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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Solar Cells for the Womboat
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Thread: Solar Cells for the Womboat Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
09-24-2010 05:44 PM
tdw
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickmerc View Post
The good news is the plant in Homebush was bought by a company that brought back most of the staff who used to work there. One of the principles in the company used to be the plant manager here in Maryland. From what I hear in the industry they are making top notch cells and doing well. This, after the previous management told BP they couldn't be profitable.

Loosing my job has been a blessing. I received a nice severance package so I am able to take some time off to spend with the family and do quite a bit of sailing.

One thing to keep in mind when boycotting BP. Do not take it out on the local petrol station. The way the fuel is delivered (at least in the US) is each refiner puts their product into the same pipeline infrastructure. So, Shell, Exxon, BP, etc. all add to the refined fuel "pool". At the distribution centers all of the tanker trucks take from the "pool". The brand specific additives are added in each truck load. The refiner is paid for what they add to the pool and the local petrol stations buy from the pool. All brands are basically the same. So, please do not take it out on the small businesses that have no control over whose oil they get.

I have seen several stations in my area change branding to help keep business.
Well I'm certainly glad it has not been a catastophe for you and your family. Big facilities like this clsing down can have a horrid effect on people's lives.

Ref the local servo....in Australia virtually all servos in the cities and on main highways are directly owned by the oil companies. Very few independents anymore.
09-24-2010 02:37 PM
nickmerc
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdw View Post
Thanks for your input. BP have also recently closed their manufacturing facility in Australia. All panels now sold in Australia are Chinese sourced. Quite frankly (and yes I am a bleeding heart liberal) this and some other matters in the Gulf of Mexico have quite put me of buying any BP product whatsoever.

Unfortunately, Kyocera panels are very hard to find in Oz not to mention hideously expensive and Sharp appear to have pulled out of the Australian market altogether.

I am trying to confirm this but Blue Sky Energy who manufacturer panels and MPPT regulators appear to have taken over the BP plant and are producing panels locally.

edit....Blue Sky are not manufacturing panesl in Oz, they sell Kyocera but from their website it appeasr nothing smaller than 95w.
The good news is the plant in Homebush was bought by a company that brought back most of the staff who used to work there. One of the principles in the company used to be the plant manager here in Maryland. From what I hear in the industry they are making top notch cells and doing well. This, after the previous management told BP they couldn't be profitable.

Loosing my job has been a blessing. I received a nice severance package so I am able to take some time off to spend with the family and do quite a bit of sailing.

One thing to keep in mind when boycotting BP. Do not take it out on the local petrol station. The way the fuel is delivered (at least in the US) is each refiner puts their product into the same pipeline infrastructure. So, Shell, Exxon, BP, etc. all add to the refined fuel "pool". At the distribution centers all of the tanker trucks take from the "pool". The brand specific additives are added in each truck load. The refiner is paid for what they add to the pool and the local petrol stations buy from the pool. All brands are basically the same. So, please do not take it out on the small businesses that have no control over whose oil they get.

I have seen several stations in my area change branding to help keep business.
________
EFFECTS OF AVANDIA
09-24-2010 09:17 AM
Ilenart
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdw View Post
Thanks Ilenart....hey, how's the boat hunting going ?
Have made an offer and going through survey / inspection. Cannot get the yacht out of the water until the 6th October, so things will take a while. Number of issues that are adding up the $ so we will see. Will post more details once things are finalied.

Ilenart
09-24-2010 08:45 AM
Cruisingdad
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickmerc View Post
I used to work for BP Solar (until May of this year) as an engineer making the wafers for their panels. I will say that our wafers were some of the best in the world. They were made in Maryland, USA. We also cast the poly silicon used to make the wafers and made cells as well as the panels. The factory began shutting down last November starting with the panels. When all of the components were made in the USA the BP panels were worth the price. Now the BP panels are made in India and China. These panels are not even close to the quality of the USA panels.

I am still in contact with the remaining engineers who decided to stay on a qualify material suppliers in India and China. All of our old quality standards are gone and price is now the driving factor. The once high quality BP panels are now being made on the same assembly line as the cheap Indian/Chinese panels.

