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Thread: Semi flexible solar panels

  1. #1

    Semi flexible solar panels

    On the back of Qlder1 thread about his proposed lithium system upgrade, I thought Iíd open up a new thread on semi flexible solar panels.

    The reason I am considering these is purely weight, and because I only have a Bimini over my fly bridge. Iíd love a hard top up there, but that means more cost, and more weight, and then that weight is increased if I have a hard top with hard solar panels. The top of my Bimini is about 4.5m above the waterline, so any weight up there needs to be kept to a minimum.

    A while back I bought a so called 500w semi flex panel fro eBay. I thought it was too good to be true, but at only $160 thought it worth a go. I was right, too good to be true. There do appear to be some decent quality semi flex panels out there. Renogy have a 175 w at $319; Baintech 110w for $415; Solbian 144w at $1499; Sunman 175w at $379.

    So, a huge range in prices. Does anyone have any experience with semi flex panels, and if so can you recommend brands and tell me about the performance.

    Thanks,
    Dave.

  2. #2

    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Alchemy View Post
    On the back of Qlder1 thread about his proposed lithium system upgrade, I thought Iíd open up a new thread on semi flexible solar panels.

    The reason I am considering these is purely weight, and because I only have a Bimini over my fly bridge. Iíd love a hard top up there, but that means more cost, and more weight, and then that weight is increased if I have a hard top with hard solar panels. The top of my Bimini is about 4.5m above the waterline, so any weight up there needs to be kept to a minimum.

    A while back I bought a so called 500w semi flex panel fro eBay. I thought it was too good to be true, but at only $160 thought it worth a go. I was right, too good to be true. There do appear to be some decent quality semi flex panels out there. Renogy have a 175 w at $319; Baintech 110w for $415; Solbian 144w at $1499; Sunman 175w at $379.

    So, a huge range in prices. Does anyone have any experience with semi flex panels, and if so can you recommend brands and tell me about the performance.

    Thanks,
    Dave.
    will keep a close watch on this thread as i am looking for solar panel top of my Teetop..

  3. #3

    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    From anyone I've spoken to with regards to any flexible solar panel ...... they are not a long term solution (prone to cracking) If they vibrate while underway ... not good. - apparently the efficiency is not as good .

    If you do want to go down that path ...... do your homework as it's buyer beware when it comes to quality .

    Chris
    Give a man a fish & he will eat for a day !
    Teach him how to fish
    & he will sit in a boat - & drink beer all day!
    TEAM MOJIKO

  4. #4

    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Iíve been looking into this a lot. It seems most of the portable ones donít come close to the specs they offer even in direct sunlight and orientated directly at the sun. While neither do the heavier fix panels there seems to be a significant drop in performance.
    Democracy: Simply a system that allows the 51% to steal from the other 49%.

  5. #5
    Ausfish Addict disorderly's Avatar
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    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Hi Dave I recently stuck one of these Sunman 290w semi flexibles on my hardtop with a vented gap kit...

    The 430w looks better but the 290w was a better fit for me..

    soalr panel.jpg

    Sunman eArc 430W - Semi Flexible Lightweight Solar Panel - SMF430-12X12UW - 24V (solar4rvs.com.au)

    It seems pretty tough and I already had a very heavy drone crash land hard on it and after a really close inspection I couldnt see any damage at all...Lovey is probably right though in saying you wont get quite the performance from a semi flexible as a good quality household type panel....but then again you really couldnt expect that at 5.5kgs either (7.5kg for the 430w)...

    Because it is a bit of a PITA to install and we had heard bad things about cheap quality semi flexibles we figured it best to pay a bit extra for what was considered a decent brand...

  6. #6

    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by disorderly View Post
    Hi Dave I recently stuck one of these Sunman 290w semi flexibles on my hardtop with a vented gap kit...

    The 430w looks better but the 290w was a better fit for me..

    soalr panel.jpg

    Sunman eArc 430W - Semi Flexible Lightweight Solar Panel - SMF430-12X12UW - 24V (solar4rvs.com.au)

    It seems pretty tough and I already had a very heavy drone crash land hard on it and after a really close inspection I couldnt see any damage at all...Lovey is probably right though in saying you wont get quite the performance from a semi flexible as a good quality household type panel....but then again you really couldnt expect that at 5.5kgs either (7.5kg for the 430w)...

    Because it is a bit of a PITA to install and we had heard bad things about cheap quality semi flexibles we figured it best to pay a bit extra for what was considered a decent brand...

    Do you know what the maximum watts you are pulling at say midday from the semi flexible?
    Democracy: Simply a system that allows the 51% to steal from the other 49%.

  7. #7

    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Dave, i run 2 * 110's flexible sourced from these guys. https://www.solar4rvs.com.au I went with a brand/type in their range they recogmended for trailer boat hard tops, im no expert but they seemed to know their stuff, 4 years on absolutley maintenance and trouble free to date, i mounted them as per their advice on a grid of double sided foam tape (they provided it, bloody sticky stuff whatever it was). Their key points were getting some type of air gap between the pannel and the roof (hence foam tape) and a mounting system that had some movement (foam tape). All i can say is that its working so far!! PS, i still do few trip with Tim, Alchemy going well.
    Scott

  8. #8

    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by disorderly View Post
    Hi Dave I recently stuck one of these Sunman 290w semi flexibles on my hardtop with a vented gap kit...

