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Old 28-03-2018, 05:16   #1
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What type of Solar?

Hello all,

I am going to install a solar array, and am going to go with at least a 400 watt system. I have looked at both rigid and flexible panels by companies such as HQST, Suaoki, etc. The panels will be mounted on top of a dodger.

Any preferences on manufacturers, and types (flex vs. rigid)?

Thanks,

Cap'n Rob
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Old 28-03-2018, 05:31   #2
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Re: What type of Solar?

Rigid are brick and mortar tech now, 99% of the rigid panels on the market has a real expected lifetime of 10+years. Maybe the number of bypass diodes, that help mitigating partial shading issues differ by manufacturer - here I've heard Kyocera is the king.

Flex panels are a completely different kind of animal. However, you'll find fellow forumites reporting their cheap PET panels are still alive and kicking after 5-6 years, usually higher quality (2-3x$$$...) ETFE panels are recommended but they also tend to fail sometimes - not my business case.
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Old 28-03-2018, 05:37   #3
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Re: What type of Solar?

Rigid if at all possible, both cheaper /W and lasts longer.

Fewer bigger panels, over 40Voc to take advantage of MPPT gains.

But fitting max watts to the space available is more important.

Try to avoid shading, and put in multiple sets, so at least one SC's panel(s) are always out of any shade. A 1:1 ratio is ideal, e.g. Victron's pricing scheme enables a 75/15 paired with each 200+W 40+Voc panel.
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Old 28-03-2018, 05:57   #4
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Re: What type of Solar?

I have been disappointed by flexible panels and the expensive one I have at the moment isn't looking good. By contrast a large rigid panel took on the stern took two separate impacts from other yachts and still worked perfectly even if the frame was bent. This was a standard e bay rigid panel so nothing special.

If the semi flexible panel goes then it will be replaced by a rigid panel.

I agree with John61ct and have my panels wired through separate MPPT Victron 75/10 controllers.

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Old 28-03-2018, 08:37   #5
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Re: What type of Solar?

I researched this a bit over a year ago and went with a company called Sunpower. I found their panels to be the highest output per square foot and weight on the market. My approximate 3’ by 5’ panel puts out 330 Watts. The footprint was great above the bimini on my Tartan 3500. They are more expensive so if you’re on a budget go elsewhere.
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Old 28-03-2018, 08:58   #6
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Re: What type of Solar?

Just a rigid panel data point for consideration: 17 yrs ago I bought ten 100 watt rigid panels from SunPower in Miami and installed on the roof of my trawler. I think the brand was Matrix and I don't think they're still in business. Kyocera was the big dog, but these were the lowest cost/watt rigid panels that SunPower sold at the time. They came with a 25 yr warranty. The panels are still going strong. Two years ago I replaced my original PWM controllers with an Outback Midnight solar 80 amp MPPT controller. That added about 20% more charging capacity. With 1,000 watts I typically generate close to 300 a/h per day. Batteries are pretty much always topped off and I'm on my 8th year with 10 Sam's Club Duracell 6v golf cart batteries. If sized properly, solar charging is both robust and very kind to your batteries!
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Old 28-03-2018, 09:02   #7
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Re: What type of Solar?

Another consideration is mono-crystalline versus polycrystalline. My understanding is that you want mono-crystalline for power and longevity. I share the same skepticism about flexible panels as others have. Not worth the cost. I went with Renogy panels online and am thrilled with the results.
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Old 28-03-2018, 09:19   #8
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Re: What type of Solar?

If weight and windage are important to you then the cheaper flex panels shine. If longevity and cost are more important, then rigid panels are the way to go.
We use rigid on the arch and flex on the bimini.
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Old 28-03-2018, 09:44   #9
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Re: What type of Solar?

On top of the dodger or on top of the bimini? Not sure how you're going to squeeze 400 watts on top of a dodger, flex or rigid.

If going on top of the bimini, a hard installation, by the time you add struts for rigidity, fixtures, crossbars etc. your cost can potentially exceed quality flexible panels that are sewn onto the bimini canvas. Flexible panels are significantly lighter and have lower windage so you can get by with less support provided the panels themselves don't flex after installation.

I agree that the flexible panel market is still developing and that longevity is shorter but it's improving. Given the rate at which watts/square inch is improving, you'll probably want to replace the panels within 6-8 years anyway.
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Old 28-03-2018, 10:17   #10
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Re: What type of Solar?

Bought 2, 250 watt Sanyo panels and an MTTP controller from Sun Electric in Miami. The Panels were $.51 per watt. The Outback 80 amp controller was $500. Bought 2" 6061-T6 aluminum tubing and all the bracing hardware from Garhauer. Total was $1156. for a 500 watt system.
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Old 28-03-2018, 10:34   #11
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Re: What type of Solar?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cottonsail View Post
Bought 2, 250 watt Sanyo panels and an MTTP controller from Sun Electric in Miami. The Panels were $.51 per watt. The Outback 80 amp controller was $500. Bought 2" 6061-T6 aluminum tubing and all the bracing hardware from Garhauer. Total was $1156. for a 500 watt system.
Sounds very reasonable!
Could you share us some pictures how you did the mounting?
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Old 28-03-2018, 19:45   #12
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Re: What type of Solar?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cottonsail View Post
Bought 2, 250 watt Sanyo panels and an MTTP controller from Sun Electric in Miami. The Panels were $.51 per watt. The Outback 80 amp controller was $500. Bought 2" 6061-T6 aluminum tubing and all the bracing hardware from Garhauer. Total was $1156. for a 500 watt system.


I’d be interested in seeing where you got the panels from. Seems like a great price.
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Old 28-03-2018, 20:15   #13
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Re: What type of Solar?

Um, Sun Electric in Miami?
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Old 28-03-2018, 21:51   #14
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Re: What type of Solar?

Quote:
What type of solar?
Another type of solar is a parabolic reflecting dish. I have one of these installed and it can be used for:

1) cooking (as hot as a stove) boils water in a few minutes
2) making tar, charcoal, and combustible gas from any carbon base input.
3) sewage treatment (makes charcoal and gas)
4) steam engine (I have a small one)
5) concentrate (even partial) moonlight to make a light as bright as a headlamp, useful for reading at night.
6) cool water below ambient temperature at night, can make ice at 10 celcius.

None of these useful cases require any batteries, wires or electricity!
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Old 29-03-2018, 01:59   #15
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Re: What type of Solar?

Quote:
Originally Posted by spoehlein View Post
I researched this a bit over a year ago and went with a company called Sunpower. I found their panels to be the highest output per square foot and weight on the market. My approximate 3’ by 5’ panel puts out 330 Watts. The footprint was great above the bimini on my Tartan 3500. They are more expensive so if you’re on a budget go elsewhere.
I have an article here reflecting the same conclusions, but with lots more data and an offer for how I made it happen (forwarding my correspondence over a period of more than a year, between all parties).

I agree with the Sunpower conclusion; I wanted the very highest output for the real estate available, and that was via Sunpower.

LOTS more expensive than the cheapest panels available - but the only way to get the watts in the footprint I had. Lots of other reasons to use Sunpower, too, but that's another discussion.

See Flying Pig's Excellent Adventure (An Unbelievable Electrical Upgrade Story - was: "Ba for my comments on my installation...

L8R

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