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Old 08-30-2007, 02:18 PM   #1
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Source for Solara/Other Semi-Flexible Panels?

I'm about to do an install of one (to start) solar panel. Am thinking of the 56W Solara semi-flexible; the van came pre-wired for solar.

**SMB has it for $817 each (installed).

**http://www.semarine.com/solar_wind/Solara_Panels.shtml has it for $610 each, not installed and not including shipping.

I can't seem to find any other source (in CONUS). For those who've added solar panels later, from where did you acquire them? I'm trying to keep weight to a minimum, thus my interest in the efficiency-inferior semi-flexible ones. Also want to keep any increase in vehicle height to an absolute minimum. Am not married to Solara; they're just what others seem to have been using.
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Old 08-30-2007, 03:48 PM   #2
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Solera panels

Over on the Sportsmobile owner's site on Yahoo some time ago (a year or more) this topic was discussed in detail. Apparently, Sportsmobile West was the only provider of Solera panels in the U.S. The panels are imported from Germany, and there was (and I think still is) an enormous demand for them in Europe.

Let us know if you find another supplier in North America.

Ed in Montana
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Old 08-30-2007, 05:43 PM   #3
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I'm definitely following this topic closely, although I only have questions, not answers right now.

kzemach - how were you planning on mounting the panel to the roof? I've read from numerous sources that the panels are more efficient if you allow air to flow under them.

Also, this has been a great site for learning about the various options and pricing. I've been told they are excellent to actually deal with as well.

Northern Arizona Wind & Sun

Here are a couple of panels that I've looked into a little bit

Uni-Solar Thin Film 64 Watt ($323) - This may be pretty comparable to the Solara panels http://store.solar-electric.com/unus64wathfi.html

Kyocera KC-130 - 130 Watt ($615) -they also have other wattages for the Kyocera http://store.solar-electric.com/kc-120.html
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Old 08-30-2007, 06:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdwindansea
I'm definitely following this topic closely, although I only have questions, not answers right now.

kzemach - how were you planning on mounting the panel to the roof? I've read from numerous sources that the panels are more efficient if you allow air to flow under them.
Here's how mine were mounted by SMB West, just last month. There are crossbars mounted to my Yakima rails. I will say, it needs a little modification, as at certain speeds and/or wind conditions, the crossbars (aluminum I think) flex up and down and thump the penthouse roof rather loudly. Not the best for long-term reliabilty either no doubt. I will ask SMB to stiffen the crossbars or add a rubber bumpstop. Other than that, I really like how they installed the panels.





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Old 08-30-2007, 11:41 PM   #5
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If they change the flat aluminum to an L shape with the lip down that should end your flex without adding anything to the top (holes!)...
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Old 09-09-2007, 04:37 PM   #6
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Herb, what do those panels put out and what manufacture? It looks real clean. Does SMB think that is a better way to mount as compared to glueing them down?
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Old 09-09-2007, 04:56 PM   #7
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Re: Solar panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb
Herb, what do those panels put out and what manufacture? It looks real clean. Does SMB think that is a better way to mount as compared to glueing them down?
DaveB
I've seen over 5 Amps total put out by the two (65W each, I think) Solara solar panels. These are the flexible marine panels that SMB West now uses.

As for mounting, once we get the wind caused flexing corrected is very nice. Changing the flat crossbar to an angle iron type crossbar, or even just adding a rubber bumpstop should do it. I like the crossbar mounting as it requires fewer mounting holes through the penthouse, does not require gluing the panels down, and allows airflow under the panels, keeping them cooler and therefore more efficient.


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Old 09-09-2007, 05:13 PM   #8
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Thanks Herb. I plan to mount one sideways toward the back.
>Are they too long for this?
I could run 2 sids by side but many times I have a load warrior on top. I need to make it as easy as possible to run the rack over the top of the panel(s) when needed usually on long trips where I get plenty of alterntor charge. There is a picture in my album that shows the top of my van.
Thanks.

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Old 09-18-2007, 01:28 PM   #9
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Has anyone tried to buy the Solara panels direct from Solara's Morgan Hill, CA location? I have an email into them now. They do not have a phone number listed on their web site to call.

I'll have my van in the Fresno facility soon for some work and am on the fence whether to have them do the entire solar installation or just the pre-wire and I'll put the panels on later. Has anyone bought from the semarine website? If so, how did that transaction go?

My wife is so glad I've bought this money pit! .... but as money pits go, it sure is fun.

Phil
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:41 PM   #10
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I called and emailed the Morgan Hill Soloara guys and couldn't ever get much out of them. Never could get a price and they always said they weren't in stock but would be getting them "next month". After six months I gave up and got 'em at Sportsmobile.
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