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Old 05-09-2006, 06:17 PM   #1
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Flexible Solar Panels

My buddy Gary Minnick has been turning me onto solar stuff for years. My home is powered by a wind turbine and solar panels too. Gary turned me onto a flexible amorphus solar panel. It conforms to the radius of an Airstream. It is a peel and stick thing, Each panel is about 15 inches wide and about 9 feet long and puts out about 68 watts of power and it is less effected by shading than the usual single cell crystal panels. Unisolar is the manufacturer or you could contact Gary at 631 727 2224. His website is gosolar.com
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Old 05-09-2006, 06:46 PM   #2
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Howdy, Joe!
How much solar do you have on your trailer at this point?
And heck, where's your house with the turbine??
You can PM me about that one...
-Chuck
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Old 05-09-2006, 09:37 PM   #3
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If you can find 9 un-interrupted feet on the top of your Airstream go for it.
When I ordered my Trailer I asked them rigid or flexable. They said Rigid. I now have two 53 Watt BP Solar Panels, charge controller and oversized batteries.
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Old 05-10-2006, 12:10 AM   #4
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House applications?

Joe -

Sounds like pretty good output on the SP's. Is there a rigid counterpart that might be applicable to those of us in the SW US. We have tax breaks and the whole shebang, but it isn't worth the trouble to me if it isn't efficient....

Gosh, I sound like a typical american, fat, lazy, couch sitting, starbucks drinking, potato chip eating, beer swilling, domino eating, cheap gas wasting, subwoofer listening, funship cruise going, hummer driving, non off roading, I wanna be somebody, etc.....

ALL present company excepted!!!

Not that I am down on anybody that is any of the above. In fact, if you are - MORE power to ya!

OK, back to solar. Is there any house app. out of the stuff you are talking about Joe?

Just curious.

Peace

Axel
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Old 05-10-2006, 04:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverToy
Gosh, I sound like a typical american, fat, lazy, couch sitting, starbucks drinking, potato chip eating, beer swilling, domino eating, cheap gas wasting, subwoofer listening, funship cruise going, hummer driving, non off roading, I wanna be somebody, etc.....
I knew it!! I am half american...

Fat - well not fat , but a little too much
lazy- well...
couch sitting - yes
starbucks drinking - no, starbucks around here...
Potato chips - yes
beer - yes, yes, yes
domino - no - joeys - yes
cheap gas waisting- no cheap gas overhere! waisting? - yes
subwoofer - yes
funship - no
hummer - no (see cheap gas)
non off-roading - yes
I wanna be somebody - yes (sad, but yes)


Ok, back to solar now...

Where have you put the flexibles. more to the curved sides or in the middle of the roof?? And what did it cost (app.)?? Was much more than rigid ones??


