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Old 04-24-2010, 11:42 AM   #1
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Replacing or adding solar panels?

Hey There,
I've got a 2005 SMB, recently purchased, with 3 'flexible' solar panels that are attached to the top of the Yakima pod that is up there. I am pretty certain these were installed 5 years ago when the van was built. In front of that pod is a satelite Tv Trackvision 'dish' that lies flat against the roof above the passenger seat. Knowing that, I have a few questions...

1. After 5 years, how has the solar panel technology improved and could I get more efficient panels. I am still learning about this rig, slowly but surely, and am not yet positive how efficient the existing panels are. How do you measure how efficient your panels and battery are? I don't know the age or type of the extra battery.

2. Do they still make these flexible panels?

3. I dont forsee using the Trackvision, there currently is no Tv and I dont intend to get one. Would it make sense to remove the Trackvision and in that spot put a 'latest and greatest' solar panel?

4. Would SMB Indiana be able to do that for us?

I am going to contact SMB Indy about this too, same questions, but I wanted to throw the hook out to you guys as well to get some 'first hand experience' type response. Thanks again.

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Old 04-24-2010, 12:18 PM   #2
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Re: Replacing or adding solar panels?

Have any pics brother?

I am pretty sure that the technology has improved

I am un clear if you still want the flex panels or the rigid ones


What is your battery storage amp hours total?

What is your required load ( lights, tv, fridge, etc)?

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Old 04-24-2010, 12:40 PM   #3
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Re: Replacing or adding solar panels?

generally the Kyocera, rigid panels, are a lot more efficient than the flex panels which I believe was made by Solara. We opted for a single Kyocera and was very happy with it. It powered all of our equipment and some.
The Flexible panels should still be available from a marine retailer. I'm not sure if Solara is still in business.

Regarding the trac vision. if you are not planning to use it, I would advice on removing it. You can gain some valuable space on your roof. There is also a market for used trac visions.


"I do, cellularSTEVE" :o)
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:48 PM   #4
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Re: Replacing or adding solar panels?

I have two of the Solara flex panels. They are still in great shape however I think Solara is out of business now. I would suggest the newer technology if you are going to upgrade.
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Old 04-24-2010, 06:22 PM   #5
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Re: Replacing or adding solar panels?

IMHO the need and usage of the solar panels
would guide the replacement/need

ya need a trickle charge?

charging house battery or starter??

just my analitical mind ......
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:14 PM   #6
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Re: Replacing or adding solar panels?

Argg, Solara left the US. The only thing I don't like about glass panels is they can break. Pinecones now freak me out. My CB antenna took out one of mine after just being installed
2006 Ford 6.0PSD EB-50/E-PH SMB 4X4 Rock Crawler Trailer

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Old 05-03-2010, 01:50 PM   #7
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Re: Replacing or adding solar panels?

When I do my install (any week now!) I was going to write this up, but there is a new flexible option out there, and I have one sitting next to me:

Basically, all the advantages of flex and low profile with the output of silicon. And yes, I've walked across it and rolled it and it's fine. Only issue I think will be that when flush mounted, you'll lose some efficiency due to the temp buildup. However, a 130W flat panel that is lighter and lower profile (wind resistance... hate it) is what I was after, and it's what I found.

When I finally get around to installing (don't have time in the forseeable future), I'll do the write-up.

2006 RB50 6.0 Diesel
Flatplate water heater (mounted INSIDE), portable butane stove (no propane)
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