Solar panels - what to buy

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 14, 2017 at 22:20
ThreadID: 134463 Views:4052 Replies:6 FollowUps:9
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Hi, our solar panels have decided enough is enough, so we need to buy new ones. These will be fixed on our pop top caravan so weight is also something to be considered. Currently have 2 x 60W panels, but might be better to mount 1 x 120watt panel. Any suggestions, brand, weight, reliability, etc. Any help would be great. Thanks
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Reply By: Member - Milton477 - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 01:50

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 01:50
I have a pair of 36v, 200w panels on my van. They each measure 1500mm x 900mm & weigh 14kg. Been up there for 2 years now with no problems.
AnswerID: 609395

Follow Up By: Member - Nolo (Brisbane) - Thursday, Mar 16, 2017 at 07:20

Thursday, Mar 16, 2017 at 07:20
Same. Mounted in series to a Victron MPPT 100/30 controller. Very efficient.
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Reply By: Glenn C5 - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 07:18

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 07:18
Have a look at the flexible panels. 1.8 kg. 200 watt.

https://www.vicoffroad.com.au/12v-200w-flexible-solar-panel-generator-caravan-camping-power-mono-charging-kit-1307.html?gclid=CLzGlpbo1tICFQaTfgodp74LGQ
AnswerID: 609396

Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 08:04

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 08:04
The amp output is lacking compared to other panels and it is on the expensive side as well. There are other ones out there that offer better value. My 80watt panels output 5 amps each (measured with quality multimeter). I would go for something with a frame that makes it easier to bolt on and off from the roof. Bit deals do some good panels and plenty on here and other forums have had a good experience with them. Panels seem to be getting cheaper and cheaper but it is best to compare many and go for quality.

example...http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Solar-Panel-12V-200W-Monocrystalline-Module-House-Caravan-Boat-Off-Grid-Use-/271531073023

Good luck
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 08:10

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 08:10
That IS a low output, my Rydge Rider folding 100w puts out 6 amps full sun, the150w folding 9 amps (both over spec).
Surprised with the 200w in the link being only 8.6amps.

Still this type of thin flexible panel would probably be worth looking for in better specs as when fitted properly are really set and forget with low wind resistance etc, just a wash every now and then.
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Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 08:00

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 08:00
I use Redarc supplied panels 2x120 and never had any problems. Local company, so always good to support...

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
AnswerID: 609397

Reply By: Batt's - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 11:16

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 11:16
I have a Bit Deals 170w panel on my canopy which is cheap and works well.
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Reply By: Zippo - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 14:56

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 14:56
Before automatically shelling out for new panels, have you definitely verified that the existing ones are the problem? How have you tested them?
AnswerID: 609401

Follow Up By: goldlink - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 18:05

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 18:05
Thanks we have tested the panels and no good. They are approx. 10 years old so have done their job. Had an autoelectrian test the panels.
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FollowupID: 879290

Follow Up By: Zippo - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 19:00

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 at 19:00
OK as long as you're happy with that. There could be a lot of reasons for reduced/nil output other than panel age and degradation. Just thinking of your wallet welfare.
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Thursday, Mar 16, 2017 at 10:04

Thursday, Mar 16, 2017 at 10:04
How did he test them?

Bit like an ear nose and throat specialist talking about neuro surgery. Both doctors.
All sparkies aint sparkies...
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FollowupID: 879307

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Thursday, Mar 16, 2017 at 10:24

Thursday, Mar 16, 2017 at 10:24
If they are 10 years old you will get far more output in the same space with modern panels
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Thursday, Mar 16, 2017 at 19:09

Thursday, Mar 16, 2017 at 19:09
Bought my 100w portable folding kit online from Low Energy Developments, Preston, Vic. A good quality kit, fair price, reliable supplier. Still good ten years later. They do panels for fixed installs too of course. Worth getting a quote I'd say. Tip...beware of cheap regulators...than can ruin any investment in decent panels...take advice on a suitable quality reg !
AnswerID: 609423

Follow Up By: goldlink - Friday, Mar 17, 2017 at 08:05

Friday, Mar 17, 2017 at 08:05
Thanks for that, we bought the caravan 2nd hand with all BP solar unit fitted, I don't think the people ever used the solar panels opted to stay in caravan parks. We are heading off on a big trip off grid and need to make sure everything is working well and obviously the solar unit is not. Have since purchased a new regulator and panels appear to have low if what nil output. We live in SA so prob a bit far to get panels sent and fixed. Thanks for you advice.
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Follow Up By: Zippo - Friday, Mar 17, 2017 at 17:33

Friday, Mar 17, 2017 at 17:33
Our (work) experience with BP Solar panels was exceptional. Ten years after installation their output was down less than 10%. Only replaced them eventually as we needed to up the array output, and by then there were panels with a higher output per square metre. I'm still a bit nonplussed about them failing/dying unless they were physically damaged.

Goldlink, sorry to drag this out but were those panels ever working during your ownership? Tell you what, if your trip takes you anywhere near Perth and you have the room to carry them (or know someone coming this way), I'd love to grab them off you for some serious testing.
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