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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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  #1  
Old 06-05-2013
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Best per $ solar panel suppliers?

Just wondering who's using what. I'd like to walk in and buy at a store but that seems unlikely with so much online suppliers.

Pretty sure my needs are around 60-80 watts
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Old 06-05-2013
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Re: Best per $ solar panel suppliers?

I have specifically stayed away from buying panels on the $$ to watts scale....

I know the race to the bottom of the price market often results in less quality and it now appears the issue has taken hold on the solar market. Through this period of low cost, elcheapo, source unknown solar panels I have held fast to known brands such as Kyocera, Sharp etc. that have a known and quantifiable track record in a marine application...

Unfortunately the race to the bottom has seen known quality brands like Kyocera drop many of the small panels we often use on boats leaving us potentially holding the bag of goods by forcing us to buy brands with little to no track record in marine environments..

As I have mentioned many times before Kyocera, Sharp, Siemens/Shell/Solarland have a track record in marine applications, and I feel very comfortable installing them in the marine environment. I am certainly glad I decided to stay with a known quantity, even when tempted by low prices.. I have now seen three or four defective no-name Chinese eBay panels with outright damage and many more not put out anywhere near their ratings. Was working on a boat the other day in beautiful blue sky with the 40W eBay panel aimed directly at the sun and 0.90A - 1.10A was all she could muster and the panel was not very warm either so performance should have been excellent.....

While buying a brand name panel is no guarantee at least I know how a company like Kyocera stands behind an issue, if there ever is one.

This article is pretty sad, especially considering our tax dollars that were spent buying this stuff. The sad reality is that we often do get what we pay for....

Solar Industry Anxious Over Defective Solar Panels
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 06-05-2013 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 06-05-2013
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Re: Best per $ solar panel suppliers?

Denise,
You can buy cheap and save a couple dozen dollars, but frankly I agree with MS - get marine rated panels from a known source (Kyocera for me).
Some of those cheaper ones are made for home application - they put out 30+ volts and are meant to be wired together for that use (I've sourced cheap, then threw out the idea).
I hear you say you need 60-80. Get a 125w if you have space. You can never have too much power/charging ability. You'll also see that the bigger the panel the more watts to the buck are common.
Here's a good link that shows that.
Solar Panels at Affordable Prices
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Old 06-05-2013
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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.

Last edited by jameswilson29; 06-05-2013 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 06-05-2013
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Re: Best per $ solar panel suppliers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jameswilson29 View Post
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...
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Old 06-05-2013
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Re: Best per $ solar panel suppliers?

It's good to see this here. I just installed a cheapo 20W panel from Amazon ($50, although its reviews were fine), partly for money and partly because I didn't know the good brands anyway.

It was sort of a quick decision after deciding to pull the trigger on an Genasun 4A MPPT (also $50, is it any good?).

I thought a lot about how to mount it, and made some PVC lumber rail clamps, but then settled on just zip ties. Two go through the aluminum frame. The others go through the PVC lumber piece fastened to the panel with 3M VHB tape.



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Old 06-05-2013
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Re: Best per $ solar panel suppliers?

Denise, I purchased this one at Home Depot in Marathon, FL last January for $199 on sale. It works like a charm, keeps the house batteries charged to full capacity and during the day it can run the refrigerator.

Grape Solar 100-Watt Monocrystalline Off-Grid PV Solar Panel with Black Frame-GS-S-100-TS at The Home Depot

Gary
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Re: Best per $ solar panel suppliers?

Off-brand durability? Who can say? The fit and finish on mine appears good, but I'm only 2 years in.

Capacity? Depends on how many guests. I've got 170W on a 32-foot cat; overkill for just me, a little short with the wife and 2 teenagers, and yet I don't really want to hang more panels, chewing up free space.
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Old 06-06-2013
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Re: Best per $ solar panel suppliers?

I have 2, 5 watt harbor fright panels a few years now.. still making power and maintaining my batteries
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Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Best per $ solar panel suppliers?

We ended up buying from emarineinc.com. Their prices are competitive and they are sailboat focused. They also sell mounting kits. Service was good.

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