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Old 24-11-2021, 11:49   #1
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flexible vs rigid solar panels

I'm trying to figure out the best options for solar panels. Flexible ones sewn into the Bimini seems to be the most practical. Some tell me flexible kind don't work as well. Anyone have experience with them?
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Old 24-11-2021, 12:36   #2
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

My experiences with flexible panels has been lousy. They first cloud, cutting output, and then they fail. All within 2-3 years in sub-tropical sun
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Old 24-11-2021, 12:49   #3
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

Flexible panels are **** and people need to stop buying them.


Rigid panels will give you more power per m2 and last longer.


Every time you bend a "flexible" panel your cracking the silicone structure and reducing its output. A rigid panel can keep its mono crystal structure with the framework provided.



Flexible are getting better but IMO you will have a better solution with rigid. Build a nice mount and it wont look super ugly.
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Old 24-11-2021, 23:18   #4
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

I've been through two sets of cheap (Aliexpress purchases) flex panels. I use two rigid panels on my arch and two flex on the bimini. The flex panels deliver a little less power and lot less life. But they are cheap and have some significant installation advantages in certain situations.
The second set of flex panels I ordered with an aluminum backing. These have held up better, are still light and easy to install.
I only expect 3 or 4 years life out of flex panels vs more than double that for rigid. But that is OK by me as they are cheap, available and install where I need them.
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Old 25-11-2021, 07:04   #5
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

This is not a new topic. I have posted on it before. Anyway, I have 2 Kyocera 450 W panels above my bimini on a frame. I have had them for 10 years now. Other than washing bird droppings off from time to time, no maintenance and they still charge fine. I could not be convinced to switch to flexible.
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Old 25-11-2021, 07:06   #6
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

Unisolar are for roofs, GLUE them directly, avoid any additional weight for frames etc. My ones are over 10 years. Great for catamaran
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Old 25-11-2021, 07:08   #7
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

You can be certain of disappointment, over time with flexible panels.
Though cheaper new, than PV glass, they produce about 60% of the power by area, than glass PV, and have about 20% of the life.


They can be walked on, occasionally, amd can be bent over slight curves. Apart from that, they are conspicuously less effective.
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Old 25-11-2021, 07:26   #8
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

I have 720w of flex on my bimini, and 720w of hard solar on a solar arch, and the output between the two is night and day. The flex bank of panels puts out 1300w on an average day, while the hard gets closer to 2500w.

Both have their uses, I.e flex while outputting less, is better than nothing if you want to put them in smaller, awkward (I.e. curved) places or on a bimini.
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Old 25-11-2021, 07:51   #9
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

We have 800 watts of Flexibles on our Bimini on four 15/75 VictronConnect controllers so any partial shading isnít too bad on the rest. We canít do a arch as weíre a schooner with a long boom.
I can take them down in less then 30 minutes as part of stripping of all windage and do so every winter to prolong their life and they are virtually invisible. So far love the setup!
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Old 25-11-2021, 09:00   #10
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by canman View Post
We have 800 watts of Flexibles on our Bimini on four 15/75 VictronConnect controllers so any partial shading isn’t too bad on the rest. We can’t do a arch as we’re a schooner with a long boom.
I can take them down in less then 30 minutes as part of stripping of all windage and do so every winter to prolong their life and they are virtually invisible. So far love the setup!

How long? Like the man who jumped off the roof and said "so far, so good!"

The problem is durability, so until 10 years has passed, no information. They all work when new. Rigid will go 20 years. Rigid, only 2-10, depending on the installation. Less if they flex, and nearly always >10 if mounted to the deck with good support.

Rigid is much better when practical, flexible when it is not. I've used both.
---
BYW, conventional wisdom is that removing them for the winter may do more harm than leaving them up. Every time they are flexed, even slightly, they accumulate micro-cracks, which eventually rob power. It seems counter intuitive, but I doubt that taking them down helps.
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Old 25-11-2021, 09:30   #11
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

We have limited space on our stern and so utilized the curved surface of the dodger top. I actually got two SS tubes to follow the curve, mounted to the handholds and then mounted a double thickness of greenhouse plastic on them.

I mounted two flexible 70W solar panels to the greenhouse plastic and hooked them up to a Victron 75/15. New installation (since July) but working well so far. The panels, while curved, do not flex very much at all while underway. We live aboard so I donít remove them
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Old 25-11-2021, 10:16   #12
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokeys Kitchen View Post
We have limited space on our stern and so utilized the curved surface of the dodger top. I actually got two SS tubes to follow the curve, mounted to the handholds and then mounted a double thickness of greenhouse plastic on them.

I mounted two flexible 70W solar panels to the greenhouse plastic and hooked them up to a Victron 75/15. New installation (since July) but working well so far. The panels, while curved, do not flex very much at all while underway. We live aboard so I donít remove them

I just bought two 70 watt flexible panels and I'm still working out the best way to mount them. What you did looks interesting. Could you post more photos of your set up? Also, do you have both panels wired to a single Victron 75/15, or, do you have two separate MPPTs?
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Old 25-11-2021, 12:57   #13
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

I've got 588+ watts of bi-facial on curved bimini frame. Only a year and a half old but zero flutter or flex in 45 knots of wind from any direction. Dry and shaded at the helm and I saved a few bucks by not having fabric.

A huge difference in weight.

Only time will tell, but I'll replace them with the same if they fail.
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Old 25-11-2021, 15:53   #14
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

We bought a boat this year with 590 watts (4 panels) of flexible panels on the bimini. The panels were installed in 2018 and the PO took the boat to Mexico for a winter. One of the panels had to be replaced when we bought it (the PO included the replacement in the sale) and we discovered later that a second panel had to be replaced ... it had burned a small cigarette sized hole in the fabric underneath it. So 2 panels in 3 years. The panels have zippers sewn onto them and are zipped to a fabric cover attached to the bimini.

We had 4 flex panels (375 watts) on our previous boat for 3 years with no known problems. Obviously not long enough to really evaluate. I had attached the panels to the bimini with velcro, sewn onto the bimini, glued to the panels and also covering the strataglass panel in the bimini - velcro strips glued to that panel.

The attachment in our new boat is a superior way to do it imo. I was regularly having to clean green slime from the underside of the panels (and the bimini) where the bimini sagged a bit and water would pool. The velcro really grips and I found it awkward to lift for cleaning. And you could always see the slime through the strataglass. The current boat doesn't have the slime growth issue - perhaps better drainage from the bimini - but the I find the zippers much easier to use in removing or just lifting the panels.
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Old 25-11-2021, 16:05   #15
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Re: flexible vs rigid solar panels

The real front of PV cell development is the use of perovskites. These dramatically increase the efficiency of PV's. There are many articles on the web with the Wikipedia site probably being the most up to date. The expected efficiency (incident light energy to electrical) increase is (very roughly, depending on a number of parameters) from about 20 % to over 30 %.

Longevity and failure under various conditions is currently the main area of research.
It may be advisable to hang on for a while to see when and how these new panels hit the market. At this stage flexible panels with perovskites seem to be very unlikely though.
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