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Old 11-04-2018, 16:46   #1
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Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

I contacted VicOffroad and was told by an employee that 8 x 100 watt flexible solar panels would be ideal for my 40 amps requirement. Paid $880 for an electrician, $80 for Velcro and over $1330 for the panels. After 12 months in use found battery bank flat. Up to the roof, panels peeled, cracked, brittle and completely unserviceable. When purchased in Dec 2016 no wiring warning in product description, (kind of strange you would purchase 8 x panels and wire them individually). After endless photos and correspondence, (sorry you cannot speak to owner Mr Fei Dai, he’s out of the country) told SORRY WE CANNOT HELP YOU. Next step, off to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
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Old 11-04-2018, 17:26   #2
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

What did you mount them on? House? Boat? Off-road vehicle?

Was the electrician familiar with solar installations?
How were they wired?
How were they mounted?
No mention of a controller!

Seems a bit premature to publically abuse an EBay supplier for poor performance of something they didn't instal.
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Old 11-04-2018, 17:36   #3
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

Are they the panels that have the big red warning on the VicOffRoad website product description pages that says:

Do not wire the flexible solar panels in parallel or in series to avoid damage or shortened lifespan
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Old 11-04-2018, 17:55   #4
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

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Originally Posted by StuM View Post
Are they the panels that have the big red warning on the VicOffRoad website product description pages that says:

Do not wire the flexible solar panels in parallel or in series to avoid damage or shortened lifespan
How would you wire more than 1 there?
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Old 11-04-2018, 18:57   #5
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

Separate controller per panel.

My preference, but not using panels anything like that.

In the US you'd be SOL caveat emptor, forces us to do due diligence become better informed before pulling the trigger.

But with y'all's nice gov protection, I'd be very interested to know if you get any satisfaction.
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Old 11-04-2018, 19:03   #6
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

I doubt wiring will cause panels to crack and go brittle. Crap clear coating is the more likely culprit. It's not entirely unknown for cheap flexible panels to die early deaths due to failure of this protective coating.
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Old 12-04-2018, 08:55   #7
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Good To Go View Post
I contacted VicOffroad and was told by an employee that 8 x 100 watt flexible solar panels would be ideal for my 40 amps requirement. Paid $880 for an electrician, $80 for Velcro and over $1330 for the panels. After 12 months in use found battery bank flat. Up to the roof, panels peeled, cracked, brittle and completely unserviceable. When purchased in Dec 2016 no wiring warning in product description, (kind of strange you would purchase 8 x panels and wire them individually). After endless photos and correspondence, (sorry you cannot speak to owner Mr Fei Dai, he’s out of the country) told SORRY WE CANNOT HELP YOU. Next step, off to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Does every product sold in Australia have to be approved by the ACCC or are they more of a consumer watchdog organization? I may have some questions for them when they wake up.
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Old 12-04-2018, 09:00   #8
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

We are currently researching and designing solar panels for our boat. Several times I have seen cautions about flexible panels that are constantly flexing. I visualize them as floppy panels. I also am seeing many warnings about the wiring, often in this forum. So, how much research and engineering did you perform? I am hoping for a better outcome so more information from you will be welcomed.
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Old 12-04-2018, 09:03   #9
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

I love it when folks become members to use CF like Yelp. First post and it is to bash a vendor with ridiculously insufficient facts.

Way to contribute.

We should have a policy against this nonsense.
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Old 12-04-2018, 09:22   #10
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

Sounds like classic case of the blind leading the blind. Why would you not start with a qualified marine electrician, ask and follow her advice?
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Old 12-04-2018, 09:33   #11
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Good To Go View Post
(kind of strange you would purchase 8 x panels and wire them individually)
Should they assume that you're going to wire them in parallel or in series? What if you're using them to power the LED lighting in 8 washhouses located around your campground? Installing them on a fleet of vehicles?

