Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 13-10-2011, 10:40   #1
Writing Full-Time Since 2014
 
thinwater's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Deale, MD
Boat: PDQ Altair, 32/34
Posts: 4,350
Which Solar Panels Are Known to Fail ?

(Let's skip the cheap dash-board type. Only >50W exterior pannels.)

I've followed threads where the mantra stated any brand other than Kyocera would cause your boat to sink . I think we can all accept that there are differences in quality. But new brands only grow and competition only works if performance is measured.

Who has stories of failure to share? I'll go first.
  • I had a Sharp panel that failed after 2 years (edge seal failed). I was given a replacement panel that didn't fit the frame, and sold the boat a year later.
  • A nieghbor has a Kyocera panel that is in 3 pieces because someone fell on it.
  • I have heard a few stories of panels lost in storms or smashed by docking errors.
Not all manufacturer error, but s__t happens. I've very nearly fallen on pannels, panels that were safely mounted on a dodger.
_________________________

Let's talk about brands that have proven not to hold up well.
__________________

__________________
Gear Testing--Engineering--Sailing

Writing full-time since 2014.
Bookstore:http://sail-delmarva.blogspot.com/20...ook-store.html
thinwater is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2011, 11:55   #2
Marine Service Provider
 
Maine Sail's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Maine
Boat: CS-36T - Cupecoy
Posts: 3,060
Re: Which solar panels are know to fail?

Siemens panel (formerly Shell solar and now Solar World) with 5 year 24/7 cruising under it's belt plus another 2 before the cruise and 5 years for us... Still putting out full amperage at 12 years in the marine environment. Not much electrical on a boat, outside the boat, lasts that long..

That said I install a fair number of panels and Kyocera is likely what I will be replacing this one with. I have seen my share of cheap panels that are badly corroded, j-boxes leaking or breaking off the back of the panel and some delamination but most of those were no-name eBay panels. With eBay panels the label on the back often just gives specs but no brand name. heck they hardly put out what they say they are rated for. With most "brand name" rigid panels I have not seen many issues.

There are a lot of good panels out there but not all will warranty for the marine environment. I am thinking of trying a UL Solar panel as the price is good but this would be more of a Guinea pig deal for me than anything else. I'd still be leery of installing them on a customers boot when I know how reliable the Kyocera panels are.
__________________

__________________
Marine How To Articles
Maine Sail is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2011, 12:09   #3
Senior Cruiser
 
roverhi's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Kona, Hawaii, Carlsbad, CA
Boat: 1969 Pearson 35 #108 & 1976 Sabre 28
Posts: 6,006
Send a message via Yahoo to roverhi
Re: Which solar panels are know to fail?

I've got two Kyocera 130 watt panels on my boat. They've done a TransPac with me and have been installed on the boat for more than 3 years, still going strong. I bought them used from a guy who switched to larger panels on his boat. Don't know how old they actually are but they are a testament to Kyoceras construction quality.
__________________
Peter O.
'Ae'a Pearson 35
roverhi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2011, 12:24   #4
Sponsoring Vendor
 
Tellie's Avatar

Community Sponsor

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Hollywood, Fl.
Boat: FP Athena 38' Poerava
Posts: 3,046
Re: Which solar panels are know to fail?

Two 120W Kyoceras, five years going and still putting out as much as when I first installed them. Dropped a screw driver on one a year ago while working on the boom from about five feet. My heart sank but the panel suffered no damage. I think it was more my lucky day than anything else, but now I always cover them with a thick blanket when working above them. I think their ability to last depends a lot on installation as well as construction of the panel itself.
Tellie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2011, 15:24   #5
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: between the devil and the deep blue sea
Boat: a sailing boat
Posts: 17,314
Re: Which Solar Panels Are Known to Fail ?

I have seen:

- a brand new bendy panel go to pieces when the owner bent it over the bimini roof (he may have overdone things though),
- bendy panels de-laminate,
- bendy panels rust,

I have never seen damage in rigid alloy frame poly / monos unless hit by a hard object - on either side (actually much worse if they get hit from below).

b.
__________________
barnakiel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2011, 15:29   #6
Moderator
 
Boracay's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Pelican Bay, Great Sandy National Park
Boat: Steel Roberts Offshore 44
Posts: 5,175
Images: 18
El cheapo fan...

