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Old 02-07-2012, 19:25   #46
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

For all you solar enthusiasts out there here's a site to give you something to study over
Compare Solar Panels
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Old 02-07-2012, 19:34   #47
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

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Let's have the dirt!
Dozens of respondents have reported that their panels are meeting or exceeding performance expectations over time. The premise of this thread conveys a suspicion that many of us would consider our panels "a piece of junk." However, the more this thread continues, the more faulty that premise seems to be.

Maybe there's just not any dirt out there to be had?
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Old 02-07-2012, 20:58   #48
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

After digging around, I finally identified the two panels that had water intrusion corroding the connecting foils: Solarex MSX-30's. I hasten to add that I replaced them 15 years ago, and that they had been on the boat for 8-10 years beforehand. Also, I was able to repair them by removing some of the potting plastic on the back to get at the foils, and soldering wire to them and then sealing them. (The water never reached the cells.) They may have lasted quite a while after that - I don't know as I gave them away. I would expect that the design has been improved since they were made.

I have known a number of the flexible amorphous panels to have failed - the problem is that the flexing, and particularly any creasing, can cause a failure of the seal - usually through de-lamination. Truly flexible panels can only be made of amorphous silicon, but the form of silicon is not the cause of the failures. However, amorphous takes 2-1/2 times the area of crystalline to produce the same output, so I avoid them in all forms.

Semi-rigid, or semi-flexible, are a horse of a different color. They can be made from crystalline (mono- or poly-) or amorphous silicon, and are quite durable. I have 3 poly-crystalline semi-rigid panels, one Solara on the hatch cover for almost 15 years and 2 Solarex on the dodger for nearly 10 years. While probably not as long-lived as the normal aluminum-frame design, I have yet to see any sign of failure. I also have one of them (Kyocera) on the radar mast for the last 17 years. I see no reason to not expect at least 15-20 years out of a new panel, assuming good design and construction.

Greg
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Old 03-07-2012, 16:47   #49
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

We have a set of Himin solar panels - a company out of China. Theyhave been on the boat for 4 years now and nary a hiccup. I went to order more from this factory and they have (unfortunately) ceased to manufacture panels and are focusing on the evacuated tube water heaters. They are also using this technology to create steam to spin a generator as well.. great for off grid applications, just not OUR off grid application. Don't know too many boats that would be large enough to have one on board.
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Old 07-07-2012, 14:31   #50
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

Thanks to everyone who is participating here.


I'm somewhat surprised that folks seem pretty satisfied with their rigid panels. Some even feel, like 'Bash', that the thread is a non-issue... all panels are good. I'm afraid I can buy that premise: if you have two manufacturers building panels, one manufacturer is going to be doing a better job that the other. Even if marginally. But fifteen years from now, that could translate into an extra couple of years of trouble-free service. Now I realize that doesn't mean much if you keep your boat at the marina and zip over to the Bahamas now and again. But for some one like 'zeehag' and myself, who live on-board and haven't seen a marine store in many years, extended service on any piece of marine gear is desirable. More desirable than efficiency.


And I appreciate hearing from folks who are pleased after two or three years service, but again... it's only a start, really nothing to go on.


The Siemens brand has come up several times, here and on another thread I've been following... cruisers still enjoying trouble-free performance after fifteen years. Am I correct 'Maine Sail' that these panels are now sold under the SolarWorld brand name? Raises an other question, doesn't it? How do the panels they manufacture today compare to the panels they built fifteen years ago?


Thanks again, everyone...
Bryan
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Old 07-07-2012, 15:20   #51
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

2-3 yrs of service??? that is what i get --to START with, from second hand and used panels. my flexible ones onmy ericson are still great after almost 10 yrs. they are UNISOLAR which is a non brand.
even my free from a city where they change em out yearly for hail damage is better than only 2-3 yrs--have had it almost 3 and is still great despite crazed top.

if anyone is having problems with solar panels not putting out, i will gladly take em off your hands...just bring m to me.
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Old 08-07-2012, 19:02   #52
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

Part of the problem with this discussion is that panel manufacturers change hands often, the processes are changed, the materials and material sources also change. This is not much different than computers and other electronic equipment. A good panel may not be available next month and two year old panels are so inefficient by current standards that they are obsolete. It was not long ago that 5-6% efficiency was as good as you could do. Now, 10-12 is the comodity panel and 18% is cutting edge. You might better discuss the maker's warantees. Most panels sold for residential and commercial use have a planned life of many years (some are estimated 50) The coment about 'marine use' is totally valid. Many panels are not rated for marine and salt water exposure.
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Old 12-07-2012, 14:09   #53
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

Nicholson58... I agree with what you say, technology marches forward... but durable, corrosion resistant, water proof panels are not so much dependent on technology but common sense design and superior manufacturing standards. If you know of a panel that is rated for 50 years and built by a manufacturer that will be around to stand behind his claim and has enough respect for his customers to act responsibly to complaints, then I'd sure like his name. My dilemma will be solved!
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Old 14-07-2012, 13:33   #54
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

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Originally Posted by bcripps View Post
Thanks to everyone who is participating here.


