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Old 12-07-2012, 16:52   #1
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Opinions about Aurinco solar panels

Hi,

This my first posting on this forum. I am contemplating installing solar panel(s) on my Catalina 36MkII and came across Aurinco. The notion of a thin, smooth penal appeals to me, but I wonder if there is some experience with this product out there. If so, can I also get some information on how it can be installed (I have a hard bimini supplied by Atlantic Towers in New Jersey that is essentially a stainless steel frame with a thin fiberglass roof).

Many thanks to anyone with wisdom to share!
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Old 13-07-2012, 05:12   #2
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I have two 25 watt panels, mounted directly on a cabin top. They do what they claim to do. Thin, small, light, you can walk on, at least step on them. Basically it is thin sheet of aluminum with solar cells It is covered with very hard transparent nonskid material. There are several holes on sides. You can bent the panels slightly. Mounting is simple - just bolt it or screw it to
a surface.
Electric output is OK. I'm getting 11-12 amps a day on average in summer time in NY, out of 50 watt. it is fixed panels on a deck with some shadows from boom and masts at times.
I'm satisfied so far and thinking of adding another 50 watts of very expensive panels. Hard to beat mounting options although.
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Old 13-07-2012, 05:57   #3
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Re: Opinions about Aurinco solar panels

Further follow up: since I plan to mount the panels on the bimini, the bolts would have to go through the frame of the bimini support at perhaps as few as four attachment points per panel (2 on either side). Would the panels be stiff enough (given their flexibility) so that any wind might not get under them and "fold them upward" (if you get my drift). Thanks again.
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Old 13-07-2012, 09:03   #4
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Panels are relatively stiff but may not be stiff enough.
In my opinion using these panels on bimini top is counterproductive. They are designed to be walked on. There are many of low profile solar panels on a market. Most of them work fine on a bimini and can be had at 1/3 of price of aurinco.
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Old 13-07-2012, 09:42   #5
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Re: Opinions about Aurinco solar panels

Thanks, again, CrazyRu... You make sense and will save me $$$!!!
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Old 23-07-2013, 12:16   #6
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Re: Opinions about Aurinco solar panels

I have a total of 150 watts mounted on my transom cover, companionway sliding hatch, and companionway hatch cover. I used a combination of 12 watt and 25 watt panels. You can see the panels mounted on my transom cover on the Aurinco site here: Compact 25W module. Since the panels are so thin and tolerate being bent over a little camber, the mounting on the companionway sliding hatch turned out really well and made good use of that otherwise wasted horizontal surface. The panels slide in and out of my hatch cover with no problems.

I had four 12 watt panels mounted on my foredeck but encountered water intrusion into the panels. See photo. The seawater intrusion would have eventually dissolved the aluminum bonding wire seen in the photo. The problem was caused by the terminal wires not being completely recessed into the wire channels during manufacture on the underside of the panels. I had mounted the panels flush against the deck using fasteners. This caused the wires to abrade against the deck during normal deck flexing, eventually abrading away the clear plastic coating over the wires and allowing water into the panels. Aurinco refunded my purchase cost and cost of return shipping. I also had one 12 watt panel delaminate near the mounting holes, caused by deck flexing around the holes, which also resulted in water intrusion.

I advise against mounting the panels flush against a surface where moisture can be entrapped and eventually intrude into the panels under the effects of vapor pressure and wicking. Offsetting the panels from the mounting surface even a minuscule amount will prevent vapor pressure from forcing water into the panels and also prevent abrasion of the coating over the terminal wires on the panel underside.

I recommend 3M VHB tape under the panels. The panels that I mounted with VHB tape have had no issues after 2 years. I used multiple strips of 1/2 inch wide VHB #4941 tape running the full underside length of the panels. The tape is thin (0.045"), adheres well to the aluminum backing, and provides enough of a gap to prevent abrasion of the terminal wire coating, moisture entrapment and eventual water intrusion. Its bond is also strong enough to hold the panels onto FRP, alleviating the need to use fasteners in locations where the panels aren't subjected to sheering forces (it will also make stealing them a very frustrating endeavor). The panels can still be removed later by carefully sawing the VHB tape with a thin wire or saw blade, being careful not to cut the terminal wires. That small airgap will also allow the panels to run a little cooler, improving efficiency.

