Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
  This discussion is proudly sponsored by:
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about their products on Cruisers Forums. Advertise Here
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 15-02-2020, 16:49   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 5
Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

I've been reading about flexible solar panels vs rigid ones, as well as possibly just buying a whole solar kit, to save time and headache, since I need most of these components anyway.

I really like the concept of the flexible panels - just more aestetically pleasing in my eye, less tripping hazard, and can conform to the curves of the surface. But can anyone give me some "real world" numbers of the output they see from one? Any other downsides I'm not considering?
__________________

patrickvan3 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-02-2020, 18:33   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Bellingham
Boat: Outbound 44
Posts: 8,248
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

Yes.
Flex panels offer a lot in the way of installation options. They do not last as long as rigid panels. Maybe 4 years.
My current flex panels are aluminium backed and doing better than my previous set.
__________________

__________________
Paul
Paul L is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 15-02-2020, 19:09   #3
Senior Cruiser
 
skipmac's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: 29 49.16 N 82 25.82 W
Boat: Pearson 422
Posts: 14,618
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

Have read a number of reports of flexible panels overheating and catching fire. Search the forum for a long discussion about this.
__________________
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
Sometimes it's necessary to state the obvious for the benefit of the oblivious.
Rust is the poor man's Loctite.
skipmac is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 15-02-2020, 19:36   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Marina del Rey
Boat: Hunter 31
Posts: 1,103
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

Flexible panels are cheap and provide rates current initially. If you put them on a dodger or bimini they will not last long due to the constant movement of the surface. In my case the set lasted for 14 months. On a hard surface there should not be much difference to regular panels. If you think of them as consumables, replacing them often, it makes sense.
Pizzazz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-02-2020, 20:54   #5
Registered User

Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: canada
Posts: 2,939
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

Because You bought cheap ones ^. The good ones are not cheap.. Some flexible ie gioco have a 5 year warranty and ~15 year lifespan. Soliban is Likely simular.
smac999 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-02-2020, 22:18   #6
Registered User
 
rsn48's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, BC
Boat: 1969 29 Grenfell Express Cruiser design
Posts: 704
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

I am going to link you to Will Prowse, a young guy easy not to take seriously. But if you follow this guy on his solar panel videos, you will be impressed. I suggest you use this link to watch other of his videos:



Here is the link he talks about in this video near the end. He does make recommendations for both fixed and flexed:

https://www.mobile-solarpower.com/solar-panels.html
rsn48 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-02-2020, 01:30   #7
Registered User
 
CatNewBee's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2017
Boat: Lagoon 400S2
Posts: 2,869
Images: 3
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

Yes, I had and no, I won't do it again.

They are expensive, have a short life and emit too little power for the real estate they take, the plastic detorates quickly and they become blind over time, mounting them is a pita, if you mount them on a flat surface you need to glue them on, makes removing / replacing a nightmare, also thermal issues may arise for the panel cooling (less power) and fot the structure below (risk of fire), thermal extensions and contractions in day/night and seasonal cycles puts a lot of stress on the cells resulting in bending and microfractures, stepping on them too.

Mounting them with straps let them flex and brake the cells even faster.

Rigid glas panels are superior, the glas carrier has very similar thermal behavior like the silicium of the cells, perfect fit, airflow below the frame ensures cooling and keeps the heat away from the structure below. And there is up to two times more energy collectable per square inch. A 360Wp panel has the size of 3 x 5 ft. There are no such figures for flex panels.
__________________
Lagoon 400S2 refit for cruising: LiFeYPO4, solar and electric galley...
CatNewBee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-02-2020, 02:44   #8
UFO
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Perth
Boat: Lagoon 440
Posts: 457
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

Just heard about see through (clear) flexible solar panels - Apparently increases efficiency by removing the heat issue.


Anyone heard anything about these?
__________________
https://www.thecruisingcat.com
UFO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-02-2020, 09:39   #9
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Scotland
Boat: 42ft Moody Ketch
Posts: 530
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

you can mount then using a double sided tape (velcro or others ) this allows certain amount of air to pass underneath this allows cooling, those that tested them in a desert setting and waiting until they burned as usual are not tested properly.
They can be walked on , testament to my large dog that liked to lie on them
They can be fitted with a slight curve as I did , issues the cheaper ones do not give out as much power , they are a problem in very high winds , mine came loose with Gusts up to 50 knots , they are lighter so does not affect my boats topsides, I do not know of longevity as I have had then 2 years and still working
tarian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-02-2020, 09:47   #10
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 348
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

I put 4 on my bimini 4 years ago. Cheap off of eBay about $100 each. I mounted them with snaps...have been good to 42 knots of wind so far.


The array maxes out at about 15 amps if I keep the boom out of the way.
I like my boat to look nice rather than a mad max configuration is the main reason I went flexible.


