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Old 01-07-2022, 16:04   #1
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Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

Hi,


I know flexible panels are fragile but since it's for a stealth van I want to buy some and protect them to extend their life. I thought of 2 enhencing ideas:
- adding glue on the front side so they don't delaminate when I drive my van
- put a glass on top of the panels, so the top layer does not get damaged too quickly (it is known it get blurry with time, and shrinks)
Do you thing these ideas are useful?
Thanks
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Old 01-07-2022, 16:15   #2
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

The best way to protect them is to store them below in a dark place. This is what I do and my friend also does it. The panels will last a long time if you keep them out of UV and dont allow them to flex (store somewhere they are not bent by something)

When you need the extra power, then deploy the reserve panels.

typically a few weeks in the winter is all. The rest of the time, the panels in frames are enough and they are far more durable (40 year life vs 6-8 year life for semi flexible) You can get the 40 year life this way.
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Old 01-07-2022, 16:21   #3
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

Thanks for your help.
I can't store them since I'll mostly live in the RV, they will be on the roof all the time.
I cant buy framed panels, I'd like to stay stealth and remain under a certain heigth. But it's not the subject


In fact my concern is, if I put a thin glass sheet on top of the panels, I'm afraid it will decrease the panel's power.
But after thinking about it, framed panel have a glass layer on top of them too, so it should be fine
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Old 01-07-2022, 16:47   #4
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

The problem with glass over the semi flex is heat. Theyíre already going to be hot because they have no air circ below them. Cover them with glass and the top is now hot.

Best option is to buy better flex panels.

Iíve got sun power semi flex panels on the dodger that have been there for 4 years and donít show any real signs of dying yet.

Previously I had much cheaper panels there that went foggy in about 2 years.
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Old 01-07-2022, 18:52   #5
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
Best option is to buy better flex panels.
What he said.
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Old 01-07-2022, 20:14   #6
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

If you are going to add glass to flex panels why not just remove the frames from rigid panels. Flex panels have a much shorter life. Rigid panels produce more power per square foot.

Best of both worlds would be to remove the frames and figure out how to mount them on a low profile backing. Something stiff with a lot of ventilation openings. Some kind of open grid.
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Old 02-07-2022, 03:22   #7
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

I didn't thought of the heat problem... As a matter of fact that's a real concern.
I'll let an air gap between the panel and the glass sheet, by putting silicon/glue only on regular interval not on the whole perimeter. That's what I'm planning to do on the bottom too when fixing the panels to the roof.


That's a very good idea to remove the frame from rigid panel I didn't think of it. I've never seen a rigid panel in real life so I can figure out if it is easy to remove it or not, with all the wiring to do, but it's a bit late now since I've already ordered the panels though


Thank you very much for your help guys !
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Old 02-07-2022, 04:51   #8
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

Glass will hold in heat resulting in reduced efficiency, premature aging and accelerate delamination. Remove them when not using them or cover them with a light colored breathable cover, preferable not touching them.
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Old 02-07-2022, 06:02   #9
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

Unless the height problem is so you can get in and out of a garage door go with good solid panels designed for RV's. I have a sister-in-law who lives in a converted 1976 long dodge 3500 van about 70% of the time. She tried several different setups that worked for short times then she would redo. She wised up spent money on a good setup designed for an RV and after 3 years still going strong. Her setup allows TV on her iPad during the day, plus charges her backup batteries for night use. For air she uses a 5000kw gen set. When cold sets in she is in the west and south.
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Old 02-07-2022, 06:59   #10
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

I have had Solbian panels on my sailboat's canvas bimini for four years. They were mounted and in use for 36 months of that time. I stored them inside during 12 months of winter storage when they weren't needed. So far I have not seen any reduction in output. If this is for an RV, you might consider some sort of opaque cover that you could place on top of them while you are driving, when they are at highest risk of damage and you presumably don't need them to generate power as your alternator should be doing that for you. Otherwise they are probably fine remaining mounted and uncovered, producing electricity.
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Old 02-07-2022, 09:34   #11
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

Quote:
Originally Posted by emelina View Post
Hi,


I know flexible panels are fragile but since it's for a stealth van I want to buy some and protect them to extend their life. I thought of 2 enhencing ideas:
- adding glue on the front side so they don't delaminate when I drive my van
- put a glass on top of the panels, so the top layer does not get damaged too quickly (it is known it get blurry with time, and shrinks)
Do you thing these ideas are useful?
Thanks
I would avoid coating with anything, as UV can degrade coatings quickly, and "cloud" the panel.
Perhaps a "turtle shell" of some sort to affix to the van roof.
When not needed, the panels slide into it, and are concealed, stealth.
And when needed, slide them out, and put on top, being sure to secure them against wind issues.
Easy Peasy.
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Old 02-07-2022, 10:09   #12
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

Quote:
Originally Posted by warren5421 View Post
Unless the height problem is so you can get in and out of a garage door go with good solid panels designed for RV's.
How are hard panels "designed for RV's" any different than a quality hard panel?

Upon a quick search didn't see any panels specifically designed for RVs. Maybe you have a good idea into marketing regular panels specially designed for RVers.

Would go with hard panels on top of the RV vs flexible. Biggest downside might be make certain the panels are securely bolted down to handle 60+ mph speeds on the highway. Could add an air deflector in the fwd edge of the panels to reduce air lift under the panels.

Also possibly consider a set of suitcase type panels. These could be set up remotely in a sunny area when the RV is parked under trees/in the shade.
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Old 02-07-2022, 14:10   #13
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

Thanks for the suggestions, very much appreciated.
I will cover the panels during the night to protect them.
I can't cover them while driving becaue I need them to charge the battery, in case the alternator is not sufficient.
Ok I abandon the idea to put a glass on top of them becaue of the potential heat it would create.
I read in some reviews that some people don't took off the adhesive protection sticked on the panel when they receive it, and despite this the panel was producing fine. So I guess putting a very thin transparent layer of some plastic sheet would be fine to protect the cells...
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Old 02-07-2022, 20:44   #14
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

What are you trying to protect your panels from? A quality panel with ETFE film will last many years when it is properly installed with no flex.
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Old 03-07-2022, 04:16   #15
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Re: Protecting flexible solar panels with glass?

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Originally Posted by bcboomer View Post
What are you trying to protect your panels from? A quality panel with ETFE film will last many years when it is properly installed with no flex.

I bought cheap flexible panels I don't think they have an ETFE layer. I know what I bought is garbage but I'd like to make them last more.
Even ETFE flexible panels don't last long in general, according to reviews. Flexible panels are not very durable.
But I'm sure I can pimp them to enhance their life on my roof.
Protection for delamination is one important thing to do first.
Then add a transparent layer to avoid UVs damage, rain, wind, shrinking, etc
It won't double their life but I'm sure they could last longer though
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