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Old 07-18-2018, 08:06 PM   #1
Bee
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Solar Panel Question

Does anyone have experience with flex versus rigid solar panels for airstreams? Can you provide the pros and cons for both? Has anyone used the Zamp solar brand, and what are your thoughts and experience with them?
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Old 07-19-2018, 06:18 AM   #2
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Welcome Aboard 👍

Used IPC Flex panels for a few Seasons...35w. Did not work out very well due to where we camped a lot at the time. PITA to set up also.

Just got the the Zamp 120w 'suitcase'. Big improvement!
Check the specs...USA made 🇺🇸
With the Classic batteries buried in two separate compartments it is much easier for us to charge thru the 7pin charge wire, it's been working very well, could not be more pleased. 👍

Bob
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Old 07-19-2018, 06:42 PM   #3
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You loose efficiency with flexible panels from the get go. When added to an air stream roof, you loose a whole bunch more due to the heat build up. you should be able to find some charts online showing the percentage. But when the aluminium it soo hot to touch, its quite a lot.
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Old 07-22-2018, 09:04 PM   #4
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Flexible ones aren't as efficient or as durable... but on the bright side every time you go to replace them the technology is likely to have gotten better!
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Old 07-22-2018, 10:25 PM   #5
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Warranties on flex panels are typically one year, or in some cases none at all. Warranties on rigid panels are typically ten to twenty years. That pretty much tells the tale.

In addition, as Shermy pointed out, putting flex panels right up against your roof means they will get hot, and hot solar panels are inefficient. Also, your roof will get hot. Would you paint your roof black? That's essentially what you're doing when you put a solar panel up against the metal.

I've used both types, and I do carry a couple of 100 W flexible panels for occasional use on the ground for supplementary power (e.g., when parked under trees). But I don't expect them to last very many years. I've already seen friends' flex panels fail. I would never put flexible panels on my roof.
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Old 07-22-2018, 11:09 PM   #6
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I used 3 Renogy 100w flex panels in 2015. Lasted about 3 months and never charged very well. 2 went south and Renogy was kind enough to refund all 3. I really wanted flexible panels to work and looked at them for 2 years hoping they would get better. They didn't.
2018 bought 3 100w renogy eclipse panels used in exactly the same configuration and night and day difference in charging .
wont look at flex again.
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Old 07-22-2018, 11:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bee View Post
Does anyone have experience with flex versus rigid solar panels for airstreams? Can you provide the pros and cons for both? Has anyone used the Zamp solar brand, and what are your thoughts and experience with them?
For several years, Airstream was encouraging their dealer network, to install Zamp solar panels on all Airstream trailers being sold and then bill the Zamp solar as a dealer option.

Now, I understand that all Airstream Trailers are leaving the factory fully pre-installed with Zamp Solar. My 2018 FC 25FB came with the Zamp 160W units on the roof. The Zamps are extremely high quality and very efficient. I then moved my Airstream under an RV port for future protection, rendering the roof units . This required a portable 160W Zamp system to maintain battery charge. Right now everything is working great with both Zamp solar units. And for boondocking; I now have total 320 watts solar available.
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Old 07-23-2018, 12:38 AM   #8
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welcome Bee, i've used flex-panel for portable operation[ham operator],like others they did not last. as for Zamp products; they are good, but they wire their plugs reverse from industry standard. this is not a problem unless you wire non- Zamp panels into your system without knowing this. kurt
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Old 07-23-2018, 05:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ke6gkv View Post
welcome Bee, i've used flex-panel for portable operation[ham operator],like others they did not last. as for Zamp products; they are good, but they wire their plugs reverse from industry standard. this is not a problem unless you wire non- Zamp panels into your system without knowing this. kurt
Reverse...interesting though that red still goes to red and black to black, just don't muck with the wiring on the unit itself.
We're charging thru the 7pin, working great.
Very impressed the Zamp quality. 👍
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Sweet Streams....🌥
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Old 07-24-2018, 11:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ke6gkv View Post
welcome Bee, i've used flex-panel for portable operation[ham operator],like others they did not last. as for Zamp products; they are good, but they wire their plugs reverse from industry standard. this is not a problem unless you wire non- Zamp panels into your system without knowing this. kurt
FYI... Renogy sells a "Zamp to MC4 (or whatever)" converter wire. About $10.
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