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Old 07-12-2017, 02:21 PM   #1
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Need advise on Solar panel compatability

Electronics are my kryptonite, so I've searched threads dealing with "Solar" but nothing seems to address my question, so I'm hoping an "electronic genius" can provide clarification:
I have a 2006 E-350 built by Sportsmobile West, with the original Specialties Concept, Inc. Mark PV Solar controler, and a Xantrex Prosine 2.0...both working fine. House battery is a single 225AH battery which was replaced in 2016
The problem: Solar panels on the roof are no longer producing (they are the semi flexible style), and because of space constraints on the roof rack I am limited to a specific size for a replacement Solar panel ( no more than 24" wide and up to 63" long). Obviously I would like as large a panel as possible, but also need something light weight - and the panel I'm currently looking at is a semi flex 150wt
https://www.amazon.com/GreeSonic-Sun...29+solar+panel
But in the description it states 18volt...Do I need to stay with a 12 volt panel with my current set-up? Or is this one compatible?
Thank you to anyone that is able to offer resolve.
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Old 07-12-2017, 02:45 PM   #2
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I believe all panels are 18V, or least higher than 12V. It needs to compensate for shade, clouds, etc.
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Old 07-12-2017, 03:05 PM   #3
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All of the 12V RV type panels are open circuit rated around 18Vdc....usually between about 16 and 18VDC.

Any panel with the Voc above will work fine...and you can parallel wire two of those panels together if you want more juice up to the current rating of your solar controller which is likely about 25-30 amps.....
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:55 PM   #4
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I would reconsider going with the semi flex, as I don't think they are as durable as rigid panels. I know there's been much talk about the flexible panels going bad. Kyocera makes a good panel, I have one of their 137W, I think the new ones with the same dimensions are 150W. There are others like renogy that have a good reputation. I'm adding one of their 100W suitcase panels to be able to deploy.


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Old 07-12-2017, 07:12 PM   #5
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^^^^ what he said......

I have an older Kyocera 120W and a pair of Renogy 100W monos...they play well together even though you shouldn't mix-n-match.
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Old 07-13-2017, 07:02 AM   #6
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I too would normally be in camp of staying away from the flexible panels. There are a couple of threads on the forum that have discussed them and their issues. But, it does look like they are building their panels with different materials. Will it make a difference, I am not sure and it is hard to find and more data about them. The sunpower solar cells they are using are great, some of the most efficient out there at the moment.
If you are really constrained by the size limits (24" wide), then this may be your best option. It appears to be a costly one also. You would have to make this purchase knowing the previous stated issues of the flexible panes and report out you're experience back to the forum. I am sure that there a lot of people that are looking for flexible option.

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Old 07-13-2017, 07:35 AM   #7
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This has got me thinking, we need a gear review thread in one spot. Is there one started? Gadgets and everything from headlamps and stoves to tires (although they are already covered) and solar panels (also covered).


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Old 07-13-2017, 09:11 AM   #8
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Another issue with flexible panels is that it's hard to mount them with an air space below. This results in extra heating of the panel compaired to one where air can circulate under it. This in turn will reduce the output a little, since all panels suffer from reduced output as they heat up. A panel with air space under it will also help reduce the interior temps of the van since it provides shade to the top. I had a flexible one on my boat that got so hot one day, it started smoking.
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Old 07-13-2017, 10:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arctictraveller View Post
Another issue with flexible panels is that it's hard to mount them with an air space below. This results in extra heating of the panel compaired to one where air can circulate under it. This in turn will reduce the output a little, since all panels suffer from reduced output as they heat up. A panel with air space under it will also help reduce the interior temps of the van since it provides shade to the top. I had a flexible one on my boat that got so hot one day, it started smoking.
Mine were installed with an air gap below them, but that in turn caused the flexible panels to flex considerably while driving due to air flow, and that flexing cut their life significantly short.

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Old 07-13-2017, 04:59 PM   #10
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All good points, and appreciate everyone's input - has all been taken into consideration! I'm trying to balance priorities: keeping the Thule storage pod on the roof rack, have enough space for the Solar so it isnt hindered much by shade resulting from the Aluminess roof rails or the Thule box, and maintain a small space towards the back of the roof rack for mounting the Maxtrax. All this is also influenced by the combined weight I've postured atop the electric roof ... just had to replace both push rods that raise the roof because I broke the welds on one a couple weeks ago. It may have just been a bad weld, fatigue from so many uses, or the fact that i just had too much weight on top...hence the reasoning behind the semi flexible panel (Not that I had much stored in the Thule box to begin with, but i've already lessened the weight considerably - its just extremely convenient to have that storage available).
I think it comes down to the higher cost of the panel (this particular one because it fits the size and weight criteria), and the knowledge that it may not last as long as the framed panels. The current semi flexible panels lasted 10 years - comparing stories on the forum, this set performed better than most. Think i'm going to take that gamble a second time.
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