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Old 10-30-2018, 03:52 PM   #1
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Replacing solar roof flex panel

How do I replaced this panel that is no longer delivering amps? What is the white caulk dealer used and can I just remove the screws, use razor blade on the caulking and place new one where old one was with new caulk?
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Old 10-30-2018, 04:48 PM   #2
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Howdy,

It seems like the flex panels are OK for a year or so...... then they lose their ability to generate power. I have removed about 40 of these and they are not only sealed at the outside edge, but have double stick tape along the edges below the panel and several strips of the stuff below the panel itself.

First, remove the caulking and then the screws holding down the panel. Then start to lift the panel from the short side...... you will eventually get it off.

I would suggest using a hard panel in its place, along with a Victron solar charge controller if you want this to last more than a year or so.

Good luck!
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Old 10-30-2018, 05:18 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by lewster View Post
Howdy,



It seems like the flex panels are OK for a year or so...... then they lose their ability to generate power. I have removed about 40 of these and they are not only sealed at the outside edge, but have double stick tape along the edges below the panel and several strips of the stuff below the panel itself.



First, remove the caulking and then the screws holding down the panel. Then start to lift the panel from the short side...... you will eventually get it off.



I would suggest using a hard panel in its place, along with a Victron solar charge controller if you want this to last more than a year or so.



Good luck!


Thanks. Remove the caulking by cutting as with a razor? Or a solvent to remove?
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Old 10-30-2018, 07:00 PM   #4
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Thanks. Remove the caulking by cutting as with a razor? Or a solvent to remove?
I'd try using a plastic putty knife first, then clean off the remains with plastic razor blades. If the caulk is soft, this may work well.
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Old 10-30-2018, 07:51 PM   #5
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I'd try using a plastic putty knife first, then clean off the remains with plastic razor blades. If the caulk is soft, this may work well.
This^^^^. I'm a new Airstream owner and was at the Alumalina rally this past week and they had a seminar on this and also suggested using only plastic or wood and nothing metal to protect the skin. They also suggested using WD-40 to help loosen the sealant up in this process. Wooden Tongue depressors were also suggested.
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Old 10-30-2018, 09:01 PM   #6
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Try using a heat gun ... carefully... it will soften the sealant / adhesive
WW
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Old 10-30-2018, 09:09 PM   #7
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Caulk

What is the caulk to use to put the new panel on?
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Old 10-31-2018, 11:00 AM   #8
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lewster,

your statement: It seems like the flex panels are OK for a year or so...... then they lose their ability to generate power.

I put 3 100 flex panels on my '64 globetrotter. Is this a blanket wide product problem, or select panels.

thanks
diane
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Old 10-31-2018, 11:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
Howdy,

It seems like the flex panels are OK for a year or so...... then they lose their ability to generate power. I have removed about 40 of these and they are not only sealed at the outside edge, but have double stick tape along the edges below the panel and several strips of the stuff below the panel itself.

First, remove the caulking and then the screws holding down the panel. Then start to lift the panel from the short side...... you will eventually get it off.

I would suggest using a hard panel in its place, along with a Victron solar charge controller if you want this to last more than a year or so.

Good luck!

Hello Lew,


After reading what you have said, I thought great, ours panels are domed. However our flex panels are coming up on 2 years w/no sign of failure. Spent some time researching life span of flex solar panels on line. Did not really find any one answer and or domed issues. What I did find from many was cleaning and and care of. Warranties for flex panels are less than hard faced panels.



So my question to you is why and what is going on w/these flex panels that you have replaced? Why are they going bad?


Your experience and opinion is greatly appreciated.


Best regards and safe travels
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Old 10-31-2018, 12:26 PM   #10
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Howdy,

Most of my experience is with the Go Power panels that are found on the Airstream Interstate. These degrade rapidly and unless maniacally cleaned at regular, short term intervals, are just about worthless. Couple this with the controller that Airstream has used for a decade (or more) and you get a product that effectively will simply not work well or not at all in a short order.

I have tried these soft panels from several manufacturers about 3-4 years ago and they all have been effectively worthless after a short duration on the roof.

My suggestion is ALWAYS hard panels; either permanently located on your roof or a portable unit (up to 200 watts) that always seems t keep giving you the solar power that you have paid for.

Please let me know if any of you have more questions.