Bjoern
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Old 05-10-2006, 08:00 AM   #6
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There are commercial applications. Like attaching it to flat roofs. If you built your house with a flat roof then you can consider the flexable panels. No holes in the roof!
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Old 05-10-2006, 09:03 AM   #7
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The flexible panels are less efficient (fewer watts / square inch)....but they are nice because they are thin, self-stick, and yes, they are more shade-tolerant. If you shade 5% or so of a standard panel, you lose something like 50% of your power. If more than that is shaded, you have virtually no output. With the flexible (amorphous) panels, the decrease in output is more in proportion to the amount shaded. My numbers may not be exact, but the concept is surely correct. It would be inefficient (more cost per watt) to use these on flat roofs - a flat roof is where a flat panel would shine (pun intended).
When they install these long panels on Airstreams, they DO usually go to the side, toward the curved part of the trailer roof. I will try to attach a photo of one of these being installed in an impromptu fashion at a recent rally. Of course, it was so warm and sunny that the backing on the sticky panels was resisting removal, so you can see the look of displeasure on everyone's faces.
-Chuck
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Old 05-14-2006, 09:18 PM   #8
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Dear Friends, sorry I have been remissed in getting back to everyone, we had our grandchildren down for a few days and we are preparing our trip to International and onto Alaska.
Funchucky, call me on my cell I would love to show you a tour of the wind turbine and the other solar stuff.
Yes there is a rigid counterpart to the flexible solar panel. I have mounted 2 of these on my present trailer which is a 34 ft. I have a total of 2-rigid 64 watt amorphus panel, a 32 watt single crystal panel and a newly installed 68 watt flexible amorphus panel that has not been wired in yet, maybe this week if the weather holds out.
We first experimented with the flex panels about 5 or 6 years ago. They worked perfectly. The only reason that I put the rigid amorphus panels on my current trailer is that the flexible ones were not available at the time.
I have been away from electric and boon docking for as long as 5 1/2 months without shore power. On board my trailer we have 2 lcd tvs, 2 dvd vhs players, sat. tv reciever, desktop computer, microwave, hair dryer, vacuum and more. We run all on a 1750 watt inverter. We have 2 series 27 flooded batteries and one 95 amp hour AGM.
I don't see the advantage of having a rigid module. They require more mechanical fastners and become very obvious. With the peel and stick I only put in 3 or 4 rivits into a piece of alum. threshold that I use to secure the leading edge, the rest of the module is fully adherered to the surface.
These amorphus modules are less effiecient per square foot of roof area but they are highly resistant to shading. You need to determine if you will be camping on the beach in open sun or in the woods and under the trees or a combination of both. I chose to use both types. With all the grey skys and rain Gary told me he was getting about 5 amps today. I am an efficiency nut, from my tow vehicle to the water savers on my faucets at home and in my trailer. I beleive that a hybrid system using both technologies was the best for my wife and I. Peace Joe
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Old 03-07-2007, 07:51 PM   #9
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Update??

I'm looking at the flex panel setup for my little Argosy 20. It is about the only thing which will fit on top of any size. I've had a couple of dealers say they don't recommend it. Has anyone had any trouble with the flexible Unisolar panels at all? Has anyone had them on for a few years? One dealer said they can slip, but I didn't figure out what he meant by that.

Other idea is to make an awning type setup for the rear window with a conventional style flat panel.
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Old 03-07-2007, 08:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecatsandi
If you can find 9 un-interrupted feet on the top of your Airstream go for it.
When I ordered my Trailer I asked them rigid or flexable. They said Rigid. I now have two 53 Watt BP Solar Panels, charge controller and oversized batteries.
Michelle,
Where did they mount your two BP Solar panels? I'm in the process of drawing out the schematics of my roof for AMSolar to get the best placement of my intended solar panels. I'll either be using BP 100 watt or 65 watt panels.
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Old 02-17-2009, 10:40 AM   #11
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Simple solar

Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaArgy View Post
I'm looking at the flex panel setup for my little Argosy 20. It is about the only thing which will fit on top of any size. I've had a couple of dealers say they don't recommend it. Has anyone had any trouble with the flexible Unisolar panels at all? Has anyone had them on for a few years? One dealer said they can slip, but I didn't figure out what he meant by that.

Other idea is to make an awning type setup for the rear window with a conventional style flat panel.
Only 30w and used mostly to keep batts charged long term, but have been using them for three seasons now with no concerns. Mounted on rear end cap w/suction cups. Pretty simple, but works for us.
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Old 02-25-2009, 12:23 AM   #12
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We considered flexible panels for the Tradewind solar project some years ago but after some research (I also do engineering for solar radio repeater sites) they were a definite nonstarter. You need the highest efficiency you can get; the sun delivers about 1 kW per square meter at noon in the summer. The better flexible/amorphous panels get 5 to 7 percent of that out as electricity, while the better single/polycrystalline (rigid) panels can be up to 15 percent. You just don't have enough area on an Airstream to waste. We have a 60 watt panel on the roof and another that we chase the sun with (since we typically park at least partially shaded). That is enough to keep two golfcart batteries up for a week of boondocking, if all we use is water pump, radio and occasional lights.
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Old 02-25-2009, 11:17 AM   #13
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I first read about thin film solar in Mother Earth News some time ago. It sounds like a good idea. They are much more durable than the traditional solar panel, which is good if you are going to be driving around with it on your roof. The effeciency is not bad as claimed here. They have some good advantages over glass panel solar, such as higher output at less than ideal conditions. They are also better at handling heat without loss of output. I don't think slippage is much of a concern as long as they are installed correctly. I would be concerned about the leading edges lifting over time, but that should not be too much to fix if it does happen.
I'm attaching a pdf from unisolar for your info.
Go Green
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Old 03-21-2009, 03:38 AM   #14
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Viking-

I am also thanking of putting a Unisolar PVL-68 on my Airstream. Does anybody have any long term experience with how these panels hold up over the years? Any issues with leaks or mold etc?