I brought two bottom of the line 10W panels as a start to keep my batteries topped up. One failed after a few months so I took it off, found a wire had come loose, soldered it back and all has been going fine for more than a year. Quicker than taking it back.

I just brought a bottom of the line "MPPT" regulator with display off ebay. Stopped working so I checked all the wiring until I found a circuit breaker had tripped when I turned on the radio. Probably shouldn't have a circuit breaker in there.

I'm now about to wire in a bottom of the line 40W panel, also off ebay. Third the price. We'll see how it goes.

I think the cable will cost more than the panels.
__________________
Rust never sleeps
Boracay Blog.
Boracay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2011, 15:35   #7
Registered User
 
SV Demeter's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Cruising Eastern Caribbean
Boat: Wauquiez Amphitrite 43- Demeter
Posts: 1,164
Re: Which Solar Panels Are Known to Fail ?

Im going to also try the UL panels. I have traded emails with sales rep and they have been very responsive and encouraged me to call to place the order and answer questions about warranty and such over the phone. I plan to order (4) 100 watt panels but I may just get one to start that way if its junk and does not put out what the specs say I will only eat shipping back on one. Mainsail please advise if you have any other news on UL. I see UL panels also being sold on Ebay with good feedback FWIW..
__________________
SV Demeter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2011, 15:51   #8
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 19
Re: Which Solar Panels Are Known to Fail ?

Isn't this going about things backwards?

Shouldn't it be "which ones hold up?"

Aurinco panels (Aurinco solar start page) hold up extremely well, won't shatter (you can walk on them) and come in different shapes/sizes/wattage levels so you can build an array that actually fits the boat, instead of plunking a bunch of big panels on and having to make the boat fit them. They're reasonably flexible, and made for the marine environment.

They're expensive. List price is $552 for a 50w panel, but you get discounts as you buy more.

I make no money from Aurinco and am not affiliated with them, beyond having used them before. I just really hate using the clunky aluminum and glass units when something so much sleeker is out there. I've used Kyocera, Siemens, GOPower! etc and they all seem the same, big and clunky.
__________________
Mathil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2011, 16:09   #9
Writing Full-Time Since 2014
 
thinwater's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Deale, MD
Boat: PDQ Altair, 32/34
Posts: 4,350
Re: Which Solar Panels Are Known to Fail ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathil View Post
Isn't this going about things backwards?

Shouldn't it be "which ones hold up?"

Yes... and no. It seems we are only hearing success stories, and not failure stories. A statistician might assume from this that there are no failures. So, either the no-name panels are doing better than we think, the sailors who have failures won't admit to them, or not enough time has passed on the latest generation of panels. I'm thinking it is probably the latter; we simply don't know.

That, and there is another thread that is running along those lines. Ying and yang.

Yup, the Aurinco panels are cool--saw them at the boat show and talked to the maker-- but at $1920 vs $320 for what I needed, I can't see the point. Additionally, they do not claim the long-life of glass panels, as the plastic will age.
__________________
Gear Testing--Engineering--Sailing

Writing full-time since 2014.
Bookstore:http://sail-delmarva.blogspot.com/20...ook-store.html
thinwater is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 14-10-2011, 05:15   #10
Registered User

Join Date: May 2011
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 234
Re: Which Solar Panels Are Known to Fail ?

I realize that house panels will have an easier life than ones on boats. But my 9 x 167W Sharp panels at home have just clocked up 9MW in 3.5 years. Amazing how it adds up! They aren't showing any noticeable performance drop. Don't know how good Sharp is with regard to corrosion at sea though.
__________________
Morrissey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-10-2011, 17:33   #11
Sponsoring Vendor
 
OceanPlanet's Avatar

Community Sponsor

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Woolwich, Maine
Boat: Sold it!
Posts: 401
Send a message via Skype™ to OceanPlanet
Re: Which Solar Panels Are Known to Fail ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathil View Post
Isn't this going about things backwards?

Shouldn't it be "which ones hold up?"

Aurinco panels (Aurinco solar start page) hold up extremely well, won't shatter (you can walk on them) and come in different shapes/sizes/wattage levels so you can build an array that actually fits the boat, instead of plunking a bunch of big panels on and having to make the boat fit them. They're reasonably flexible, and made for the marine environment.

They're expensive. List price is $552 for a 50w panel, but you get discounts as you buy more.

