How fragile are roof mounted solar panels?

Submitted: Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 20:26
ThreadID: 76099 Views:3641 Replies:6 FollowUps:2
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I'm thinking of mounting an 80W panel on the roof of the car. How susceptible to stone damage are they?

Should I place a protective cover over the panel while in transit?

If a stone were to strike the panel, would it still work or likely be disabled?

Bob
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Reply By: jdwynn (Adelaide) - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 20:58

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 20:58
Bob, I previously asked a similar question (Site Link).

Depends on type of panel too - by all reports unisolar work even with a hole through them.

I'm happy to report several 1000 km's now on roof and no problems at all. I do understand (from manufacturers guff) that backside of panel is quite vulnerable, and I intend to build a wind deflector in the near future to prevent stone coming in from underneath somehow.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Bob of KAOS - Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 07:44

Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 07:44
jd

Thanks for that. I searched but didn't get that far back because of the huge number of responses unrelated to damage.

Bob
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Reply By: bruce - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 21:22

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 21:22
If it is glass , then obviously a stone traveling at high speed is not going to do it much good at all...but laying flat it is going to be hard for a stone to hit it...and you do realise that a panel when laying flat produces a lot less power than when pointed at an angle to the sun....I would put a good cover on it for traveling and then when stopped try and stand it up....we are going on a 3-4 mth trip shortly and will carry a panel on the roof in a rack (Uni-Solar) it is well covered and has a wind deflector in front of the rack. It is portable ..can be placed standing up wherever we want to put it...cheers And yes , I have seen a Uni-Solar panel with a bullet hole in it and yes it did still work....
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Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 22:58

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 22:58
Hi Bob; they're pretty tough

We have had an 80 w panel for seven years, although it hasn't been on the road all the time. At first it travelled in the camper (and got a rough ride too) to be used as a portable when we stopped. Next it was mounted on the fibreglass canopy of the F250, travelling roads like the Gibb River, Tanami and Great Central. Last year it was moved to the top of the cab (we travelled without the canopy), and we were on the road for five months. It has suffered no harm.

The four on our caravan also get no special treatment and have been hit my low branches a few times. The caravan is always kept outside.

Motherhen
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Reply By: Member - Serendipity(WA) - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 23:03

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 23:03
I have a unisolar on my ute - had the same panel on my previous ute. Been up there for about 7 years. Been through all sorts of off road travel. Rough as guts corrugations, gravel roads. Have odd stone chips on the front of the cruiser already.

I also work as a carpenter and chuck planks, ladders and lots of timber up on the roof rack. The unisolar sits 10 mm lower but sometimes gets hit. Don't have a problem.

I also have another unisolar on my camper which is removal-able. It stays up there gathering sunshine while at home or traveling. When we camp I take it off as the camper is opening and set it up for maximum sunshine. Again that one has never had a problem.

I saw a sales rep at a camping show slam a unisolar on the bitumen and then walk on it to demonstrate that it could still work. Picked a few small stones from the face and yep it still worked just fine.

David

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Follow Up By: Bob of KAOS - Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 07:45

Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 07:45
Thanks all.

It sounds like I can go ahead with reasonable confidence (as long as I stay shiny side up).

Bob
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Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 08:42

Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 08:42
Bob,
I've had my panels on the roof since 1997, they are up there connected 24/7 and I've never had a hassle of any kind.
I've been from Perth, Darwin and the Gibb River Road and also similar dirt roads here in WA so many times I could not count them.
The panels have done many many Klms sitting on the roof, vehicle done over 5OO,OOO Klms now.

I've never seen any solar panels damaged by flying rocks etc - when in transit :)


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Reply By: Best Off Road - Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 10:13

Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 10:13
Bob,

Robin Miller put up a link to some vbery reasonably priced stick on panels, but I can't find.

Shoot him a message, he's always most helpful.

Jim.

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