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post #31 of 38 Old 12-21-2019
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Re: LG bifacial solar panel interest

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Being not on a budget and also a believer you get what you pay for I was going to buy solbian but the more I looked into Renogy I just couldn't justify the price. I fully suspected find some defects with the renogy panels but after a hard season with over 5k sea miles have been pleasantly surprised. I monitored performance victron mppt controller and often saw output more than spec. So am very happy with the decision. Many people on this forum have been happy with Solbian, so just take this as a data point.
I'm sure that Solbian panels are top notch but I just checked and the price difference between Renogy and Solbian is pretty dramatic so I can understand the attraction. But on their website I could only find a reference to where their headquarters is but with no mention of where the panels or even the cells are produced. Do you have any idea about that? Also, looking at their video they show ice hitting them and flexing of the panels, but don't show anyone walking on them. Do you know if they are made to it's OK to walk on them?
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post #32 of 38 Old 12-22-2019
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Re: LG bifacial solar panel interest

The only walkable flexible panels I know of were (no typo) made by Aurinco.
Their factory was in Anacortes Washington, but they couldn't compete with the far east.
They went out of business. I know, because I now have two of their 100 watt panels.
I loved them, but both have developed internal damage and are no longer usable.
At $895 each, that was quite a hit when I had to replace them with non walkable panels on my amas.
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post #33 of 38 Old 12-22-2019
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Re: LG bifacial solar panel interest

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Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
The only walkable flexible panels I know of were (no typo) made by Aurinco.
Their factory was in Anacortes Washington, but they couldn't compete with the far east.
They went out of business. I know, because I now have two of their 100 watt panels.
I loved them, but both have developed internal damage and are no longer usable.
At $895 each, that was quite a hit when I had to replace them with non walkable panels on my amas.
The Solbian SR+175 were recommended to me and supposedly are rugged enough to walk on. They cost around $1000 each so pretty pricey. But I'm leaning towards getting them because they'd be aesthetically nicer than rigid panels on my hardtop and would allow me to walk on the whole hardtop rather than just a narrow strip down the middle. That would be very handy to access the midboom area and safer as well because it would avoid tripping on the edge of a rigid panel or accidentally stepping on it. Plus, if they last 10+ years, the cost per year for what you get back in energy is pretty reasonable. But I wouldn't mind paying less if a better alternative were available that was rugged enough to be stepped on.

I think it's pretty amazing how cheap some panels have become, and we've all gradually become used to that. Same with many other items such as flat screen TV's. I remember paying over $700 for a 20" Sony Trinitron TV back in 1986 when that was worth about $1500 today. Now I could buy a 65" HD smart tv for that much money. So I try to keep it in perspective what a bargain modern electronics are. When you consider that solar panels are basically no maintenance and will provide energy to run almost all your boat systems for more than a decade, and they'll keep on doing it whether you are onboard or not they are a real bargain, even if we opt for the more expensive ones made in western economies. If 30 years ago someone had told us we could so equip our boats so we could leave our refrig and freezer on 24/7/365 and not have to run (or own or maintain or provide fuel for) a generator to do that, and it would "only" cost a few thousand dollars, we'd have been thrilled, but now we expect it to cost only a few hundred dollars. I like a good deal as much as anyone but I think that with modern solar panels you get so much value that they are all bargains compared with the energy generating devices we've had onboard in the past.
But I'm a Yankee of Scottish heritage so don't make a habit of overpaying for anything if I can avoid it so I need a pretty good reason to make an exception. With solar panels I'm pretty much there for all the reasons I've discussed in this thread.
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post #34 of 38 Old 12-23-2019
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Re: LG bifacial solar panel interest

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I'm sure that Solbian panels are top notch but I just checked and the price difference between Renogy and Solbian is pretty dramatic so I can understand the attraction. But on their website I could only find a reference to where their headquarters is but with no mention of where the panels or even the cells are produced. Do you have any idea about that? Also, looking at their video they show ice hitting them and flexing of the panels, but don't show anyone walking on them. Do you know if they are made to it's OK to walk on them?
I don't know where final assembly for renogy is but doubt in USA. Like most things built these days the different materials come from different places. Maybe somebody knows which fabs make the cells but I don't. just took a peak and the 160 flexible is now $255 on amazon. I paid $199 directly from Renogy. They have a tech support group in southern California that I talked to with questions before I bought.

Walking on was not a design consideration for my application. Light weight and flexible was since that panel is on a canvas Bimini. I don't consider any high output panels "walkable". "step-able with care "is how I'd view them. Cells are just too brittle. Maybe amorphous products but the efficiency is so much lower. While I did not have a requirement for walking on I'm considering putting one of these on my hard dodger which I do step on very occasionally.

On the solbian panels, I came to believe that the high price was at least partly due to the marketing and distribution model. When I was looking I could only buy through distributers. you can purchase panels like renogy through amazon, ebay or direct form the manufacturer which should translate into 20-40% of middleman profit. The distributers have a big stake in claiming super high quality etc.

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post #35 of 38 Old 12-25-2019
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Re: LG bifacial solar panel interest

Bought a Renogy 100 watt flexible panel a few years ago it was in the 200 dollar range. Worked well for over a year until a major wind front removed it from the boat. My fault for not securing it a little better. Bought another different brand flexible panel and same thing happened (my fault again) but, this time it landed in the cockpit of the boat next to me in the boat yard. This new panel is showing some surface cracks so I' ll test it over the winter to see if it still good. My other hard framed solar panels have been operating for over ten years and are still working well.

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post #36 of 38 Old 12-25-2019
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Re: LG bifacial solar panel interest

If mounting to a hard surface, try vhb tape
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post #37 of 38 Old 01-08-2020 Thread Starter
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Re: LG bifacial solar panel interest

To follow up: It seems that LG is now assembling these panels in a US facility. I found a distributor for them that was willing to sell me one, at a very good price, and only charged $34 in shipping to Florida from one of their distribution centers in one of the Western US states (no, there is not a missing zero on the end of that price). Altogether, with shipping and taxes, the panel cost us $1/Watt, which is excellent. Actually, about $0.93/W if one takes into account the bifacial 20% additional output.

The company is Platt.com.

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post #38 of 38 Old 01-10-2020
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Re: LG bifacial solar panel interest

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Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
The only walkable flexible panels I know of were (no typo) made by Aurinco.
Their factory was in Anacortes Washington, but they couldn't compete with the far east.
They went out of business. I know, because I now have two of their 100 watt panels.
I loved them, but both have developed internal damage and are no longer usable.
At $895 each, that was quite a hit when I had to replace them with non walkable panels on my amas.
Yeah, that's a real shame that Aurinco had to close their doors due to unfair competition from the far east. I know the Solbians are pricey but the SR+ series supposedly are OK to walk on so I'm going to go with them. According to the Ocean Planet website, they are $1149 for a rugged 175W flexible panel so prices per watt have come down a bit from your Aurinco's, though still WAY spendy compared to todays rigid panels prices. Part of my reasoning is I want flat panels I can walk on, and there's a company (Ocean Planet) near me in Maine where I can buy them. I like to support local businesses whenever possible and I also like that they aren't made in China so I'll be paying a bit extra for a high quality product with good customer support. I think there's value in that. Also, when I consider the time spent frigging around with replacements if I have problems with my new panels, I'm willing to pay a little extra to hopefully have a setup that will last for quite awhile with minimal attention from me. I've got plenty of other things to spend my time on, both aboard my boat and on land.
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