Solar Panels - Flexible vs. Rigid - Ford Transit USA Forum
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post #1 of 256 (permalink) Old 02-18-2015, 10:22:PM Thread Starter
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Solar Panels - Flexible vs. Rigid

I am 90% leaning towards installing about 800 w of flexible solar panels on the roof of my 250 HR, EL. They seem almost as efficient as the rigid panels, no more expensive and durable. Many of them can also be glued down to the roof so I can eliminate all the hardware and be more stealth at the same time as they are just a few MMs thick.






Does anyone have any experience with these? What brands are best? Are they as good an idea as they seem or am I missing something? Thanks for the help!
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post #2 of 256 (permalink) Old 02-18-2015, 10:25:PM
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Originally Posted by rickhoran View Post
I am 90% leaning towards installing about 800 w of flexible solar panels on the roof of my 250 HR, EL. They seem almost as efficient as the rigid panels, no more expensive and durable. Many of them can also be glued down to the roof so I can eliminate all the hardware and be more stealth at the same time as they are just a few MMs thick.






Does anyone have any experience with these? What brands are best? Are they as good an idea as they seem or am I missing something? Thanks for the help!
I'm very interested in where you go with this thread, you could become the leading expert in flexible solar panels.
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post #3 of 256 (permalink) Old 02-18-2015, 10:55:PM
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Originally Posted by rickhoran View Post
I am 90% leaning towards installing about 800 w of flexible solar panels on the roof of my 250 HR, EL. They seem almost as efficient as the rigid panels, no more expensive and durable. Many of them can also be glued down to the roof so I can eliminate all the hardware and be more stealth at the same time as they are just a few MMs thick.
I remember reading somewhere that heat buildup was a problem when gluing panels to the roof, affecting the operation of the panels.
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post #4 of 256 (permalink) Old 02-19-2015, 01:36:AM
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I am also planning to use flexible cells, almost ordered these today http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IK19VF6/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_nS_img
I think I will only need 2, so i will end up with 200W. The area used will be ~ 41 x 42 inches, so i still have room for at least 1 additional at a later date. All forward of the fan, which is in the aft most position.

I could see room for one more, total of 4 on my HR Long, i do not have EL, so 800W is out of reach for me.

I expect I will fix these down with thin VHB tape, using a solid band around the outside edge and a few more pieces in the center to prevent unwanted shapes at high speed.

since this installation will cross a few roof valleys, i may fill those in with a thin strip of solid plastic, glued down to the roof, to ensure that i can prevent most water and air from getting under the panels.

I've only done this once before ( flexible solar on an RV), so i'm sure there is lots more for me to learn...
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post #5 of 256 (permalink) Old 02-19-2015, 08:43:PM Thread Starter
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I cannot speak to all the claims these guys make about their flexible solar panels but they sure make a convincing case for their toughness by dancing on them the following video...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNAH...layer_embedded


I'll try and find other information and look into any possible negatives such as overheating, etc.


BTW, thanks to everyone for your input! I am very excited about comparing notes with all you guys so we can figure out the best systems to buy and the best way to install them for maximum efficiency and service life.
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post #6 of 256 (permalink) Old 02-19-2015, 10:14:PM
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Everything has positives and negatives.

I suspect that flexible panels will cost more for each watt of output.

Flexible panels would be more stealth.

Flexible panels would have less watt output per square foot of roof coverage.

Flexible panels would be cheaper to ship.

Note: I never danced on my panels.
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post #7 of 256 (permalink) Old 02-19-2015, 10:23:PM
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Here's a site https://solar4rvs.com.au/solar-panel-fact-sheet.html that discusses a bit of the history of flexible solar panels and mentions temperature issues and failure rates. They are selling these panels in Australia so they probably know something about temperature issues.

If these are now a viable option for gluing onto a metal van roof then I will rethink my own plans. I'm looking forward to hearing more about this.
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post #8 of 256 (permalink) Old 02-20-2015, 10:33:AM Thread Starter
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Great website. Too bad these guys are in Australia but still a good source of information! Thanks!


I am wondering if sandwiching some sort of corrugated plastic between the panel and roof will help with the heating issue. The flutes would be oriented front to back to facilitate ventilation while on the move. Something like this....



Corrugated Plastic Sheets - Long Flute - 4’x8’ - 4mm - White
LPSPFS4X8LF
$19.99
Corrugated Plastic Sheets - Long Flute - 4’x8’ - 4mm - White
These twin-wall, coroplast sheets are produced from a high-impact, polypropylene copolymer. This copolymer resin is used in order to increase impact and low temperature performance. At normal temperatures, most oils, solvents and water have little to no effect, allowing these corrugated plastic signs to perform flawlessly in adverse weather conditions or as a product component exposed to harsh chemicals. If you are looking for hardy lawn signs or yard signs, this is the product for you. Flutes run the direction of the second dimension - for example, the flutes run the 96" direction on a 4’x8’.
Product Features:
  • Water resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Low cost sign board
  • Screen printable
  • UV Flatbed printable
  • Great for Display and Packaging
  • Retains the ability to be flexed nearly an unlimited number of times
Pasted from <http://www.uscutter.com/Corrugated-Plastic-Sign-Blanks-Standard-Grade-4-x8-x4mm-50-Sheets>

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post #9 of 256 (permalink) Old 02-20-2015, 12:28:PM
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I would check http://expeditionportal.com/ and Sprinter-Source.com - The best reSource for Sprinter van owners and enthusiasts. to see what those folks have done. Maybe heating is no longer an issue.
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post #10 of 256 (permalink) Old 02-20-2015, 02:16:PM
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The flutes would be oriented front to back to facilitate ventilation while on the move.
I could see the flutes clogging from bugs, but the material looks suitable. Perhaps seal up the flutes ? Installing a spacer would require twice as much adhesive as well.
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