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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Solar - Better Than The Old Solar - PART 3

New & Improved Prototypes
    Here we go... the third installment of a multi-part article series (Click Here Part-1, Part-2), all about my New & Improved Solar Panel install. Unfortunately, the first set of China sourced panels failed after 15 months or so, and they weren't responsive at all for requests to replace them. Since then, I have found a U.S. company (local!!) that makes better products and is willing to supply them at a reasonable cost. I also save a LOT of time and money in shipping. If all goes well with this final set of tests, I may be offering this system for installs soon.

But First:

New Larger Panel Ready To Mount
Time to get to removing and cleaning the roof for the new set of flexible solar panel prototypes. These are supposed to be even more efficient and I am eager to get to testing them out!! They look much "prettier" than the first set and have more output power to boot! Score!

Almost everyone knows I hate cleaning. Having to remove the old adhesive seems like it's going to be a lot of work. So, in the best procrastinator's tradition, I will do that next week! For now we'll mount them temporarily again. The painter's tape trick held up through multiple rain storms without a problem so... why reinvent the wheel?

Example Stats
Once in place, in REALLY shaded and overcast sunlight, I was seeing an additional 1Volt over the last set of panels. That doesn't seem like much, but it really is. It means in poor conditions I can expect more power. To put this in perspective, you need to have a certain number of volts to charge your battery. If you are charging a 12 Volt battery (like most RVs have) you'll need something ABOVE 12 Volts. In my case, the charge controller figures out what voltage the battery needs and converts the voltage supplied by the panels into the correct number.

This is known as MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking). It all sounds a bit confusing, but simply put: it takes what the panels output and makes it work with whatever your battery needs.  Without this technology, any volts above the number you need is "thrown away." This has the added benefit of allowing higher voltage panels to be used with lower voltage batteries. I cover this much more fully in a section of the original 6(!) Part series. With higher voltage from the new panels, I can have enough power to begin charging earlier in the day and lasting longer into the twilight hours (and cloudy days too!).

After this week of testing in mostly cloudy weather, I should know how many Amps will be put back into a discharged battery over a given amount of time, under less-than-perfect conditions. The old system put out around 20 amps per hour back in the battery in full sun. All indications show this set of improved panels will be significantly higher. Given my average night-time draw of between 50 and 80 amp/hours, I should be able to recharge in an hour less! Only true testing can confirm this.

I guess I will have no choice but to roll up my sleeves and begin removing the old adhesive residue and cleaning the underlying fiberglass surface. Lots of scraping, followed by lots of alcohol soaked rags. No, not the GOOD kind of alcohol either!

Once again, STAY TUNED!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

*See Part - 1
**See Part -2

See Original Article


  1. Any ideas of how we could adhere these panels to a rubber roof?

  2. Anon,
    It looks like the 3M adhesive will work with rubber as well. I will test it on some EPDM I have lying around.

    Rich "The Wanderman"

  3. Do you think these panels will hold up in stormy weather with hail?

    1. ABSOLUTELY! The top surface is a bit soft, so it "cushions" the subsurface silicon modules quite well. While I haven't seen any hail, We've had major rain and wind storms and the panels are fine.

      Rich "The Wanderman"


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