the efficiency of a solid one and were only use as add on substitute.
Also their output deteriorates considerably after time.
Now new one hit the market and has high output, very lightweight and small size for the output.
Is the output real?
Has anybody tested one 100W for output?
Regards Frank


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PostPosted: May 3rd, '18, 23:51 
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I've covered this before Frank; measure (or read off the spec sheet) the area in square metres of the cells in a panel. Divide the panel rating in Watts by the panel area in square metres. If you get a number bigger than about 180 to 200 Watts per square metre then somebody is telling porkies.

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PostPosted: May 4th, '18, 07:29 
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I had a 100watt panel. I never saw the rated amps from it. It was enough to run the fridge and other toys. But is went intermittent after 18 months to 2 years and after many hours debugging I suspected it was in the panel itself. I believe it was not flexible and the tracks inside it broke or rather separate when the panel gets hot. Bought a new panel - this one 120 watt - same size. I see the rated amps and a higher voltage from this panel.

Why I use these panels. They are lightweight and I can mount it on a small pole and allow it to be swivelled as required to face the sun.

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PostPosted: May 4th, '18, 10:42 
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I've taken the plunge: just ordered one of these

AT 2kg it will make a terrific improvement to my lifestyle on the boat where I find at present that I'm moving the 13kg folding panels up down the boat several times a day to keep them out of shadow and ready to face the morning sun after sunset. Every time I successfully negotiate the journey between stern and bow I congratulate myself for not dropping the lot over the side as I squeeze past the shrouds stumbling in the narrow walkway over the jib car. The controller is on the boat but I should be able to test it's open circuit abilities when it turns up and I will report on how it behaves. Fingers Xd it's not an overrated dud.

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PostPosted: May 4th, '18, 12:00 
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I bought s 200w panel off ebay that looked ok. Advertised as 12v, had plastic strengthener in the lamination rather than aluminum and the description didn't say that it could not be connected in parallel. I was planning on using it with a lithium battery and so the charging profile is important and at the moment this is best achieved with a Plasmatronics controller which can be custom programmed to suit particular batteries. When I put it all together I only received about half of the charging amperage I was expecting . Plasmatronics only make PWM controllers at this time.

In conjunction with Plasmatronics tech support a number of things were checked including output voltage from the panel which approached 30v. The end of the story is that this panel is fine but better suited to a MPPT controller which can manage all the output from the panel where as the PWM type just uses the portion within its operating abilities. In this situation I am limited to programmable controllers which means the PWM type so I'll find a use for the panel hooked up to a lead battery with a MPPT controller. Now I'm am on the search again for a flexible panel with more cells (different connection combination) and a lower output voltage.

My panels have 48 cells and a reported open circuit voltage of 22.3v.

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PostPosted: May 4th, '18, 12:08 
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Hi All,

Thanks for you replies, I have realize that new technology is coming in so many ways, it is hard to study all of it.
Like new light weight solar panels have real advantage on trailer sailors.
Lasting is the question.
To be able to fold it for storage is an advantage, but it may damage the connection of cells, after a while.
Second problem is deterioration of plastic material, damaged by sun.
Those problems can be overcome, but there is a cost.
Only time will tell. I am not swapping yet, as my foldable 160 W and 9 Kg is not bad, especially if new batteries hit the market, storage will be simple and light weight.
I am optimist by nature.
Regards Frank


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PostPosted: May 4th, '18, 14:09 
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Frank, are you suggesting folding up a flexible panel? Perhaps I'm wrong but I really don't think that is a good idea.

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PostPosted: May 4th, '18, 15:45 
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Ebay is littered with deals on solar panels producing 50W per square meter more than panels from reputable dealers, and for half the price.
Clearly they are using technology not available to us mere mortals. :shock:

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PostPosted: May 4th, '18, 15:50 
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Hi All,
I think roll up for storage is what is recommended, still space sewing for convenience.
Regards Frank


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PostPosted: May 4th, '18, 16:05 
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I was intending to modify a security screen or door to make a hinged and light weight support for 2 flexible panels ie make a folding panel set.. This was to be carried on an inclined frame on the roof rack of 4wd replacing current framed panels and also could be removed and placed a distance from the ute to gain better access to direct sunlight if we are parked up. Also considering similar mounting option for TS. This offers very significant weight savings and use flexibility.

Currently looking at Jaycar panels.

John

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PostPosted: May 4th, '18, 17:52 
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Those flexible panels on ebay are just that; Flexible. They will not roll up and can really only handle a slight curve. Having said that they are reasonably tough having survived being trampled by several cows (don't ask). I have two 100w panels connected in series and charging two 100Ah AGM batteries through a MPPT controller. They lay, slightly curved on top of my bimini held down by a couple of stretchy canopy loops and have withstood 40kn winds OK. I would have upgraded after the cow affair but they still work fine. Two years old now. Probably not putting out what a rigid panel would but so handy.

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PostPosted: May 4th, '18, 23:38 
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Thanks James, that cheers me.

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PostPosted: May 5th, '18, 04:28 
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psjamesc wrote:
Those flexible panels on ebay are just that; Flexible. They will not roll up and can really only handle a slight curve. Having said that they are reasonably tough having survived being trampled by several cows (don't ask). I have two 100w panels connected in series and charging two 100Ah AGM batteries through a MPPT controller. They lay, slightly curved on top of my bimini held down by a couple of stretchy canopy loops and have withstood 40kn winds OK. I would have upgraded after the cow affair but they still work fine. Two years old now. Probably not putting out what a rigid panel would but so handy.



Ahem! Do tell about the cows episode James. Sounds like an interesting adventure. Cows can be very curious.

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PostPosted: May 5th, '18, 08:43 
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What wattage were the cows ?

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PostPosted: May 5th, '18, 18:59 
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impulse wrote:
What wattage were the cows ?
I think the correct unit of measurement for beef is the kilojoule.

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PostPosted: May 5th, '18, 19:07 
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Some of the new panels have an kJ rating as well as a IP and W rating.

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PostPosted: May 5th, '18, 20:34 
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The kJ rating is probably an impact resistance rating. I had a machine in the lab at Holden for measuring how easily car doors closed. A good Commodore door 25 years ago was about 7 Joules. I estimated the doors on a friend's then new Mazda 121 were about 4 Joules (really light to close).

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PostPosted: May 5th, '18, 20:39 
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How much CP is a 121 ? (Cow power. :shock: )(

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PostPosted: May 6th, '18, 00:44 
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I should have put a laughing emoticon after my beef/kilojoule comment. I wasn't serious. Oh well.

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PostPosted: May 6th, '18, 09:45 
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Should get admin to add a kilojoule emoticon.

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PostPosted: May 7th, '18, 17:26 
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Having experience with flexible solar panels I can say that they are limited to a small curve and not to be changed, we use them attached with Velcro to a soft dodger. We accept loss of performance as part of the deal,some of that loss is due to no air circulation under them. In real terms 300 watts provides enough power for fridge freeze,fans, lighting and electronics including tv. This is experience gleaned from 5 years living aboard in S E Asia.
Cheers Ian Alison
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