If you need to use fasteners, or don't want to later deal with removing the panels adhered with VHB tape, any single-sided adhesive thin foam tape should do in place of the VHB. Just don't mount the panels flush to a surface that will eventually abrade the underside of the terminal wire coating, and use mounting screws with shanks smaller than the mounting holes (the holes can be expanded) and washers to prevent stressing the panels around the holes.
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Old 01-09-2013, 13:53   #7
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Re: Opinions about Aurinco solar panels

New poster.
I put about 30 amps worth of Aurinco panels on my cat's decks.
I have been happy with them for the last year.....
HOWEVER, I just pulled into San Francisco from Kauai, and after quick inspection, found 5 of my panels are failing from intrusion.
My problem is from the same location as Capt.Pat except that it is on the top side. I anticipated the problem he described so had elevated and supported the panels to prevent such and added a big blob of sealant under that spot just to be double sure.
My problem is that the solder joints on the top side, visible in his photo, are SHARP! They have poked themselves right through the urethane coating. We do not step on the panels much, as they are still slippery, so this is not a traffic issue.
I will be contacting them tomorrow and will post results. But this is sure frustrating only one month into the cruise. Had same issue with Solara.

On another note: If you are thinking of buying a Takacat inflatable...Wait for my post in the next day or two. They have a serious issue!
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Old 11-10-2014, 16:58   #8
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Re: Opinions about Aurinco solar panels

Hello,

Could these panels be epoxied on an epoxied plywood deck? I know that would be a problem when the panel would need to be removed, but it would stop any water intrusion and nobody could steal them...? And if they last 25 years, why not?

Gil.
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Old 13-10-2014, 10:06   #9
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Re: Opinions about Aurinco solar panels

I realized I have not followed up on my 2010 panel report: ALL GOOD!
I left my boat in puerto vallarta almost a year, crossed the pacific, plenty of Kauai sailing and some racing with no problems since replaced bad panels. My big fridge and freezer have never been turned off during that whole time.

Regarding epoxying panel: I think its a bad idea. Epoxy is too brittle, and will let go of the aluminum just because of heat expansion and contraction. The DowCorning 795 I used will stretch at least 8-10 times its own length, has plenty adhesion for the job yet is removable. Further, it is easy to clean and will not turn dark gummy yellow around the edges of your panel like the epoxy will in the sun light (unless you paint itůmore work)
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Old 13-10-2014, 11:19   #10
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Re: Opinions about Aurinco solar panels

Thanks, I'll check that product!

Gil.
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Old 13-10-2014, 13:55   #11
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Re: Opinions about Aurinco solar panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by kalewa View Post
I realized I have not followed up on my 2010 panel report: ALL GOOD!

(...)

Regarding epoxying panel: I think its a bad idea. Epoxy is too brittle, and will let go of the aluminum just because of heat expansion and contraction. The DowCorning 795 I used will stretch at least 8-10 times its own length, has plenty adhesion for the job yet is removable. Further, it is easy to clean and will not turn dark gummy yellow around the edges of your panel like the epoxy will in the sun light (unless you paint it…more work)
I agree: epoxy is a bad idea, for all the reasons kalewa lists above. Plus, if you ever need to remove and replace the panels, it will pose a major problem.

Attached is a photo of the abrasion damage caused to the lead wires, and a photo of my solution applied to the replacement panels. I used VHB tape (seen with its red back covering still on) to create a dam around the wire entries, and used DowCorning 795 to cover the vulnerable area. I let the 795 cure for one week before I installed the panels, so there is no actual adhesion of the 795 to the mounting surface. Adhesion is accomplished with liberal amounts of VHB tape and 4 corner screws.

So far, no problems after over one year in service.
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Old 24-04-2017, 18:31   #12
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Re: Opinions about Aurinco solar panels

This is what Web Chiles says about them. "The other great failure is the Aurinco solar panels. I left San Diego with six on the deck. They all died, as have all three replacements."
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