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Author Topic: Being "flexible" in learning solar lessons, and, Wait, weight?  (Read 433 times)

SLOweather

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  • Posts: 327
Being "flexible" in learning solar lessons, and, Wait, weight?
« on: February 12, 2020, 05:06:42 PM »
So just about a year ago I installed 2 200 watt 12v flexible Chinese solar panels on our Sunstar. As of the trip 2 weeks ago, both had failed.

That was before I'd read about the limitations of flexible panels. Lesson 1...

Lesson 2: VHB tape lives up to it's name (Very High Bonding). I installed those panels wit 2" VHB all the way arond, plus screws in the corners. I had to physically tear the panels off the roof, with half the tape staying on the panel, and the other half on the roof.

(I thought about just leaving them in place, but, Weight, there's more...)

Lesson 3: I perused santansolar.com and was looking at used 250 watt panels. They had some for $50 , and high efficiency ones for $90. However the $50 ones were 61 lbs each, and the $90 ones 31.

Paying more attention to my weight these days, I elected for the more expensive panels, and saved 56 lbs.

I just rassled them up on the roof and hooked everything up, and the Renogy Rover is happily converting 39.9 volts at 4.63 amps (185 watts) to 14.1 volts at 12.57 amps.

Now to screw them in place and bundle the cables...

I'll have to weigh the flexible panels and see how much I saved by removing them.
2014 Itasca Sunstar 31KE
1988 Itasca Suncruiser 31RQ
1968 Travco 201

Kevin Means

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  • Posts: 4912
  • SolaRVector
    • SolaRVector
Re: Being "flexible" in learning solar lessons, and, Wait, weight?
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2020, 11:29:18 PM »
I'd be interested in knowing what failed on the flexible panels. I know some people who weren't happy with theirs, because after lying on the roof for awhile, they developed low spots, which constantly filled up with dew/rain/dirt/mud, so they were always having to clean them to get any power out of them. I helped some other friends troubleshoot their flexible panels, and while we never did find the problem, it seemed as if a connection somewhere inside the panel itself had simply come loose.

It sounds like you got a good deal on the panels you bought. I wouldn't hesitate to buy framed panels that were just a few years old, especially if they tested good. They have a good lifespan.

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ
RVI Brake 2, TST 507 TPMS, 960 watts of solar, SolaRVector tilt
Lakeside, California

SLOweather

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  • Posts: 327
Re: Being "flexible" in learning solar lessons, and, Wait, weight?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2020, 04:19:36 PM »
I'd be interested in knowing what failed on the flexible panels.

I would as well. :) When we got home I tried to troubleshoot them. They were both dead (no voltage, no amperage) inside the cable junction box, and the bypass diodes were OK.

I removed them with extreme prejudice (lesson #4 coming up), so they are certainly beyond troubleshooting now.

Lesson #4. Ripping the panels from the roof has apparently separated the fiberglass roofing from the plywood in at lease one place. There is no penetration at the separation, so no danger of water entry at this time.

2014 Itasca Sunstar 31KE
1988 Itasca Suncruiser 31RQ
1968 Travco 201