Solar related Q: flex power mat? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-15-2011, 10:16 AM   #1
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Solar related Q: flex power mat?

I was rooting around the Tweety's site for table mounting stuff and peeked at their solar inventory out of curiosity. Depending on how much cash I want to bleed out this year, I may or may not wait till next year to get the Burro set up with some solar charging capacity. I wondered what folks think of this Flex Power Mat thing? The product information is a little short on technical details and I'm pretty much at the level of Solar Power For Idiots.

Flex Power Mat Solar Panel - Complete Kit


I'm not sure why the ability to walk on the panels is considered a big plus, but there you have it.






The revolutionary FLEX POWER MAT™ is designed for allowing you to travel down the road while never having to worry about your solar panel still working when you get to your destination. By integrating Uni-Solar’s PVL technology with our patent-pending mounting system, Energy Del Sol has created the most efficient, durable and best looking solar panel roof mounting system on the market today. Not only is our 3rd generation solar technology more efficient in providing power for you than crystalline solar panels, our low profile slipstream design does not intrude on the looks of your RV or create wind noise like bulky crystalline panels can. The FLEX POWER MAT™ also gives you no wind drag, while other panels may catch “High Wind Upload” causing undue stress or torque presssures on your roof top.
The Flex Power Mat generates 68Watts, 4.1Amps, 16.5Volts but is capable of producing as much energy over the course of a 10 hour day than a 100 Watt Crystalline Panel (that is flush mounted) on the roof of your RV. Reason for that is hard panels can lose up to approximately 40% of hard panels’ energy production capabilities by not having them angled to the sun. The Flex Power Mat also gives you unrestricted roof access. In fact, “You Can Even Walk On It!” The durability of the Flex Power Mat is unmatched in the RV industry by fact that it can withstand hail storms and other types of weather including extreme heat and extreme cold. The Flex Power Mat creates no wind chatter when traveling and its low profile aerodynamic design is perfect for resistance in high winds and is aesthetically. Creates no wind drag when traveling. The Flex Power Mat has bypass diodes, and is shadow tolerant & has more efficient energy production even on overcast/dull days. Qualifies for 30% Federal Tax Credit which includes any installation costs, adding batteries, inverters and anything associated with the solar purchase. Info Here

Complete Kit Includes: Flex Power Mat Kit, 12V 30AMP Digital Charge Controller and 25' of 10 Gauge Solar Panel Hook Up Wire
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:49 AM   #2
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Cool! However, a bit pricey for what you're getting if you price each item in the kit. There are other flexible panels made by unisolar with grommets. Tweety kit is priced at 750.00

This would have to modified or it would sail off your roof on the 1st trip
Unisolar 68 Watt Flexible Solar Panel PV Laminate - Simple & Easy Installation - Peel & Stick
Buy new: $476.00 $233.80

3 new from $233.80

Only 6 left in stock - order soon.
Home, Garden & Pets: See all 17 items


or this kit

Solar Battery Charger Kit 68 Watt Flexible Solar Panel PV Laminate Charge Controller & 30' MC Cable

by PVL68
Be the first to review this item | Like 1300207848 false -1 0 0 0 (0)
List Price: $499.00 Price: $399.00 Sale: $365.00
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:23 PM   #3
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Hi - There are many threads on solar, just use the google search feature and enjoy all the info. A couple of brief observations:

The most efficient solar producers are mono-crystal silicon. There are many grades below mono crystal and the production per square foot (efficiency) falls off dramatically the farther from mono crystal you get. Also, the less efficient systems degrade more quickly.

A 60W crystalline panel is only about 2'x3'.

The only advantage of a flexible system as pictured above is low profile.

IMHO it is better to go with a single or double panel system that is small enough to move around for best sun angle, letting one park the trailer in the shade. It is also cheaper to go this way - complete 50W+ system (panel and controller) for between $100 and $200 (Ebay).
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:30 PM   #4
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Thanks, guys! Tom, I've done a fair bit of digging into the past solar discussions here and have turned up a lot of useful info - I hadn't seen much of anything about these flexible sticky panels, though, so was curious.

More digging around seems to suggest that people are pretty "eh" about them as far as power generation and longevity, so it does seem like going with the tried and true setup would be the way to go.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:08 PM   #5
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Around here I'd be worried about any system that's permanently mounted on the roof. We get hail that will shatter the windows in your house let alone a flat panel on a roof.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:36 PM   #6
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I have considered the flexible solar panels as well primarily because they do not effect airflow over the trailer, a key aspect of mpg. Installing traditional panels on a former trailer effected mpg by one mile per gallon.

