Flexible Solar Panels

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Is Will Prowse still down on all flexible panels? I have boat application where panels have to be installed on a canvas top. Rigid panels just aren't an option in my case. Looking at reviews I see Renogy and Sunpower being recommended. Not interested in throwing money away, but wouldn't be the first time!
 

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JCSchwarb

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Is Will Prowse still down on all flexible panels? I have boat application where panels have to be installed on a canvas top. Rigid panels just aren't an option in my case. Looking at reviews I see Renogy and Sunpower being recommended. Not interested in throwing money away, but wouldn't be the first time!
I say try it and report back. What’s the worst that can happen? Do it quickly so you can return them if they don’t meet specifications. You will need to consider shade issues and sun angle regardless of panel type. Need 90 DEG orientation to the sun and little to no shade, facing south. Laying any panel flat and facing north is going to give very poor results.

Based on the sun angle in the photo, you may want to consider a light weight substrate to mount the flex panels on and have several methods of attaching depending on how your boat is facing.
 
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RudyGreene

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Flexible panels work, but they're fragile and lose performance quickly. I have a 220w flexible panel that is almost three years old and it's output is about half from when it was new. If flexible is your only option, just factor the cost of replacing the panels every few years.
 

KITROBASKIN

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Flexible panels work, but they're fragile and lose performance quickly. I have a 220w flexible panel that is almost three years old and it's output is about half from when it was new. If flexible is your only option, just factor the cost of replacing the panels every few years.
What brand is reducing output like that? Do you know specifically why? Some of us lack that knowledge.

Seems like if you don´t harm them by moving them around roughly...
Sunpower is so expensive and their warranty for flexible panels is not as long as rigid panels, right? But if your application demands flexible, as JCSchwarb says, you will help us all with your experiences. Seems like having realistic expectations would be important.
 

BUCKET LIST II

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I say try it and report back. What’s the worst that can happen? Do it quickly so you can return them if they don’t meet specifications. You will need to consider shade issues and sun angle regardless of panel type. Need 90 DEG orientation to the sun and little to no shade, facing south. Laying any panel flat and facing north is going to give very poor results.

Based on the sun angle in the photo, you may want to consider a light weight substrate to mount the flex panels on and have several methods of attaching depending on how your boat is facing.
Thanks for the reply ... good info. Unfortunately, when swinging around at anchor you don't have any control over your orientation. Short of unplugging each panel to check output, is there an easier way to isolate each panel to make this determination?
 

JCSchwarb

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I say try it and report back. What’s the worst that can happen? Do it quickly so you can return them if they don’t meet specifications.
Thanks for the reply ... good info. Unfortunately, when swinging around at anchor you don't have any control over your orientation. Short of unplugging each panel to check output, is there an easier way to isolate each panel to make this determination?
Watch the sun throughout the day will give a good idea. Look up sun angles in your area. I am in FL so from winter we are at 38 deg and 86 deg angle late June.
 

BobR

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Is Will Prowse still down on all flexible panels? I have boat application where panels have to be installed on a canvas top. Rigid panels just aren't an option in my case. Looking at reviews I see Renogy and Sunpower being recommended. Not interested in throwing money away, but wouldn't be the first time!
Look at Sunman flexible panels. According to the sunman rep. I talked to (email); the Renogy 175 watt flexible panels are Sunman panels.
 

BUCKET LIST II

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Look at Sunman flexible panels. According to the sunman rep. I talked to (email); the Renogy 175 watt flexible panels are Sunman panels.
Thanks for the tip ... I see they offer a 5 year warranty for mobile installations (10 year for fixed). Their 430wh panel caught my eye, but don't know if it's Renogy also, or what cells they use.
 

MisterSandals

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I have boat application where panels have to be installed on a canvas top.
Just out of curiosity, what are you expecting to power from your solar panels? Keep batteries topped off?

How many panels/watts do you plan on installing? The space on top does not look very big and attaching anything to the canvas looks difficult, especially to hold up in wind.

You should contact this guy in Scotts Valley as he seems to advertise lots of panels at good prices. Not sure if he has flexible panels. Its nice having local businesses to deal with.

 

BUCKET LIST II

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Just out of curiosity, what are you expecting to power from your solar panels? Keep batteries topped off?

How many panels/watts do you plan on installing? The space on top does not look very big and attaching anything to the canvas looks difficult, especially to hold up in wind.

You should contact this guy in Scotts Valley as he seems to advertise lots of panels at good prices. Not sure if he has flexible panels. Its nice having local businesses to deal with.

Thanks for your comments ... It's time to replace my lead acid house bank. Using this opportunity to upgrade to Lithium. Also planning to replace my inverter/charger at the same time, so solar won't be far behind. The bimini is approximately 10'x10' so should have enough room for panels. I'm also replacing the entire flybridge canvas and strataglass, so will have installer incorporate a suitable anchoring system that has yet to be designed (open to suggestions at this point). A neighboring boater is using magnets on his install and swears by them. I'll check out your Scotts Valley recommendation. Thanks ...
 

v_green57

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All flexible panels suffer from the same problem:

Their top layer is clear plastic, not glass. UV causes the plastic to "fog" which eventually reduces panel output.

There are two types of plastic overlay available last time I checked (can't remember what they are). One holds up longer than the other.

But neither of them can compare to glass. I only use them in portable applications because they are so much lighter in weight which makes them easier to shlepp around.
 

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BobR

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Thanks for the tip ... I see they offer a 5 year warranty for mobile installations (10 year for fixed). Their 430wh panel caught my eye, but don't know if it's Renogy also, or what cells they use.
I have been unable to find 430w Sunman panels in the US.

The Sunman factory Rep. told me that the 175w Renogy panels were supplied by them (Sunman) that's all I really know about Renogy panels.

Renogy buys from several manufacturers and re-brands them to Renogy.

Sunman will sell you panels direct; but you have to buy at least 3, 50 foot H shipping containers full.
 

BobR

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Thanks for your comments ... It's time to replace my lead acid house bank. Using this opportunity to upgrade to Lithium. Also planning to replace my inverter/charger at the same time, so solar won't be far behind. The bimini is approximately 10'x10' so should have enough room for panels. I'm also replacing the entire flybridge canvas and strataglass, so will have installer incorporate a suitable anchoring system that has yet to be designed (open to suggestions at this point). A neighboring boater is using magnets on his install and swears by them. I'll check out your Scotts Valley recommendation. Thanks ...
When installing on a bimini in southern waters realize that the panels will radiate heat downward through the canvas. I would incorporate some type of waterproof insulation under the panels.

You might want to look here for some ideas on removable mounting to canvas tops. ( I have no affiliation) https://www.custommarineproducts.com/blog/attaching-a-flexible-solar-panel-to-your-bimini
 

BobR

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Thanks for the reply ... good info. Unfortunately, when swinging around at anchor you don't have any control over your orientation. Short of unplugging each panel to check output, is there an easier way to isolate each panel to make this determination?

Thanks for the reply ... good info. Unfortunately, when swinging around at anchor you don't have any control over your orientation. Short of unplugging each panel to check output, is there an easier way to isolate each panel to make this determination?

Here is a short article on orientation of panels on boats: https://www.pysystems.ca/resources/articles/solar-panels-series-vs-parallel/
 
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