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Old 11-12-2014, 05:40   #1
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Which solar panels- best / where to buy

After leaving the boat In the yard for too long, we returned to find our 2 large pole mounted solar panels stolen. Now we need to get new ones but want to make sure we are getting good ones. Any suggestions on where to buy ( we are in northern FL ). The old ones charged 8 amps. Is there a brand that is typically used / better quality ? Any help would be appreciated !!!


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Old 11-12-2014, 05:54   #2
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

In FLA, sunelec.com and svhotwire.com come to mind. There are dozens of online sellers. Outside of the FLA is emarineinc.com and Arizona Solar and many more
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Old 11-12-2014, 05:59   #3
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

We have had Kyocera on now for over 8 years and they still look good and are doing a great job. Combined of course with BlueSky 3024i mppt controller.
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Old 11-12-2014, 06:04   #4
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

I like the Solbian panels if you want to save weight or sew them onto the bimini/dodger:
http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/solbian_solar_panel




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Old 11-12-2014, 06:40   #5
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

Look into Grape solar from Home Depot. Efficient monocrystaline panels assembled in Oregon from foriegn cells. Good warrenty, well packaged for shipping which is free. The online reviews are worth reading.

Also, monocrystaline cells retain more output at lower angles which helps for marine use.

Lowe's them as well but the price is higher. Or is it the other way around?...... can't remember.
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Old 11-12-2014, 09:31   #6
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

Hi

I don't think that the brand makes as much a difference as you might think. 100 watts is 100 watts. I bought HyPower panels on ebay. The important thing to remember is that shading is the real problem for marine use. Just the shadow of your hand can cut the output of a 100 watt panel by half (as previously posted here--with a u-tube link of the drop). The shadow of your mast could cut it even more.

You have to get mono panels, of course, and I recommend getting several smaller panels instead of one big one. I bought 16 25-watt panels to put on my catamaran roof. If one is shaded (or broken, for that matter), I only lose 25 watts instead of 100.

Some people recommend flexible panels, but I was afraid of the durability and having to replace them more often. You may still want the flexible anyway. Still, get several smaller ones for the shading and breaking problem. My small panels (about 1 foot by 2 foot) will follow the gentle curve of my big roof.

Oh, the reason the shading is a problem is that to get 12 volts (actually 18) is that it takes a series connection of 36 solar cells to get there. Shade one, and the current drops for all. The panel's current output is limited by the smallest current output of any one cell (the series connection). It would be great if there could be a diode on each cell, but the voltage drop because of the diode is greater than the cell's output voltage.

Happy hunting (I am an Amazon and ebay fanatic---and the off season prices are great).
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:07   #7
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

What book(s) are recommended for reading on the planning, installation, and use of solar panels on a boat. I've contemplated adding panels on my boat for a while now but I just don't know anything about their setups.

Rick
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:34   #8
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

I have 3 x 60w monocrystal from ebay (Chinese) they produce 9-10 amps in Ireland (54 deg north) During March to October. They are there 3 years now and still pumping out full power. I have them on a sun tracking motorised turntable so they are mostly at right angles to the sun.This is very important if you want to get the most out of them. They work great, I combine them with a 500W wind turbine and a 100w water turbine to achieve virtually 100 % of the boats needs while cruising. They charge 3x 12v 230 ah house batteries and 1x 230 Ah start battery and also a 48v 30AH electric Bike Battery thru an air cooled 56V Dc to Dc converter / Charger. An additional Bow Thruster 180AH battery is also kept topped up. A good controller with Dump load is essential. MY dump load heats up the hot water thru a 500w Dc water heater element and when the water temp reaches 45 degrees it further diverts to a 300w DC air heater During the winter months the wind turbine does most of the work and does help to keep dampness at bay. On one occasion I visited to find the boat pleasantly warm with the wind turbine running the air heater and all Batteries full.
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Old 11-12-2014, 11:35   #9
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

Quote:
Originally Posted by unanchored View Post
After leaving the boat In the yard for too long, we returned to find our 2 large pole mounted solar panels stolen. ... ( we are in northern FL ).
Which boatyard?
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Old 11-12-2014, 14:34   #10
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

try e-marine in florida, they have good deals on the good brands
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Old 11-12-2014, 16:11   #11
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip St1 View Post
I don't think that the brand makes as much a difference as you might think. 100 watts is 100 watts.
We'd disagree with that. The official ratings are done in lab conditions, comparable to direct overhead and unobstructed sunlight in cool-ish temperatures...and that's fairly remote to what you're going to experience on a vessel.

The other critical factors in panel performance (NOT reflected in the official ratings) are...
  • limited light, i.e. overcast...
  • low sun angles...and/or...
  • high temperatures.
Each of these factors can make a very big difference in panel output.

On top of that, cell efficiency is very important, although to some degree that's reflected in the official ratings. Cell efficiency translates to more output per panel 'footprint' area...and where footprint area is limited (like on a vessel!) that becomes critical. A high efficiency panel will provide a lot more output per footprint area than a low efficiency panel. So the point here is that you need to check not only the rating, but the rating expressed over the panel area.

We use SunPower as we believe they're simply the best available, on every one of the above issues. Experience suggests, however, you may struggle to find a SunPower partner in Florida interested in a vessel installation as the panel numbers involved are so small. Happily vessels in Australia don't suffer that barrier...because they can source their panels from us!

The only negative to SunPower that we found (which didn't matter to us, thankfully) is there is only one panel size available...and that size may not suit a vessel with very limited panel area.

Good luck in your search!
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Old 11-12-2014, 16:51   #12
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

Are there any tests in which solar cells (or panels) have been tested with regards to:
- efficiency with regards to illumination
- efficiency with regards to temperature
- efficiency with regards to sun angle?

I agree with the poster who says a 100W is a 100W. The only other figure you may find in the spec sheets is the reduction in output for each degree rise in cell temperature. But who says the two panels from different manufactures get to the same cell temperature with the same sun input.

The advertised output is with a cell tempetrratue of 21 degrees C - AND - a short flash of light as to not heat up the cell. Not very realistic at all. So, do not expect to get 100W from a 100W panel unless you operate it in low ambient temperatures.
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Old 11-12-2014, 17:11   #13
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

Sun Electric in Miami was a 3 hr ride each way and good prices
great guys and saved on shipping and told my wife how about we stop
and visit south beach.
I have 2-195 watt panels mounted from my arch on my 2007 Hunter 36.
Nick
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Old 11-12-2014, 17:55   #14
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

We bought 3 sanyo HIT 220 watt panels about 3 years ago. 18 % efficient. Higher efficiency means smaller panels or more watts. The new stuff gets better every year. The old panels from only about 7 years ago were 6%. I'd pay more for efficiency. I recently found pretty good flex panels that can be stored under a mattress. I plan to add one just for the laptop.
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Old 11-12-2014, 18:03   #15
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Re: Which solar panels- best / where to buy

Actually, Home Depot is now advertising 180 watt "RV" panels for considerably less than I've seen them anywhere else.
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