I'm somewhat surprised that folks seem pretty satisfied with their rigid panels. Some even feel, like 'Bash', that the thread is a non-issue... all panels are good. I'm afraid I can buy that premise: if you have two manufacturers building panels, one manufacturer is going to be doing a better job that the other. Even if marginally. But fifteen years from now, that could translate into an extra couple of years of trouble-free service. Now I realize that doesn't mean much if you keep your boat at the marina and zip over to the Bahamas now and again. But for some one like 'zeehag' and myself, who live on-board and haven't seen a marine store in many years, extended service on any piece of marine gear is desirable. More desirable than efficiency.


And I appreciate hearing from folks who are pleased after two or three years service, but again... it's only a start, really nothing to go on.


The Siemens brand has come up several times, here and on another thread I've been following... cruisers still enjoying trouble-free performance after fifteen years. Am I correct 'Maine Sail' that these panels are now sold under the SolarWorld brand name? Raises an other question, doesn't it? How do the panels they manufacture today compare to the panels they built fifteen years ago?


Thanks again, everyone...
Bryan
I'm looking at putting solar aboard. I've looked at a lot of stuff all over the www, including here on the forum. I've learned a lot, particularly about how to recognize an answer when I get one. No offense, bcripps, but your question is asked and answered.

It seems to me that the question of durability of (rigid?) solar panels is well answered here - anecdotally, but with overwhelming clarity. Failures within the scope of warranties is rare, some flaws do occur, but not commonly and many (perhaps most) are repairable with good maintenance practices. It also seems fairly clear that products with good warranties for uses other than marine need extra attention to framing, seals, etc., but the base cell construction and system components are otherwise highly reliable and durable. There are very few failure modes for the panels themselves and degradation of performance is very slow. (That's not true of other components of a solar system, and you do need to consider those components, particularly wire sizes and charge controllers, rather carefully, as it seems these are much more commonly the source of problems, misunderstandings and controversy. But since you don't want to contaminate this thread with other aspects of your system planning, I'll let that pass.)

I don't think I've seen - on this thread or anywhere else - reporting of reaching any of these fifty year warranty life spans. I don't think I've seen any reports of panels in service even approaching fifty years in service. And I suspect that whoever sails my boat fifty years from now can't very well complain if my solar panels fail as they approach that life span.

Twenty years of service is not yet common for solar installations and the panels you buy today are not the same as those installed twenty years ago in any case.

What I have seen is reports of panels beginning at 95% of rated performance that still are producing over 90% of rated performance after twenty years. That's not too shabby. Compared to running a gen set or sailing marina to marina, it's a lot better than 'not too shabby.'

Without knowing your age, the collective wisdom of this entire thread indicates that if you go buy and install a decent solar system, selecting panels based on the information here and given the maintenance indicated here, the panels performance will outlast your tenure as owner of your boat. Other components are another matter entirely.
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Old 15-07-2012, 07:45   #55
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

Three Kyocera 24-volt 185 watt panels for 2.5 years. No corrosion, work perfectly.
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Old 16-07-2012, 10:41   #56
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

I get these free training/product pushes all the time as an IEEE member.
This is free and from Keithley (a test equipment manufacturer).


https://event.on24.com/eventRegistra...epage=register

Learn about the different measurement techniques that can be used to electrically characterize solar cells. By attending our seminar, you will learn how to measure short-circuit current (Isc), open circuit voltage (Voc), maximum power output (Pmax), and conversion efficiency, as well as how to select the correct instrumentation and best practices for connecting to the solar device. Sign up now!

When:

Thursday, July 26. Live Broadcast at 2 pm EDT (11:00 AM PT / 18:00 GMT).

What:

The objective of the majority of research into photovoltaic devices is improving the conversion efficiency and lowering the cost of manufacturing. In order to verify that conversion efficiency has improved, a photovoltaic device must be electrically characterized. This seminar will discuss the different measurement techniques that can be used to characterize solar cells.
By participating in this seminar, you will learn and understand:

How to measure short-circuit current (Isc), open circuit voltage (Voc), maximum power output (Pmax), and conversion efficiency How to select the correct instrumentation Best practices to connect to the device
Who:


This seminar is recommended for students, engineers and engineering managers who have a basic understanding of photovoltaic devices.


Length:

One hour
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Old 30-07-2012, 15:15   #57
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

Gosh!!!!

Ok, let's make this really simple. Will someone out there who is completely satisfied with their panals after ten years, PLEASE give me a brand name?

Bryan
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Old 30-07-2012, 15:24   #58
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

unisolar. now try to find em. mine are 10 yrs old now.
my kyocera are 7-8 yrs and
my bp--gawdsonlyknow......bought used.
they are all good panels and reliable after much abuse and age.
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Old 30-07-2012, 19:48   #59
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

Kyocera commercial panel and Solara semi-rigid panel - both 15 years and going strong.
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Old 31-07-2012, 15:26   #60
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Re: Why is YOUR Solar Panel a Piece of Junk ?

Thank you.
Any one else care to make a
recommendation?

Bryan
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