OMG - NOT ANOTHER Solar panel question !! ??

RAW

Full Member
So I have been researching those flexible panels that are around 3mm thick and have seen the Midsummer Energy ones which are pretty expensive at £285 for 120 Watt, but look very good.

I have found these

OR these https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/200W-flexible-Solar-panel-Kit-20A-controller-PV-Connector-for-Camping-Car-Yacht/143486804350

Look OK and a lot cheaper, is anyone using those by any chance ? Anything to report?

So this is the Van roof and existing Solar panel
Blue_Merc_roof.jpg


I have not tested Panel yet but I think that panel might peak at 100W and if anyone recognises it as maybe an 80W or 50W panel then please let me know if you know type or manufacturer ??

So to get more Solar on the roof the plan is to fit as many flexible panels as possible so probably two of the flexi ones at 100W or more each could give me potentially 300W although panels will be mixed OR perhaps remove the aerial and then take the two matched Solar down to front of Van through that hole which is where the majority of batteries are located and have a split failover system leaving the rear panel connected as it is with it's own solar controller. Thoughts ?
TIA
Robert
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
The reason I went down the Miasol route was not primarily the fact they were flexible and had an adhesive backing. I'm interested in the adverse condition performance. In ideal conditions all the panels I've tried seem to work well.

I do see a problem for you Robert. By the time you sanded all those lumps down on your roof you will have some bad leaks!
I very much doubt if any flexible panel will conform to that extent. Trying to force one will probably damage the panel.
Dave's racking system will get you the most panels on the roof.
 
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wildebus

Full Member
Ok, eBay linked product.
Pair of 3M of 2.5mm cable. Worth around a fiver.
That PWM Controller. Worth a fiver resale (presuming you are using the Victron).
So a 200W Flexible Mono solar panel for under £100. To get a decent reliable (lasts over a year) solar panel you invariably need to spend more like 4 times that price.
Forums are littered with tales of woe of people buying cheap flexible panels and questions on how to remove their very securely stuck down flexible panels. Personally I wouldn't take the risk unless I had a) curiosity on how long it will last and b) a way to fit that meant I could remove instantly.


The photo of your existing panel. It is a standard 36 cell panel and I would say a polycrystalline one
Hard to tell from from the photo the proportions of it, but if it is rectangular and the width/length ratio is around 1:2, then I would guess at it being 50W. It could be 60W, but I do doubt it's 80W.
So under 1/3rd the output of the one on eBay, but I bet in a year's time it will be providing more power ;)
 

wildebus

Full Member
The reason I went down the Miasol route was not primarily the fact they were flexible and had an adhesive backing. I'm interested in the adverse condition performance. In ideal conditions all the panels I've tried seem to work well.

I do see a problem for you Robert. By the time you sanded all those lumps down on your roof you will have some bad leaks!
I very much doubt if any flexible panel will conform to that extent. Trying to force one will probably damage the panel.
Dave's racking system will get you the most panels on the roof.
How are those Maisol panels working for you? I am not a fan of flexible panels due to so many on the market being rubbish, but I DO need to find some for an installation. I was thinkIng Lensun (around £220 with tape for a 110W) but those ones from Midsummer could be a better (albeit pricier) option.
 

Millie Master

Full Member
Thoughts ?
TIA
Robert
Robert, why oh why go for flexible panels as with all of those roof undulations they won't stand a cat in hells chance of adhering to the surface?

Surely, as there is already one rigid panel which I presume is still working as it should do, why don't you simply bolt on several more panels.

Phil
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
How are those Maisol panels working for you? I am not a fan of flexible panels due to so many on the market being rubbish, but I DO need to find some for an installation. I was thinkIng Lensun (around £220 with tape for a 110W) but those ones from Midsummer could be a better (albeit pricier) option.
The Miasol have not been fitted yet due to a mixture of poor weather and an undulating GRP roof. The uneven roof I'm fixing by packing PU insulation under the steel work. The next bit is in the hands of the gods. The paint is pealing, so it needs a heavy sanding before recoating. Once cured it will be waiting for a warm day.

