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Old 25-06-2012, 18:50   #16
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a piece of junk?

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Originally Posted by Cruising Moxy View Post
I found some Sanyos at 300 but have lost the site. I'm not quite ready for them yet so I'll continue the hunt. I only have room for 2 panels so I want all I can get.
Google, cheap 300 watt Sanyo solar panels, They will come up some where,
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Old 25-06-2012, 19:09   #17
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a piece of junk?

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Originally Posted by jram View Post
To be honest they were the right panel at the right price when I needed them. They're of German manufacture and have been great so far!
From the website

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Trina Solar headquarters, Changzhou,
Jiangsu, China

Trina Solar - Company Overview
Something tells me they ain't made in Germany
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Old 25-06-2012, 19:37   #18
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a piece of junk?

I think you'll be hard pressed to find negative reviews of any particular brand of solar panels. And the negative reviews you do find will most likely be from uninformed people with unrealistic expectations.
All manufacturers will have a few defective models in a few runs.

The fact is that the vast majority of panels are made very well and should last dozens of years (at least). The chinese knockoff panels have only been readily available for the last 5 years or so. So obviously the kyoceras and the BP's (or whatever) have a better reputation for long-lasting performance, but it's only because they've been around longer.

It doesn't take an engineer to look at a panel and decide whether it's well made or not. The panel I have is from China, no name, but still came with a 25 year warranty. And judging by its construction and appearance compared to the top brands that I've seen, I see no difference.

There are many people who fear Chinese knockoff's or even name-brands that are made in China, but they have no real basis for this fear. Solar panels are extremely simple, built specifically for outdoors, and it's a new enough technology that they are still being 'made to last'. It's different than other techs that are built specifically to only last a few years. We may see that in the future, but as solar tech stands right now, everybody is trying to build the best they can, and they're doing a pretty good job of it.
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Old 25-06-2012, 19:58   #19
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a piece of junk?

..yes, it seems the type of panel is the first indicator... chips under low-iron glass are the first thing I'd start with. Next, "A name you can trust" 'though callmecrazy's comment is well-spoken. After all, many of those will be built in China, like my IBM laptop is... I think, that just like you Round-Eyes, the Chinese themselves aren't fooled more than once...No-name brands can be moving targets. Which of these are building a long term rep' and which are changing their brand every 6 months after dumping junk on the market?
Counterfeits aside, that is.
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Old 25-06-2012, 20:50   #20
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a piece of junk?

I have had two name-brand panels (same model) suffer water intrusion and corrosion of the conductive foil after just a few years, so it certainly does happen. That company was later acquired by another, larger, company and I think the panels were redesigned, so I am reluctant to give the current name. I am not remembering the original name now, but I could dig for it later. The point is that there are, or have been, design issues with some panels so I do think the OP is right to ask.

The cause of the problem was that the potting plastic used to coat the back of the cells in a commercial (aluminum frame) panel is itself covered with a white plastic sheet. If the terminal box is glued to the white plastic then if the plastic de-laminates from the panel water can migrate from the side of the panel into the terminal box and then into the panel structure along the wires/foil. These days I think the boxes are glued to the potting plastic after cutting away the white plastic. My panels had the terminal box maybe 1/2" from the edge of the panel, and the white plastic separated there fairly quickly but not very obviously. When I noticed the problem (from the top) I easily peeled off the white plastic backing and re-glued the terminal box. Repairing the foil was a pain. I gave them to a needy liveaboard...

Bottom line: look at how the wires are sealed - it has been a point of failure.

Greg
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Old 26-06-2012, 22:32   #21
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a piece of junk?

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Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
I have had two name-brand panels (same model) suffer water intrusion and corrosion of the conductive foil after just a few years, so it certainly does happen. That company was later acquired by another, larger, company and I think the panels were redesigned, so I am reluctant to give the current name. I am not remembering the original name now, but I could dig for it later. The point is that there are, or have been, design issues with some panels so I do think the OP is right to ask.

The cause of the problem was that the potting plastic used to coat the back of the cells in a commercial (aluminum frame) panel is itself covered with a white plastic sheet. If the terminal box is glued to the white plastic then if the plastic de-laminates from the panel water can migrate from the side of the panel into the terminal box and then into the panel structure along the wires/foil. These days I think the boxes are glued to the potting plastic after cutting away the white plastic. My panels had the terminal box maybe 1/2" from the edge of the panel, and the white plastic separated there fairly quickly but not very obviously. When I noticed the problem (from the top) I easily peeled off the white plastic backing and re-glued the terminal box. Repairing the foil was a pain. I gave them to a needy liveaboard...

