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Old 02-09-2013, 03:43   #1
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Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

I have a substantial rigid ss frame mounted over the cockpit. A Sunbrella cover is stretched taut over it, no flap, almost no movement even in significant breeze.

I am thinking about mounting a couple of flexible solar panels to the sunbrella. I think I will glue some heavy leather circles, with ss washers to the underside of the sunbrella as backing, and bolt the panels to it.

Please, lets leave the issue of shading aside. I know this arrangement is sub optimal, but panels are so cheap that the addition to power generation is worthwhile.

My question is whether the close proximity of the panels to sunbrella would cause problems...mold or wear from rubbing.
.
Anybody got any experience with this??

lee
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:43   #2
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

Those cheap flexible solar panels are almost useless.
To get a real charge, solar panels should be of the monocristaline type
Fortunately there is a solution for the problem:

Try Solbian panels ( Installazioni su bimini / Installations on the bimini )

. They usually are attached to canvas with demountable zippers or even velcro for storage of the panels when the boat is not been used for a long time or when a big storm is expected (you should take out all canvas and store all sails inside).

There is a guy (Maine Sail) here in CF that can help you (I think he distributes them in there).
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Old 02-09-2013, 06:10   #3
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

I'm going the way JJT descibed. I love those Solbian panels....just bring all your $$$
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Old 02-09-2013, 06:15   #4
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

my ericson has 5 flexible panels each delivering up to 2 amps per hour .... they have been in use since 2004 with no problems --each still delivers up to 2 amps per hour --- good stuff, even with dents and bends.
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Old 02-09-2013, 06:26   #5
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

I like Solbian panels, as well; they have good performance record and are an adequate power source, but not the optimum source. I wouldn't cruise without a gasoline powered generator; it is worth the investment (around $3000 USD). With a generator, you can charge your batteries, run your A/C & fridge & water maker, power your pumps if needed, and keep your electronics toys singing; that's an optimum power source. Don't sail the seven seas without an alternate and dependent power source!

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Old 02-09-2013, 07:40   #6
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

Quote:
Originally Posted by banjoship View Post
I have a substantial rigid ss frame mounted over the cockpit. A Sunbrella cover is stretched taut over it, no flap, almost no movement even in significant breeze.

I am thinking about mounting a couple of flexible solar panels to the sunbrella. I think I will glue some heavy leather circles, with ss washers to the underside of the sunbrella as backing, and bolt the panels to it.

Please, lets leave the issue of shading aside. I know this arrangement is sub optimal, but panels are so cheap that the addition to power generation is worthwhile.

My question is whether the close proximity of the panels to sunbrella would cause problems...mold or wear from rubbing.
.
Anybody got any experience with this??

lee
I would leave some space between the solar panels and the fabric, doesn't have to be a lot - 2mm would be ok. You can be sure if you mount your panels directly onto the fabric you're looking for trouble.
BTW flexible solar panels work just fine.
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Old 02-09-2013, 07:52   #7
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

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Originally Posted by Efraim View Post
I would leave some space between the solar panels and the fabric, doesn't have to be a lot - 2mm would be ok. You can be sure if you mount your panels directly onto the fabric you're looking for trouble.
BTW flexible solar panels work just fine.
I have spent the time, with an infrared temp gun, to measure for any heat build up, and to measure the panel performance, both with an without the fabric there and found no measurable differences. I have also installed numerous Solbian panels directly onto Sunbrella and had less than zero issues, so I am wondering where this warning comes from...?

Been doing this a while, as has Solbian, and have not seen any "trouble"...... Many Solbian installations have been done directly to a deck or hard dodger and still perform admirably.
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Old 02-09-2013, 08:29   #8
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

You must see the difference between truly flexible and somewhat flexible. The somewhat flexible type tends to crack if pressed beyond their rated bend.

Otherwise your solution sound proof. You can adjust and twitch as you go.

Rigid monocrystalines are now above 20% efficient. Check how they stand dollar wise for your planned installation.

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Old 02-09-2013, 08:36   #9
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interested in the Solbian panels, but cant find any prices on their website - any clues anyone can offer?
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Old 02-09-2013, 08:42   #10
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

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interested in the Solbian panels, but cant find any prices on their website - any clues anyone can offer?
Solbian Flex Solar Panelsanels
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Old 02-09-2013, 09:00   #11
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

Quote:
Originally Posted by banjoship View Post
I have a substantial rigid ss frame mounted over the cockpit. A Sunbrella cover is stretched taut over it, no flap, almost no movement even in significant breeze.

I am thinking about mounting a couple of flexible solar panels to the sunbrella. I think I will glue some heavy leather circles, with ss washers to the underside of the sunbrella as backing, and bolt the panels to it.
Please, lets leave the issue of shading aside. I know this arrangement is sub optimal, but panels are so cheap that the addition to power generation is worthwhile.

My question is whether the close proximity of the panels to sunbrella would cause problems...mold or wear from rubbing.
.
Anybody got any experience with this??

lee
Hi, Lee,

Sorry I do not have a definitive answer to your question. Sunbrella is woven from extremely short fibers, therefore it is chafe-prone, according to our [now retired] sailmaker. So, if i were going to try to do what you suggest, I think I'd provide chafe protection at all the edges of the solar panels, as well as underneath. Otherwise, install them as planned, but check after a month to see if you can see any chafe whatsoever, and if you do, remove the fabric and sew down the chafe strips at that time, when you can see where it actually occurred.

Ann
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Old 02-09-2013, 11:48   #12
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

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Very nice!

I love their ultra feather weight.

I do not like their price. (2x monocrystaline rigid, where we are).

Still, on my 'to-get' list. THX.

PS On a dealer's website the specs seem misleading. Possibly best check at source prior to purchase.

b.
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:44   #13
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Very nice!

I love their ultra feather weight.

I do not like their price. (2x monocrystaline rigid, where we are).

Still, on my 'to-get' list. THX.

PS On a dealer's website the specs seem misleading. Possibly best check at source prior to purchase.

b.
Not sure where you are located. But online in the US there is as much as a 5x difference.
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Old 02-09-2013, 13:41   #14
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

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Not sure where you are located. But online in the US there is as much as a 5x difference.
EUR 600 for the flexies and roughly EUR 300 for an equivalent output rigid one.

BUT the flexi is only 1.7 kg while the hard frame is 7.5 kg.

I like things to be light. Small boat here.

b.
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Old 02-09-2013, 13:52   #15
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Re: Flexible Solar Panel mounted directly on Sunbrella

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
EUR 600 for the flexies and roughly EUR 300 for an equivalent output rigid one.

BUT the flexi is only 1.7 kg while the hard frame is 7.5 kg.

I like things to be light. Small boat here.

b.
125w Solibian US$856
2 158watt $268 plus $95 shipping = $181 each
So for roughly equivalent wattage (250 vs 314) it is $1,712 vs $363. That's a big difference.

I really like the Solibians as a concept. I just can't justify the 4.7x cost. The multiplier is less if you have to add a bunch to mount the hard panels vs a possibly simpler, less costly mount for the Solbians.
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