Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Maine Coast
Thanked 223 Times in 170 Posts
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Re: Best per $ solar panel suppliers?
I used Northern Arizona Wind & Sun: Buy Solar Electric Panels
for my simple 40 watt panel with controller, which is more than adequate for my purposes. Solar panels are designed for outdoor use in exposed areas, so I am not sure exactly what the expensive "marine" designation buys ( no disrepect intended to MaineSail who is a true asset to this listserv). In any event, I can easily and inexpensively replace my panel if necessary. Last year, it survived quite a bit of abuse, including the derecho with 70 mph winds that hit me at Kiptopeake Beach.
I decided I wanted a solar set up after watching the following video (one of my favorite sailing videos) by Adrian Johnson, who won the 2010 Singlehanded Sailing Society's Transpac race in his Olson 30 "Idefix":
I later corresponded with Adrian Johnson and, just coincidentally, he bought his panels from the same outfit. Adrian Johnson later sailed his Olson 30 all the way across the Pacific to Austrailia or New Zealand, where he sold it, so the panels must be fairly rugged.
You did not buy "el cheapo" panels. Norther Arizona Wind Sun sells quality products. Some panels they sell hold up better than others in the marine environment but NAWS has the good stuff compared to the eBay and fly-by-night net resellers who buy direct from China.. You will almost always pay more from companies like NAWS, eMarine, Wholesale Solar, AltE or other reputable sources than you will from companies not selling top names like Kyocera, Sharp, Solar World, Trina, BP Solar, SunWize etc...
My comments on brands such as Kyocera, Solar World (Siemens/Shell Solar), Sharp etc. are all based on real world durability in a marine application. Many panel sellers go so far as to void a warranty if used in a marine application so the buyer needs to ask these questions and get it in writing that the panel is covered in a marine application.
I have one customer right now who installed a small panel off eBay last summer and the panel looks like it is 30 years old. The aluminum frame clearly was never anodized...
-Maine Sail / CS-36T
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