The point of all this is to have you check the date and location of manufacture. If the panels are made after November 2009 then they are not worth buying. Look at the Kyocera and Sharp panels. They still have very high quality standards. When it comes to solar panels price is, for now, a decent indicator of quality since there are only a few manufacturers of the core components.

Sorry for the long post. It is my way of venting after seeing a few hundred people loose their jobs (some after 30 years) and a once great technological innovator go down the crapper.
Good post. Sorry to hear about your job. But it confirmes my observations that you get what you pay for with solar panels and some of those cheapy panels should be labeled Fisher Price.

If it were my boat I owuld get the Kyoceras, TDW. Also, Blue Sky and Outback make solid MPPTs, though I belidve that Outback has the better reputation.

Brian
09-23-2010 06:43 PM
tdw
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickmerc View Post
I used to work for BP Solar (until May of this year) as an engineer making the wafers for their panels. I will say that our wafers were some of the best in the world. They were made in Maryland, USA. We also cast the poly silicon used to make the wafers and made cells as well as the panels. The factory began shutting down last November starting with the panels. When all of the components were made in the USA the BP panels were worth the price. Now the BP panels are made in India and China. These panels are not even close to the quality of the USA panels.

I am still in contact with the remaining engineers who decided to stay on a qualify material suppliers in India and China. All of our old quality standards are gone and price is now the driving factor. The once high quality BP panels are now being made on the same assembly line as the cheap Indian/Chinese panels.

The point of all this is to have you check the date and location of manufacture. If the panels are made after November 2009 then they are not worth buying. Look at the Kyocera and Sharp panels. They still have very high quality standards. When it comes to solar panels price is, for now, a decent indicator of quality since there are only a few manufacturers of the core components.

Sorry for the long post. It is my way of venting after seeing a few hundred people loose their jobs (some after 30 years) and a once great technological innovator go down the crapper.
Thanks for your input. BP have also recently closed their manufacturing facility in Australia. All panels now sold in Australia are Chinese sourced. Quite frankly (and yes I am a bleeding heart liberal) this and some other matters in the Gulf of Mexico have quite put me of buying any BP product whatsoever.

Unfortunately, Kyocera panels are very hard to find in Oz not to mention hideously expensive and Sharp appear to have pulled out of the Australian market altogether.

I am trying to confirm this but Blue Sky Energy who manufacturer panels and MPPT regulators appear to have taken over the BP plant and are producing panels locally.

edit....Blue Sky are not manufacturing panesl in Oz, they sell Kyocera but from their website it appeasr nothing smaller than 95w.
09-23-2010 06:23 PM
tdw
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ilenart View Post
Fuzzy,

they look pretty good and the price is certainly a lot more reasonable than the BP's.

I've been doing a bit of research into solar as part of the new boat purchase. Nigel Calder's Boatowners Mechanical & Electrical Manual has an excellent section on solar. He also has some calcs that suggest 2 x 55w panels will produce around 28 amps per day. When the manual was written (2005) he was quoting an average conversion of 12% and I saw on a Enertech website that they were quoting a 17% conversion rate, so maybe you will get better than this. I gues you will find out!

Assume you are looking at an MPPT controller?

Ilenart
OK smartarse whats MPPT mean....google google google....oh I see.....

How do I tell if a controller is "Maximum Power Point Tracking" ?

More google....back shortly.....

Ah..there you go....MPPT controllers are easy to identify.....they are three times the price..... but they look like they are the go.

Oh and btw....I'm thinking that if they will fit I am going to go three by 80w or perhaps just two 80s but allow for a third to come.

Thanks Ilenart....hey, how's the boat hunting going ?
09-23-2010 05:53 PM
nickmerc I used to work for BP Solar (until May of this year) as an engineer making the wafers for their panels. I will say that our wafers were some of the best in the world. They were made in Maryland, USA. We also cast the poly silicon used to make the wafers and made cells as well as the panels. The factory began shutting down last November starting with the panels. When all of the components were made in the USA the BP panels were worth the price. Now the BP panels are made in India and China. These panels are not even close to the quality of the USA panels.

I am still in contact with the remaining engineers who decided to stay on a qualify material suppliers in India and China. All of our old quality standards are gone and price is now the driving factor. The once high quality BP panels are now being made on the same assembly line as the cheap Indian/Chinese panels.