    The 430w looks better but the 290w was a better fit for me..

    soalr panel.jpg

    Sunman eArc 430W - Semi Flexible Lightweight Solar Panel - SMF430-12X12UW - 24V (solar4rvs.com.au)

    It seems pretty tough and I already had a very heavy drone crash land hard on it and after a really close inspection I couldnt see any damage at all...Lovey is probably right though in saying you wont get quite the performance from a semi flexible as a good quality household type panel....but then again you really couldnt expect that at 5.5kgs either (7.5kg for the 430w)...

    Because it is a bit of a PITA to install and we had heard bad things about cheap quality semi flexibles we figured it best to pay a bit extra for what was considered a decent brand...
    Thanks Scott. I like the look of the 430w panel, but the max voltage output is 42v, so too high for my dcdc chargers. If there is a solar controller out there that will handle that input for a 12v system then I could be tempted.

  9. #9

    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Out-Station View Post
    Dave, i run 2 * 110's flexible sourced from these guys. https://www.solar4rvs.com.au I went with a brand/type in their range they recogmended for trailer boat hard tops, im no expert but they seemed to know their stuff, 4 years on absolutley maintenance and trouble free to date, i mounted them as per their advice on a grid of double sided foam tape (they provided it, bloody sticky stuff whatever it was). Their key points were getting some type of air gap between the pannel and the roof (hence foam tape) and a mounting system that had some movement (foam tape). All i can say is that its working so far!! PS, i still do few trip with Tim, Alchemy going well.
    Scott
    Thanks Scott. Great to have some real world feedback. Iíve read the air gap helps performance as it keeps the panel cool, so I will definitely find a way to do this. Thanks for the feedback on Alchemy, too. I still miss that boat.

    Regards,
    Dave.

    PS, thanks for the link. I see the Enerdrive dcdc handles input voltage up to 45v.

  10. #10

    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Alchemy View Post
    Thanks Scott. I like the look of the 430w panel, but the max voltage output is 42v, so too high for my dcdc chargers. If there is a solar controller out there that will handle that input for a 12v system then I could be tempted.
    im pretty sure all the Victron MPPTís will handle 42v easily.

    https://www.springers.com.au/shop/pr...4aArneEALw_wcB
    Democracy: Simply a system that allows the 51% to steal from the other 49%.

  11. #11

    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Lovey80 View Post
    im pretty sure all the Victron MPPTís will handle 42v easily.

    https://www.springers.com.au/shop/pr...4aArneEALw_wcB
    Thanks Lovey. Iíll check this out further and if all ok will likely swap out my current dcdc for a more capable brand. I liked the look of the enerdrive unit, mainly as it could take input from solar and alternator, but ultimately want to set this up for best performance and reliability. Iím afraid Iíve jumped in without doing good research up front!

  12. #12

    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Alchemy View Post
    Thanks Lovey. Iíll check this out further and if all ok will likely swap out my current dcdc for a more capable brand. I liked the look of the enerdrive unit, mainly as it could take input from solar and alternator, but ultimately want to set this up for best performance and reliability. Iím afraid Iíve jumped in without doing good research up front!
    are you running Enerdrive for your alternator charging now? I wouldnít use them for a salt water environment but use one in my truck. They go quite well but arenít sealed and the circuit boards are exposed. You can always run the Victron Mppt in parallel with your DCDC if your panels are too high a voltage for your dual input DCDC.
    Democracy: Simply a system that allows the 51% to steal from the other 49%.

  13. #13

    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Dave, I'm running a pair of 18amp victron dc/dc's (one from each motor/start battery) and given their not dual input i also have a solar charge controller as well, all charging a 200ah lith invicta, unsure about max voltage but you would think there would be something to suit even the maxi pannel sizes. I also have one of those enerdrive dual input 40 amp dc/dc's with the digital screen in my cruiser (fridge setup), It used to be in my boat before i went to twins and i went to to the 2 victrons. For me the simple victrons are better suited for marine application, simple & compact and i know exactly whats happenning basis the connection to the phone app to the point of changing settings, voltage, cutout limits etc etc, i like them, set and forget 3 years on so far, just have a couple of little lights on them, no readouts etc.The enerdrive worked fine in the boat as well, just seems to me to have more that could go wrong with it.
    Scott

  14. #14

    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Lovey80 View Post
    are you running Enerdrive for your alternator charging now? I wouldnít use them for a salt water environment but use one in my truck. They go quite well but arenít sealed and the circuit boards are exposed. You can always run the Victron Mppt in parallel with your DCDC if your panels are too high a voltage for your dual input DCDC.
    That makes a lot of sense Lovey. I think I will do that.

  15. #15
    Ausfish Addict disorderly's Avatar
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    Re: Semi flexible solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Alchemy View Post
    Iíve read the air gap helps performance as it keeps the panel cool, so I will definitely find a way to do this.
    Cool-ER is more appropriate then cool Dave...

    Even with the vented gap setup she still radiates some good heat inside the hardtop...that thin big black panel sure does heat up and it sits only about 15mm off the hardtop surface itself...



    Quote Originally Posted by Lovey80 View Post
    Do you know what the maximum watts you are pulling at say midday from the semi flexible?
    Only used it once so far and didnt have the luxury of Midday sun or barely any sun unforunately...

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