I buy multiples of a lot of things. The chandler never says "How many engines do you have, why do you need 5 impellors?"
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Old 12-04-2018, 10:16   #12
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Good To Go View Post
I contacted VicOffroad and was told by an employee that 8 x 100 watt flexible solar panels would be ideal for my 40 amps requirement. Paid $880 for an electrician, $80 for Velcro and over $1330 for the panels. After 12 months in use found battery bank flat. Up to the roof, panels peeled, cracked, brittle and completely unserviceable. When purchased in Dec 2016 no wiring warning in product description, (kind of strange you would purchase 8 x panels and wire them individually). After endless photos and correspondence, (sorry you cannot speak to owner Mr Fei Dai, he’s out of the country) told SORRY WE CANNOT HELP YOU. Next step, off to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
If this a valid issue and not a malicious, unwarranted attack on a vendor (perhaps a competitor) here are my thoughts:

1. Wiring generally has nothing to do with cracking and peeling semi-flex panels.

2. Poor installation or product deficiency is the most likely cause of cracking and peeling.

Semi-flex panels should be installed such that they cannot flex beyond tolerance (especially in cold temps) and not over a hard corner (like a dodger or bimini bow.

How to proceed:

1. Verify the "electrician" you hired is a "certified marine electrician".

If so, they should be more than willing to show you their certification.

If not, you may have hired a "schmo" rather than a "pro".

Based on their charge of $880 to mount and wire 8 panels and a controller, with switches and over-current protection to a battery, my guess is that you you hired the latter.

2. Verify the "electrician" you hired is aptly experienced. If they are a "certified marine electrician" (they will have over 500 hours of appropriate field experience). I doubt it, or they would have known to charge more.

There is no law requiring the "electrician" to be either 1 or 2 above, to accept pay for performing work requested to their skill and ability level.

3. Verify the "electrician" has commercial liability insurance. If they do, they should have a certificate with them to show you. If not, you should never have hired them, they could have destroyed your boat, boats around you, and the marina, and hurt or killed people.

4. Verify the panels were installed in accordance with manufactures instruction and standard industry practice.

a) If not (and I suspect this to be the case) go after the installer:
i) If not certified, you are probably out of luck.
ii) If certified, they should make right.
iii) If certified and they won't make right, contact their association.

b) If so go after the panel / supplier manufacturer.

How the panels are wired, should have nothing to do with physical damage, unless due somehow to over-heating from the wiring configuration. (I can't think how this could possibly be so, but request an explanation of the supplier how this could possibly have been the cause of the defect. Ask a certified professional if the supplier claim could be valid. If not, go after the supplier, if so, sorry for your loss.

5. Learn from this experience:

a) In future, consider the pro's and con's of hiring a "pro" vs a "schmo" for marine electrical installation.

b) In future, consider the pro's and con's of purchasing product from an unknown supplier vs a local retailer with a good reputation to uphold.
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Old 12-04-2018, 10:40   #13
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

Good to Go,
Not enough information to fully review but
I looked at the web site and based on the wording and grammar, I would suspect these are cheap low grade chinese panels. It also looks like each panel comes with its own controller. You may have almost got what you paid for, they only had a 1 year warranty. Your own grammar (up on the roof) makes me wonder if these are on a boat or a house?? You should have been monitoring your batteries. Did you have a battery monitoring system? Did you check and add water to the batteries as needed over the 12 mo? Was the battery bank sized properly?

Quote:
Verify the "electrician" has commercial liability insurance. If they do, they should have a certificate with them to show you. If not, you should never have hired them, they could have destroyed your boat, boats around you, and the marina, and hurt or killed people.
Ramblinrod - installing 100w solar panels is super simple, someone would have to work very, very hard to be able to destroy the boat, never mind destroying a marina. Killing people??
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Old 12-04-2018, 10:47   #14
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

Obviously you haven't been taken to the cleaners yet ,by the Scammers lurking throughout E-Bay , where you think you're protected, and then you find out that in reality ,it's the scammer who is protected. You're left licking your wounds and feeling like a real sucker ! Well, buyer beware, times ten when it comes to shopping on line !
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Old 12-04-2018, 10:54   #15
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Re: Buyer Beware, Not a fair eBay seller.

Not to mention how can one blame the panels for the batteries going bad....need more info.....how many amps were being used daily.....how low were the batteries allowed to go (voltage)....with no battery monitor how were these parameters being verified.

Sounds like attack on seller a little premature.
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