As for the Lensun panels I've lost faith. Yes they did replace the panels as they failed, but the last ones I had to pay postage. The biggest problem was that the replacement were not always the same shape. I fitted two more 100w flexible panels at the end of last year, these were cheap flexible panels as found by Robert I think. Until the sun is high enough to drive them hard I can't comment on them. Other than they were more flexible than the Lensun that have a GRP backing.
 
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RAW

Full Member
Robert, why oh why go for flexible panels as with all of those roof undulations they won't stand a cat in hells chance of adhering to the surface?
Phil, I was debating the possibility of Using Sikaflex or something else as a filler and adhesive
simply bolt on several more panels
Don't think it will be simple as will have to take down existing ceiling structure in Van


Forums are littered with tales of woe of people buying cheap flexible panels and questions on how to remove their very securely stuck down flexible panels. Personally I wouldn't take the risk unless I had a) curiosity on how long it will last and b) a way to fit that meant I could remove instantly.
David, thanks, that puts me off the plan then unless I go for the expensive ones from Midsummer, same as @SquirrellCook has which MAY stick to the undulating roof ?? But will cost me quite a lot of dollar !!

I do see a problem for you Robert. By the time you sanded all those lumps down on your roof you will have some bad leaks!
I very much doubt if any flexible panel will conform to that extent. Trying to force one will probably damage the panel.
Dave's racking system will get you the most panels on the roof.
Was thinking maybe I could fill between the lumps !!
Dave's racking system has been discussed between me and @wildebus before and looks really good so that may be a route but would need some major work in interior, taking down ceiling but then if I was going to undertake Major work like that I might look at modifying the internals even more as has shower area which is not needed IMO, and so bathroom area could be modified giving more room. In due course will do an internal video for you all ;)
 

RAW

Full Member
THANKS @wildebus ; @SquirrellCook ; @Millie Master for your input(s) on this thread, it has been very helpful in decision making.

Just to carry on the NOT ANOTHER Solar panel question(s)
I am thinking of getting a low wattage panel for the dashboard, anything anyone recommends ?
And is anyone using foldable type panels outside of their Van(s) ?? If so what sorts, any recommended
TIA
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
unless I go for the expensive ones from Midsummer, same as @SquirrellCook has which MAY stick to the undulating roof
The wave form of my undulations are very slight. Over 300 - 400mm maybe a rise and fall of about 10mm. The flatter I can get the roof the less chance of hearing that horrible crunch sound that suggests you've damaged the panel.
 

RAW

Full Member
The wave form of my undulations are very slight. Over 300 - 400mm maybe a rise and fall of about 10mm. The flatter I can get the roof the less chance of hearing that horrible crunch sound that suggests you've damaged the panel.
Interesting, thanks
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
With each coach I have very big windscreens and I had thought about a couple of small panels to hold up the 24 volt engine batteries.
The Betty build is getting a mulitplus, so that will look after them if I leave it on all the time.
 

mistericeman

Full Member
Phil, I was debating the possibility of Using Sikaflex or something else as a filler and adhesive

Don't think it will be simple as will have to take down existing ceiling structure in Van



David, thanks, that puts me off the plan then unless I go for the expensive ones from Midsummer, same as @SquirrellCook has which MAY stick to the undulating roof ?? But will cost me quite a lot of dollar !!


Was thinking maybe I could fill between the lumps !!
Dave's racking system has been discussed between me and @wildebus before and looks really good so that may be a route but would need some major work in interior, taking down ceiling but then if I was going to undertake Major work like that I might look at modifying the internals even more as has shower area which is not needed IMO, and so bathroom area could be modified giving more room. In due course will do an internal video for you all ;)
Use Rivnuts instead of having to take the ceiling down.
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member

I'd have liked to have smaller, but it's knowing how low can you go with it making objectional noises.
I just switched on my fridge in Murky to try and load the panels, but it only pulled 6 amps at 12 volts. That's an old 800 watt Victron unit that seems to be higher spec than it's replacement :(
 
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SquirrellCook

Full Member
Was thinking maybe I could fill between the lumps !!
Remember I didn't type this!! Use a sticky backed panel and stick it to your ribs. Try not to let it sag too much. In the spaces under the panel, spray foam insulation. You can get versions that don't expand too much. When fully set trim the escaped foam with a sharp knife. Seal the edges with PU mastic smeared over it. Remember it wasn't me ;)
 
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RAW

Full Member
Use Rivnuts instead
Will google Rivnuts though also read a bit about them in an older post here
I know some people use rivnuts to provide a a better fixing then say self-tappers as a mechanical fixing, but I personally wonder if that is good enough? (I've had rivnuts pull out under stress and as you say, the life forces on a roof panel when driving can be pretty substantial I would think!)
Anyway Rivnuts might be a solution on low weight panels I guess so off to search engine land I go.....
 

