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Old 02-28-2017, 06:04 PM   #1
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Bad Solar panel - need advise

Have to say, I am very impressed with the knowledge of many of the members, and the willingness to help out when its solicited.
For about 2 years now I have been using the Forum to help me better understand my Sportsmobile, and tapping into related threads to assist in resolving some issues that have developed during that time period.

This brings me to publish my dilemma.
Have a 2006 Sportsmobile equipped with Solar and one of the thick plastic protective layers covering the panel has peeled back - the whole layer is now detached, and I see the amps have also dropped when charging.
I have paperwork from Sportsmobile concerning the panels; They are Solara SM40-225M. There are 2 panels (each about 24" wide and 29.5 long) attached to the top of the roof rack, so I'm assuming the two panels together are designed to produce about 225w
I've been to a Solar dealer here on the East Coast, and obviously these panels are out dated...but new Solara panels seem extremely expensive compared to what i have seen elsewhere (ebay & Amazon).
I would like to purchase two more "affordable" panels which produce about 160w each (ttl 320w), and not rewire the entire system for the new panels.
Is it possible to cut the existing wires that come off each the old panels and splice/solder the new wires from the new panels to the existing wires? And if this is possible, will the existing controller handle the extra wattage ?
I do live in an area populated with marinas, so their are companies that can handle Solar installation if warranted.
Any comments are appreciated.
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Old 02-28-2017, 06:28 PM   #2
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Yes, entirely possible. Solar panels are just a simple negative and positive (2 wire) connection. Newer panels will be cheaper and perform better. You can easily splice and seal up the job with quality heat shrink type connectors I would think. I've done it a time or two. It's typically 10 gauge wire used which will carry up to 30 amps and you're nowhere near that in the 225 watt range. You will need to find out how yours are wired, series or parallel, and wire the new ones the same way. It should be fairly self explanatory when you look under them up top.

I would think your biggest challenge would be either matching the physical size of the panels for ease of installation or just build a new rack.

I have exclusively used the 100 watt Renogy or similar panels for the cheap price and if you go that route you could easily upgrade to 300 watts (3 panels) for $350 or so. If you have a marina or any shop do it I would expect you'd pay a lot more.

If you have more in depth technical questions I would definitely recommend PMing Scalf77 (Greg). He really knows his stuff.

Good luck!


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Old 02-28-2017, 06:30 PM   #3
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First of all I would contact Sportsmobile and find out what the warranty is on the panels. If they cannot tell you contact Solara directly. The panel dlamination said may be covered.

Re panel replacement, there should be a junction box on the back of the solar panel. To change out the panel, disconnect the wires in the box, remove the old panels, and wire in the new panels. The new panels will also have a junction box on the back.
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Old 02-28-2017, 08:05 PM   #4
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Most PV have a long warranty period, dig into it.
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Old 02-28-2017, 08:17 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by larrie View Post
First of all I would contact Sportsmobile and find out what the warranty is on the panels. If they cannot tell you contact Solara directly. The panel dlamination said may be covered.
Solara left the country and as far as I know there is no warranty or even replacement panel available anymore. I was told by SMB the biggest issue was getting the panels off. They're glued down but I really don't know how bad it jacked up the top getting them off. I had a bunch of stress cracks up there anyway so it was a good time to spray it. Mine failed in 2009 (IIRC) on my 2006. I ended up having the roof coated and a rack installed with 2 135w kyocera solar panels. Major issue with the glass panels is overall weight. I also blew one of the panels away one week after the install when a tree limb hit my CB antenna. So I had to replace the new panel AND put a shorter antenna on. Kind of an expensive wake up call.
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Old 02-28-2017, 08:21 PM   #6
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Common issue with those panels. I would replace with Kyocera low voltage glass panels. Something like this
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Old 03-01-2017, 03:39 PM   #7
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Great advise so far - Confirming what I had hoped for. Thank you for also including the manufacture names of panels you prefer, I'll investigate those as well.
Luckily my panels are attached to 2 aluminum angle bars which are fixed to the Aluminess roof rack. Removing those and installing another set to match the width of the new panels should prove relatively simple (thankfully no glue issues).

I did have a Solara rep look at the panel already, and since the panels were drilled into (to make holes for the screws holding them to the supports) the warranty is void.

Unfortunately I do not have some of the technical skills many of you do, so my biggest concern was having to run new wire down through the pop top to the controller, and having to replace the controller with the process. Your info leads me to a much more simple and manageable path.

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