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Old 02-02-2015, 09:28   #1
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Solarizing a boat

I am looking at putting solar on my Morgan and I am wondering which would be a better choice for panels. The flexible ones or the rigid ones. I am leaning toward the flexible ones but I have heard that they have some problems that have not be worked out.

Is any one out there willing to talk about the differences, pros and cons?
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Old 02-02-2015, 22:34   #2
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Re: Solarizing a boat

Big pro with the flexible is the weight savings. We only added maybe 30 pounds to the stern of our vessel for 520 watts of solar.
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Old 02-02-2015, 23:53   #3
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Re: Solarizing a boat

Flexible panels have shorter lifespan than poly or mono crystalline
Panels, they work better on cloudy days,and better with partial
shading eg. Stay shadow.
I have poly crystalline panel that are now 14yrs old & still
work well.
Mono panels the solar cells are made from a single crystal
& put out slightly more power
Poly panels each solar cell is from multiple crystal silicon
blocks & put out slightly less than mono cells
Flexible or amorphous silicon panels are sprayed on to
the backing material & have less output again.
Because they are sprayed on they are very thin & more
Susceptible to damage & have a shorter lifespan
Yes they are lighter but nowhere near as durable
Some of the poly & mono panels have ten yr + life
as the manufacturers claim.
I would guess you would be very luck to get as much as
seven yrs from flexible probably a lot less
You pay your money & take your choice?
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Old 03-02-2015, 00:15   #4
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Re: Solarizing a boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by BriaF View Post
Flexible panels have shorter lifespan than poly or mono crystalline
Panels, they work better on cloudy days,and better with partial
shading eg. Stay shadow.
I have poly crystalline panel that are now 14yrs old & still
work well.
Mono panels the solar cells are made from a single crystal
& put out slightly more power
Poly panels each solar cell is from multiple crystal silicon
blocks & put out slightly less than mono cells
Flexible or amorphous silicon panels are sprayed on to
the backing material & have less output again.
Because they are sprayed on they are very thin & more
Susceptible to damage & have a shorter lifespan
Yes they are lighter but nowhere near as durable
Some of the poly & mono panels have ten yr + life
as the manufacturers claim.
I would guess you would be very luck to get as much as
seven yrs from flexible probably a lot less
You pay your money & take your choice?
Love to know what you think flexible panels are made from
Personaly I use flexible mono crystalline panels....
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Old 03-02-2015, 03:51   #5
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Re: Solarizing a boat

Amorphous silicon panels are made from silicon like poly & mono
but are not cut as silicon wafers like poly & mono because this
Is brittle & would fracture so these cannot be used in
flexible panels as they would fracture on the first flex
rendering the useless as they would no longer work.
Look into a bit deeper if you think I am talking
out my rectum.
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Old 03-02-2015, 05:26   #6
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Re: Solarizing a boat

Thanks to everyone for the feed back. One of the things that I worry about is the panels overheating. Has anyone had this issue and what did you do to fix the problem if anything.

ZBoss, how long have you had your panels and have you had any problems.

Emmalina, what kind of panels do you use and for how long.

Briaf, I understand the difference in the panels. The flexible ones are less expensive and do not turn out as much energy but is the payoff for each worth looking at.

Thanks again
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Old 03-02-2015, 05:39   #7
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Re: Solarizing a boat

Have used my poly panels in temps as high as
48deg Celsius with not issues.
The hotter the get the less power they output,
But I for one have not noticed any difference.
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Old 03-02-2015, 09:18   #8
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Re: Solarizing a boat

I have mono flex panels, 4 X 100W on the hard dodger, and 4 X 100W on the hard bimini.

They cost around $160-$180/ea. I have 4 that are mounted on a sheet of aluminum, and 4 that are mounted to some kind of plastic.

I can't speak to longevity or heat yet, as they haven't been on long enough or subjected to tropical temps.

I walk on them, they are lightweight, cheap, and not really visible unless you're looking down on the boat.