I'll just replace them with other cheap ones if they wear out.
Eder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-02-2020, 09:54   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 15
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

I bought a cheap flexible panel from Amazon, about $100 for 100 watts. The plastic coating started turning opaque within a year. (I assume from UV damage.) After 2 years, it's producing only 75 watts. I'm mostly using it to maintain the batteries during periods of non-use so it's still effective. I understand this is a common problem.
ikanode is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-02-2020, 10:02   #12
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Currently in Hawaii
Boat: Cooper 416
Posts: 411
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

I've used both, and now I only would use rigid panels.

First, the energy conversion efficiency of solid panels compared to flexible panels is greater in general. Also, as the solar panel array heats up the energy conversion of flex panels drops significantly. This is because most flex panels are installed in such a way as to prevent heat dissipation.

Also, as mentioned they simply do not last as long as rigid panels.

IMHO, they are useful for "trickle charging" but not nearly as useful for providing a good source of power to keep batteries charged.
__________________
-----------------------------------------------
S/V Discovery 15797 (https://www.QuestsOfDiscovery.com)
WA7WJR & XV9WJR
Discovery 15797 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-02-2020, 10:06   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Traverse City, Michigan
Boat: Hinterhoeller Niagara 35
Posts: 155
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

All solar cells are made with thin slices of semi-conductor glass and are therefore fragile if flexed sharply across the width of the individual cells.

Our aluminum backed semi-flexible panels are mounted on a light mahogany frame on top of the Bimini. Our fellow sailors need to be told we have solar. 4 seasons with no breakage problems. The frame allows air circulation underneath the panels, so no overheating. We were beginning to notice a small decline in performance towards the end of last season, maybe due to UV degradation of the plastic top covering. We'll see this spring how it looks, and order a new set (they're inexpensive) if needed.

We have a low power demand set-up: !00% led lighting, PC based raster chart navigation with AIS receive only, VHF, Raymarine autopilot which we use mostly when low-wind motoring, 12v refrigeration in a very well insulated top loading box. 200 watts (rated) of solar runs it all with no problems. The solar puts an average of 1 kw/hr into our 440 ah Trojans each day. We need significant cloudy weather when we are cruising before we need to supplement the solar with the engine. On our mooring, even in cloudy weather we don't worry about it. The beer is always cold, and the batteries are always happy.

I would not recommend putting flexible panels on top of canvas with no backing, or on the cabin top where they can be stepped on.
Boatwright is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-02-2020, 10:08   #14
Writing Full-Time Since 2014
 
thinwater's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Deale, MD
Boat: PDQ Altair, 32/34
Posts: 7,101
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

I've had both. Glass lasts a lot longer and has higher output for longer.
  • Glass if you have a place where no one walks (catamaran hard tops, for example).
  • Flex only if glass just won't work (sport boat).
  • If people walk there, expect to spend a LOT of money or have them not last.
For a dodger or bimini, I'd build a frame. Flexing on the cloth is a classic cause of death.


You also can't get around the heat problem with flex. A thin layer of corrugated material does not really drop the temperature as measured. No airflow to speak of. Not only does heat reduce life, it also dramatically lowers output, even when new.



Yeah, flex is so cool looking and it is lazy, but there are downsides. I will not install flex unless I really don't have a choice, and I will expect mediocre output and longevity.
__________________
Gear Testing--Engineering--Sailing
https://sail-delmarva.blogspot.com/
thinwater is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-02-2020, 10:23   #15
Registered User
 
Sailor647's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Cruising Mexico
Boat: Norseman 400
Posts: 287
Re: Does anyone have flexible solar panels installed? Would you do it again?

We went with hard panels because to many of our friends had the flexible panels burn out and fail. They need to be mounted with air space underneath them so they can cool off.

Whatever you choose, be sure you can get to them and wipe them off when they get dirty. We are cruising in the Sea of Cortez and have to wipe the desert dust off them at least every other day.

Once cleaned, we see an immediate amp output of 15%. In good sun, we can reach 25 amps. Average is probably 18-20 amps throughout the day.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0937.jpg
Views:	248
Size:	448.6 KB
ID:	208879  
__________________

Sailor647 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
panels, solar, solar panels

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
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
Flexible Solar Panels you can Walk On geoffr Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 18 11-12-2019 03:57
What replica would you have if you could have it? Pyroprone Off Topic Forum 15 27-10-2019 21:27
Does the law require a SV to have an installed head? glcalahan Liveaboard's Forum 13 14-08-2019 07:03
Would you have or do you have a yeti solar got seashells? Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 3 23-07-2013 07:40
Flexible / Low-Profile Solar Panels? Paul Elliott Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 13 13-01-2010 10:48

Advertise Here


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 20:02.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.