Edina

Administrator
Cheap nylon chopping boards cut into strips will fill the space between humps.
With alloy brackets you won't need to fill the gaps and you can fit decent rigid panels.
Clean surfaces well with lighter fluid and rough up the base of the brackets, and sikaflex will hold them down without screws/bolts etc.
 

RAW

Full Member
Found these:-
1584024929023.png

Which might be alright for the semi flexible or flexible panels that have the grommet holes in them but wary of going through the roof with a rivet gun.
So
Cheap nylon chopping boards cut into strips will fill the space between humps.
With alloy brackets you won't need to fill the gaps and you can fit decent rigid panels.
Clean surfaces well with lighter fluid and rough up the base of the brackets, and sikaflex will hold them down without screws/bolts etc.
Like what sort of Alloy Brackets please ?
 

wildebus

Full Member
The Miasol have not been fitted yet due to a mixture of poor weather and an undulating GRP roof. The uneven roof I'm fixing by packing PU insulation under the steel work. The next bit is in the hands of the gods. The paint is pealing, so it needs a heavy sanding before recoating. Once cured it will be waiting for a warm day.

As for the Lensun panels I've lost faith. Yes they did replace the panels as they failed, but the last ones I had to pay postage. The biggest problem was that the replacement were not always the same shape. I fitted two more 100w flexible panels at the end of last year, these were cheap flexible panels as found by Robert I think. Until the sun is high enough to drive them hard I can't comment on them. Other than they were more flexible than the Lensun that have a GRP backing.
Ref the Lensun panels, they describe them as "semi-flexible" and quote a flex of no more than 5% flex, so really "frameless rigid panels" I would say may be a better description. I thought the GRP backing was very good as it stopped the flexing and gave a good strong backing to the panel.
I fitted a pair to a ribbed roof, and used two additions to help the rigidity further.
Added in-fill supports equidistant between each rib to add extra support (worked out to be 4" between each support IIRC, which is a good level of support; and added supports at the front to stop the wind getting underneath and creating any stress pressures. Below is a photo of the underneath of the first panel with the supports visible and the front blockers in place, prior to the panel being flipped over and pressed into position.

Panel Underneath
by David, on Flickr

Just checked and the 200W of panels were putting in 100W an hour ago (and the batteries are full according to the BMV), so given the time of year, I think they are still working fine.

I have also recommended the panels that Martyn from Travelvolts sell (https://www.travelvolts.net/product-page/150-watt-semi-flex-solar-panel). These are quality Austrian-made panels.
But unless there is a real strong reason to fit thin lightweight panels, I really think standard glass panels are a MUCH better long-term option for both reliability AND low-cost reasons (not usually two words that go together, but with Solar Panels they do).
 
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Nabsim

Full Member
Before I fitted my panels I contacted Sika Tech Support to discuss what I needed. I told them I wanted to stick the ABS mountings to the roof with adhesive alone then bolt the panels to the mountings. They advised I used Sikaflex 252i Architectural and clean and abrade the paint first. Thats all we did and I have done maybe 30,000 miles with them like that so far.

Yes I have seen the horror stories on Facebook but I have also seen posts advising any old sealant or adhesive will do the job. They stick performance vehicles and planes together with this sort of stuff, its doesnt come off. If you are worries about the paint lifting rub it off where the mounts will go so it adheres to metal and follow instructions.

The 252i Architectural was £25 a tube though so a bit eye watering, dont know if its come down since.

All that said if I had a panel van I would be very tempted to get roof rails up there and mount rigid panels on that. \you then have flexibility to rearrange or redesign the layout as well as being able to mount other things to the rails
 
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