Solar panels: Rigid: best value cost vs efficiency

MS_Adventure

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Hello All, I am about to purchase 2 medium/large (ca. 120cm*60cm) rigid panels to fit on top of a rear stainless arch (which is being built).
Given that the solar technology moves quickly, does anyone have any recommendations for a specific panel (and where to source from in the UK) that could supply in the region of 150w+ per panel (ideally more if possible)? Thanks
 

PaulRainbow

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I must have got lucky. I bought the cheapest panel I could find, nearly five years ago now, and it's never let me down or shown any sign of deterioration.

There are many reports on these forums of panels failing in a very short time, or just falling apart, so it probably is a bit of a lottery. I have a pair of semi flexible panels on the coachroof, fitted there by the previous owner in 1988, must have been state of the art back then :)
 

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I've had a number of panels, of varying quality, fail, all from the same cause: the flat conductor strips to the connector block corroding. On an arch this will hopefully be less of an issue. My panels were deck mounted and were regularly swamped by waves. The eBay econo-panel on my motorhome roof was still going strong after 10 years.
 

macd

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There are many reports on these forums of panels failing in a very short time, or just falling apart, so it probably is a bit of a lottery. I have a pair of semi flexible panels on the coachroof, fitted there by the previous owner in 1988, must have been state of the art back then :)

I've read many of the same reports, Paul, and have the distinct impression that the vast majority of failures are of non-rigid panels. (Which also coincides with my own experience with flex panels.) Aluminium is, after all, rather more UV-resistant than anything flex panels are likely to be made of. Equally, they usually wear their connectors underneath, where UV can't get at them. (Did whoever bought your coachroof panels move on to a larger boat when they won the lottery? ;))
 

MS_Adventure

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Thanks all, I just ordered the rigid ones from Photonic Universe, £200 for 150W - seems reasonable.
Other than an MPPT controller, is there any other hardware that is suggested for the panels install?
 

PaulRainbow

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Thanks all, I just ordered the rigid ones from Photonic Universe, £200 for 150W - seems reasonable.
Other than an MPPT controller, is there any other hardware that is suggested for the panels install?

I'd suggest a Victron MPPT controller, with the panels wired in series. Best to have a way of configuring and monitoring the controller, some of the Victron controllers come with built in Bluetooth, so you can connect it to your tablet or phone. The other models can still used with Bluetooth by using a Victron dongle (bit pointless, may as well buy the one with it built in) or you can connect it to a Windows laptop/PC with a Victron USB adapter. I use the USB adapter, along with another Victron USB adapter connect to my battery monitor, so i can see the battery monitor and solar controller on the boats laptop.

Only other thing you'll need is a fuse to fit next to where you connect the controller output, this can be at the batteries, or the battery terminal of the isolator switch, whichever is more convenient.

Note, the controller wants to be as close to the batteries as sensibly possible.
 

PaulRainbow

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I've read many of the same reports, Paul, and have the distinct impression that the vast majority of failures are of non-rigid panels. (Which also coincides with my own experience with flex panels.) Aluminium is, after all, rather more UV-resistant than anything flex panels are likely to be made of. Equally, they usually wear their connectors underneath, where UV can't get at them. (Did whoever bought your coachroof panels move on to a larger boat when they won the lottery? ;))

I agree with your impression regarding flexible panels, i imagine mine have done pretty well to last so long. There was also a perfectly good rigid panel fixed at the pushpit, but i changed that for a pair of 100w panels, fitted on an arch, same as the OP.

I think the OP had his lottery win before buying the solar panels, he'd probably need it to pay for the panels in 1988 :)
 
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