My real concern is the heat generated by the solar cells and how it might effect the fiber glass.

I know many people carry their solar panels seperately in their tow vehicles. I prefer the trailer because they charge while you drive as well as when you're parked.

Norm
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Old 03-15-2011, 10:29 PM   #7
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Doesn't your tow vehicle connection include a charge line to charge your trailer battery while you drive?
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Old 03-16-2011, 06:18 PM   #8
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In addition to being strong enough to walk on they are supposed to be hail proof. From what I have read this type of panel has superior output in low light conditions like full shade compared to the high output types. That could be a huge advantage if you camp under trees a lot like I do. The low profile is a plus for reducing wind drag and since they stick onto the roof that would eliminate the need to put rivets or bolts through the roof to mount it, eliminating potential leak locations. They would also be less likely to be stolen since they are stuck on and not very visible from ground level. That sounds like enough advantages to give them serious consideration.
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:14 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Mike Magee View Post
Doesn't your tow vehicle connection include a charge line to charge your trailer battery while you drive?
Mike,

Yes I do have a tow vehicle to trailer connection, actually switchable from the dashboard, though I don't use it if the rig has solar panels.

I don't like the inconvenience of setting up panels or other associated issues. I do like the flexible panels appearance and lack of interference with air flow. They are almost inconspicuous on the trailer. I do not like their higher cost. Typically we set up in 5 minutes, slightly longer if we set up the sat dish.

Certainly they are worth considering.

Norm
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:13 PM   #10
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I looked into the flexi solar panels for my car. All research I have seen is that they are exspensive because they are flexable, however, they don't put out as much power. I'm using solar to increase my miles per gallon. Although, I'm very interested in solar for many applications. I'm always lookin at testing solar for new applications if anyone is interested check my blog out...
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:37 PM   #11
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I've looked at the amorphous thin panels sold around here for residential use. They have some distinct advantages: designed to fit within the standing seams of a metal roof, rated to high winds (I live in hurricane country), basically peel and stick installation, and work somewhat better in higher roof heat and shadow/shade conditions than standard pv panels.
However, I was told that the amorphous panels currently sold require two or more times the roof area to produce the same power as a typical crystalline panel. The other disadvantage noted was that the present flexible panels would probably be destroyed if removed from the roof for a repair.
On, our trailer, we've not noted any noise from our roof mounted panels, nor any significant drop in mpg, and the panels can be adjusted to the sun angle, which the amporphous panels cannot, obviously, without moving the trailer.... The mounting brackets did require some roof penetrations, but we've not experienced any problems thus far.
Certainly, the amorphous panels are worth considering for the high quality adhesive alone, and the low profile, but today's technology, in my opinion, in this type of panel results in lesser output per square foot in its basic capability.
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Old 03-19-2011, 01:32 AM   #12
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See this is why I would love to use these flexible panels... The peel and stick option is excellent for a roof, you cant beat that! BUT if you need twice the roof space, thats not good for me, in my little car.
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:37 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by SherryNPaul View Post
work somewhat better in higher roof heat and shadow/shade conditions than standard pv panels.

Certainly, the amorphous panels are worth considering for the high quality adhesive alone, and the low profile, but today's technology, in my opinion, in this type of panel results in lesser output per square foot in its basic capability.
Sherry
I think that everyone would agree that the amorphous flexible panels produce less power in full sun and when mounted at optimum angles. In practice, a panel that is mounted on the roof of a trailer, will almost never be at an optimum angle. If there is a choice of a campsite in full sun or in the shade, I would take the shaded site and I think that many people would do the same. Full sun is not even available at many campsites in wooded areas. It would be interesting to compare the output of the two panel types in full shade and at less than optimum angles. The amorphous flexible panels may have a power output advantage under those conditions and if not, a larger panel could easily be used.
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:28 PM   #14
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I'd totally agree about optimum angles and sun not always equalling optimum camping comfort. For that reason, I'm happy that we can adjust our panels, to an extent.
For the op, mounting the panels on a small car, the amorphous panels would seem to be a good option. There's usually a lot of sun on the road, and in most parking lots....
Even if the production is far less per square foot, the solar opportunity is there on roads and parking pads. The amorphous panel would be firmly attached, not likely to be stolen, vandalized, or damaged by weather. At home, I'd probably look for a more productive solution per square foot of available space.
Sherry
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