Thanks!
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Old 10-31-2018, 01:00 PM   #11
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Use scraper blade on multitool. Who’s going to see a couple of scratches on roof. Finish cleaning with carb cleaner. Saves hours.
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Old 10-31-2018, 05:19 PM   #12
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Recommend considering the following semi-flexible solar panel that we use. We did not want the raised roof profile presented by the rigid solar panels.
Solbian high-power semi-flexible panels
Solara walk-on high-power semi-flexible panels
Not all flexible panels are created equal.

Have been thinking of an awning where the panels zip together...

73/gus
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Old 11-01-2018, 09:29 AM   #13
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Plastic Scrapers

I don't know if these Harbor Freight scrapers will help, but the guys on TheVAP recommend they're use on aluminum, so they may be handy.

https://www.harborfreight.com/4-piec...set-95832.html
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Old 11-02-2018, 05:09 PM   #14
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We started using Flex Panels 10 years ago on our Alto trailers and Airstream's 6 years ago. Once we knew that ducted air was coming we started testing them on Airstream's just because the flat panels are so unattractive on the more curved roof of the ducted air units. We install approximately 250 a year.

To date we have not had any failures that I know of and we have plenty of customers that have pretty substantial systems who keep an eye on them. In June I tested at 2012 which was our first one with flex panels against a 2012 with flat panels. The flat panels were 90 watts vs the 100 watt flex panels. The current output was very close to even.

I wonder with our northern location that the panels are not subject to the extreme heat they would get in southern locations in the summer time? Having said that though our Alto products are all over Texas Arizona and Florida. Most of those have 12 volt fridges so we would know if the panels had died.

I too do not care much for the Airstream charge controller, we have changed out several to other brands.

I hope this helps.

Andy
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Old 11-02-2018, 05:12 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by lewster View Post
Howdy,

Most of my experience is with the Go Power panels that are found on the Airstream Interstate. These degrade rapidly and unless maniacally cleaned at regular, short term intervals, are just about worthless. Couple this with the controller that Airstream has used for a decade (or more) and you get a product that effectively will simply not work well or not at all in a short order.

I have tried these soft panels from several manufacturers about 3-4 years ago and they all have been effectively worthless after a short duration on the roof.

My suggestion is ALWAYS hard panels; either permanently located on your roof or a portable unit (up to 200 watts) that always seems t keep giving you the solar power that you have paid for.

Please let me know if any of you have more questions.

Thanks!
Purchasing fc 23 new. Will use my current portable solar but would use the flex one dealer installs if he will add to the deal as long as he also puts in Victron no charge. The flex one is for battery charge while parked at home and will replace if needed later. I don’t think I want hard panel to start but can always swap for it later.

Can I buy panel and Victron from you and have them install at no charge? What panel?

Also getting Full River DC 220-6

Thanks
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:04 PM   #16
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Our 2017 Classic is fitted w/complete ZAMP Solar system w/25 year warranty. Flex panels.



https://www.zampsolar.com/



Best regards and safe travels
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:26 PM   #17
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Hi

If you take a look, most flex panels have a one year (or less) warranty. Good flat panels come with longer warranties. That sort of suggests that even the manufacturer does not expect them to last very long. ( One example - Zamp has a 5 to 25 year warranty depending on just what they are covering).

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Old 11-05-2018, 01:28 PM   #18
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Bought Zamp flat 4 year ago in Q. Failed after 2 years. Output way down. When I attempted to test each panel individually, found wire insulation rotting off. 5 year warranty. Zamp good about replacing. New ones fine so far.
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Old 11-06-2018, 08:48 AM   #19
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Hi

Indeed a warranty only works if the company is still around and they honor their commitments.

Bob
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Old 11-06-2018, 09:38 AM   #20
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How do I replaced this panel that is no longer delivering amps? What is the white caulk dealer used and can I just remove the screws, use razor blade on the caulking and place new one where old one was with new caulk?
An angle grinder with flapper pad will grind the screw heads and adhesive off in no time. Just be care full not to nick the skin but the panel should protect that. Go at it with the flapper wheel flat on top of the screw. -Not at an angle. Once you get the panel off then you can remove the rest of the adhesive with an eraser wheel. 3M citrus based adhesive remover will also work to remove the last residue. Spray it on and let it set for a few minutes before wiping it off with a rag.

We have been using Renogy Eclipse and RNG100D rigid panels on vans for 5 years. They appear to hold up very well. Our intention is to develop a nice panel mounting system for the AS trailers as we have for Sprinter and Transit vans.

You may consider checking and resealing the other roof penetrations. They look like they could use some attention.

All the best,
Hein
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