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Old 11-21-2007, 06:36 PM   #1
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I did a forum search but couldn't find anything on this specifically.

Just wondering how long some of you have had your solar panels? If you have noticed any degeneration in efficiency? and what brand you have?

Also if anyone can recommend a good book on solar power - drycell battery systems and energy consumption calculations (i.e. how many and what size panels are needed to power specific systems) it would be greatly appreciated.

thanks,

J
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Old 11-21-2007, 07:07 PM   #2
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ok, I just found this document which explains the last part of my question in case anyeone else is interested.

http://www.greenweld.co.uk/data/How%20to%2...equirements.pdf
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Old 11-21-2007, 09:41 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by atavist View Post
I did a forum search but couldn't find anything on this specifically.

Just wondering how long some of you have had your solar panels? If you have noticed any degeneration in efficiency? and what brand you have?

J
The older panels are now providing up 25 years life span - while the newer type are estimated to last 40 years. see http://www.otherpower.com/otherpower_solar_used.html

Also the new Flexible panels have real potential for yachts - ie on curved surfaces eg on biminis, coach tops , radar arches etc .... :- http://www.uni-solar.com/interior.asp?id=33

Richard
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Old 11-22-2007, 04:29 AM   #4
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My only concern regarding the flexible panels is the amount of heat they absorb and transfer to the deck. If the deck can tolerate the heat, particularly in tropical climates, the amount of radiant heat which warms the cabin could make life below decks intolerable.

For those sailing under tropical summer skies, I would still recommend that panels stand off the deck to allow for airflow beneath them.

I stress this is an opinion only and is not based on anything other than conjecture and the heat I feel coming from beneath my panels which are mounted on a stern gantry.

Cheers

David

PS....FYI. Current air temperature in the shade of the cockpit 33.7. Cork decking temp 35.1. Underside of

well-ventilated solar panels 42. Top surface 47.6.

This is mid afternoon (3.15 pm). With the sun at its zenith, I would guess the top surface of the panels would be at least 10 degrees higher.
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Old 11-23-2007, 09:09 AM   #5
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[QUOTE=name='Auzzee' date='Nov 22 2007, 12:29 PM' post='15099']

My only concern regarding the flexible panels is the amount of heat they absorb and transfer to the deck.

Cheers

David

/quote]

Hi david ,

Your concern regarding heat transfer was really relevant to those of us that cruise tropical waters. So I immediately went to my data bank on these new fangled flexy panels. I was not able to get a definitive info that specifically addressed the issue - other that some of the types were mounted on thin stainless steel sheet which in turn is then mounted onto solid roofing/decks etc This combination ensures that heat transfer is minimised and light reflection increased in photovoltaic action and efficiency. I have also written off to a few manufacturers regards heat transfer downwards. Will post relevant info.

In the meantime here is Robin Knox-Johnson's boat on its way to a circumnavigation.

Flexi_Solar_Panels_Rob_N_J.jpg

Richard
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Old 11-23-2007, 10:34 AM   #6
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I'm on my third set in three years. I first bought two 130W Sunsei (ICP) panels from West Marine. Within a year both had corrosion forming under the glass and then one panel failed. When I removed them, the bottom of the panels were burnt and bubbled below the corroded areas. Returned them and got another set of the same panels. Within a year, same thing. Returned those for a refund and bought Kyrocera panels. I would strongly suggest you avoid the Sunsei panels sold at WM.
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Old 11-23-2007, 11:17 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by bottleinamessag View Post
I'm on my third set in three years. I first bought two 130W Sunsei (ICP) panels from West Marine. Returned those for a refund and bought Kyrocera panels.
Welcome, to the forum - this type of information useful - what is the essential difference between Sunsei ICP and the Kyrocera ? Any sign of problems with the Kyrocera ?

Richard
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Old 11-24-2007, 07:07 PM   #8
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Thank you.

It's really too soon to know yet. The panels are mounted above the bimini with an air space of maybe 1 1/2 - 2".

I contacted ICP and their totally lame response was "they're only a year old, they're still under warranty for another year so don't worry about it. Right! Their going to ship a replacement set to me in the Bahamas this winter! As soon as they said that I returned them to WM for a refund.

One logical consensus seems to be that the panels expand (daytime, hot sun) and contract at night. The bottom seal of the panels is probably the weak link allowing salt air to be drawn into the panel cavity. Hence corrosion and failure.
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Old 11-24-2007, 09:05 PM   #9
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This is great information! The spec sheets for the Kyocera panels look really good at 16% conversion efficiency. I'm still concerned about the use of aluminum in a marine environment.

http://www.kyocerasolar.com/products/ksimodule.html

Kyocera solar modules are a reliable, virtually maintenance-free power supply designed to convert sunlight into electricity at the highest possible efficiency. Kyocera began researching photovoltaics in 1975 and has installed thousands of systems throughout the world since 1978. These systems are ideal for charging storage batteries to power remote homes, recreational vehicles, boats, telecommunications systems and other consumer and commercial applications.

Kyocera's advanced cell-processing technology and automated production facilities produce highly efficient multi-crystal photovoltaic modules. To protect the cells from the most severe environmental conditions, they are encapsulated between a tempered glass cover and an EVA pottant with a PVF back sheet. The entire laminate is installed in an anodized aluminum frame for structural strength and ease of installation.

d.Blue Module

Kyocera has perfected its new surface treatment technology and is using it on its entire line of modules named d.Blue, for its dark blue color.

The newly developed treatment method processes multi-crystalline silicon cells in order to produce a surface texture that minimizes surface reflectance and maximizes output. The result is a maximum conversion efficiency of 16 %, one of the highest conversion efficiencies in the polycrystalline module industry.

d.Blue is ideal for installation on all types of buildings, from residential to large scale commercial systems. The stylish dark blue cells, combined with black module frames, allow the modules to blend in with the buildings architecture while producing energy at exceptional efficiencies.

