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DaveMiller

Solar Panels

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I'm considering installing a solar panel to my caravan roof to maintain the battery charge whilst the van is on our storage site. I have to decide between the standard style of panel, which has an air gap underneath when installed and the flexible type that fits flat to the roof. I'm at a loss to decide which type is better except that the flexible sort seems to be half the weight. Has anyone had any experience or preference of one type over the other?

 

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I have just received delivery of a 100w folding portable solar panel and I'm surprised how heavy it is. It would certainly be lot of weight to put onto the roof and care would be needed where it was positioned up there.

 

BH

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I've used the flexible sort on boats. On the deck often where they get walked on. They work just fine and yes are much lighter. Down side is that they will be difficult to remove once stuck down and will be more difficult to fix if faulty. I suspect that is more to do with manufacturers use of the solid type. Some say flexible are not as efficient. Solar panels are more efficient if cold I believe (expert needed) and the flexible will be at van body temperature. They are also more expensive. If I ever get round to increasing the 100 w standard fit on the Valencia. It will be with a flexible that will go with the van when it goes.

 

Personally never had a flexible go faulty so you pays your money and takes a punt. If you go off grid like we do then bigger from the start is best. Fit and forget.

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I am wondering that if you have a flexible panel fitted, won't the heat collected on it have an adverse effect on the roof in that area. If flexible are so good, why aren't caravan manufacturers with their bean counters fitting them to save a few bob?

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I am wondering that if you have a flexible panel fitted, won't the heat collected on it have an adverse effect on the roof in that area. If flexible are so good, why aren't caravan manufacturers with their bean counters fitting them to save a few bob?

I wondered that too Ian, however we all know that the designers don't always get it right.

 

For the OP. This is my fitting of 1 x 100 watt + 1 x 20 watt flexible panels.

 

http://www. caravantalk. co. uk/community/topic/113442-fixing-semi-flexible-panels/

 

For reasons already mentioned above I attempted to space the big panel from the roof using brackets. This caused a dish which would collect water, even worse it may freeze. So I used a plastic tube to lift the middle to avoid this. This all works very well but to be honest. If I had to do it again I would just stick it down flat as it is much easier.

 

Because of the work involved and the cost reduction of panels I would not consider thinking about transferring from one van to another.

 

Re. efficiency. Clearly some panels will work better than others but it is easier to go higher with the wattage than worry about it.

 

 

Mine has not been on for a year yet so early days, but so far it is performing very well. I think my total cost was about £150. Could have saved £15 by not using the brackets. Solar charge monitoring is already built into the Lunar control panel so I did not need an all singing/dancing controller, in fact, the one I got was only about £10 from Hong Kong.

 

Good luck.

 

 

John

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My experience of component costs is about the same as Cloughie's. Mine is mounted on brackets, but I took the precaution of using UK made nylon bolts into alloy rivnuts fitted to the solar panels alloy frame. the means that in the event of panel failure, it can easily be unbolted, and the alloy fittings mean no corrosion of the frame.

 

I did however have the assembly bonded to the roof by my local workshop. I'm generally a confident diyer, but I didn't fancy the thing coming off if I got something wrong during the bonding process.

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If you Google flexible panels there are reports of premature failure. Which is why I have always gone for convential framed panels. This is a shame because the weight saving is very significant.

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Thank you for your replies, all of interest.

 

Thanks also John for pointing me too the earlier thread, I did make a search prior to posting but obviously nothing came up.

 

Panels heating up being a problem had not occurred to me, I suppose that anything laying in the sunshine will get hot. I had assumed that the rigid panels were raised because their rigidity would prevent them being fixed to a curved surface, I hadn't thought of a heat implication.

 

As far as I can tell the cells used are exactly the same whether they are ridged or flexible backing however the ridged 100w panel weighs about 8Kg whilst the flexible one is only about 2Kg; so I prefer to use flexible.

 

There are a number of companies selling the complete kits for less than £200 so I will probably go for a kit then I have someone to shout at if it fails. If a panel developed a fault then I would simple install another panel and not try and salvage the old unit.

 

Regards Dave

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Thank you for your replies, all of interest.

 

Thanks also John for pointing me too the earlier thread, I did make a search prior to posting but obviously nothing came up.

 

Panels heating up being a problem had not occurred to me, I suppose that anything laying in the sunshine will get hot. I had assumed that the rigid panels were raised because their rigidity would prevent them being fixed to a curved surface, I hadn't thought of a heat implication.

 

As far as I can tell the cells used are exactly the same whether they are ridged or flexible backing however the ridged 100w panel weighs about 8Kg whilst the flexible one is only about 2Kg; so I prefer to use flexible.

 

There are a number of companies selling the complete kits for less than £200 so I will probably go for a kit then I have someone to shout at if it fails. If a panel developed a fault then I would simple install another panel and not try and salvage the old unit.

 

Regards Dave

Just ensure that the kit is of good quality.

Someone more technically informed may be along later to offer more advice.

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I'm considering the Biard 100w unit at the moment. £190 from BeamLED but I have seen it slightly cheaper on eBay.

 

Regards Dave

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I have just received delivery of a 100w folding portable solar panel and I'm surprised how heavy it is. It would certainly be lot of weight to put onto the roof and care would be needed where it was positioned up there.

 

BH

 

 

100w is a lot of power when used freestanding I don't think you'll have any problems :)

I manage without any problems with a 50w freestanding panel and we don't skimp on the telly

 

I've since fitted a 50w to the roof just for keeping the battery topped up when the caravan isn't used.

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If all you need is to maintain battery charge when in storage maybe a 30w rigid panel would suffice.

When I looked at panels last year, I quickly dismissed rigid panels because of the weight. All UK single axle caravans seem to have a weight problem and my panel was going to go forward of the axle therefore increasing the nose weight, also a problem on my Lunar Clubman.

I fixed a 100w semi flexible on the basis I wouldn't try to remove it if/when I sold the caravan.

I bought all my bits from Photonic Universe, very helpful people.

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I have used a 20watt panel located below the roof light on battens to maintain the battery for the last 3 years, seems to be quite sufficient.

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Recently had a 120w fitted. Possibly the best addition to a caravan if you use storage. No longer have to lug the battery back and fourth the house.

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