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Solar panels

What is the best brand?

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#1 Mohammed Bin Lyin

Mohammed Bin Lyin


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Posted 25 February 2013 - 07:30 AM

I am looking for some solar panels and i hear the best ones will work on cloudy days.

What brand of solar panels produce power on cloudy days?

#2 sreiz



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Posted 25 February 2013 - 09:12 AM

Buy Solbian (www.solbian.eu) and Genasun regulators that compensate for shaded parts of the panel. 800 g for a 100 W panel that can be glued on an adequate surface. Solbian will produce panels to measure if you have problems with space. Bruce Schwab at Genasun is the agent for Solbian in the US.

#3 New Morning

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 06:27 PM

They all produce power on cloudy days, they just produce less. There is no magic or free lunch, less sun = less power.

What panel depends on your situation / boat / installation preference. The flexible panels like Solbian and Sunware are going to produce a lot less than a fixed panel (many manufacturers).

Also check the warranties. Solar panels can have manufacturing defects like anything else. My Sunware panels all failed within 18 months (delaminated), but they replaced all of them, no questions asked. The replacements have been fine for the last 3 years.

Also check the regulator for interference with other electrical system components (some are quite noisy) and the match with your batteries charge regimen.

#4 PMH



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Posted 25 February 2013 - 09:18 PM

The first solar panel I bought in 1979 is still working today and has always been in a fairly harsh marine climate. I don't own it any more but it is still working. Several years ago I bought 2 panels for my current boat. In 1979 I was assured that the price would go down with increased users but it didn't, perhaps that has changed now but you can't feel ripped off with that kind of longevity. The only point I want to make is that two critical elements are, the installation, and the charge controller. Any effort you put into arranging your installation so that you can orient the panels towards the sun will really pay off. An instructive lesson is to watch the power output of a panel in full sunlight and then move one finger across the cells in one corner of the panel. All the panels I have owned the power drops precipitously. I hear rumours that they have improved that but I'm sceptical. The best installations I've seen have one edge of each panel hinged on the top of a life line (rail) so it pivots on two axiis. Thus if the sun is on the port side the panel still produces even if it is on the stbd side. I'm currently changing mine as we speak. Elsewhere on the forum the controllers have been discussed by more knowlegeable people than me (but that won't stop me). The "smart" chargers do seem to make a difference. I was heading off on the SHTP recently and my controller failed. I rushed into WestMarine and bought one off the shelf. Turns out it emits one to five loud beeps everytime the batt voltage changed. Just about drove me nuts. Even though it still works I'm going to go with a Solar Boost 2000e which I've heard good things about (but first I will find out if the goddam thing beeps). The only point of all this is that controller and installation are very important.