At the 2014 Oakland Strictly Sail show the 100W panels they sold were about $1200/ea. I got 4X100W for $950, and I think I paid even less for the second set. Sure, they don't have a 10 year warranty, but considering there's no moving parts, IMO if they don't last more than 3 years I can replace them with new tech that will be more efficient and likely cheaper still.
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Old 03-02-2015, 09:41   #9
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Re: Solarizing a boat

I have 2 x240w kyoceras on bimini. On Lake Ontario. Boat has all LED lights inside + out, fridge, freezer, TV, nav equipment incl radar & autopilot. I find my two golf cart batteries will be fully charged after a night on board by 900am on a sunny day. There is a positive charge on cloudy days.

They are a bit heavy however have not damaged the bimini frame after 4 years and a couple of waves land on panels. Cannot run hair dryer, toaster or space heater. None of which I really need. At dock have had 50knot+ winds on more than a couple occasions. I have not used in tropics however I think they would probably charge even faster.

Upgrades? The panels tend to be the cheapest part of the system. If I could find lighter panels or panels that give more output, I would likely upgrade.
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Old 03-02-2015, 10:21   #10
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Re: Solarizing a boat

I have 2x240w ridge panels that are 6 years old in perfect condition, and 1 unless 120w flexible panel that is 2 years old, be very carful how you mount the flex panels as they die if they are whipped about by the wind........ over flexed
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:23   #11
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Re: Solarizing a boat

Thanks for the posts. I was thinking to mount them with lots of velcro. One last question and I will leave everyone in peace.

When you walk on them are they slick. Not that I would do so intentionally but... you never know.

Thanks
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Old 03-02-2015, 13:33   #12
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Re: Solarizing a boat

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Mine is (not as slick as saran wrap, but probably more slippery than regular fiberglass).
I try not to walk on it too much, although it is supposed to be ok.
It's mounted on the spray hood (with an extension in front - the panel was longer than the hood).
But even if it's not slippery - what's the weakest link between your foot and the panel and whatever the panel is attached to?

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Old 03-02-2015, 13:36   #13
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Re: Solarizing a boat

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Old 03-02-2015, 13:59   #14
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Re: Solarizing a boat

There are flexible panels:

SP 125

and then there are flexible panels:

PowerFilm - lightweight, thin, flexible solar panels

and then there are flexible solar panels:

PowerFilm Solar Rollable Solar Panels

The Solbian's use solid, single monocrystaline cells and so have a power output very much the same as a rigid panel. The are "flexible" but not infinitely so.

The thin film and amorphous silicon panels are much more flexible than the Solbian's, but at a power output cost in the range of 40 to 50%.

All depends on where you are putting them, what damage they are subject to, how much space you have, etc...
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Old 04-02-2015, 04:13   #15
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Re: Solarizing a boat

I bought 200 watts(2x64 and 2x40watt) of amorphous silicon panels(Unisol) in 2000. They were made on mild steel sheet with aluminum frames. Mounted on the stern side rails and davits of my Passport 45 ketch. They worked only OK. Not much loss with a cable or mast shadow on them, but not much without either.

At 7 years in the tropics, the steel sheet began to rust and frame corrode due to salt exposure. At 11 years I could see some spots of the panel from the back. They did still work, mostly.

Last year I replaced them with Chinese poly panels. Less square area and 600 watts instead of 200. The glass top-plate in these panels make them quite heavy and may be breakable??? , the Unisol panels were not.

The best I ever saw from the Unisol was 12.1 amp@12volt house bank(880Ah flooded). But usually 7.5 amps through the middle of the day. I count 2 complete sets of batteries destroyed due to under charging by the Unisol panels during periods when it was not possible to charge otherwise.

The biggest concern for me is, for the same realestate, 3 times the wats and 4 times the amp hours make the amorphous silicon panels undesirable. I only have so much space for panels and need to make the most of it.

Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines the past 5 years.
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