I make no money from Aurinco and am not affiliated with them, beyond having used them before. I just really hate using the clunky aluminum and glass units when something so much sleeker is out there. I've used Kyocera, Siemens, GOPower! etc and they all seem the same, big and clunky.
Aurinco's 10yr warranty is impressive, especially for (semi)flexible panels.

Solbian has some very interesting new lightweight high-output panels. Incredibly light in fact...remains to be seen how they hold up vs. Aurinco/etc. Very high output/area ratio. Solbian claims they are "walkable" however I'd be wary of putting them in trafficked areas. Most obvious use for them is sewed into biminis & dodgers (they are available with zippers sewn onto the edges).

Fyi, I had the old flexible Solara panels on OceanPlanet, which were nice but unfortunately eventually deteriorated starting from the edges and junction boxes. Solara was bought by another Germany company and evidently improved however I don't think anyone sells them in the U.S.
OceanPlanet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-10-2011, 17:40   #12
Sponsoring Vendor
 
OceanPlanet's Avatar

Community Sponsor

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Woolwich, Maine
Boat: Sold it!
Posts: 401
Send a message via Skype™ to OceanPlanet
Re: Which Solar Panels Are Known to Fail ?

Another nice feature of Aurinco (and an option with Solbian) is the wiring exiting the back of the panel so it can be run right through the deck when mounting flat on the deck. Since the junction boxes seem to be the weakest link in deck-mounted panels (a few kicks may break their bonding to the panel), the through-deck wiring is a great idea. I remember in 02 in Antigua taking all the junction boxes off the old Solara's, and soldering wires to them. I drilled holes straight through the deck, ran the wires through and bonded on a composite protective plate where the boxes had been. Added a couple more years of use.
OceanPlanet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-10-2011, 00:18   #13
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Santa Cruz
Boat: Boatless Again
Posts: 4,335
Re: Which Solar Panels Are Known to Fail ?

We tried a flexible Solara panel on a trip across the pacific, and the output was down over 75% by the end of a year in the tropics, probably due to the use of plastic covering rather than glass--the cover went opaque and delaminated in large areas, even though we never bent or walked on it.

OTOH our Siemens aluminum and glass panels are still putting out almost as much as when they were new 16 years ago, although it looks like they are starting to get some white spots.
__________________
donradcliffe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-10-2011, 04:55   #14
Registered User
 
Tortuga's Lie's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Virginia
Boat: Tartan 4100
Posts: 384
Re: Which Solar Panels Are Known to Fail ?

I have a cheap, no-name 45W panel that charges my 8D battery which opperates my boat lift at the house. This panel is going on 4 years without an issue.
On the sailboat, I have two Kyocera 135W panels that are only two years old, but haven't given me any hiccups yet.....Time will be the judge!

You could inquire on the solar forums which would include both marine and land-based applications.
__________________
Tortuga's Lie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-11-2013, 09:30   #15
Registered User
 
Cpt Pat's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2012
Boat: Pearson Ariel, 26 feet
Posts: 158
Re: Which Solar Panels Are Known to Fail ?

I've replaced three Aurinco panels so far due to water intrusion after less than three years of service. I now have two more panels that have failed. The causes of the water intrusion are:

1) Abrasion of the coating protecting the output wires at the bottom of the panel. The wires protrude above the aluminum backing (you'll feel bumps where the wires protrude) and rub on the surface to which the panels are mounted. Once the coating is worn away exposing the wire insulation, wicking and vapor pressure causes water to intrude into the panel. This seems to happen first at the positive (red) lead. Look for discoloration of the joint where the output wire is soldered to the bonding strip. That junction will change color from metallic to beige or brown. Once salt water gets in, the aluminum bonding strip rapidly dissolves and the panel fails.
2) Delamination of the panels at the edges. Look for discoloration, raised edges, and visible water inside the panel.

None of my failed panels were mounted on severely cambered surfaces.

The purchase price for two panels was refunded (I didn't replace them) and one was replaced. I am waiting to hear from Aurinco about the two recently failed panels. I'm considering replacing them with a Kyocera panel (at 1/3rd the cost).
__________________

__________________
Cpt Pat is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
solar

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Solar Panels - Series or Parallel ? noelex 77 Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 180 13-08-2016 02:48
What About 'these' Solar Panels ? SV Demeter Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 119 07-05-2012 20:19
Solar Panels and Birds D&D Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 11 28-09-2011 05:07
85 Watt Solar Panels - Where to Buy ? SV Demeter Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 7 06-07-2011 16:39



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 16:45.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.