The d.Blue modules are available in 200, 175, and 130-watt panels. All feature Multi-Contact™ output cables, a heavy-duty box-style anodized aluminum frame; and an industry high 20-year power output warranty.
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Old 11-24-2007, 09:23 PM   #10
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What we all need are a couple of these at 42.8% conversion efficiency!

July 30, 2007 1332_BarnettHonsberg_USE.jpg

From 40.7 to 42.8 % Solar Cell Efficiency

University of Delaware-led team sets solar cell record, joins DuPont on $100 million project.

Newark, Delaware [RenewableEnergyAccess.com]

Using a novel technology that adds multiple innovations to a very high-performance crystalline silicon solar cell platform, a consortium led by the University of Delaware (UD) has achieved a record-breaking combined solar cell efficiency of 42.8 percent. The current record of 40.7 percent was attained in December 2006 by Boeing's Spectrolab, Inc.

"The percentage is a record under any circumstance, but it's particularly noteworthy because it's at low concentration, approximately 20 times magnification. The low profile and lack of moving parts translates into portability, which means these devices easily could go on a laptop computer or a rooftop."

-- Allen Barnett, UD professor of electrical and computer engineering

The research was led by Allen Barnett, principal investigator and UD professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Christiana Honsberg, co-principal investigator and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. The two direct the University's High Performance Solar Power Program and have been working to achieve the 50 percent efficiency goal set by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Barnett and Honsberg said that reaching the 42.8 percent mark is a significant advance in solar cell efficiency, particularly given the unique small and portable architecture being used by the consortium and the short time—21 months—in which it was developed.

Honsberg said the previous best of 40.7 percent efficiency was achieved with a high concentration device that requires sophisticated tracking optics and features a concentrating lens the size of a table and more than 30 centimeters, or about 1 foot, thick. The UD consortium's devices are potentially far thinner at less than 1 centimeter.

"This is a major step toward our goal of 50 percent efficiency," Barnett said. "The percentage is a record under any circumstance, but it's particularly noteworthy because it's at low concentration, approximately 20 times magnification. The low profile and lack of moving parts translates into portability, which means these devices easily could go on a laptop computer or a rooftop."

Honsberg said the advance of 2 percentage points is noteworthy in a field where gains of 0.2 percent are the norm and gains of 1 percent are seen as significant breakthroughs.

"This achievement is the direct result of the new architecture we developed under the DARPA program," Barnett and Honsberg said. "By integrating the optical design with the solar cell design, we have entered previously unoccupied design space leading to a new paradigm about how to make solar cells, how to use them, and what they can do."

In November 2005, the UD-led consortium received approximately $13 million in funding for the initial phases of the DARPA Very High Efficiency Solar Cell (VHESC) program to develop affordable portable solar cell battery chargers.

The highly efficient VHESC solar cell uses a novel lateral optical concentrating system that splits solar light into three different energy bins of high, medium and low, and directs them onto cells of various light sensitive materials to cover the solar spectrum. The system delivers variable concentrations to the different solar cell elements. The concentrator is stationary with a wide acceptance angle optical system that captures large amounts of light and eliminates the need for complicated tracking devices.

The VHESC would have immediate application in the high-technology military, which increasingly relies upon a variety of electronics for individual soldiers and the equipment that supports them. As well, it is hoped the solar cells will have a large number of commercial applications.

Today, the American soldier carries a pack that weighs nearly 100 pounds of which about 20 pounds are the three-day supply of batteries needed to power their gear. The DARPA program aims to dramatically reduce the battery logistics pipeline and provide the soldier with more power at reduced weight, thus improving mobility, survivability and the availability of advanced electronic technologies on the battlefield.

As a result of the consortium's technical performance, DARPA is initiating the next phase of the program by funding the newly formed DuPont-University of Delaware VHESC Consortium to transition the lab-scale work to an engineering and manufacturing prototype model. This three-year effort could be worth as much as $100 million, including industry cost-share.

During the first 21 months of the VHESC program, a diverse team of academia, government lab and industrial partners, led by UD, was focused on developing the technology basis for a new extremely high efficiency solar cell. The rapid success of that effort has enabled the present transition to a focus on prototype product development.

Barnett credits the early success of the program to the team approach taken to solving the problem. Partners in the initial phase included BP Solar, Blue Square Energy, Energy Focus, Emcore and SAIC. Key research contributors included the University of Delaware, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology, Purdue University, University of Rochester, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California Santa Barbara, Optical Research Associates and the Australian National University.

"What we've done," he said, "is create a virtual lab by having all of these companies, universities and national laboratories in the consortium. This has given us access to a broad range of capabilities in terms of expertise and equipment."

That approach is exemplified by the fact that the record-breaking system features three types of solar cells-one made by industry (Emcore), one by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and one by UD.

"This is a solar cell that works," Barnett said, adding, "This technology has the potential to change the way electricity is generated throughout the world."

Barnett believes the 50 percent efficiency mark is just the beginning. "Our best inventions are in front of us," he said. "The consortium has been a super team, and has worked to develop new devices and architectures based on a breakthrough design paradigm."

The newly formed DuPont-University of Delaware VHESC consortium will be made up of industrial partners, national laboratories and universities. The consortium's goal is to create solar cells that operate at 50 percent in production, Barnett said. With the fresh funding and cooperative efforts of the DuPont-UD consortium, he said it is expected new high efficiency solar cells could be in production by 2010.
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:01 PM   #11
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I have a pair of OLD Kyocera panels from the 70s or 80s. Back when they used individual cells and separate aluminum casings. Very primitive design and manufacturing. They still produce their rated output! I'd never buy another brand.
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