Originally Posted by pcmm
You don't often see flexible panels on boats that really want to generate solar
power because 1) they just don't last as long. 2) are less efficient so need more of them 3) decent quality ones are more expensive than rigid panels.
That's why flexible panels generally aren't seen or popular for marine
First off - flexible panels have been the ONLY things I have seen being installed on boats this year. We meet almost all the cruisers coming through St. Augustine through the cruisers net and not one this year was installing solid panels.
1) No - where did you hear that?
Being that the latest generation of flexible solar panels
has not been around for more than 5 years or so I can't see how you can make that assumption. And so what... in 5 years go out and buy another set for half what you previously paid.
2) They are less efficient?
They may put out slightly (10 watts) less power but so what... for $80 you get another panel to make up the difference. Set it out a 2 foot by 2 foot panel in the sun when you are lazing somewhere in the Bahamas
. Are you thinking of the polycrystal roll up panels from uni-solar? Totally different.
3) Not really.
The cells from Alibaba come from the same manufacturing facilities used for sunpower cells using the same machines by the same people. There is nothing wrong with the quality of foreign panels as a whole. In fact in at least one way (the junction box quality) my experience with them is that they are far superior to the expensive panels on a dollar basis. The value its much much higher per watt.
Think of it this way - the Chinese solar
plants put out more solar this year than all the solar produced by any country combined throughout history
(they produce 60% of the worlds capacity). They produced so much solar power this summer their aging electrical
grid could not take the current
and they had to stop output from the panels. They really do know how to produce good solar panels.
I am not convinced that the value proposition of the expensive flexible panels is worth the extreme premium ($1200 vs. $150) or that fixed solid panels are worth the savings.
Originally Posted by pcmm
I stand corrected, flexible panels have come down in size to be similar to rigid panels. but it does still present the problem of supporting flexible panels.. put them on deck
. deffinietly not as they then present a slipping hazard when you walk on them! generally not enough space on a bimini/dodger. means you're back to building a frame to mount them to. Another reason for Rigid panels! stronger and easier to mount!
OK, sorry I did not see this before replying above...
I have 280 watts of normal output flexible panels mounted on my bimini
. We also have another 280 flexible mounted on the davits
. I chose to use a solid frame when we installed them just because I was also not convinced on their quality or output and wanted the option of switching to solid panels just in case. This has been about two years now. We are eventually building a solid bimini
so we will remove the frame then and mount them directly on the top using tenax clips.
We also used a stainless frame on the davits
but that was also experimental (we had mounted them on the rails but it disturbed my view of the surroundings). we are rebuilding our arch and will integrate a solid aluminum
backing to mount them. I've seen a design where you can slide them out of the frame easily to store away... that appeals to me so I am going to replicate a customized design. All in all, they will end up at about 1/4 of the weight of equivalent solid panels. Something that is important for my particular boat where they are mounted.
I would not choose the cheap
flexible panels for the deck
... I would also see them as a slipping hazard as well but that goes for solid panels also. You can get walk-on flexible panels for that application - although I would be concerned about dropping a winch
handle on them or something.