Bottom line: look at how the wires are sealed - it has been a point of failure.

Greg
I think it would be OK to name the brand, and also maybe specify how old the panels are, and maybe even how they were mounted.

the panels I have didn't come with a waterproof junction box. they were cheap, but a few dabs of silicone solved that issue....
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Old 27-06-2012, 13:20   #22
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

Thanks for all the comments guys. It is much appreciated.


Sailmonkey's comment that his Siemens Panel has worked well for fifteen years is gratifying and the type of information I'm looking for. I mean 2 or 3 years is nothing, right? And when someone tells me that a problem can be solved by rebuilding the frame, I have to wonder where he cruises. I guess rebuilding frames isn't a problem in Florida but once you get away from the US, rebuilding a frame in anything other than 2 X 2 lumber, if possible at all, is problematic and expensive.


I am in the market for my first panel and will gladly give up efficiency for durability. With a very basic boat, one 80 watt panel will do me but it is physically too small for the space I have across my arch. A 135 watt panel will be a better fit for my space. I don't have much cash so this will be a one-shot purchase. I'm hoping to get it right!


Bryan
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Old 27-06-2012, 13:31   #23
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

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I am in the market for my first panel and will gladly give up efficiency for durability.
That's not a trade-off you should have to make. Just pay attention to the fine print in the warranty. Some manufacturers specify that the warranty is voided by marine use. Stay away from those guys and you'll be fine.
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Old 27-06-2012, 17:17   #24
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

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And when someone tells me that a problem can be solved by rebuilding the frame, I have to wonder where he cruises. I guess rebuilding frames isn't a problem in Florida but once you get away from the US, rebuilding a frame in anything other than 2 X 2 lumber, if possible at all, is problematic and expensive.
A Wood Frame for My Home Made Solar Panel - YouTube

seems some ppl can do it ...

and pretty eze ... you gotta know HOW a solar panel works (it's very simple) !
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Old 30-06-2012, 13:10   #25
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

Well Zonker, that certainly is a wood frame but I'm not sure how suitable it would be for a boat, even if I could find the lumber and had power tools on board to do the job. Maybe you could build one outa bamboo... seems to be a lot of that around here.
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Old 30-06-2012, 16:43   #26
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

We have had good luck with Siemens 55 watt panels (starting to discolor a bit after 15 years, but still putting out full power.

We had bad luck with a flexible panel--after one year it had lost about 75% of its output.
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Old 30-06-2012, 18:06   #27
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

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We have had good luck with Siemens 55 watt panels (starting to discolor a bit after 15 years, but still putting out full power.

We had bad luck with a flexible panel--after one year it had lost about 75% of its output.
Which one, I meant the crappy flexible one, Not the good one,
The brand name of the crappy one,

The other Siemens, Shell, Thats really good info, Thanks,
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Old 30-06-2012, 18:10   #28
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
We have had good luck with Siemens 55 watt panels (starting to discolor a bit after 15 years, but still putting out full power.

We had bad luck with a flexible panel--after one year it had lost about 75% of its output.
Our Siemens panel is 12 or 13 years old. She survived a 5 year cruise and almost technically a circumnavigation.. The frame is still in very good shape, she puts out her full rated power though is just now starting to get some clouding. Siemens panels became Shell Solar and are now sold under the Solar World brand. Kyocera builds perhaps thelongest lasting panels for use on the ocean but no complaints crom our Siemens panel..
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Old 30-06-2012, 19:25   #29
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

2 x Kyocera 135W for 2 years now, look and perform just like new.
MPPT controller also is the way to go...simple panel regs throwaway a lot of your power...
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:51   #30
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

If by "a lot of your power" you mean about 20%, you would be right.

MPPT controllers are at their best when the panels are the same (have the same I-V curves) and the panel voltage is well above the battery voltage. In a large installation the panel voltage (peak) may be 2 or 3 or more times the battery voltage, allowing for smaller cables, and the MPPT controller then matches them automagically. In systems with typical panel peak voltage of 17V and nominal 12V batteries (13.5-14.2V), after allowing for resistive drops in the cable, plus diodes if used, the potential for gain is limited. And of course if the panels have different Vpp's then an MPPT controller can't operate all of the panels at peak.

The prices are much higher for MPPT than simple PWM controllers - I could buy an extra panel with as much output as the amount gained with the MPPT, for about the same money.

I am not putting down the MPPT controllers - they are a great technology. I only point out that the gain is smaller than claimed, at least in a typical marine application, and the cost is high. It is another option in lieu of buying another panel, but not dramatically different in result.

Greg
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