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Old 11-26-2019, 09:10 AM   #1
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Flexible Solar Panels...

I am relaying a conversation I had with a friend a couple of months ago regarding flexible vs rigid solar panels

He installed Flexible solar panels on the roof of his sailboat and I asked him about performance. He told me that he likes how they are out of the way, but that they transmit a tremendous amount of heat directly to the roof.

Which, in turn, heats the cabin...

I was considering flexibles, but will use rigids on the roof. I will also be mounting them about 9 inches above the roof to avoid shadows cast by the AC and vent hoods. That spacing should also help to disperse the heat, rather than transmit it to the roof.

I will be using (5)-200w flexible panels for ground deployment.

Just my thoughts and rationale.

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Old 11-26-2019, 11:30 AM   #2
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9 inches? I'd have them laying about half that high at the most. I don't hear about other RVers with the panels an inch or so high complaining about excess heat from the panels making their RV hot. Let the things that sit way up high on the roof take the brunt of an impact if they must, but I don't think that they need to be that far from the roof surface to have a significant impact on reducing the heating that might occur.

You'd be better off with a set up that can be tilted than you would getting the panels 3/4 of a foot off the surface, for obvious reasons. Tilting the panels when parked long term make the height of the mounting a moot point.

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Old 11-26-2019, 11:40 AM   #3
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Without knowing how your friend's boat roof is insulated, if at all, I suspect you would not have the same issue with your MH due to its construction. Still, direct contact with a black panel will cause some heat transmission. Personally, I have reservations about the longevity and efficiency of flex panels vs. rigid.
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Old 11-26-2019, 12:02 PM   #4
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At the angle of incidence low enough for a 9 inch high AC to throw an impactful shadow onto a solar panel that is 3 inches high, would the panel even be able to produce electricity if the shadow weren't there?
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Old 11-26-2019, 03:32 PM   #5
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Most of my panels are 3 inches above the roof. One panel is about 12 inches on a roof rack that surrounds the bathroom vent. Another is 5 inches high to clear part of the fridge vent. I believe that air under the panels keeps the roof and the panels cooler which improves solar efficiency.

Flexible panels aren't likely to last 20-25 years.
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Old 11-26-2019, 04:22 PM   #6
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I had Renogy 100 watt flexible panels about 10 years ago, mounted directly of roof with double sided tape. Took about a year before they started yellowing and turning cloudy and production dropped. Might be better now, but when I bought them, they were about $2 a watt.
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Old 11-28-2019, 08:30 AM   #7
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There are gives and takes on all mounting decisions and panel types. A flexible panel is (in simple terms) a rigid glass panel without the frame and glass. Heat diminishes solar power efficiency, so that should be considered. On my builds, I use residential glass panels on the MH roofs. You generally get a better panel. I'm against VHB tape to the roof and use screws and good sealer. Never had a leak. You are correct, to get the shadows away from the panel. But it all has to be affordable and practical. I also don't tilt panels as I prefer a more secure mounting approach, so I usually overbuild 25% to make up for not tilting. I would not expect or even want my customers on the roof messing with panels and adjusting them. It's just a matter of time till one would drive off with them tilted and find that 12'11" underpass.
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Old 11-28-2019, 08:46 PM   #8
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Sorry... I was a bit unclear. The 9-inches on the outside and ~2 on the inside will level the panels on a sloped roof.
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Old 12-01-2019, 11:32 AM   #9
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I had 600 watts of flexible panels. Pulled them after less than 6 months. Didn't perform well and increased the heat. Other people considering flexible panels may want to read this article.

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Old 12-01-2019, 12:51 PM   #10
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On my previous RV I had 4 Uni-solar brand flexible panels totaling 512 watts. I had them just over 5 years with no problems.

I can not state the exact performance as I did not have a good monitoring system for them, however they did keep my 450ah battery bank up and my power needs met.

I had the great debate when setting up the system on my new RV. After much research and internal debate I went with Renogy flexible panels. I have 6-160 watt panels mounted on my roof. They perform as they are reported to. I have a much better monitoring system now. I can not speak to longevity as I have only had them since about April.

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