Thanks

jd

Quote:
Originally Posted by VIKING View Post
I first read about thin film solar in Mother Earth News some time ago. It sounds like a good idea. They are much more durable than the traditional solar panel, which is good if you are going to be driving around with it on your roof. The efficiency is not bad as claimed here. They have some good advantages over glass panel solar, such as higher output at less than ideal conditions. They are also better at handling heat without loss of output. I don't think slippage is much of a concern as long as they are installed correctly. I would be concerned about the leading edges lifting over time, but that should not be too much to fix if it does happen.
I'm attaching a pdf from unisolar for your info.
Go Green
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Old 03-21-2009, 04:19 AM   #15
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I find the whole area of solar way too confusing. The efficiency of standard panels seems to be 12% at best. Some of the newer solar approaching 20%.
What wattage does the prewiring on AS's allow? Are those green and yellow wires all wired in and ready to go, or, is other equipment beyond the panels required?

Tom
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Old 03-21-2009, 06:09 AM   #16
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I find the whole area of solar way too confusing. The efficiency of standard panels seems to be 12% at best. Some of the newer solar approaching 20%.
What wattage does the prewiring on AS's allow? Are those green and yellow wires all wired in and ready to go, or, is other equipment beyond the panels required?

Tom
Me too!! Got 30w of flex panels 3 yrs ago. No real problems, keep them clean work well. Nice for keeping batts up between outings but not much help 'dock'n.
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Old 03-21-2009, 09:43 AM   #17
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Robert, thanks for posting the pictures. Are your flex panels hooked directly to the battery or are you running them though the pre-wire cable?
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Old 03-21-2009, 10:03 AM   #18
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What about......................

For those concerned with finding space on top of the trailer.....Mounting the solar panels on the tow vehicle?
BTW I have been hearing about a new metal roofing product for homes that has built in solar collectors. It looks like a regular metal roof.
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Old 03-21-2009, 10:24 AM   #19
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A problem with that type of panel which hasn't been mentioned is that because the amorphous silicon panels are electrically "lossy" the manufacturers generally design in extra cells to compensate for the loss. This scheme works well until you hit some Texas summer days and the panel output shoots up to over 18 volts. If you're not using a charge controller between the panels and your batteries, you can come back after a week away and find your expensive AGM batteries swollen up like portugese men-of-war on the beach and ruined, due to being over-voltaged. This can happen even with a 5 watt battery maintainer panel so always plan on using a charge controller.
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Old 03-21-2009, 02:12 PM   #20
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Crusty,

The trade off is these panels work very well in shade and sun. I live in the Pacific Northwest. We do not see the sun most of the year! Also, I have already purchased a charge controller. I would never hook up a panel direct to the batteries. Your just asking to kill them.


mandolindave - If I hook them up on the T.V. With a charge controller how do you get the juice to the trailer battery bank?

ROBERT CROSS - Nice set of 30 watt flexible panels. Where did you get them?

Again, I was hoping somebody who has mounted Uni-solar panels on their airstream a few years back could chime in with their experiences.

Thanks




Quote:
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A problem with that type of panel which hasn't been mentioned is that because the amorphous silicon panels are electrically "lossy" the manufacturers generally design in extra cells to compensate for the loss. This scheme works well until you hit some Texas summer days and the panel output shoots up to over 18 volts. If you're not using a charge controller between the panels and your batteries, you can come back after a week away and find your expensive AGM batteries swollen up like portugese men-of-war on the beach and ruined, due to being over-voltaged. This can happen even with a 5 watt battery maintainer panel so always plan on using a charge controller.
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