The point of all this is to have you check the date and location of manufacture. If the panels are made after November 2009 then they are not worth buying. Look at the Kyocera and Sharp panels. They still have very high quality standards. When it comes to solar panels price is, for now, a decent indicator of quality since there are only a few manufacturers of the core components.

Sorry for the long post. It is my way of venting after seeing a few hundred people loose their jobs (some after 30 years) and a once great technological innovator go down the crapper.
________
Washington Medical Marijuana
09-23-2010 07:53 AM
Ilenart Fuzzy,

they look pretty good and the price is certainly a lot more reasonable than the BP's.

I've been doing a bit of research into solar as part of the new boat purchase. Nigel Calder's Boatowners Mechanical & Electrical Manual has an excellent section on solar. He also has some calcs that suggest 2 x 55w panels will produce around 28 amps per day. When the manual was written (2005) he was quoting an average conversion of 12% and I saw on a Enertech website that they were quoting a 17% conversion rate, so maybe you will get better than this. I gues you will find out!

Assume you are looking at an MPPT controller?

Ilenart
09-22-2010 07:08 PM
tdw CD/SD,

Had a good look at the Enertech panels during Sydney Boat Show. Now while I am many miles from being any kind of solar panel boffin they didn't look like cheap crap to me.

I do need to do more homework but with Kyocera a problem down under the Enertech panels are being sold alongside BP. As a cheaper alternative to BP, yes, but by the same dealers.

My most recent quote was from one of Sydneys most respected marine electrical suppliers. Their claim is that Enertech are simply trying to get in on the Oz market, ergo the prices.

Ref the size and quantity of panels, I do take your point though we do have a diesel for back up and there are just the two of us. All our interior and navigation lighting will be or already is LED, we don't have a TV on board, stereo yes but unlike at home we only seem to use it for a couple of hours a day, computer will undoubtedly happen at some time.

Now...lets say we go two of the 70 or 80w panels but with a controller large enough to add a third. Other possibility is that we go wind should we need more. I see wind as being particularly useful offshore when our power needs would be higher than when at anchor. (radio, gps, chart plotter, auto pilot).
09-22-2010 08:55 AM
Cruisingdad I agree with Dog about the Kyoceras. THat is what I have and have been very pleased. They come with blocking diodes and are fairly heavy built. I helped another sailor install four cheaper panels a month or two ago and I will tell you with certainty that there is a distinct difference(s), from the connectors, to the rigidity of the frame, the cheap gunk they put to weathertight them, etc. Pay more and get good quality. I am not saying your Enetech or whatever are not good quality, I simply do not know. But I would hesitate buying them based only on the price since I have learned that not all panels are created equal. SOmetimes I wonder if come of these solar panel companies trade horses on the side!!

I would opt for having the panel(s) as far aft as possible. I would not care if it was one or two. In fact, having two will be slightly more expensive given you will have to buy double hardware. I would much prefer having the larger Kyocera mounted aft and high then two 55's mounted on either side because depending which way the bow is pointing and sun is shinning, you might shade one and that seems more likely than always getting sun on the aft setup.

As far as too much power, I wouldn't bet on it. On a 12 v system, I have 4-Kyocera 130's which equates to 530 watts. That puts out (with an Outback controller, incidentally, very good controller) roughly 200 ah on a very nice and good day. SO, assuming you use the exact same controller and only one KC130 (MPPT), you can bet on 50ah/day on a good day. I highly suspect you will use more than that. If not, the controller will kick what little is left out as heat. In essesnse, for what you are talking about, I do not think you will have too much power. If anything, you are doomed for dissapointment.

THe only other thing I want to re-mentino, which SD also mentioned, is that any shading on a panel effectively makes it useless. That is why it is imperative to mount it with as clear a view of the sky (and no shading) as possible.

Regarding the Kyocera issues, I had heard/read somewhere that Kyocera was pushing out of the recreational market and focuing on more commercial types of applications which made getting panels from them increasingly difficult for our types of applications. The post was here on Sailnet and on another forum. That may explain the frustrations faced by your vendors in Fuzzy land.

Brian
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