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Old 02-08-2017, 08:04   #1
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Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

All....my 2 year old flex solar panels are turning cloudy (almost milky) 2 x 100 w

The supplier (Ferris Ind) says this will not effect performance .

Best I can see I'm getting approx 5.5 A on a pretty sunny day (no shadows) at 11:00 AM EDT.

Anybody have any thoughts?

FYI I'm using flex on top of Bimini due to space limitations.

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Old 02-08-2017, 10:55   #2
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

Are you seeing lower pro Performance? As in when you bought them new are they producing the same amount of amps is now? Same time of year same time of day same amount of sun? With no shadows, how close to 200w are you getting?
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:57   #3
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

I've got the same thing happening on a pair of cheapos from windy nation.

However I bought more as proof of concept...,I've been eyeballing lensun panels though. Different polymer, may hold up better.
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Old 02-08-2017, 11:05   #4
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

Polish them just like you would to revive the gelcoat or the lenses on the newer headlights on a car.
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Old 02-08-2017, 12:35   #5
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

Do not have performance figures from same time of day....sun angle etc. as stated I'm getting 5.5 A out of 200W.

My hard panels are getting approx 17 A out of 320W so there seems to be a performance gap.

Will try the polishing .

Greg
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Old 02-08-2017, 13:35   #6
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

My three year old flex panels ( 2 x 100 Watts ) on top of my dodger produce this on sunny days at anchor:
08 am 2.5 amps
09 am 4.0 amps
10 am 6.0 amps
11 am 7.4 amps
12 pm 8.0 amps
01 pm 8.0 amps
02 pm 7.7 amps
03 pm 7.3 amps
04 pm 6.7 amps
05 pm 3.5 amps
06 pm 3.5 amps
07 pm 2.5 amps
total 67 amp hours, or 800 watt hours for the day.
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Old 02-08-2017, 13:47   #7
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

DO NOT polish cheap semi-flexible panels. No matter how careful you are to polish them, you will cause micro cracks and that will be the end of them within a few more months. Some of the top-tier panels can be polished, but only if very well supported, and even then there is zero evidence that it will actually increase transmittance.

Don't tank my word for it. Google it and read the stories of disaster. Also Google micro cracks.

---

Also, moist of your loss is probably due to the installation. The panels are not well supported and have been flexing. This causes cracks and reduced output.
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Old 02-08-2017, 15:01   #8
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

This fog is pretty typical on flex panels after a few years in the tropics. The units just do not last as long as the hard panels, but with the costs down so much they still have a good place on a lot of boats. The panels still produce reasonable output while fogged. I have seen low cost Chinese panels fog up after a few years as well as the high end flex panels that cost 5 times as much.
My cheap flex panels lasted 4 years before they needed replacing. The main failure was the panel connectors.
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Old 02-08-2017, 16:11   #9
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

Yes semi-flex only refers to initial install can be on a gentle curve.

The underlying surface must be 100% rigid, no flexing after install at all.

A metal backing plate can usually be ordered, which does help.

And even best circumstances they just don't last nearly as long as framed glass panels.

Seems 2-3 years is best-case average lifespan. . .
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:19   #10
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

I think they use baking soda on headlamps
try on a small area where performance is doubtless low anyway
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:32   #11
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

I don't think there is anyway that the fogginess isn't hurting the output of the panels. Or, to use fewer negatives, I believe that any lack of transparency will hurt the output of the panels.

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Old 03-08-2017, 09:07   #12
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

Your picture looks like de-lamination, not what I would call foggy.
But those panels can look pretty bad on the surface and still work.

If you really have no shading, the output should be higher, about double, which makes me wonder if you have a bad connection on one panel.

How do you have the two panels wired ? Hopefully in parallel.

Try disconnecting one panel at a time and see what happens. Or use a DC Clamp amp-meter if you have one.

While you have each panel disconnected check its open circuit voltage, and if you have a meter check its short circuit current.
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Old 03-08-2017, 09:15   #13
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

I may have solved the clouding problem. Time will tell. I have 2 rigid 100w panels over my dinghy davit and 2 -100w flex panels over the bimini. In my case I only need the extra power from flex panels when I'm on a long cruise or anchored in very warm weather. So to keep them from being exposed to rain and UV I built Sunbrella covers to go over the flex panels when I'm at a dock or on shore power, which unfortunately is way too much time. They don't produce any power but none is needed. I only uncover them when I start seeing a drop in reserve battery capacity, that is when I'm sucking out more in a day than I can put back in with just the 200w panels. So far they still look like new. The covers just roll forward and are secured with ties when retracted. The covers also serve to keep the flex panels from getting wind under them, which tends to cause them to vibrate or flex in strong winds. The flex panels are still a PIA to remove when preparing for hurricanes and such.
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Old 03-08-2017, 12:51   #14
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kim Gregory View Post
My three year old flex panels ( 2 x 100 Watts ) on top of my dodger produce this on sunny days at anchor:
08 am 2.5 amps
09 am 4.0 amps
10 am 6.0 amps
11 am 7.4 amps
12 pm 8.0 amps
01 pm 8.0 amps
02 pm 7.7 amps
03 pm 7.3 amps
04 pm 6.7 amps
05 pm 3.5 amps
06 pm 3.5 amps
07 pm 2.5 amps
total 67 amp hours, or 800 watt hours for the day.
I have 2x150W Giocosolutions flex panels in parallel, and reaching no more than 13A overall at best, in Malta/Sicily! That which is a MISERABLE PERFORMANCE, close to yours, and say just 55% OF PROMISED A.

Given the high cost, this is a Charlatans' product imo, a mktg fad and a customer cheat.Yes, I feel like it is a fraud.

Company told me A is measured with COLD LIGHT at 90° AHAHAHAH......

BTW, first two panels were defective, were changed in guarantee, but l paid for transportation, and no word of excuse, and a lot of (stupid) Qs...

Yes, the price was/is outrageous, and so am l. Any cheap/funky China panel can not be any worse!

This post is copied to Gioco ltd
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Old 03-08-2017, 13:52   #15
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Re: Flex Solar Panels turning cloudy

Yes, theoretical STC ratings are simply to allow objective comparisons between panels.

No one should​ believe that they will produce close to that, even in "peak" real-world conditions (at noon in **cold** clear bright weather **at the equator** angled perpendicular to the sun).

And yes, panels are now a commodity item, only the wealthy should​ spend lots extra for better quality.
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