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Old 02-09-2016, 19:01   #16
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Re: Most efficient solar panels in 2016?

I just installed two Solara fixed frame 140's on my boat today. They are purposefully built marine panels. Very robust junction box, fairly thick aluminum framing, and so forth.

I replaced two CP140 flexible's that had lower output and took up too much space. The 140's from solara take up significantly less space. I think what many people are missing here is that - if you have non shaded or only partially shaded deck/bimini area or are willing to mount the panels on the rails or stern so they tilt (I am not) then you can probably get buy with cheaper, less efficient panels. You basically add one panel to your panel army and you have more than made up for efficiency. However, for us the two panels on the bimini were constantly being shaded by our boom and other things. By reducing the overall width of the panel area by almost a foot we will be able to gain a lot of time on those panels before they get shaded and when they do, the high efficiency will help them to keep producing.

Bruce Schwab and the team over at Coastal Climate Control are absolutely fantastic to work with and they really stand by their products.... so yeah, you pay a lot more but you are buying service as a big part of that price.
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Old 02-09-2016, 19:16   #17
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Re: Most efficient solar panels in 2016?

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Originally Posted by epiic View Post
SunPower is the brand I keep getting recommended. I just don't need the flexible panels. I need them to be in a frame so that I can mount them to poles.

Any sponsors on this forum that offer this brand?

I can't seem to find any online stores offering it and finding a spec sheet of model sizes has been nearly impossible.
SVB has both pdf specs and you can buy securely online with them. Good company. Germany. Recommended.

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Old 02-09-2016, 21:46   #18
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Re: Most efficient solar panels in 2016?

Not sure where a 25 year warranty comes in on a marine panel. If they exist it is only on the degradation of output, not on the panel itself. The Solara warranty is 5 years on the panels themselves and manages to exclude damages caused by salts or corrosion.
With a 5 year warranty I'm not convinced that tje3 to 5 x cost is justified.
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Old 03-09-2016, 03:54   #19
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Re: Most efficient solar panels in 2016?

If you look at the big picture, $3564 for 4 panels is not allot of money for something that provides most of the power onboard.

Even if they last me 5 years, that's $712/yr or $59/mth. Much cheaper than your average hydro bill...
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Old 03-09-2016, 08:26   #20
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Re: Most efficient solar panels in 2016?

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If you look at the big picture, $3564 for 4 panels is not allot of money for something that provides most of the power onboard.

Even if they last me 5 years, that's $712/yr or $59/mth. Much cheaper than your average hydro bill...
You must still be working. Do the same math if you bought 4 panels for $800 and they only lasted 3 years.
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Old 03-09-2016, 11:59   #21
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Re: Most efficient solar panels in 2016?

I'm not really concerned about a 25 year warranty either... why not just make it 100 years. It would not make a difference since we won't own our boat in 10 years, let alone 25.

The velocity of solar panel efficiency increases is faster now than ever before. In five years we may very well be able to buy sunpower 22% efficient panels for $200 but then again we may also be able to get 44% efficient panels for the same price as today. I would add that the reduction of the price in panels over the next decade won't be primarily driven by technological advancements but instead driven by increased market plays by new entrants and also the development of new business models which shed current cost and pricing structures. Being able to build small efficient manufacturing and production plants closer to the point of consumption for example.

The real question is not about solar panel efficiency specifics as it is the importance of the desired outcome from solar panel adoption (to have solar or not and how much). Is it important to you to keep your $800-$1200 dollars worth of batteries as full as possible? To some, this is important and to others not so much. My wife and I find this important and we can't balance our energy equation without the extra power we get from being able to fit more panels on our boat.
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Old 05-09-2016, 06:45   #22
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Re: Most efficient solar panels in 2016?

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Sunpower is not in the business of selling to small-time installations. Their authorized dealers deal with large residential and industrial installations. Think multi-palet size. Getting their panels usually means some excess from a job. Their panels tend to be very large and high voltage.
You are quite right, Paul, about SunPower Dealers and who they sell to. But you are referring to the Dealers who sell to land-based installations, using panels that are at a minimum of 250watts. These panels are not warrantied for marine installations, since they are not designed for that type of harsh environment.

As Scott Berg notes, Solara and Solbian manufacture marine-grade panels using SunPower solar cells, with SunPower's permission. The restriction is that the panels can be no larger than 140watts - to ensure these panels will not compete with their Dealers in the established land-based-market. Which only makes glass panels, not the flexible and semi-flexible panels available for boats and RVs.

Dealers of the Solara and Solbian solar panels will sell one panel, or multi panels, whatever the customer needs for their application. And yes, they are more expensive that the SunPower panels designed for building rooftops - as happens with most things manufactured on a smaller scale for a niche market.
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