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Old 27-01-2018, 12:26   #1
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Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

I am considering getting two semi-flexible solar panels. I'd like to temporarily position them on the foredeck while at anchor, to take advantage of the best location for shadow-free coverage. With our ketch rig there doesn't seem to be many other locations with few shadows. I'd store the panels below when not at anchor.

I've read that it's necessary to put some kind of backing on these panels to prevent damage, if they are to be moved around in this way. Any ideas on what material, thickness and attachment method, should be used? I'm thinking of attaching each panel to a sheet of maybe 1/16" acrylic plastic using contact cement. Better ideas?
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Old 27-01-2018, 13:22   #2
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

Folding "suitcase" style are designed for that purpose, often 50W per "side" for manageability.

Rigid framed will last much longer.

The much smaller-folding ones designed for backpacking are now getting up to 100W each as well.
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Old 27-01-2018, 13:23   #3
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

I have three 100watt semi-flex panels. Two mounted on bimini and one I lay out on the deck in good weather. I tie that one down so no beating around in a breeze. Works ok, it's light and easy to store like under a bunk. They don't need backing, but can't be flexing a lot in the breeze.
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Old 27-01-2018, 13:23   #4
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

Try to come up with a system that allows for ventilation under the panel. They become less efficient when overheating, which happens easily since it’s a black surface that you expose to the sun.

Also, why not buy rigid panels instead then? They are way more durable and you won’t have to tinker with anything. And they’re a lot cheaper.
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Old 27-01-2018, 14:42   #5
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

If they flex continuously because they are not held rigid they will get microfractures in the cells, degrading performance over time but still function. We used twin wall polycarbonate with some small pieces of 3M VHB tape to hold our solbians together. Cheap, easy to find, and it provides some cooling by allowing air to circulate.
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Old 27-01-2018, 19:20   #6
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

You can purchase panels with an aluminium backing. These are tougher than the plastic backing and still light.
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Old 28-01-2018, 00:34   #7
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

The Solbian "All in One" panels (that have integrated MPPT controllers) are available with a 3mm Forex backing. Adds durability but still lightweight. We started stocking all our AiO panels this way about a year ago, figuring they are going to be moved around a lot.
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Old 28-01-2018, 11:13   #8
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

Interesting.

Doesn't that Forex have some thermal insulation properties?

I was considering using coroplast, like used for political yard signs, as it has the ventilating channels inside.
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Old 28-01-2018, 11:24   #9
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
You can purchase panels with an aluminium backing. These are tougher than the plastic backing and still light.
This is what I have. Bought two 50 watt semi flex with aluminum backing from Aurinco. Had them for years. Excellent panels, but pricey (at least they were at the time).
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Old 28-01-2018, 11:57   #10
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

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Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Interesting.

Doesn't that Forex have some thermal insulation properties?

I was considering using coroplast, like used for political yard signs, as it has the ventilating channels inside.
Probably... but can't get all that much insulation in just 3mm.... Doubt if much effect.
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Old 28-01-2018, 14:20   #11
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
This is what I have. Bought two 50 watt semi flex with aluminum backing from Aurinco. Had them for years. Excellent panels, but pricey (at least they were at the time).
Mine are cheap Alibaba Chinese panels. Won't last as long as yours, but low cost. The aluminum backing will probably extend their life a bit.
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Old 28-01-2018, 17:53   #12
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

Thanks for all the good info. I want flexible panels as I already have two rigid panels and they are too cumbersome to lug up and down. And I want to experiment with other locations like top of cockpit cover.
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Old 28-01-2018, 18:03   #13
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

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Thanks for all the good info. I want flexible panels as I already have two rigid panels and they are too cumbersome to lug up and down. And I want to experiment with other locations like top of cockpit cover.
You do understand that the aluminum backed panels are still considered flexible.
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Old 28-01-2018, 18:31   #14
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

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You do understand that the aluminum backed panels are still considered flexible.
Yes, I got that, thanks
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Old 28-01-2018, 20:05   #15
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Re: Semi-Flexible Solar Panel Usage

Example of the backpacker style

https://m.ebay.com/itm/Lensun-100W-1...s/222594755454
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